I want to tell you a story.
I assure you, I've been waiting until I felt I was in a reliable position to say this.
Hopefully this background is still palatable to you, because it's starting to be an eyesore to me after all these years.
Now, bear with me. It will take a while to get there, but there will be an ending to this... if you catch my drift.
First of all: hi. I'm Staffen. Hello there. I hope you are well, wherever you are and whoever you are.
I started writing Ragged Edges
when I was, I think, just 14 or 15 years old. The majority of the writing was done when I was between 15 and 16. My little project started as a method of validating myself to a group of people who I had come to admire -- people who I wanted to consider me, perhaps, valuable. I pretended I was older at first, because I had seen how positively obnoxious people in my age-group were (in retrospect, I was little different back then) and how that made them ill-received. I was scared of rejection. I wanted to be able to point to this little project of mine later as a way of saying, "Look at me! Look at what I did when I was only this old!
Chapter 17 of Ragged Edges
was released in March of 2011; 5 years, 4 months and 4 days ago. Since that date -- without fail -- I have received at least one inquiry per month, asking: "When is the next chapter coming?
Some days, it was only one person asking. Other days, a group of enthused friends would all ask me at once. It might have been the same person a few times or it might have been an entire new crowd of people. Sometimes the question is asked in private correspondence; other times they ask openly in my gallery comments, on my profile comments, or on the comments of previous chapters.
At first I was baffled. I was working on other projects at the time... projects which I considered a million times better. Things weren't going well for me and I took the attention that Ragged Edges
received very personally - very cynically. Indeed, things weren't going well for a lot of people around me: 2011 was, if I recall correctly, the final year that many of the people who all came together to support me in my writing ever talked to each-other on friendly terms. I hated that I couldn't seem to outdo something I wrote as an pretentious, elitist brat. Outside of my writing it felt as if everyone around me was letting me down at every corner. I was letting myself down. My frustration mounted. The clash of my old values and expanding ideals and shifting outlook created a dissonance with my raison d'être
Or perhaps that wasn't how it happened at all. Memory is fickle. It would be convenient if things were that simple, that one-sided, wouldn't it? For the most part I don't think it really matters. I was sick, I realized later. Sick I was and sick I've been.
Around 2013 I realized there was a peculiar sensation which set in whenever I sat down and tried to write. I can't tell if it was a side-effect of some medicine, or if it was the accumulation of the worries and the do's-and-do-not's which had inevitably piled up since I began in 2009. Perhaps it was both. Perhaps it was a lack of practice. That feeling of powerlessness
was a terrifying sensation to me. Whether it was for work or for leisure, writing became impossible. And I don't mean it was "boring"
. I mean that the moment I had a fancy to write it was gone by the time I was at the keyboard. When ideas did linger the only words which came to mind to express such thoughts were rendered as a pressing static
which enveloped my brain. White noise was the only thing which greeted me as I tried to go through the old motions of creation, as I had years ago.
So I stopped, almost completely and totally. I thought that I could just recuperate by making the long break I was already taking official. But to me, to the person who has said previously that, "Writing is not my passion - it is who I am"
, the incapacity to write -- to be -- only weighed heavier and heavier as time went by.
2015 was the worst year I think I've been through. I was in the hospital for a couple weeks midway through that summer. In that time several projects fell apart in my absence; projects I had pushed myself into working with others on in a vain hope to get back on track. When I got back out everyone in my circle was understanding, and gave no suggestion of disappointment, but I saw it everywhere around me. I was deeply ashamed of how the last few years had gone. It felt as if I had accomplished nothing.
Then, earlier this year one long-time friend (who beta-read RE as I produced it) came to me and told me a story of his own. While searching for new players to join his Only War
campaign, he and another of our friends (who had also been one of my oldest beta-readers) had encountered a peculiar person on the sup/tg/ IRC. This individual, he thought himself very clever in making less-than-subtle references to a certain commissar and her band of misfits
. When my friends picked up on these they pressed him for details. My name came up.
Then my friend told me a similar story of another individual who explained that Ragged Edges
had been much of the reason for his long-standing enthusiasm for 40K. Another story came up of a casual conversation about Raege they happened to espy in an IRC channel. And, while not entirely related, I had an opportunity to speak to yet another stranger who'd enjoyed my writing on Discord earlier this year. As ever I was somewhat embarrassed, brusque and more than a little bewildered to hear anyone compliment me the way that gentleman did. A few years ago I would have regarded the experience very cynically. But I think I've finally come to realize what it was which drives people to ask after me as they do. I was a fool to have taken so long to understand.
My friend came to a very simple therapeutic conclusion: I must complete Ragged Edges
. I protested at first that too much had changed: too much time had passed and the difference in style was too stark. My friend would not hear it. To him, he said, much of the value in reading RE had come from watching me grow as a writer with every chapter. And I hate to admit that he was right in his assessment. It was never a matter of time's passage since it was already to painfully obvious across the entirety of Ragged Edges,
and of Throne Agent
, and of any of my more "serious" (dumped) projects for that matter.
I messaged Mr-Culexus earlier this year to declare my intention to put a wrap to things. I gave him my thanks for the big role he played in my adolescence, and I was happy to receive his blessings in return. So it is that an ending will come, soon.
I want to warn you: it has
been five years, and I've thrown out the original draft I was working on for the final chapters. There will most likely be a distinct Rebuild
vibe to this -- take from that statement what you will. It might be a little jarring; we might lose a foot, or an arm, or a few faces along the way. I keep having to scratch my head and shuffle through piles of badly-organized notes to remember who everyone is, what's happening, what the sub-plots are. I never exactly kept a lot of notes to begin with anyway. The end-product will also likely look a lot different, since I can no longer stomach looking at dA's method of parsing prose. If you read Balder
you might have noticed dA's fucking hideous compared to reading out of a PDF. The biggest problem of all is that I'm honestly sick of 40K in-general. Haven't liked where it's been going for years, haven't liked the way the lore has changed, and have been disappointed with it. The 40K which I depict in Ragged Edges
might not be precisely identical to the 40K any of you newcomers out there are probably used to seeing. Or maybe I'm over-exaggerating the changes. That said I'm in a much better place than I was two years ago, and over the last few months I've been preparing to get back to work on this by watching and reading the things which inspired me to write originally...
which means a lot of anime about giant robots and child-soldiers.
The other big blockage that remains in the way is that the laptop I've been comfortably writing on for the last few years is on its last leg. I'm a PC gamer, and so my desktop rig is a behemoth unto itself, but it is also a machine without Microsoft Word. So I'm going to have to get comfortable transferring all of my files at some point into Google Docs sometime in the coming weeks. Technical problems are a big stressor for about everyone, and as much as I work with computers I am no different.
I for one am content with recognizing my own weakness, and am looking forward to finally writing again. It took me a while but I've finally gotten comfortable the last few years with social media, so feel free to engage me on twitter over at @FreiherrStaffen
Thanks for waiting. Thanks for reading.