|Ramblings (pl. noun): talking or writing in a confused way, often
for a long time
Bardlings (pl. noun): Ramblings from Bard
by Michael W. Bard
©2002 Michael W. Bard -- all rights reserved
People are curious things.
Cubist, aka Quentin Long, suggested that we should write our editorials about each other this time, to celebrate our first anniversary as editors of the new TSAT. It's an interesting idea, but it has its problems.
What do you say about people you've never met -- only typed, written, and imagined with?
Obviously the beginning. As a writer I crave criticism. Not just 'that was good', but things that inform me of ways I improve. Cubist didn't give it to me, but he did respond to a story* by saying 'You bastard' in a good way. He described it as looking at a car wreck, being unwillingly fascinated by the scene of horror and unable to look away because it was so entrancing. Certainly a different criticism. Not great as it didn't tell me much, and not informative as it didn't tell me areas to improve, but at least it was distinctive.
Fast forward a while. It's early February 2001 and people have started writing stories in a story universe that has been suggested. Cubist has started on his Wholesale Alterations; since the format is unusual, and I've always preferred the power of plain normal text, I decided to comment. A few weeks pass, and the comments fly back thick and fast, and he introduces me to online chatting. Certainly one of the more recent evils of humankind, addictive and dangerous, but it does have its uses.
We chat, we type, and we find we have an interesting amount of things in common. Mostly attitude. We both have a wry sense of humour; we both tend to look at the more amusing side of things; and we both know an absurd amount of specialized trivia...
Curious people meet in curious ways. What can I say?
Fast forward more. Another author suggests writing stories based on a fictional version of the Survivor series and I toss to Cubist the idea of co-writing based on that. I've never co-written before, nor has he. The result is the Survifur series of stories (I take no responsibility for the title!). Unfortunately nobody else gets into it quite as much as Cubist and I do, as we decide to see how far we can push the whole concept into excessive absurdity. And we will finish it some day!
Time passes; stories are written. We alternate writing drafts of the Survifur sections and that works reasonably well. We chat to work out the framework of a story. I tend to toss out a bare plot, he tends to whack it into a better shape. Things work well. Then I take a deep breath (figuratively; hard to do when you're typing) and suggest to him we take over TSAT. It seems that the old group of editors were getting tired of this underpaid (well, free volunteer really), generally underappreciated task, and looking to quit. Cubist and I take over. And so the scene is set.
Time passes. It's amazing how it seems to keep doing that. Hooves grow, chests get fatter, exercise makes one thicker and heavier. We divide the tasks, edit, publish and things are good. We co-write more (into the TBP 'shared world'-- One Small Step) and things finally settle into a rut. A good rut, but a rut nonetheless, and one that brings us more or less to the current day.
What is Cubist like as a person? I'm not the best to ask as I can only say what he's like as a typist, but since he's likely already describing me as the insane manipulator plotting to control all of reality I should probably say something about him before he shuts me down (ah, the power possessed by he who actually configures the files for each TSAT issue online...). The two of us are a contrast. We have similar issues which is what got and keeps us together, but strongly different approaches. He is somewhat abrasive, not much, but he certainly is not afraid to speak his mind. Clearly. Sometimes too clearly. I'm the quiet, always kind Canadian who is never mean to anybody. When he writes a story, he writes random chunks of it and slowly a whole accretes; I write an outline and then methodically move from beginning to end. I create plot; he makes it work. I create character concepts; he gives them a voice. He is one of the best dialogue writers I have ever had the pleasure of running into. Things work, although trying to get him to finish a particular section can get me tearing hairs out...
But, above all, we have fun.
And that is the most curious thing. Two people who have never met, who have never seen each other, simply typing words and having fun.
It's what makes the world go round.
Note: For the amusement of the reader, some trivia notes on task division, and other TSAT internal mechanisms.
I come up with the script ideas for Modified Rapture and usually write the script. Cubist draws it. He may state otherwise, but it's all lies. Lies I tell you!
I edit the stories for TSAT, he does just about everything else. It may not seem like an equitable division of tasks, but editing, though it has its joys and pleasures, is not a quick trivial thing. Hence my ongoing 'comments' (bloody politeness coming through again -- insert loud thud as a hole is kicked in the wall) and desperate hope. Fortunately, sometimes my hope is rewarded.
I write the MUSFAH stories. Really. Even if he tells you otherwise,
he is a figment of my imagination firstname.lastname@example.org | ][
*The story was A Father's Love. Since I do have hopes of publication for it, it has not yet been posted on the internet. If you are curious about reading it, let me know and I'll send you a copy for your amusement. [back]