Alexandra Duncan

Science Fiction. Fantasy. Feminism.


I've had my head stuck deep in an unexpected freelance assignment for the past two weeks. Jeremy's friend Phil is a roleplaying game designer, and he's been working on a game book called Changing Breeds, for White Wolf publishing company, where your character can transform into all kinds of animals, from house cats to elephants. One of Phil's other freelancers suddenly dropped out a few weeks ago, so he called to ask if I could pick up 10,000 words. It was close, but I got everything in to him, and the manuscript and contracts go off to the publisher today. Needless to say, I haven't had a good sleep in a while.

My mother called in the middle of my writing frenzy and wanted to chat. "What are you up to?" she asked.

I hesitated, because somewhere along the line, she developed a distaste for roleplaying games. I think it might have started with my father and uncle's sessions of Dungeons & Dragons in her basement when they were still married, or maybe in the '80s, when religious conservatives started howling about how D&D caused kids to turn into parricidal maniacs. I could hear her saying, "Oh. Well, that's. . . interesting," while thumbing through the phone book for a psychiatrist.

Listen, I told myself. You are a grown woman. You're working on a project you enjoy in an industry you like. You live 160 miles away from your mother. So what if she doesn't like your hobbies?

I took a deep breath. "I'm working on a freelance project for a roleplaying game," I said after an uncomfortable pause.

"Oh," she said. "Well, are you having fun?"

"Yes," I said.

"Are they paying you?" she asked.

"Yes," I said.

"Well, that's good."

Thankfully, since my younger brother and sister hit puberty, my mother has lightened up a little. I'm married, gainfully employed and haven't been lighting things on fire in the garage or torturing small animals. So what if I'm a monstrous geek? It could be much worse.

Toward the end of the project, Jeremy ended up doing a short section on owls for the book, as well. We were both up Sunday night, writing and editing together until about midnight. We had been talking about finally getting around to seeing the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but despite not leaving the house, last night was one of the best, most fun nights we've had together in a long time. Some people go on dates, we write roleplaying game supplements. I guess that's weird, but it made us happy.

What I've come to realize over the past few years is that it doesn't matter if the things people my age are supposed to enjoy - clubbing, huge parties, shopping - don't really interest me. If I want to spend my time writing, creating "monster books" for a Harry Potter party, reading a book, or watching bad movies with Jeremy, there's no reason why I shouldn't. People are so much more interesting and varied than the movie industry and fashion magazines make us out to be. What makes my neighbor happy is playing the pipe organ in his basement and raising goats; what makes me happy is staying home on a Saturday night to write. Yet we still wave to each other over his fence.

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