Six Tips for Achieving Power Over the Revision Process

I was recently asked how to handle the sense of frustration that comes when a writer feels stalled out during a revision process. My answers were all pretty general, so in the interest of sharing, and of turning my development work for Pelgrane into a web article they’ve already paid for, I share these with you here.

These bits of advice address the momentary feeling of being in the weeds on a project. Chronic writer’s block is a different matter, best addressed elsewhere.

1. Accept the Weeds as a Phase of the Creative Process. Writing is mentally taxing. Revising, doubly so, as it lacks the flow state you can reach during primary creation. Learn to see periods of mental fatigue while improving a manuscript not as signs that something has gone awry, but the result of the effort you’re applying to the task.

Is it hard? Good! Good writing is hard. Good revising is hard. That feeling is a sign that you’re taking the task seriously, sharpening your self-critical faculty, and improving your piece. It can be hard to see while you’re in it, but you’re tired because you’re doing the work.

You may feel lost and bogged down when by any objective measure you are making steady, incremental progress. Self-assessment weakens when you’re tired and/or stressed. You’re doing better than you think.

2. Give Yourself a Break. Let yourself rest, intellectually and emotionally, by taking time to not think about the work. Pursue a relaxing, meditative activity. If weather and health permits, go for a nice long walk. Whatever you do to give yourself downtime, recenter yourself by resting and relaxing, then come back to the work refreshed.

3. Clear the Decks. Other, unrelated minor tasks may be impinging on your concentration by making you feel (again, likely incorrectly) that you’re behind on all manner of obligations. Find a few items on your to-do list you can easily move onto your done list, and knock them off. (Implicit in this is the suggestion that you keep a to-do list to track personal and professional tasks. It helps you see that you don’t have as much stuff weighing on you as you think, and gives you the satisfaction of ticking them off and making them disappear. I use a web/phone app called Toodle-Do.)

4. Get Enough Sleep. Easier said than done, and something I absolutely struggle with myself. But writing and revising are not so much about waiting for inspiration as waiting for a state of mental acuity. Experts disagree on what works, and what works for me may not for you. But one thing is guaranteed to mess you up: not blocking out enough time in your life for full, restful sleep.

5. Refresh Yourself While Working. When mental fog descends during a writing shift, go lie down with your eyes closed and the lights out. I use a sleep mask. Even if you don’t fully nap, a ten to fifteen minute quasi-nap will help regain focus. Also, try the Pomodoro technique, in which you work for twenty minute stretches punctuated by five-minute breaks. I don’t find this useful for primary creation, as it breaks flow, but have had good results with it on revision/development days.

6. Depersonalize the Task. This one’s a tall order, but the most helpful if you can swing it. Seek detachment from the idea of success or failure at the task as a measure of self-worth. Revision is a technical exercise, one that you get better at with time. (But never really defeat—welcome to the writer’s life!) Picture the dullest, least emotionally resonant task you can ably perform: unclogging a sink, cleaning a grill, labeling photo files. That’s revision. Keep judgment out of your rear-view mirror, whether it’s the imagined judgment of your editor or the voice of doubt in your own head. Yes, eventually your work will be evaluated, by yourself and others. However, to avoid rabbit holes during the process you have to seal that thought in a box and put it away. When you’re clarifying ideas and tightening prose you’re just scrubbing the gunk off that grill.

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Pelgrane Press Seeks Administrative Assistant

rainbow-pelgrane_150We’re currently recruiting for an Administrative Assistant to provide fantastic customer service to our community, and help out with the multitude of administrative tasks involved in a small publishing company. The position is intended for a remote worker, and may involve travel to conventions, some overnight stays and weekend work where necessary.

Pelgrane Press is committed to building a culturally diverse company and strongly encourages applications from women and minority candidates.

Our Administrative Assistant will be responsible for ensuring a prompt, friendly and professional response to all queries from our customers and colleagues, over email, on social media, and in person.

They will manage and develop our supply chain, monitoring and maintaining inventories of products in our mail order and distribution warehouses to maximize efficiency, liaise with key fulfilment and print partners to ensure high service levels and stock quality, and work with the Managing Director on print quotes and print buying.

They will also assist the Managing Director with ad-hoc administrative and marketing tasks where necessary.

This is an ideal opportunity for someone who is looking for a permanent position in publishing within the roleplaying industry. As a small, growing company, there will be opportunities in the future to expand the role for candidates with drive and initiative. Game writing and design work are not part of this position, nor will this position afford opportunities in those areas.

The successful candidate will have a passion for roleplaying games, excellent organisational and communication skills, thoroughness and attention to detail, and the ability to set priorities under pressure. A solid grasp of Word and Excel are essential.

The position is permanent, with an initial six-month evaluation period. The position is 15 hours per week, and the salary is US$900 per month. The position doesn’t include health insurance, so if your country of residence doesn’t have universal health care, you will need to be able to demonstrate having your own health care provision.

The full job spec is here.

To apply, please send a covering letter via email with your CV attached as a PDF to Cat Tobin before Monday, June 24th 2019.

Last month we began our perilous exploration of that darkest of all Fall of DELTA GREEN labyrinths: the Federal bureaucracy. More specifically, and contra JFK, we explored what that bureaucracy could do for you — or for your Agent, as he deploys his Bureaucracy ability  in the course of the campaign. (See our previous installment for the standard Difficulties and disclaimers.) We’ve covered everything from Aircraft Access (you have a plane!) to Laboratory Testing (we found out what was in your plane!); this month, we press ever deeper in.

No sir, this spawn is far from form-less

Legal Pressure

When you’re sniffing around a cult leader or dodgy laboratory, this lets you open up a diversion — or even a second front — by putting other government hounds on their trail. This might take the form of an FBI loyalty check, an IRS audit, an FBN raid, an internal affairs investigation or squeeze on their government support, or anything else suggested by your warrantless search and inadmissible nightmare visions. (Just calling the local cops or arranging a roadblock is more in the Cop Talk bailiwick.) Even more than most of these string-pulling maneuvers, this can backfire. Trying to law-bully a MAJESTIC contractor, for example, likely triggers counter-pressure in the form of heavy GMC Bureaucracy shots aimed at the Agents and their ostensible superiors, which upsets DELTA GREEN very much. Response to clear evidence of criminality or treason: FBI, FBN, Customs, US Marshals (Diff 4); Justice Department, Treasury (Diff 5); AFOSI, DIA, ONI, CIA DPlans Counterintelligence Staff, other military or natsec internal security (Diff 4 for military/natsec targets; Diff 6 to tip off civilian authorities); other USG (Diff 6). Simple harassment or fishing expedition: FBI, FBN, Justice Department (Diff 5 for your own agency, Diff 7 for another agency such as the IRS or Customs); Treasury, U.S. Marshals (Diff 6); other USG (Diff 7+). Re-open a closed investigation: +2 to regular Difficulties.

MAJESTIC Access

Agents may want to enter MAJESTIC facilities, read reports, interview witnesses, and so forth in the course of their investigations. MAJESTIC doesn’t want them to, but we’re all still on the same team, right? Right? Each MAJESTIC Project has a “patron agency”: MJ-1 operates under the NSA, MJ-2 under State, MJ-3 under the NRO, and so on (FoDG, pp. 167-173). Working within (or through) those departments can open some doors, narrowly and briefly, for DELTA GREEN investigators. Access can be divided into three sorts: one-time access, white-badge (MAJESTIC) clearance, and black-badge (MAJIC) clearance. Most DELTA GREEN missions only require one-time access to “outer” MAJESTIC sub-projects, personnel, or materiel: you get badged in, escorted around by security, ask your questions or read your folder, touch the meteorite or look through the lens, and leave. One-time access: Relevant MJ patron agency (Diff 6); USAF, AEC, CIA (Diff 7); other MJ patron agency (Diff 8). Agents need white-badge clearance to even get supervised, temporary access to “inner” MAJESTIC sanctums like Area 51 or MOON DUST hangars. Temporary white-badge clearance: Relevant MJ patron agency (Diff 8); USAF, AEC, CIA (Diff 9); other MJ patron agency (Diff 10). Black-badge clearance looks behind the curtain; MJ-3 doesn’t grant it often. Temporary black-badge clearance: Relevant MJ patron agency (Diff 10); USAF, AEC, CIA (Diff 11); other MJ patron agency (Diff 12).

Military Transport

The U.S. military ships millions of men and billions of tons of materiel all over the Free World, and then some. Your Agents can hitch a ride on a truck convoy, fly in the belly of a C-130, or stage from a Coast Guard cutter. Point-to-point within the US: Military, USAIC, DIA, AFOSI, ONI, Defense Dept, NASA, NSA, ARPA, AEC, NRO, CDC (Diff 4); CIA (Diff 6); other USG (Diff 7). FBI, FBN, US Marshals, and other law-enforcement generally fly commercial and use agency motorpools; Diff 4 or 5 for regular travel, Diff 6 to get a military transport anyhow. From the US to a foreign destination: all +1 Diff except CIA (Diff 5; DPlans Diff 4) and State Dept (Diff 5). Foreign origin-US destination: all +2 Diff. Use the same Difficulties to just ship cargo. Add at least +2 Diff if a special mission has to be planned to accommodate you (search from a carrier, ride on a submarine, parachute drop, etc.).

NCIC

In 1967, the FBI launches the National Crime Information Center. This computerized database contains over 350,000 records of stolen vehicles and license plates, stolen or missing guns, and wanted, fugitive, or missing persons; all linked by teletype to state FBI offices and state police and investigative bodies. Accessing a record: FBI, US Marshal, FBN, Justice Dept (Diff 4); Customs, ONI, AFOSI, DIA (Diff 5); other USG (Diff 6). Deleting or altering a record requires FBI access and is at least Diff 9.

Project Jacket

Provides at least the high-level summary of a given project, its funding, end user, personnel etc. Sometimes you can back into a project jacket (or at least discover its existence) by researching seemingly innocuous government programs (cover programs, or programs with overlapping personnel or facilities) or facilities. Difficulties depend on project classification. Unclassified: Originating agency, Library of Congress (Diff 4); other USG (Diff 5). Sensitive: +1 Diff except CIA, ARPA, NSA (Diff 5). Confidential: +2 Diff except CIA, NSA, ARPA (tech projects only), DIA (military projects only) (Diff 6). Secret: +3 Diff except CIA, NSA, ARPA (tech projects only), DIA (military projects only) (Diff 7). Top Secret or code-word clearance: Requires specific action and investigation by Agents, as passive Bureaucracy can only turn up overlapping jackets and even that at +4 Diff.

Quarantine

Worried about unnatural contamination? Want to seal off a UFO crash site? Declare a quarantine, or a restricted zone! This requires some kind of trigger: lights in the sky or mysterious deaths might already be happening, of course! AEC, CDC (Diff 5); NASA, ARPA (Diff 6); USAF, FBI (Diff 7). Add +2 Diff and re-test for each 12 hours of quarantine; if the population or area sealed off is large, that adds another +2 Diff at least. Quarantine a block of Brooklyn or a hundred miles of interstate, you’ll get phone calls from your boss.

Spy Plane

Getting access to imagery or other intelligence product from an existing mission is easier than re-tasking a whole flight (+4 Diff or higher). RB-57F “weather” reconnaissance flight product: AEC (domestic, Diff 6); CIA PAD or SOD (overseas, Diff 6); CIA OSI (Diff 6); Defense Dept, DIA, NRO, CIA, ONI (Diff 7). SR-71 Blackbird strategic reconnaissance product (after 1964): NRO, USAF (Diff 6); CIA DInt, Defense Dept (Diff 7). U-2 spy plane product: CIA DInt (Diff 6); CIA, NRO, NSA, USAF (Diff 7). Spy satellite product: NRO, CIA OSI (Diff 6); NASA, AEC (Diff 7). Re-tasking a satellite takes at least +8 Diff, and requires weeks and likely a continuing challenge (FoDG, p. 082).

Surveillance

“Don’t we have guys who can watch the cult compound?” Indeed you do, my fine Federal friend. DELTA GREEN doesn’t like having outside eyes on the unnatural, but it’s better than nobody’s eyes on it. With plausible cover, supervisory (or advisory) Agents can task small non-player teams to follow targets or watch a structure, but not to interfere or interact. Domestic: USAIC, FBI, FBN (Diff 6); US Marshals (Diff 7); Overseas: CIA, DIA (Diff 6). Re-test every 24 hours. Wiretapping a suspect requires a court order, except when it doesn’t: FBI, NSA, CIA Division D (Diff 7).

Translation

Don’t ask some poor GS-5 to translate the al-Azif. It won’t end well, for you or her. But cult scriptures, witness testimony, and garbled wiretaps all yield their bounty to the linguistically qualified. Older, more obscure languages and dialects add to the Difficulty of course. Library of Congress (Diff 4); State Dept (Diff 5); CIA, DIA, NSA (Diff 6); FBI (Diff 7).


The Fall of DELTA GREEN adapts DELTA GREEN: THE ROLE-PLAYING GAME to the GUMSHOE investigative roleplaying system, opening the files on a lost decade of anti-Mythos operations: the 1960s. Players take on the role of DELTA GREEN operatives, assets, and friendlies. Hunt Deep Ones beneath the Atlantic, shut down dangerous artists in San Francisco, and delve into the heart of Vietnam’s darkness. Purchase The Fall of DELTA GREEN in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

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Officially, the Delta Green setting never indicates that the Dreamlands underwent a radical transformation at the hands of Parisian surrealists in the 1920s and 30s.

However, in the privacy of their own Gaming Huts, GMs who ran a Dreamhounds of Paris series and want to connect it to their current Fall of Delta Green games might just indulge in a callback or two.

Careers of key surrealists continued for decades after the Trail of Cthulhu period. As I researched Dreamhounds, I saw how events might unfold after its era—an extended continuity I had no place for. Until now.

The period of surrealist involvement with the Dreamlands reaches a natural endpoint when most of its cast of historical characters flees France in advance of the Paris Occupation.

The book hints that their departure triggers a freezing over of the Dreamlands. The few surrealists who remain in Paris, like the heroic and doomed Robert Desnos, use it as an otherworldly transport and staging area for their Resistance activities.

The post-war period finds the surrealists swept aside by art world trends. In Paris, hardcore Stalinists, including recent convert Picasso, shut them out of the avant garde scene. The center of art world gravity shifts to New York, where abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock and color field painters including Mark Rothko take painting far from the psychological and pseudo-mystical imagery that gave Ernst, Dali, Tanguy and the gang the ability to reshape the Dreamlands.

The sleeping realm thaws out but remains static in reaction to the austerity of the artistic times. The surrealists’ bulb-headed automatons and melting clocks might remain. Or maybe the place reverted back to its old Symbolist, Dunsanian imagery, as seen in Lovecraft’s tales.

In the 60s and on into the 70s, simultaneous with Delta Green’s collision with the Age of Aquarius, a new generation of artists takes inspiration from the surrealists, and from pop culture images previously deemed unsuitable for museum consumption. To various degrees, the likes of Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Kiki Kogelnik draw on the influence of advertising and entertainment on the psyche. This allows them to enter the Dreamlands, achieve lucidity there, and begin to alter its environment, just as the surrealists did before them. When your Delta Green agents arrive there, they find its skies dripping with Campbell’s soup cans, weeping comic strip duotone, and cotton-candy colored skulls. Sixties rock mainstreams both surrealism and pop art. In the Dreamlands, this development could find ghouls bobbing their head to a Zappa polyrhythm and Hendrix riffs reverberating through Dyath-Leen.

Agents might look to these new oneironauts for information, or seek out the old school surrealists now enjoying rediscovery and a fame that eluded them during their peak creative years.

Next up in See Page XX, I’ll survey the Dreamhounds characters active in the 60s to see what they might be up to when Delta Green drops in on them for a consultation.


The Fall of DELTA GREEN adapts DELTA GREEN: THE ROLE-PLAYING GAME to the GUMSHOE investigative roleplaying system, opening the files on a lost decade of anti-Mythos operations: the 1960s. Players take on the role of DELTA GREEN operatives, assets, and friendlies. Hunt Deep Ones beneath the Atlantic, shut down dangerous artists in San Francisco, and delve into the heart of Vietnam’s darkness. Purchase The Fall of DELTA GREEN in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

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