It's not all sun and roses, though.
In fact, it's an emotional rollercoaster on top of bone-grindingly HARD WORK.
Some of the discussions get contentious and combative, and juggling continuity for a bevy of isolated cultures and an exponentially increasing cast of characters and a disparate (and frequently self-described 'not people-person') group of contributors... it's challenging me something fierce. We've had nothing I'd describe as a flamewar*, yet, but I keep a few buckets close at hand, and try to check in very regularly to make sure it doesn't. There've been decided sparks and headbutting, but for the most part, they do (eventually) generate valuable results. Conflict isn't all bad, but it's exhausting and can be overwhelming and discouraging, even when the end bit is an overall positive step. Gentler members can get seriously trampled in the back-and-forth, or sometimes ignored in the YES, NO, NOW, BUT! of the conversation, which is something I'm struggling to keep to a minimum.
The other difficulty I'm facing is that this is my baby, dammit, and there's strangers in my house tracking muddy prints all over the carpet and rearranging the furniture and how dare they move that painting and since when was there a bowling alley in the garage?
I'm finding it particularly challenging to decide when to make a decision and how to balance 'my absolute vision,' versus 'good idea, but doesn't really fit,' versus 'that's the stupidest idea I've ever heard, how can I stop this now?' (Fortunately, none of the latter. Just things along the spectrum towards that.)
There are little, stupid things I want to cling to, because it's the way I pictured it in my head, and HUGE world-changing things that I'm scared to agree to, not because it's counter to what I was thinking, but because I hadn't really thought about it before, but if I agree to it now, what's it going to do down the road?
It's terrifying when the conversation starts to die down and I realize there's all these virtual people staring at me, expecting me to make a decision, hung up on the fact that I haven't. Sometimes I don't really care about the absolute answer, or I care a lot, but it's not really something I can justify caring about, and most of all I don't want to look like an idiot, or paint myself into some corner that later we come back to and say 'geez, if we'd done this another way, we'd have all these other, better options now...' or 'you know, the way you've written things, the space-time continuum would collapse into silly-putty and Star Trek geeks and physics majors everywhere will make fun of you forever**.'
So mostly, I just stab in the dark, pretend I know what I'm doing, wave a magic wand around and decree it so, eventually.
It's worked pretty well, so far, but it's stressful. I do not ever, ever, recommend sharing your world unless you have elephant-thick skin, a lot of extra time and you are mentally flexible like Gumby and willing to go out and research things like population statistics and climate zones. It helps to have an awesome, talented crew, which I really, really do.
And when it works?
There are times when a storyline synchs up perfectly, or a contributor submits something wonderful that we can turn around and approve the same day, or a random idea generates a fabulous new creature.
It's like freaking catnip for the brain.
Alas, I haven't gotten much actual art or writing done this month, which I hope to start remedying today, along with taxes and a print service order. Other things to do include hanging up my mirror, and putting down the shoe rebellion occurring in my studio.
Now? Lunch, an episode of Farscape, and some more logs on the fire (the real one, not a virtual one!).
*I survived Elfwood AND Epilogue - I know flamewar!