Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Encyclopaedia Is Changing

So that's been quite a while since my official announcement, and there's been precious little information about what's going on.

Well, I've taken the first step in the next phase of the project, and I've overcome three significant barriers.  The most important is the final acknowledgement of the enormousness of the project, which had been one barrier: now that I have a better idea of how huge it all is, I have a better handle on it.  I was always aware that many people have helped me get where I am today, but I was adamant on not relying on them at the same time. Now I realise that, really, it's not that I'm putting a burden on them, it's sharing it. So rather than this being another "what could have been," I've taken measures which ensure that the Encyclopaedia will move forward - whether I like it or not!

The next is more personal: I've been working on it so much that it's taken a life of its own, and it's gotten too personal. I became so invested and attached that I started to become afraid of letting anyone see it.  I convinced myself that errors, typos, mistakes and other undesirables littered the work like autumn leaves on the road, dreading the time when the avalanche of corrections would come through. This is something I have to deal with too often, and why I don't do nearly as many commissions as I probably could.

The third is most personal of all. There is someone within the Howard community which I consider more important than any save Howard himself in terms of getting me established, encouraging me, and keeping me on the straight and narrow. He's the reason I was confident enough to post on the Robert E. Howard Forums, which remain the best, most accessible online discussion for Howard and essential for anyone remotely interested in Howard and Conan to peruse at least once. He gave me the spirit and advice I needed to ask Leo Grin to join The Cimmerian, and I doubt I would even have tried were it not for his support. And I'm pretty sure The Blog That Time Forgot would be very different without everything I've learned from him. Yet after knowing him all these years, I've lately felt intimidated by his knowledge, to the point where I was deathly afraid of disappointing him. I eventually bit the bullet and did what had to be done.

For the truth is, the Encyclopaedia was never a solo project - not really. Every Howard fan, scholar, critic, and collector I've talked to has welcomed me, even after initially hostile receptions. I know that I could send them an email with any sort of a query, and if they don't respond with an answer, they'll suggest exactly who might know. And of course, there are countless essays and articles which opened the way for entirely new ways of thinking about Conan and the Hyborian Age. All about the work of an author who's been dead over 75 years - a world he created in two dozen stories.

I hate to be a tease: I've told you about the changes, but not said what they are. Once everything's in place and collated, I'm sure an announcement will come in due course, but for now, I'll just say this: the Encyclopaedia is changing, and the change is good.