Best question ever from longtime friend and reader, Sharon. “If you had known the absolute mess you were getting yourself into at the beginning of this journey, would you have gone down this path?”
“Oh, good question! I don’t know. There are so many other rewarding aspects, I want to say yes.... but I would have prepared differently, and stocked up on more alcohol.”
The really funny part is that 2 years ago when I first decided to do this, Mark had asked me to write down my goals so he could help me stay on target. “Pick one that’s really out there, so you can surprise yourself or have something to reach for.”
It took two years, but we landed at that goal at the end of 2023. What happens next is anyone’s guess. I didn’t plan that far out.
I just wanted the full Storyverse for The Life Erotic, and The Pillars of Dawn to be considered for build out. The Life Erotic is smaller, more nimble and easier to move around, easier to place (I mean, aside from the sexy content issues.)
But POD… POD is a behemoth of a storyverse. It’s… massive, complex and cumbersome. It’s not a small world. Mark did his level best to help me trim it down, streamline it, make is smaller and more packageable. God bless him. More fruit baskets for Mark!
The truth is the POD storyverse was never made to be small or agile, nimble or easy to move. We always knew it would take a very specific kind of visionary studio and production team to see the POD Storyverse for what it is, and in a perfect world, they would want to play in it.
I get to play in it every day, so, I wasn’t worried about it. Not really. I mean. Okay. Maybe I was a little worried. One of my early conversations with him in the adaptation was, “I don’t know where to start—there’s so much story I can’t see the forest for the trees. It’s three worlds, ten primary characters, all their cohorts, 36 secondary characters and all the subplots, timelines, and like 172 ancillary characters, plus all the lore, histories, worldbuilding documents, pre-story prep and engines, woven throughout the Mandalic Story Structure. It’s a full Universe.”
He gave me some exercises to help me focus on which parts were the most important, and which parts to exclude because, “execs don’t care about that shit.”
Ah. Great way to start. No one cares about the 43 chapters of LORE?? Good to know.
It’s twenty years’ worth of build, some still in totes and stored on hard drives. My big stretch-goal, the pie in the sky wish, was to just have it considered as a whole universe at least once before allowing it to be chopped up and sold for parts.
The mini-version we built was still immensely satisfying and checked all the boxes for me to feel artistically contented. If we sell that smaller, compact version—I will still be greatly relieved and deeply humbled to be able to send POD out to a larger audience. However, there’s still that knowledge in the back of my mind that POD was designed to be so much more. It was made to be expansive enough to live within for a decade or more of mined material, and all the scoped transmedia materials to match. It was made to compete as an entertainment universe.
Again, not worried. Well… maybe a little.
Between the last two years of learning ropes and picking up the processes, I’ve pushed myself to learn how THEY do it. What is their process? What is their model? Which PMP steps are they most reliant on? And so forth. Workshops, classes, paid coaching, tutorials, private consults, books, pitch practices and more so I could at least sort of understand what was being talked about in the meetings I’m sitting in regarding my material.
Cross-train as much as possible, always. I will always advocate for this. If you’re a creative—learn other creative methods and mediums, so when you can see a gap or an opening, you can hold up the beam and buy some time for a bridge to be built. Also, in this case, I took a showrunning course so I would know how to be a better partner, supporter, and collaborator with the showrunners. That’s just courtesy. It’s on my end to make that stretch, not theirs. (Emmy winner, Gregori Martin, is the showrunner for TLE, and he's marvelous! We don't have a showrunner yet for POD, but I have high hopes!)
They will have their hands full learning a new universe and managing teams. It’s not their job to come to me. It’s my job to go to them, and to help hold up the tent while they take in the volume of the build and get oriented. (I built it, so I already know where everything is, and where all the bodies are buried.)
I’m excited to know what happens next! Curiosity is mixed with glowing humility and a warm tingling bubble of creativity I’m trying desperately to keep in check. It’s like the volcanic center that keeps my creative pilot light on just KNOWS bigger, more expansive space is about to open up for the next layer of creation and my engine is SO READY TO BUILD BIGGER! It takes effort to keep the build contained for the moment.
It’s work every day to find things for my brain to focus on so I don’t run ahead and keep ripping the trail. Wait. Wait for the cue to cut more trail, Athena. Wait for the next okay to build out, up, and across the chasm. It’s coming.
I have to remind myself I will get to build more—but for now, there’s some waiting that needs to happen. In the meantime, I can get back to my books and clear out some of those totes.
Do I hope to bring all that world and story to new audiences? Totally.
Do I hope they’ll have as much fun with it as I do? Absolutely.
Would I have planned better if I’d known what I was walking into two years ago? Yep. I would have gotten a wine delivery membership, and added chocolate to my Amazon pantry subscription. But, you live, you learn.
Then again, I supposed it’s never too late for wine or chocolate--- who knows what the next two years will look like….
Athena lives and writes in the Siuslaw Forest, Oregon.