Sixteen years ago, when I was 23, I flunked out of business school (well, I was on probation, anyway). I tried to transfer schools to shake things up, but due the combination of an application error and an administration error, I moved to a new city to take class with a school that did not have a spot for me. What to do? I decided to do three things about it: 1- attempt to write for Dragon magazine (with no previous relationship, nor reason to believe that this was realistic), 2- make a board game (why not), and 3- join the army (I'm a very proud Canadian). I'm two for three right now.
Dragon magazine accepted 8 freelance articles from me. The editor in chief retired, though, and the new one changed the format of the magazine so that 6 of my contributions no longer had a home. Still, 2 articles was a great success. Dragon magazine was, at the time of publication (2005), read by Dungeon & Dragon fans in Canada, the UK, and the USA. You could find it in any bookstore. One of the two articles I wrote (Animated Things) was a pretty decent product. So that was a confidence boost.
The board game was not so lucky. I took two weeks off of work from A&W and put 100 hours into a prototype. It was alright- it felt like a game with a beginning, middle, and end, which is good. I wrung it through a few dozen playtesters, it got better, and I started cold emailing publishers. This was a time before crowdfunding. Steve Jackson Games, bless their hearts, gave it a chance. I sent a copy down to Austin, Texas where they could play it for themselves. They said they liked it. Their playtesters liked it, too. But in the end they felt it would compete with what they already had on the line, so it didn't make business sense. Sadness.
I joined the army. Not much to say about that part. Proud of it. Wasn't particularly fun. But guess what? The following year I got back into school. So I dropped freelance writing, board game design, and the army. I got my degree (not in business though, I changed to philosophy).
So: Dragon magazine- check, Army- check, board game- well, here we are, aren't we? The game's had more playtesting since those old'n days, been upgraded with very fancy illustration, and you know what? Come what may, I'm happy with it. Please allow me to share it with you.