Archive for category Writing
In 2004, Kieron Gillen published his infamous New Games Journalism Manifesto, a call for critics to free themselves of rigid review patterns in favor of more varied, personalized critique. Gillen asked writers to see their work as “travel journalism from Imaginary Places”, a mission that should provide entertaining reports and stories even to those with no interest in the subject matter. At the time, I was in my early teens and had only just started to consume games journalism on a regular basis by following a certain German print magazine. It was my only source, infallible in its singularity, and could hardly have been further from Gillen’s vision.
In spirit of Teutonic thoroughness, German reviewers tend to examine games the way you would a car, by disassembling it and checking each individual cog. How does the experience system work? Are the factions balanced? How many guns and upgrades does it have? The result is no holistic assessment so much as a technical analysis, a breakdown of features. Imagine my surprise encountering Anglo-American critics who managed to catch the essence of a game in the same amount of space usually dedicated to extraneous details.
It was amazing to see how a different culture had managed to afford the subject far more enthralling efforts, and again I was captivated by the discovery. Over time, however, I noticed that even if English-speaking outlets paid more attention to brevity and wit, many of the basic issues of the German crusade for thoroughness were still there: entire paragraphs devoted to minutia, the focus on mechanics over their effects, the widespread view that games are merely a commercial product, not one of art and culture.
Perhaps you’re wondering why I speak of the strange customs of a foreign land. Even if its flaws can be traced to the industry as a whole, why should you care about the state of German games journalism? Because it is not only archaic, formulaic and obsessed with details, it’s also in trouble, and call me crazy but I think the trend is indicative of international outlets. In the period from 2004 until now, the biggest local videogame publications lost over half their readership. Sure, print is receding on the whole, but not at this rate. As the Audit Bureau of Circulations records, specialist periodicals on the whole only shrunk by about 20 percent in the same period, even those in fields that attract a similarly tech-savvy readership.
Admittedly, all these gaming publications saw a significant increase in web traffic during the same period, somewhere in the ballpark of 300 percent, but the same can be said for virtually any magazine with presence of mind to provide decent web content. And keep in mind that videogame websites tend to generate more traffic through community forums than through editorial content. The ever brilliant Christian Schmidt was among the first games journalists to speak out on this worrying trend in an article for Spiegel Online. As he rightly notes, the less than overwhelming growth in online traffic doesn’t make up for the steady loss of readers.
Even as their audience continues to grow, these publications have managed to lose readers. As games are moving from the fringes of society to its center, videogame magazines are strangely on their way out. Nevermind that they haven’t figured out how to reach the audiences of mobile games, handheld games, iOs games or browsergames, they’re actually losing their current audience. How? How can an industry face recession in a growing market?
When faced with the terrifying prospect of change, games journalism wrongly identified hardcore enthusiasts as their main audience and embarked on the arduous quest of meeting their inconsistent demands. But obsessive fans had just found another way to communicate through our very favorite mode of publication, the internet. The democratization of reviewing through a vote of majority on the likes of Amazon has caused much grief even for critics in far more established media like film, but few shared the demented plan game critics had: to compete. Rather than to try and differentiate themselves from the smelly hordes of novice writers through professionalism, they tried to beat them at their own game.
Now reviews had to be more thorough than detailed guides, because god forbid you neglect to mention something fans of the game care about. Now reviewers had to demonstrate a certain level of skill, because god forbid you were found uncovered as a poor player. Once readers noticed how desperately magazines were trying to cater to their tastes, they started to grow entitled. You might dismiss the outrage over unpopular review scores or the righteous indignation when a critic admits to not having finished the game as mere idiocy, but it’s also the result of a journalism too damn scared to be mean to its own audience. This stifling fear has started to get in the way of frank dialogue, as publications tread lightly rather than calling our community out on its bullshit.
At the same time, the need to claim intimacy by showing that they are gamers just like us has not exactly done wonders for the literacy of critics. Many reviewers really do hold no qualifications past a background in geek culture, and this can keep them from appreciating the full cultural and literary significance of more ambitious games. Few outlets can claim to have addressed, not just mentioned, the themes of Transhumanism in Deus Ex: Human Revolution or Objectivism in Bioshock. That a game like Spec Ops: The Line can achieve its lofty narrative goals of morality and cognitive dissonance only to lose marks for its defunct multiplayer is downright shameful.
These are exciting times to cover games. More people than ever before are inclined to listen to us instead of dismissing our contributions as the scribblings of lunatics obsessed with a children’s pastime. It will not do to forever mock these late arrivals and to ignore entire platforms over misguided elitism. It will not do to only serve a tiny fraction of our audience with reviews that can only be deciphered by the initiated.
When they defend their outdated practices, games journalists frequently try to make us sympathize with their plight, the fact that nobody reads reviews in this age of Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. It’s certainly true that the internet has seen a shift to shorter, visual formats, but to suggest that people have simply stopped consuming written content is an easy way to rationalize your own faults without really addressing them. People haven’t stopped reading. Our content is just not good enough.
There is so much more to critique than the rough assessment of quality you’ll find in score averages or user reviews and we shouldn’t be content to be just another voice in that chorus. We should strive to be opinion leaders. Industry watchdogs. Experts in gaming culture, and contemporary culture as a whole. We should be chasing the truth buried in corporate speak, hunting down the unlikely stories taking place in this industry and documenting the deeply personal interactions one can have with this medium.
Our field has plenty of reviewers. What it could use are more critics, more writers and more journalists.
Endings are tricky things. Even when they turn out to be everything you hoped for and then some, your enjoyment can be spoilt by the niggling realization that the thing you cared for is now over, or at least in temporary hiatus. When they turn out to be less than perfect, it’s easy to lose sight of their merits over seemingly glaring flaws. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic‘s second season finale, A Canterlot Wedding has left me with similarly ambiguous feelings. My initial response was a haze of giddy glee, but once I started to pore over the details of what I had just seen, I was starting to feel disappointed. In the end, approaching the subject with a calmer mind, A Canterlot Wedding is an enjoyable episode, but not as spectacularly impressive as one could expect from such a climactic finale.
The lucky ponies about to go through the titular wedding ceremony are Shining Armor, Twilight Sparkle’s hitherto unmentioned brother and one Princess Mi Amore Cadenza. Seeing how she learns of her brother’s engagement through the wedding invitation rather than from her brother in person, Twilight has a hard time appreciating these joyous news. Unfortunately his duties as Captain of the Royal Guard have not left him the time to visit his sister, as he explains upon their arriving in Canterlot, also revealing his bride Princess Mi Amore Cadenza to be another formerly undisclosed childhood friend of Twilight, her babysitter Princess Cadance.
The joy of this discovery is short-lived however, as Twilight is surprised to find her kind, fun-loving friend acting stern, mean, sinister even, something her clique is rather quick to attribute to the stress of the upcoming wedding. Naturally, there’s a little more to it than that. As a word of warning, if you haven’t seen A Canterlot Wedding yet, now would be a good time to stop reading. The secret I’m about to reveal is neither well-crafted, nor surprising, but it still might spoil your experience to hear it from me now. You have been warned.
Princess Cadance, you see, is an impostor, the shapeshifting queen of the Changelings, a race of emotional parasites that feed on true love, such as Equestria has in abundance. Since Twilight Sparkle refuses to be fooled by her cunning disguise, she transports her to the caves under Canterlot, where Twilight meets and consequently frees the real Princess Cadence. Together they rush back just in time to stop the wedding, but not in time to prevent the Changeling queen from breaking Shining Armor’s protective spells, allowing her Changeling army to invade the town.
Her true nature thus revealed, Princess Celestia steps in to stop her, only to be knocked out in a matter of seconds, further cementing her status as the least competent regent of all time. Now everything hinges on Shining Armor, who manages to snap out of his trance but is still in no position to use his magic, until Cadance lends him a hoof, giving him the strength to blast the invading force into oblivion with the power of their undying love. Yeah.
This kind of Deus Ex Machina magic is not exactly new territory for the show, given that more or less the exact same procedure was used by our group of heroines to defeat the two previous villains. In a world where, as the very title of the show suggests, friendship itself is a kind of magical force, I suppose it’s only fitting that love holds a similar kind of power. The concept is, admittedly, unapologetically corny, but if any kind of plotline calls for a little bit of cheese it’s definitely the cartoon wedding. And yet, I am not entirely satisfied with this conclusion.
My gripe with the ending is not the theme of affection, but the way this theme overpowers other, naturally emerging motifs. Now, far be it from to reject the “Love can help you overcome” aphorism (though I must admit that my jaded heart nearly exploded when I voiced this sentiment), but it hardly feels like the central idea of the episode. Between the introduction of two all-new characters, most of our recurring cast having to get their cameos in and an entirely new villain to beat, A Canterlot Wedding has a lot of content to cram into a tight structure, and for most of its length the actual love story between our husband and bride-to-be takes a backseat to other plotlines.
The reason why friendship saving the day worked as a central mechanic in confronting the two previous villains is that in both of these cases friendship was the central theme of the respective episodes ab ovo. After clearing a number of smaller obstacles by working together as a team, facing a much bigger challenge as a team feels like the logical conclusion. After focusing on Twilight’s supposedly unreasonable hostility towards Cadance, her consequent hubris and a series of entirely unrelated action scenes, it doesn’t feel like the logical climax of this love story, but rather like a desperate save devised at the very last minute.
On the other hand, Twilight’s tricky relationship with her brother and her estrangement from a former childhood friend, the themes that dominated the first half of this two-parter, turn out to be completely irrelevant in the end. Either would have provided ample friendship issues to be addressed in a meaningful way, with lessons concerning the difficulties of keeping friendship alive over long distances or reuniting with people from your past to find they have changed. Instead, we get a throwaway statement about the power of love. “Love can help you overcome” is not a bad lesson by any means, but with the episode behind it lacking in focus and so many other themes cropping up, it is not presented as assertively as it should have been.
That’s a problem. Despite its popularity with grown men, Friendship is Magic is still primarily a kid’s show, and I don’t use those words as a slight against adult audiences, but as a term of genre. This breed of children’s cartoons is not just defined by its cheerfulness, light-heartedness and optimistic attitude, but also by the moral tenets it relays to our young ones. As with Aesop’s fables, a strong and clear moral thread is essential to the edifying nature of this kind of entertainment, and in this regard, A Canterlot Wedding fails.
It seems more concerned with providing a spectacle, and while I’m not sure if that’s the right direction for the show, it certainly has its merits. After pinning all potential conflicts on one hilariously evil foe, the episode uses the opportunity to indulge in some cartoon violence, with each of our main characters getting a little moment of heroism and Twilight in particular kicking some severe ass as what I can only describe as a battlemage.
We get some humor, some pretty things to look at, some action to shake it up and a decent amount of song. Its rush to deliver on absolutely every end may have caused a few problems for the plot, but I did find A Canterlot Wedding‘s fast-paced mix of action, comedy, romance and drama to be quite enjoyable. In short, the same vibrant energy that keeps A Canterlot Wedding from providing structured moral discourse also means there’s nary a dull moment from beginning to end. If nothing else, it is certainly a well crafted episode.
As for the ending itself, it may not have been the most logical place to go, but given the breezy cheerfulness of its execution, I’d have to be carrying a stone in my chest not to find myself smiling when everypony starts dancing in celebration of the newlyweds. Excuse me… I think I got… something in my eye…
Christmas at 2fort
On Christmas Spirit And Virtual Items
Looking past the overtones of commerce, the Christmas season is, or rather should be, a time of humble introspection. At heart, it serves as a reminder to value friends and family over hard cash; a lesson demonstrated by giving freely to your loved ones. This is Christianity’s take on a call for temperance present throughout almost religion. As frequently as they tend to squabble, most faiths seem to agree that if you care at all for your immortal soul, you should not tie yourself to worldly goods. But what if the goods you care for aren’t real?
The rise of the Internet has done truly wondrous things for videogames. Once limited to connecting two people facing the same screen, they now offer us entire continents to roam as we please. In a way, the massive realms of yore provided by the MMO-genre these days are more than just playgrounds. They are increasingly intricate, scale-models of human society, with complex economies and patterns of migration unwittingly created by thousands of people from all over the world.
No matter how fantastical their premise might be, games can never quite get away from human nature. It bleeds into them. We bring it with us whenever we log in; not just our virtues, but also our vices. Our vanity. Our greed. So our virtual communities, far from utopian, are plagued by smaller versions of the injustices and sins all too common in our real world. Take, for instance, the growing importance we attach to virtual items. Some items have always been rarer than others, and those who owned them took a certain pride in doing so. But this used to be tied to gameplay, a matter of owning the most powerful weapons or the toughest armor.
Now we go so far as to hunt for accessories that serve no purpose other than to look pretty and to distinguish ourselves from those who don’t own them. They have become our version of status symbols. Instead of sports cars or designer clothing, we brag about epic mounts and unusual hats. Ironically, the virtual world manages to be just as materialistic as the real world.
Traditionally, Christmas serves to remind us that money is only so much ink on paper. Today, it might be fruitful to go a step further and to keep in mind that your Bill’s Hat, your Dragonwrath Staff and your Diamond Pickaxe of Fortune are only so many ones and zeroes. Their distinct purpose, the only reason they exist, is to bring you joy. If you put them on a shelf to be appreciated rather than used, if they’re gathering dust hidden deep in some virtual backpack or if you’re haggling to turn them into a profit, then you’re doing it wrong.I owe this epiphany to a man called Bear, a Nordic nerd and regular on my Team Fortress 2 server of choice. Some eight months ago, I had gotten it in my head that I really wanted the Sticky Jumper, a sidearm for the Demoman class that allows you to propel yourself across the map without suffering explosion damage. Since it doesn’t drop randomly, most people pick it up at the store for a few cents. However since I didn’t have a credit card, I decided to craft it.
There is no recipe for creating the Sticky Jumper per se, but it’s one of several (at the time, three) possible results when crafting a secondary weapon for the Demoman. All I needed were some slot and class tokens, a bit of metal and patience. Probability suggested that I could expect to create a Sticky Jumper in three tries. Probability is a bitch. I crafted a Scottish Resistance, then a Chargin’ Targe, then another Chargin’ Targe, then another Scottish Resistance. Short on ingredients by now, I scraped together the tokens for a final try. At long last I crafted yet another Chargin’ Targe.
“Bother this troublesome nonsense!” would be the polite paraphrase of my frustrated outburst in the chat. Noticing my aggravation with what I had crafted, Bear immediately figured out what I was up to. “Trying to craft a Sticky Jumper, Joe?” “Yeah. No luck on my fifth try though” “I bought mine. It is kinda cheap” More people pitched in sharing their own stories, and once again I ended up explaining why I was going through the trouble of crafting it. Bear, in the meantime, had fallen conspicuously silent. A few minutes later, an automated message announced that he had just wrapped a gift.
There’s a rather obvious connection there, but at the time I was slow to make it. “Did you die yet, Joe?” “No, why?” My curiosity piqued, I threw myself off the nearest cliff. A notification popped up, presenting me with Bear’s gift, complete with ribbon and colorful wrapping. Sure enough he had gotten a Sticky Jumper for me, the item for which I had been hunting for weeks.
Even with the added cost of wrapping it, it wasn’t a big gift. But I was taken aback by the fact that someone hundreds of miles away, someone I’d never met face to face and probably never will, bothered to spend money on me. Bear was reaching out to someone who was, despite all the time we spent playing together, a total stranger. It may have been a small gesture, but it was surprisingly considerate; an act of kindness I could not have anticipated. I thanked him probably a hundred times.Later on, I looked at my own treasury; a puny collection of a half-dozen hats dropped in my lap by the game’s routines or crafted after gathering metal for weeks. The economy of the game dictates that each of them was worth several Sticky Jumpers, and yet the lot of them didn’t mean nearly as much to me as the three words in the description of my Sticky Jumper: “Gift from: Bear”.
I loved the gun. This was no rational reaction. It was neither reasonable, detached, nor calm. Then again, it didn’t have to be. It was a gift. I did not appreciate it for its value, but for the wonderful moment of surprise, the seconds of joy crowning weeks of disappointment. Was there ever a more divine use for our virtual piles of gold? Why was I niggardly hoarding everything the game handed me, when I could be handing it to others?
My thoughts turned to the movers and shakers; the people who make a point of owning every hat in the game, the people who spend weeks going through the same dungeon over and over again looking for a piece of epic gear, the people who spend hours on trade servers trying to make a good bargain. Who are they if not the Scrooges of our generation, jaded misers hoarding a pile of digital riches that might brighten the days of a hundred gamers? Eternally discontented, they chase the buzz their wealth used to give them by adding to it, always looking for more and more. But more isn’t the answer. Less is.
Whether he realizes it or not, Bear’s gift has taught me a valuable lesson. So this Christmas, I decided to return the favor. Between his impressive collection of headgear and my humble assortment of items, I had a hard time coming up with a gift. But at last, lightning struck. Bear and I share a guilty pleasure: our fascination with the Huntsman, a significantly less effective bow-and-arrow alternative to the Sniper’s trusty rifle. Despite all the ridicule it earns me, I have been using it almost exclusively since the game first handed me a bow. It served me well for over two years. When I came across my first Name Tag, I gave it the custom title of “Face Invader”, a name well-earned through over 100 hours of sniping. And now it was time to give it away.
You could say that a Huntsman, one of the cheapest items in the game, doesn’t make for a very impressive gift. But I wasn’t just giving him any old Huntsman, I was giving him my Huntsman; two years of my online career and the sum of all those times Bear had fallen victim to my arrows. It was the Team Fortress equivalent of a personal gift.I’m ashamed to admit that I was initially hesitant to let go. After all, I had spent quite a lot of time with that bow and I cared for it more than I probably should. I had doubts. I felt so attached to that weapon that I didn’t want anyone else to have it. It was a weird realization, but at long last I noticed that I did no longer truly savour using that Huntsman. The joy had waned over time. I did not care for it any more, but the idea of not using it felt alien. Without knowing, without paying attention, I had let that item take a hold of me. It was no longer mine so much as I was its own. It was a liability, a burden. It needed to go.
At last, I let go. And in all that time I spent with my “Face Invader” I had not done anything more brilliant, more wonderful, and more delightful than giving it away. I made Bear smile. Nothing I had achieved with that bow could compare to that. And though it feels weird to go back to a bland, nondescript bow now, and though I might miss my Huntsman at times, I know that it’s in good hands. Bear certainly doesn’t have any qualms about killing me with my own weapon. Normally I’d be inclined to get a bit worked up over my virtual demise, but every time Bear pierces my head with another arrow, I get to see those three little words in the description of my assailants weapon: “Gift from: Joe”. And then I smile.
So as you spend the holidays reuniting with loved ones, handing out gifts and (if your loved ones are anything like mine) gorging on delicious treats, keep in mind that in this enlightened day and age, the spirit of giving need not be limited to the real world.
Count your virtual blessings. Perhaps you will find that you might find more joy in giving them away, than you would in keeping them.
Caught in the middle of some curricular changes, I was surprised to learn that the follow-up to last semester’s (scientific) Methods I at the University of Vienna is a course now simply dubbed Writing. Both deal with the basics of scientific writing, but that’s where similarities end. Methods was all metric structure and proper citation, trying to get the basic tools and facts into our brains through rigorous repetition. Writing on the other hand covers style guidelines for scientific texts, a much fuzzier subject. There is no one correct approach to hammer into our minds, so our instructor is trying to help us find our own style through laid-back discussion and a variety of creative writing assignments.
It’s by far my favorite course this semester. That being said, some of the opinions I heard were a little surprising. However limited my skill in the craft may be, I see myself as a writer more so than a scholar, so I was less than pleased to learn that some of my colleagues hold the craft in low esteem, arguing that its basic rules don’t apply to scientific texts, that trying to make your work appealing and engaging weakens your thesis and that only a boring mess of fancy words will be taken seriously (I might have rephrased that a little).
I spend a lot of time there biting my tongue, trying not to jump at people and shove my beliefs down their throat. I might argue a little more assertively if the course was just for fellow language enthusiasts, but it attracts people from all kinds of studies hoping for a few tips on how to brush up their thesis, as well as being mandatory for both types of German Philologists: the ones who’ll go on to work as teachers and the crazy people like me who’ll go on to work… don’t know where actually. Likely some sort of stir-fry opportunity. Anyway, I doubt they’d appreciate me flaunting my subject in their face. You G+ people don’t get the same decency.
Looking back now, it occurs to me that I have a habit of defying convention in school and coursework. I play by the rules during exams and in important assignments I make sure to only bend the rules so far, but when the stakes are low I tend to make a bit of a mock of things (and with some success too). To a degree, that was always me rebelling against academia, thinking that its scripture was, by nature, boring and tiresome. I used to think that maybe that meant scientific publication was not for me, but now I think there’s room for me after all, that it is possible to do better than the texts that used to bore me half to sleep.
I understand that scientific writing is made to inform rather than entertain, but who’s to say we can’t do both? I am adamant in my belief that literary virtues shouldn’t be ignored in scientific writing, that essays of both the interpretive and argumentative kind should keep to the basics of flow, that scholarly texts should try to be engaging. In short, that literary science should do its utmost to make its texts interesting.
Polished or dry, how do you like your essays?
So today I’ve finally passed my own prediction for NaNoWriMo and hit 5.000 words. That’s just a bit short of the 18.333 words I’d need by now to stay on target, but since my default word count for this month would have been 0, I still hold this up as some sort of triumph. My new goal is to reach 15.000 words by the end of the month, which would mean keeping my pace through a first of tests and exams, whereas the only things holding me back so far have been my own side projects. Like learning how to build bbcode tables. So far it has been a very insightful experience. Let me tell you, nothing takes you to the pathetic boundaries of your mastery over another language like trying to write a novel. Practice makes perfect I suppose.
Anyway, I promised earlier that I’d share my exploits here no matter how crappy, but I’ve hesitated after learning just how very crappy they were. To my shame I must admit that I spent some time editing the following passage rather than sticking on more words at the end, but it’s still mostly delicious wordsauce straight from the tangled mess of spaghetti I call gray matter. It certainly has its flaws, more than a few, but I would like to point out that my preamble about the outright shittyness of it all was no attempt to stop you from pointing out the low quality, just a reminder that I’m already aware of many of its shortcomings. For the benefit of learning from the experience, I’d still appreciate you ripping it clean in two. Just don’t expect me to thank you for it, not right now anyway. Here goes.
7 days ago, he had gotten a second meal. At the time, he had thought the food meant the arrival of a new day, as it had the 28 days before, thought his mind was starting to fail him and he had spent the next hours sitting on his straw mat, staring at the walls of his cell, desperately trying to perceive the passage of time. When the turnkey returned his eyes were red, but he knew that it was too soon. From that point on he knew what was going to happen, and the additional comfort gave him little solace. His meals grew better and better, he was bathed, shaved, given new clothes. After three days of luxury an officer of the guard had paid him a visit, telling him what he already knew. He was going to be executed in Fanrek plaza 3 days hence. It had been obvious, it had been obvious from the day they put him into this cell. Of course, he had hoped, but hope had turned into anxiety and anxiety into fear and fear into grim determination. He was prepared.
Now his day had come, his death was walking down the corridor to meet him, and at long last Garek was surprised. “Taurn, is that you?” The man inclined his bearded head ever so slightly “Indeed it is, Sir. The King assumed you would be more comfortable around a familiar face. Are you ready?” “Yes. Let’s be done with it” Taurn unlocked his cell, but stepped into his way when walked through. “Give me your hands” “Is that really necessary? I’m not going anywhere” Taurn had produced a piece of rope, and started tying his wrists together. “I’m afraid it is. His Grace insists. After you, Sir” They walked to the dungeon hall, where 8 guards fell in beside them. “I haven’t been out in a while, might I ask if there’s any word from the north?” “I’ve heard tales of snow and ice. Other than that, nothing new. The northmen still haven’t returned in force yet, so we still hold the passes” “Who holds them?” “I’m not entirely sure. There have been a few changes among the higher ranks” “Changes concerning you?” “I’ve been removed from command. Some doubt my loyalty, considering the nature of my… allegiances” “Should they?” “You are going to be executed for treason Garek, could you tame your loyal fervor for a second?” “I dedicated my life and death to The King, Taurn” “You don’t mean to tell me you’re looking forward to this” “What I mean to tell you is that if my King sees fit to kill me for a traitor, I will answer dutifully” Garek let his eyes wander over the armed men around him “Perhaps you shouldn’t be talking this openly. I am a traitor, after all, and I don’t want you to share my fate” “I wouldn’t worry about that” “You haven’t forgotten what I told you, right? Do not interfere”
Their path had led them through the winding corridors of the palace dungeon, and finally up and up to the rich halls above. Taurn led them to the main hall, but toward the side exit. “Can’t have you walk out through the King’s door now can we?”. Outside the sun was just about to rise over the rooftops of Fanrek plaza. Morning. Shielding his eyes against the sunlight, Garek let his eyes sweep over the cobbled square below the steps of the palace, where half of Thawglade seemed to have gathered around the wooden platform next to the fountain. Noblemen were seated around the palace steps, surrounded by their packs of guards, but the square itself was brimming with commoners, held back by the city watch. He saw farmers, craftsmen, potters, blacksmiths and, around the back, street vendors and whores peddling their respective goods. “I didn’t realize people are that eager to see me dead” “They’re eager to see you. Fangar means to make an example of your death, to scare off other dissidents” “I had assumed my co-conspirators had suffered a similar fate” The notion seemed to amuse Taurn “Yeah, except that would leave the palace awfully empty” “And what did you mean he means to set an example” “You’ll see” “Taurn, please, do not interfere. Do me a favor and follow that one last order” The crowd around them stirred as they came nearer, a hundred voices were shouting a hundred things. Garek looked over his shoulder to see The King and his council seated on the balcony of the palace. Taurn led them down and around the platform, to the staircase, where an officer of the royal guard stood waiting. “That’ll be far enough. We’ll take him from here” “Stand back soldier. I have very specific orders by councilor Sebar to deliver him..” “To the platform, aye, but not further. I act on orders placed by the King himself” Taurns eyes went back and forth between the man and the guards at his side, his face blushing with anger before he regained composure “Very well then” Garek was rather glad about this change. He had the niggling feeling that Taurn was going to do something stupid.
His new keeper took him up the wooden stairs to the platform itself, bare and level safe for a few guards, and the block facing the crowd. The block on which his life was to end. His grim reaper, a hooded figure, was already waiting. The headsman walked up to them, silently presenting his axe. Awkwardly raising his tied hands, Garek ran a finger down the blade. “You keep a fine axe” he noted, before absolving the man “There is no shame in killing a traitor. I forgive you” His guards had informed him of this tradition, but apparently protocol offered no stock phrase. Hopefully his words had the desired effect. The headman nodded and went back to the chopping block and, turning around, Garek noted that his watchdog had taken to pacing back and forth between the guards posted at the corners of the construction. Unsure of what to do with this brief moment of respite, he turned to face the crowd, the thousand faces staring at him from the streets and windows of the Silver Hill, the people he had defended all his life. What was it they were shouting, what was it they saw in him? Garek straightened. They were safe, it was all that mattered. Someone else would raise up to defend Thrand, and the line would go on. His watch ended here, he had done his duty and yet… he would always be remembered a traitor. People rustled and started pointing. Garek turned around to see that one of the King Fangar’s councilors had risen from his seat and walked up to balustrade. It was about to begin.
“Garek, son of Thrand” He began, his voice projected on by the snowseer at his side “By the authority of Fangar, son of Fandred, third of his name and King of Thrand you have been brought here to answer for your grievous crimes in front of crown and people. You have been found guilty of plotting to dethrone your rightful King. Do you deny your crimes?” Garek inclined his head “No, m’lord” And why would he? Disputing claims of treason presented by his own King was treason in itself. “You are a traitor, and the law passed on to us by our most wise ruler dictates that there is only one sentence for this crime” “Aye” Garek said, but lacking a snowseer of his own the words would only reach his personal royal guard, who had stepped behind him. “In the name of your King, I sentence you to die” The stuffy man half-turned to face Fangar, who gestured approval. “Executioner, take his head” The royal guard had walked over to him, dagger in hand “Don’t try anything foolish now” “You have my word” Working the blade back and forth, he cut the ropes binding Garek’s wrist “Any last words?” “No” Garek shook his arms and moved his fingers, before realizing the idiocy of the gesture. “Do me favor and strike clean” he sighed, getting on his knees in front of the wooden block “I’d sooner end this in a single clean cut” This was probably something he shouldn’t say, but now felt like the time to violate protocol. Garek closed his eyes. Wood croaked and leather creaked as the headsman next to him changed his footing and gripped his axe tightly. Voices, mumbling. Faint hammering from the Street of Nails. Then there was only his own breath. Wind in his hair. The rythm of his heart, beating. Angry voices, the sound of steel rushing somewhere, screaming.
Screaming! Garek opened his eyes again and saw people running, people shouting, guards fighting … other guards? He turned to face a sound on his left, and saw that his death had dropped his axe and was now stumbling backwards. He got back on his feet. “Stay right were you are” his keeper reminded him before turning, sword in hand, to face Taurn, the brave fool. Garek yelled, but the ranger was already upon the royal guard. Taurn caught his strike on his own sword, before driving a dagger into the man’s armpit. “No! Taurn what do you think you’re doing!” “What does it look like? We”re saving you Sir” He paused, gestured to two of the men behind him “We should hurry now, if you’d kindly follow me to…” “No” “What did you say” “I said no! Are you insane?” “I’m sorry Sir” Taurn sighed, closing the distance between them. He put a hand on Garek’s shoulder “but you don’t get a word in this” His instincts kicked in and Garek caught the first strike, but then Taurn’s ironclad elbow was closing in on his face. He tumbled back, spitting blood “Leave me here” “No” And then the world went dark.
October’s coming to a close, and this brings about three things: The end of Skyrim month, Halloween, the mother of all non-holidays and, most importantly, the start of the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMO (hehe). Year after Year, the project has thousands of would-be writers from all over the world try to write at least 50.000 words between November 1st and November 30th, and this year I’ll be one of them. Since preparation work is allowed, and encouraged, I should probably be fleshing out character bios, putting bits of dialogue on post-it notes or stockpiling Red Bull right now, but before I start dealing with the thing proper. I thought it might be a good idea to chronicle my expectations, and then one month later we’ll see how well I kept up.
So, what do I think will happen during NaNoWriMo?
I won’t make it.
Let’s just be reasonable about this: I will fail. 50.000 words in a month is a lot, even for a professional full-time writer, and I just so happen to be a grad student with hardly any experience with narrative fiction. 50.000 words is roughly twice the amount of content in this entire blog, and look how long it took me to create all of that. I got a whole load of lectures next month, even an off-season exam. I need to finish up Skyrim month, work with the judges and create the showcase. I’d like to do one or two reviews next month. My point is, I got a whole lot of other stuff to worry about. I don’t play to lose, I’d love to hit 50.000 words and I’ll damn well try, but it seem unlikely. Even 10.000 seems unlikely, considering I’ve never tackled a project of even remotely this daunting size. Which links us to prediction number 2.
My novel will suck.
Have I mentioned that I’ve never written fiction before? Or that I’m winging it, safe for one expositional paragraph that has been floating around in my head and the roughest of possible plot outlines? Or that I don’t even know how to format such a project and will probably end up creating one overly long Word document? Even leaving aside my cluelessness, laziness and lack of preparation, it has to be assumed that at my inexperience will show. I’m not exactly how that will come to pass, might be the plot will be riddled with holes, or maybe the dialogue will end up feeling stilted or maybe, and that’s a very probable option, it will be the bastard child of so many sleep-deprived creative voids, make no sense whatsoever and read like depraved My Little Pony fanfiction (It’s not really about ponies, sorry). Whatever I end up producing, or failing to produce, chances are good it will suck ass. The important thing is: That’s okay.
That’s the beautiful thing about the lofty goal of 50.000 words. It doesn’t leave much leeway for editing, second thoughts, detailed preperation work or doubts. The only way to ever be able to crank out that much prose in that little time is to put all other things aside and write. With no time to assess the quality of your own work, you need to allow yourself to write badly. Clock’s a ticking. Don’t like this paragraph? Well whatcha gonna do, delete it? You’re working backwards. You need more words. Write, write, write, then write some more. Sort it out later. That mindset will prove to be a healthy exercise. Writing after all is something that needs practice, the more the better. The results of my writing don’t matter. The important thing is that I let the ink flow right out of my hands. No censoring, no second thoughts. I’ll write some of the worst stuff I’ve ever written, and I’ll accept that. I’ll put it up here, for all to see.
I’m not alone.
Despite being titled the National Novel Writing Month, this project isn’t actually limited to one state. Curiously enough, the forum on the site revealed that there’s a number of Wrimo’s (hehe) right in this very city. There’s even a traditional Kick Off Write In on the 31st of October. Since I’m not that big on Halloween (or rather, because I failed to acquire an Altair costume yet again), I might actually end up going there. Based on what I read, I’m not exactly sure whether to expect a party, or a dozen people writing in total silence. In that light, I’ll skip dressing up, but might be I’ll make up for that by bringing booze. Mmm brain juice. It’s probably a good idea to get in touch with local verbalists, but I’m pretty sure the experience will end up being very, very weird.
Unless I stumble upon some self-discipline tomorrow, this can’t be helped. Now, hopefully I won’t spend the entire month playing Team Fortress 2, though that’s certainly still a possibility, but it might be that I get back on my usual habit of runaround productivity. If you suddenly see a lot more activity around here, you’ll know that it’s because I’m trying to avoid my novel. To fight this problem, I’ve taken to calling it “my” novel as much as possible. Perhaps that’ll give me a sense of responsibility.
Today, for lack of original content, I present my entry in Chuck “Chunk” Wendig’s latest Flash Fiction Challenge.
100 words or less (98, booyah) on bullying:
“We’re out of coffee again Johnboy”
“You know, it’s not really my job to make coffee for you”
“No, your job is to finish up on last week’s numbers, and yet Ericson hasn’t seen a report yet”
“That’s because Grant hasn’t done his part of the…”
“Or, according to Grant, it’s because you’re lazy”
“Terry and Andrew mentioned how you’re bugging them..” “I never” “… so you’ll be helping with
their numbers as well. And don’t forget: Coffee”
On days like this, it was comforting to think of the locked box in his drawer. 17 bullets. More than
After a summer spent drinking, gaming and drunken gaming I’m moving back into a college schedule right now, which hopefully means you’ll get to see a bit more activity around here. I haven’t finished anything new yet, but I figured I might honor the occasion by shamelessly reposting some old work. The following is my entry to the Review Noir contest on the Escapist. Strictly speaking, I violate the rules by revealing which entry is mine, and should the voting ever resume I’ll be the first to fill Nuke in. Unfortunately it seems more likely to break down and eventually silently disappear, much like the previous installment did.
I recently realized that I have no backup copy of the review that vanished with the Indie contest. The thing was so bad that I don’t actually mind losing it, but the thought did serve as a reminder that, hey!, I got another review in a similar situation right now. So I figured I might as well salvage my entry this time. It’s a shame that I’ll never get to claim last place now.
The piece itself is a rather lackluster sideproduct of a busy week at college. It’s less a review and more of a narrative, and by narrative I mean one long tortured metaphor, and a blatantly obvious one at that. I deliberately cut the first draft short to stay within the word limit, grudgingly ignoring the various plotholes and kinks in the structure, but it still ended up at 200 words past the limit. Somehow I managed to cut it down to 1500, but I doubt that it got any better in the process. I’ll let you be the judge. Enjoy my weird, shoddy short story.
The Wretch & Hallow was one of the oldest bars in town, with a very loyal clientele. Even at this early hour it was filled with chatter, smoke and the constant clinking of glasses. This wasn’t the way Nathan normally liked to spend his evenings, but like every other cop out there, sometimes he just needed a drink. Most of his colleagues got their fill a little closer to the station, but he preferred drinking on his own. The Wretch & Hallow was on his way home, and the buzzing allowed him to be alone with his thoughts. Tonight, however, he wasn’t the only one looking for solitude there and just as the bartender gave him his first share of liquid remission, he heard a familiar voice by his side.
“Evening Nathan” “Oh Hey Peck. Didn’t see you there” “That’s quite alright. Wasn’t looking to be seen, either” And Nathan could see why. It had been a while since he last worked with Gregory Peck, but he distinctly remembered him being a prim fellow. There was no sign of that left. He looked unkempt and tired, and his bald, round head had gained a sickly yellowish color that neither his three-day stubble nor the blush of inebriation could hide. “What brings you here Nate?”
“Had a bit of a rough day. Got a body at the docks, but of course ain’t nobody down there gonna talk to a cop. It was one of them, some lowlife junkie, but they won’t open their damn mouths. Small stuff, eh? How’s business with the task force?” Greg took another sip, keeping his eyes fixed on the glass of whiskey in front of him. “Lousy” “Really? I heard yesterday’s raid went quite well. How much did you take off the street this time? Half a ton?” “Almost” “See, half a ton of pills that’ll never make it to some rich kid’s mouth. And didn’t you catch the four biggest drug lords in town at the same time?” “We had them alright” He downed his drink and gestured for another. “You don’t mean to tell me they’re out already?”
He didn’t. But the look on his face said everything. “In less than a day? I thought you had found someone to testify against Ink Blot?” “Ran for the hills. Ink resisted arrest and the guy taking him in ended up breaking his wrist, so his lawyer sprang him. Guy won’t talk while Ink is on the loose” “What about Pink Paul?” “We had some documents he signed, but somehow the guys at evidence misplaced them. They were among the old files destroyed today” “Wow. I knew the guy had some pull, but that… What about Strobe and Adrian Clyde?” “Made deals. The attorney would rather lock up some middlemen than give them a chance to break our witnesses in a drawn-out trial”
“Focus on the bright side: Some scum will end up in the can, and you got their goods. They’re prolly running a major loss and how long can they really…“Okay, stop. I know you’re trying to help Nate, but I can’t go on like this. You wanna know how long they can keep this up? Forever. We’re not taking anywhere near enough to mess up their business and anytime I get my hands on them they walk right back out of lockup in a matter of hours. I just can’t get to them, but they can get to me. You know what I found in my mailbox today?” “Mail?” “Cherries” “Cherries?” “Cherries” “Now what’s that supposed to mean?” “Haven’t a clue. But it can’t be good” “Maybe it is. You’re stepping on some toes.”
“Doesn’t matter if I do. This is game I can’t win” “But nobody plays the game like you. The guys are keeping track of your stats: Fourteen successful razzias in a row, no complications. You’re Gregory Peck, the master schemer. You should hear them go on and on about your elegantly designed plans: Nothing unaccounted for, but nothing past that. No fancy tricks, just getting the job done. Some say they could listen to your briefings all day long. Remember blowing that meet in the sewers? That place is agoddamn labyrinth, but you knew your way. Every. Single. Turn”
“That’s not all they say. They say there’s no variety. That I have just one trick, and even if that’s a very good trick sooner or later something will go wrong. And they’re right. I can’t go on dodging them forever. The guy in the park was a warning and I got lucky at the last raid when I just took a graze, but that won’t happen again. I am nogoddamn cat. I am down to my last fucking life” Mechanically, he raised his glass, but then put it down again. “I’ll resign tomorrow” “You can’t quit, Greg” “You wanna lecture me on that? Because the attitude didn’t serve you too well” “Don’t go there. Just listen to me when I say: You can’t quit. It has to be done”
“Are we still talking about me? What was her name again? Sally something?” “Sandra Lowe” “There were no leads, no witnesses, no anything! And you were up for promotion goddamnit! You could have gotten my job!” “I should have gotten your job, you know it” “Why didn’t you just let it go?” “I couldn’t. I promised” “You know what else you couldn’t do? Solve the goddamn case!” Nathan slammed his glass down, spilling its content on the counter. “You know what I think? I think you’re just a coward. You moved up the ladder, you’re finally in a position to change something in this hellhole of a city but you just won’t do it. You’re too scared, scared of everything. Too afraid to take the risks that this job is all about” “I don’t have to sit here and listen to this” “You’re a coward” “And you’re a lousy cop”
That was too much. The punch was awkwardly delivered, but Greg wasn’t prepared for it. Hell, Nathan himself was surprised he was doing this. He hit his cheek and Greg fell over backwards. He would have felt better about it if Greg had justified it by going along, but he simply got up again and went back to his whiskey. “It’s a shame it had to come to this” Greg noted unspecifically, paying for his last round. “I would have thought you’d understand. So long Nathan. Maybe you’ll get my job after all” And out the door he went. Nathan already knew he had to apologize, even if he didn’t like the idea. With a final sip from his glass he got up and stepped out into the streets.
Gregory wasn’t outside the bar, so Nathan marched off in the general direction of his apartment. The sun had gone down while was in the Wretch & Hallow and the streets where good as empty, but Greg was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he had taken a cab? He was about to give up when he heard something coming from an alley. “My, my Peck. Looks like somebody beat us to it”. Sure enough, there was Gregory held up by two goons. Presumably Strobe’s men, not that there was any shortage of people who wanted to see him dead. “Look here Randy” The first thug announced, pointing at something “Ain’t that some of our merchandise?” Nathan sighed. What had he said a few minutes ago? You can’t quit, it has to be done. It was no fair fight. They were armed, and sober. But goddamnit, he was at least going to try.
“Man, Peck. I never figured you was one for that stuff. You might as well though, must have plenty lying around”. They noticed him. No big surprise there, he was less than subtle about charging towards them. Fortunately Peck used his moment to shove the pair backwards, giving him enough time to tackle them both to the ground. Landing on top of the first goon, he tried to wrestle the gun from his hands while Peck mounted the other and proceeded to beat him to a pulp. Nathan and who he thought was Randy were rolling around on the floor. He could feel his grip on the gun getting stronger. He removed one hand from the barrel, grabbed Randy’s wrist and started twisting with all his might, when suddenly the alley resounded with a mighty bang. Nathan didn’t let go. He didn’t feel pain, just a strange, warm prickling sensation in his stomach. Randy pulled the trigger once more. Nathan stopped struggling and rolled off his foe. Warm blood was running from his torso, leaving him all the colder for it. Three more shots. Now Peck’s bald, yellow head appeared in his field of vision “Why did you have to interfere? This was my fight, you shouldn’t…” “That’s quite alright. Do you know Mitchell’s record?” “255 successful razzias?” “Break it.”
Gaming is a hobby with a very high entrance fee so virtually any gamer out there has some sort of source to research which titles among the plethora out there deserve his attention. For the last seven years Gamestar magazine has been this source for me. I started wading into the market of german games periodicals back in 2003, by 2004 I had discovered Gamestar and started reading it regularly, making it a monthly expenditure by 2005. Seven years. That’s by far the longest relationship I’ve ever been in. Now it’s over.
I’ve been rolling this decision around for the last few months, but last week I finally concluded that I simply no longer need a regular print magazine on gaming and I’ve only grown more firm in this decision the more I’ve been thinking about it. The reason this decision has been taking me quite a while, and I think this deserves to be said here, is that Gamestar is a damn fine magazine. They’re easily the best german magazine on the subject. PC Action sports too much low-brow, prepubescent humor and is writing on a similarly simplistic level. ComputerBildSpiele? Of all contenders they spend most on free titles for their DVDs. but the actual writing is atrocious and it’s worth remembering that they’re a sister company to the populist, sensationalist Bild newspaper, which is a bit as if Fox news hosted a regular show on games. Even while reporting on the subject they don’t treat it with the respect it deserves. PcGames is not that bad, but they lack personality a bit.
Gamestar combines good writing with humor and, most importantly, professionalism and a love for the medium. When politicians and news shows made uninformed statements about the likes of Counterstrike they were the ones to try to bring reason to the debate by showing politicians what Counterstrike really is and fostering initiatives for gamers to represent politically. They’re the ones who created the largest german video game award, based entirely on a poll in their readerbase. They talk about issues within the community and industry rather than just reviewing. They’re one of the few newspapers these days that feature a section correcting mistakes from the previous issue (While it’s mostly typos and word-switches, the over-the-top, made up punishments for the editor in question are fun to read).
They employ some of the best people in the field, but of those I’d like to specifically mention Christian Schmidt and Fabian Siegismund. The former is embarrassingly witty and very quick on top of it. While I assume that some might find less love in his high-brow intellectual humor than I do, he certainly knows how to spike reviews and his work might include anything from impromptu poetry to creating a special persona and staying in character throughout the entire review. His essay on MineCraft is one of the best takes on the subject I’ve seen. It’s hard to be all witty all the time though, so he occasionally phones it in when the subject in question is less than ripe for comedy. Fabian Siegismund, by contrast, radiates enthusiasm every hour of the day. His writing is slightly less brilliant, but he’s got a lot of talent for (voice) acting, so while his jokes are less original the delivery is usually pitch-perfect.
So why am I leaving all this behind? Two big reasons really, firstly certain trends within the magazine and secondly certain trends in me. Part of the reason why I picked this magazine over the others back when I was surfing through the market was that they seemed to value the same qualities in games I valued. They awarded cleverness, innovation and charme and were willing to forgive a few things about execution if the idea was good. Even though they already had a percentile based score system back then they mostly bent it to their will and not the other way around. Then over time they split the whole thing into categories, making it harder to squeeze additional points for well-intentioned products in there. And now last month they split their videos into subcategories. Subcategories! This flies in the face of anything I learned about reviewing in the past years.
Which neatly links me to the second part: my changing attitude towards games journalism. It would be wrong to say that I used to treat their word like god’s will, partly because I at least chose my own god and partly because I never treated Gamestar like the ultimate authority, but they did definitely color my view on things for many years. But after a while along came The Escapist and I started to learn a huge deal about reviewing, whether it’s advice from the forum veterans, reviews by the actual crew or Yahtzee‘s cynical commentary. I guess you could say that my changing attitude has a lot to do with my own position in the world of games journalism. I used to simply devour one source, and even with all the scepticism in the world that’s a bit biased. Then I started reading several sources on a regular basis, more when I was interested in the game in question. And now? Depending on how lenient your definition of the word is, you could say that I’m a games critic myself these days (I’m really more of a reviewer though).
Apart from my new perspective on the quality of journalism that now has me cry foul a lot more often, I can’t help but notice that I now often walk out of reviews having learned nothing new, even if the reading is for completely recreational reasons. I haven’t been giving this development a lot of thought until two months ago Gamestar was reviewing Lego Star Wars 3, and sure enough the usual points about camera issues and funny cutscenes were mentioned, but nothing else. Susan Arendt’s review on the other hand called the game out on issues Gamestar had simply come to accept as part of the Lego Star Wars shtick and even without having played the game I couldn’t help but agree with Susan. This event has since turned exemplary: Gamestar‘s review of Portal 2 has told me literally nothing new in fear of spoiling the experience while Russ Pitt’s Science! review on the subject had me nearly fall over laughing while teaching me all I needed to know. Science! (once more for good measure). Then just today something about a special issue on indie games caught my interest, but sure enough I already knew most of them thanks to well-informed user reviewers.
There’s one potential downside to this, and it’s that even a monthly print magazine for the german market features more information on german games like Risen 2 or 2070 A.D. than a daily updated american webzine type thing, but firstly whatever information is actually worth noticing will likely surface there too, and secondly I already have a firm understanding of whether or not I want to play those games. Plus I’ve met people with similar interests, they’ll be sure to help out (Looking at you there Gildan).
So all in all it’s time for me to leave the shoddy times of ink on paper behind. I’ll probably still return once or twice when they offer an interesting game to seal the deal, but my utter dependence on the medium has been broken.
One of the biggest fears I have since turning my life to the study and creation of literature is that I simply might not have anything interesting to say. That I’m bland, a deeply uninteresting person, unique as a snowflake but equally insignificant, even by the measures of this insignificant rock floating in an insignificant arm of an insignificant galaxy in an insignificant galaxy cluster somewhere in this endlessly expanding but insignificant universe. Okay, maybe the universe is sort of significant, but only because we don’t have proof of the existence of the countless parallel universes out there. And even if it’s the only one it’s still mostly empty. No space dragons, no hidden treasures, no thrills and adventures. Hell for the most part there’s not even oxygen.
Where was I? Right, significance.
I don’t live an exciting life. No part of it is out of the ordinary, in a good or bad way. I do sports but none of them are competitive. Same thing applies to videogames. I get drunk on occasion but I don’t have any enthralling stories about waking up in another country to share. Or at least I don’t remember them (Actually there was this one time, but I guess going to another country before the alcohol abuse happens doesn’t count right?). I enjoy books and movies but don’t have a truly firm grasp on either, yet. I’m not a great romancer nor a political activist nor a brilliant scholar. Sometimes I wonder if living this sort of sheltered couch potato lifestyle disqualifies me from being a writer, based on the assumption that if I haven’t seen it I can’t write about it.
The Extra Credits team mentioned a similar issue in their episode on how to be a game designer: Since they’re effectively crafting experiences for the player they need to have experienced all kinds of things themselves. Now I don’t believe it’s necessary to have gone through anything in the full extent you intend to portray, but even so my knowledge of some parts of life is a bit rudimentary, if you will. I realize however that ultimately presentation and not content is what creates dramatic effect, so in the interest of practicing this craft allow me to spike the tale of this blog post a bit: My keyboard is literally on fire as I’m typing this. I mean, dayum. Also there are explosions. Like, a lot of explosions. Most are behind me, but some are in front of me so you can see the reflection in my sunglasses. Yeah.
One interesting way to look at literature, or any form of art really, is to see it as a coping mechanism. The idea goes a little something like this: Nobody on this planet has ever experienced a moment of pure bliss only to go “I feel I need to write something”. The desire for art stems from being torn, not whole and outside society, not inside. On this note I have occasionally been wondering if I’m somehow too happy to create something worthwhile. Not that it really matters, I feel that if I actually go down this road there’s a lot of shit still ahead of me.
I guess what I’m really pondering on here is: Do I have a story worth telling in me? I believe I do. I’ve actually started working out the details and if all goes well you’ll hear a little more sometime later.