What a strange trip it has been.
I could potentially type out my entire writing history in this post, but I’ll spare you that much. Admittedly, it wasn’t until last year that I started to really think about writing in a serious sense. Not just as a thing I did for fun, or something I did to get through school — but as a thing that could potentially become a much greater part of my life. This tiny idea that started as a dream quickly evolved into something else entirely, constantly morphed and tossed against cynicism and self doubt. It’s a weird thing, being someone who creates (or tries to). It’s a struggle. On one hand, you seek perfection with absolutely everything, on the other, you worry — is this too little? Have I done enough? Can I succeed with this?
Somewhere along the line, I realized that I could no longer just sit around and worry. I had to do something. I had to force myself to write, and I had to write even if my own words made me restless. It wasn’t important if it was good or the-best-thing-ever, it just had to be done. I had to get my hand to the page or the keyboard, and I had to put myself out there. It’s cliche, but the only way you become a better writer is by writing. I knew this, but actually putting it to practice was hard. It took me 21 years, essentially.
So I started a blog. It wasn’t my first, nor was it the first time I had made one with the promise of, well, using it. But here I was. I did everything I could to reinforce the process in my skull. I bought a domain, set up WordPress, made it (somewhat) pretty, told my friends — hell, I even made a Facebook group, knowing people would nag at me if I didn’t update or post anything.
I started slow, posting what I knew. Opinions, primarily. I wrote about school, about music, about the world I lived in. In an occasional fit of passion, I’d dabble in politics. Short fiction also had a place, as well as flash fiction. The last one even gained a special place in my heart.
I wasn’t always true with my promise to update. I sometimes slacked off, but I’d always get that article in. I stopped ignoring that niggling feeling that writers get when they need to write. Or, quite simply, that feeling everyone gets when they need to create. I promise to not ignore it, to spill my brains on the page whenever the itch arrived.
It worked. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Outside of the blog, I felt my mind constantly thinking about the process, ideas would come in the strangest of places. It felt good. I was a writer.
But it wasn’t enough.
I was writing more than I had in the past, but I wasn’t satisfied. I spun a plan in my head to start another blog that would focus on “serious” video game pieces. Basically, I’d take on video games in a way similar to Hellmode, a site I had grown fond of. You see, up until that point I always tried to avoid video game discussion on my blog. I’m not afraid of the world seeing me as someone who likes games, but I was afraid someone would see that and take me less seriously. After all, I want to be an academic — what sort of academic likes video games?
Don’t answer. I know how silly that is. One of my biggest inspirations — an English professor who unknowingly convinced me to switch majors — once struck up a conversation with me about roleplaying in World of Warcraft.
Tangent aside, I had this whole plan set out, but I just couldn’t think of any material. I loved games, but I had never placed myself in a critical position near them before. So I put it off to the side, struggling to come up with anything. It seemed crazy. I couldn’t think up anything to write about despite gaming being such a big part of my life. Suddenly, I had an idea for an article. I wrote it up, sending a portion of the rough draft to one of the editors of Hellmode. Unfortunately, I received a reply basically telling me that the site was out of order for awhile, and it likely wouldn’t be back for some time.
It was a downer, but not that big of a deal. I enjoyed writing the article (even though it was a bit rough when I sent it…), and life went on. I figured I’d probably shelf the whole video game blog idea. A day later, I saw a message on Reddit looking for writers. A somewhat successful new gaming blog was looking for people, and all they needed was some information and an article about gaming.
This is important to mention: Before writing that previous article, I had never written about gaming before. If I had not started this blog, if I had not, by chance, decided to write something up for Hellmode, I would have had nothing to send in.
Long story short, I sent in the article and ended up getting picked up by Piki Geek. I was ecstatic. I enthusiastically took to writing, pumping out multiple articles daily. As of a month ago, I think I’ve written something like 120 articles? A good chunk of those are features, too. While it meant that I didn’t have time to post here (Sorry!) it also meant that I was writing more overall, which was incredibly important to me. Also, I was writing in a different style than I had in the past, giving me exposure to an entirely new field.
Eventually, I’d get promoted to weekend editor, and then news editor. I’ve even brought down the site with traffic once or twice — and I’ve edited the articles of others that have done the same. While it might not be Joystiq or Gamasutra, it still feels awesome. I might not be at the very top, but that was never my goal in the first place. My goal was just to write — and now I get to do that, just with 300,000 monthly readers instead of 30. That adds a sense of responsibility to my writing that really helps me out when I’m not feeling it.
There’s also a joy in seeing a site grow. I feel incredibly lucky to be on-board with a site that hasn’t even been around for a year yet. With any luck, I’ll be able to see all of the people around me succeed as it continues to grow and gain legitimacy.
Outside of that, I’ve also started to write fiction again. I hope to have two short stories done by the end of August, both of which will hopefully get me into an MFA program. I also want to start writing a few articles for this blog again, too. After all, a year ago at this time I hadn’t even published a single article… now I’ve completely lost count.
But that’s the point. Just a year ago. Just one.
None of these things might be important to anyone else — but to me? I’m excited. I’m excited about the possibilities. This is just the beginning. It’s been a long year since I started this blog, but it’s certainly been a good one.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more to write.