In which we discuss birthdays, LARPing, prose vs. comics, and the healing power of samurai. Oh yeah, and writing.
So, let’s get right to the thing you all really want to talk about: yesterday was my birthday! For the next 365 days, the Sun will look down upon me and see a living palindrome, for I am thirty-three years old.
Thirty-two was a great year for me, in all honesty. I got a chance to submit a comic book pitch to a real comic book publisher, and have not been rejected out of hand; I proved to myself that I can juggle a day job, a passion, a relationship, and fun without having serious stress about it; I learned a lot about myself and my needs and the communicating of those things; and, oh yeah, I should probably mention I got married to the love of my life, and we conquered all the wedding stress and can now spend that energy building a happy, fun, and wonderful life together. She complements me, and completes me, and makes my life better every day for being in it. I love her so very much, and she is the best part of this year and every year we have together going forward. If I had to pick one reason we should develop a cure for death, the time I’m getting with Sonya would be it.
My one big downer, looking out from the promontory of this stressful, challenging, but ultimately rewarding, year, is that in being a year of learning about myself, it has also been a year of me learning about what I cannot and will not tolerate. There are obvious things, like the ridiculous Gamergate scandal, that have had me riding the Block button like I’m being paid to do it; but there are less political, more personal things, too. It’s been a year of admitting that I’ve changed, and others have changed, and those changes have sometimes left gaps. I just don’t like some people that I used to like, and have grown distant from others without any rancor; and I just don’t enjoy some things I used to enjoy. It feels cleansing to admit that to myself and not expend spoons trying to maintain tolerance of those situations; but it’s also saddening to see parts my life winnowed down, even as it opens up time and energy to do the things I love and see the people I love.
One of the things that has really hit home for me this year is the realization that I just don’t want to LARP anymore, at least for the foreseeable future. This is a writing blog, so I won’t get into details here, except to say that I looked around the other day at my bevy of live-action roleplaying options, and realized there was something about every single one of them that made me wary of checking it out, or that turned me off for some other reason; and the mere fact I am scared to say this out loud speaks volumes about my experience recently. It was deflating to realize that something I used to be full-steam, raging-bull passionate about now elicits a response somewhere just north of “ehhhhhhhhh maybe?”; but at the same time, it feels purifying to admit it to myself.
To give credit where credit is due, and also to shift to a more positive subject, a lot of this realization stems from one of the bright spots in my gaming hobby right now: the campaign of Legend of the Five Rings I am currently playing in. I had gotten to play one session of L5R prior to this game, and I have to say I am both sad that I never played it before (because of all that time, wasted!) and glad that I am playing it as an adult (because part of the fun stems from the group’s maturity level). The game is easily one of the best ones I have been in, both because of the game itself, the story we are engaged in, and the attitude at the table. The GM and other players are all very low-stress people who are there to have fun and play the specific genre we have shown up to play, and we all want to help each other relax and enjoy the game, and we all view it as, yes, a game. I begin L5R day with a feeling of anticipation and I end it with a feeling of satisfaction, and it proves to me that that kind of game is possible to have and that I deserve to have that kind of game. It’s also taught me, for like the millionth time, that I have good instincts when it comes to people once I get my jerkbrain to be quiet, and outside of some known issues with interpreting tone (thanks, social anxiety!) I do not need to let others make me doubt myself.
Also on the subject of games that make me happy, there is Wild Talents. “Great Responsibility,” the campaign I am currently running-slash-the inspiration for the comic book series I am pitching, has been a bit of an up and down for me, mostly because of what Sonya has dubbed “Art Feelings.” It is a story I am hungry to tell and a world I am hungry to explore, and so when it falls short of the exact tone I am going for I always feel it very keenly. I have had nights where I have been in full Biopic About Mad Artist mode, growling to myself and sulking and wanting to just burn the whole thing to the ground. I have also had nights that were all happy little trees and internal firecrackers about how great it was.
I’ve felt a little choked up and blocked in regards to the campaign lately, mostly because things got much darker in the last session than I intended. But I talked it through with (thank God for her) Sonya, and without betraying any twists and turns in the game or indeed any details at all, she was able to help me find my Buddha nature and make the plans I need to make to get us going down the broad track I am hoping to be on. We wound up spending my birthday dinner handling some downtime stuff for her, and it was actually really great to get to flex my creative muscles there. I am really excited about the game again, and while there may be more Art Feelings down the road (almost certainly), I think I am better-equipped to handle them. I just need to remember: I create things that do not exist without me creating them. My friends’ worlds are changed by the effort I put in. Even if I aim for Batman: the Animated Series and get All-Star Batman and Robin sometimes, I am better for the trying.
Speaking of medium, and speaking of actually talking about writing in my writing blog: after a couple weeks of working on comic book scripting, I have switched back to prose this week — specifically, further work on Eyes of Stone — and the return has been amazing. I have talked before about still rediscovering my voice after years of forcing a silly set of affectations on myself, and I have to tell you, having written within the comic-script medium now has helped immeasurably. Having to obey a new structure that I am not used to has really made me appreciate the strengths of both mediums; I know I’ve said that before, but the proof was in the pudding when I worked on Eyes of Stone again. My work was much looser, much more relaxed, much more natural than it has been. It was easy for me to see how to represent a scene in prose and how it would be represented differently than comics, to see the things that prose can and should play with and emphasize that a comic can’t. It feels good, and refreshing, and liberating, and I would tell you more about it, but I’m too busy actually getting writing done.
In other Eyes of Stone news, the work continues apace; I’m around halfway done with the editing and restructuring into a first draft. It’s a long journey, is the novel, and I am glad to be finding time to take it. In other general writing news, the Not Our Kind Kickstarter still needs backers; if you want to call it a birthday present from me I would even send you a thank-you card! (If you told me it happened, that is.) I’m also starting to look more seriously at trying to put together an online writer’s group of some sort; I really need writer-on-writer time, and with my schedule and mobility limitations (no car, not a disability) that really seems like the best and most efficient way to make that happen.
So, that’s 1500 words of blog post. I think I am going to sign off now; I’ve got work to do and a birthday party to clean up for. I will leave you with this week’s recommendation: I think you should check out the graphic novel Batman: The Long Halloween. It’s an excellent old-school (post-Miller) Batman story, that explores the issues with the character but also doesn’t try to hype him up as some kind of super-badass for having all those moral quandaries. It has some repetitive bits if you’re reading it as a collected work (Loeb was really into recapping things using the same words during this run), but overall it is a wonderful read for anyone who loves the Dark Knight.
Have a good weekend, everyone!