Thursday, February 23, 2012

Two Years

Warning!


This post will be a bit sentimental and melodramatic, so you have full rights to skip this - it might even get sappy and mopey in places.

I've been writing this blog for two years as of today.

155 posts, 192 comments, 31k page-views and about half of those from non-US sources, including Brazil, Denmark, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden...

The bulk of my traffic has come from a very small subset of posts - the story got a lot of attention, another entry picked up WoWInsider got some eyeballs, and my transmog posts seem popular, as do a couple of guides in particular, but the rest of my entries are not particular standouts. Some posts that I put a lot of thought and effort and emotion into just kind of slipped into oblivion and I find that sad, but such is the way of things in the frequent writing market - you produce a bunch of stuff and throw it up on the wall and some of it will stick and most of it will just kind of melt into the plaster becoming the background for the standouts.

It's kind of crazy (and somewhat depressing) when I think about the number of number who've read this blog is bigger than the number of people who've seen my plays or read my fiction. But it's a privilege to have people read and take an interest in anything one writes, and I do appreciate the people who've followed me for this long, or have even taken an occasional gander at a Google-result that plopped them here. I appreciate every one of you who has taken a few minutes to read what I had to say, and if it helped you in any way, I'm twice as glad.

155 posts in 2 years is almost 1.5 posts a week. That's not a terrible average, though I've had more productive months than others. Especially in the end-tier of the expansion, when MoP is bringing so many changes, a lot of what there is to say seems somehow irrelevant or too-late or after-the-fact so I find myself starting topics or looking at old drafts and slowly deleting them one line at a time, as I realize they're well past their best-use date.

I've also been thinking of stopping completely, but I don't think that'll happen. Even if my readership dropped back to the dozen or two views a month I used to get when I started, I think I'd just keep writing to catalog my thoughts.

Often, I find myself wanting to blog about topics that aren't relevant here - my issues with politic and economics, my struggle with atheism while trying to bond with a religious family whose culture is tied into faith, I could write all day about my son who's nearly a year and a half, and I want to write about the last year of depression treatment that I went into... but none of that is relevant here, none of these are things I want to tie into Warcraft, even if all of these are entangled with my Warcraft experience in deep, intractable ways.

My guild that I play with, my friends that I play with, are all carefully chosen people who reflect my political and non-religious ideals. Not only their tolerance, but their acceptance and involvement with me and my family keeps me engaged. My wife doesn't play, but some members of my guild are friends with her on Facebook, they ask me about my son, I share videos with them over YouTube. I bond with some of them about my treatment, and... it's all tied up.

Two years ago was also, more or less, when we started this guild, when the six or so of us decided we would play the game on our terms, and wouldn't be held to crappy standards of play, nor would we be exposed to homophobia or sexism just to be able to progress as raiders or have strong PvP teams. And we've succeeded in almost every way imaginable.

And through it all, I kept writing, about my frustrations, about my triumphs, about my concerns, during that time I went from co-GM and Raid-Lead to Raid-Lad to merely an officer and attended nearly 95% of the raids that happened during this time. I did Arena in three seasons reaching ~1600 rating every time on two classes.

All of that to wind up exactly where I started two years ago. The end of an expansion, goals in hand, hope and excitement for the future, surrounded by friends... but there are two fundamental differences from the way things were two years ago.

1. I'm a dad.
2. I'm not depressed.

The dad thing and its constraints on time is obvious, but the depression thing is a bit more complicated. At some point in 2009/2010 I slipped into a major depression, and it sapped me of all ambition and creativity. I couldn't write or play music, couldn't follow through on projects, or do much of anything really, and the last year of medication and therapy have slowly brought me back to life and a lot of that creative energy that I was missing has started seeping back into my life.

And with it come the constraints on time.

There is the small game-development company I'm working with as a designer and programmer. There are the numerous publishing projects I'm working on with my wife and a friend. There is my own writing to pursue, my first major play that I'm trying to finalize and find a company to read, my book that I want to draft and send to an agent, the songs I want to record...

Do I have time to raid? Do I have time to write about Warcraft?

I don't know. Not yet. I'm trying to do everything, and a lot of it is suffering from a lack of attention - but my philosophy about creative projects has always been to enjoy the process and not worry about the product, and that's what I'm doing right now. After two years of gray, dull depression, just being involved with these collaborative projects is enough to fill my life with color.

As my son gets older, that time squeeze will get tighter and tighter, and at some point I will have to do something to curtail my Warcraft time-slot. But that's still some time away, even though time seems to be accelerating. When I think of my son being a year and a half old, it seems crazy, how could so much time have passed by already?

But it has. And more will be gone soon. The patches keep on coming, the dungeons and raids get cleared, dragons die, gold is collected from sold auctions, we run our dailies, log in and out, make alts, laugh over vent on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and after enchanting the loots and cuts some gems to fill empty slots, we say good-night and turn off the monitor plunging the room into darkness.

And, as well all know, it doesn't end there, completely, does it? In the secret moment, in the instant of vulnerability when the day's exhaustion catches up, we sometimes experience an out of body moment of connection.

In the darkness, motes of light dance on the screen, illuminating the outline of my avatar, Innana, my identity present in Azeroth, Innana, a stronger, braver version of me with the strength to protect her friends from harm, with all of her issues, her stories, her nightmares and dreams, she looks back at me, waves, wondering who I might be, and I wave back, knowing exactly who she is, before she fades into the matte, shadow shimmer of the black screen and I turn slowly to climb into bed, well past midnight, and close my eyes, caught between her and me for an instant, between dream and reality, before sleep takes over.

I don't know if I'll still be here in 2 more years, but I know I'll be here 2 days, 2 weeks, and 2 months from now, and more than that, I'll just have to wait and see.

Thank you for sticking with me for so long.

2 comments:

  1. Congratulations on 2 years, that's an impressive feat. I'm also glad to hear that you're doing better, I've struggled with illness and depression myself and I know how much it takes out of you - energy, creativity and everything else.

    It's good to hear that you're rid of yours, and I can only see good things coming from here on out :)

    If you want to write about non-wow things I'd say go for it. Whether it's here or elsewhere (I keep a personal blog for my more diary type posts, which are probably boring for anyone but me - but it helps me to write things down at times).

    Good luck with everything :)

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  2. Everyone in the Turtles has been supportive and amazingly understanding and fantastic. When I had my accident I never would have guessed the extra time would have lead to finding all of you and making so many awesome friends! I am very happy and grateful to raid with you (and everyone else) every week!

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