Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"I Am," "I Do," and the Space In Between

Several weeks ago, I passed the 100-post mark on this blog. That, to me, is a really big deal. Not as a blogger, or as a gamer. It's a big deal to me as a writer. This is, by far, the most I've ever written on one topic, at any time in my life.

I've known that I was a good writer since I was 13 years old. In my late teens and early 20's, I lived under the mistaken assumption that, because I'm good at writing, then writing must be what I was passionate about. I tried to envision myself as Eminem in Eight Mile, this scrappy young kid who was going to make it because he just had so much damn passion for what he did. I built my entire academic career on the idea that I would be a writer when I grew up.

But when you're passionate about something, you don't need to psych yourself up for it. You just do it. You cannot conceive your life without it. It's just a part of you. Writing wasn't a part of me. I can get by without it. But you know what I can't get by without? Games. Particularly the table-top kind. I had an inkling of this when I was young, but there was no way I could do gaming as a career. It required skills I had no interest in getting, connections I had no way to build, all for a payoff that was far less than what I wanted.

So I was pretty bummed out for many of my younger years over this. All I wanted to do was play games all day, but I didn't think it would be a skill that would provide for me. Instead, I had writing skills, and no motivation to use them to get the success and satisfaction I wanted from life, because all I wanted to do was play games all day.

Given all of that, I guess it should come as no surprise that RPGs, the fusion of creativity and gaming, is something I am really, really drawn to. And given that, it should be no surprise at all that the longest written work I've consistently done is a blog about tabletop gaming.

What this blog has helped me realize, though, is that I can be two things at once. Now I know that my personality, who I am as a person, can be defined in part (if not in whole) by these two statements:

1. Writing is my skill.
2. Gaming is my passion.

Since discovering that my skill and my passion are two different things, I have had a lot more peace of mind. When I was younger, I was absolutely terrified I was not going to have a novel published before I was 30. Now, I realize I don't care about having a novel released. I never did. Hell, I don't even particularly like to read that much!

When I was younger, I'd often feel guilty about the time and money I spent gaming. I was always worried if the time would be better spent working on my writing. Maybe joining a writing group instead of a gaming group. Now I realize that no, this is exactly what I want to do with myself. The money, the prestige, the self-satisfaction...whatever the hell it was I felt like I needed when I was younger...that would come from embracing my passion, not turning my back to it. And if it never comes? Then maybe I never needed it in the first place.

Now I'm a writer/editor for the federal government. On the evenings and the weekends, I am a gamer, with great gamer friends, and a vast array of great games to play. My life is far, far from perfect, but by understanding this very important balance, I am able to, maybe, find just a little bit of peace amidst all of life's chaos.

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