Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why the Bibliophile Stalker is Away

There are two Charles. One reads a lot and writes. The other plays all sorts of games. Both are contemplative and love to strategize. They seldom exist in the same space however. The first Charles could spend years devoting himself to fiction with nary a thought when it comes to games. When the latter emerges, however, there is this overwhelming desire to be the best: why bother pursuing something if you're not going to excel in it?

Writing and reading scratches a different itch: the more I write, the more I become aware that I'm lacking in a lot of areas. And that's not necessarily a bad thing: I think style and voice is important for writers, and if you compensate for your weaknesses too much, you might end up with a diluted narrative. Which isn't to say we can't evolve or become better as writers; but the more you develop as a writer, the more evident your shortcomings become.

Gaming is different. I love games which have a high skill ceiling and there's much room for growth. In recent years, games that I've become obsessed with include Starcraft II, Dota 2, Eclipse, and Mage Wars. While I may never completely master these games, there's an immediate payoff after a short amount of research, training, and practice: you objectively become better playing these games. While writing and critical reading can be subjective (and some writers are plagued with the inability to judge their own writing: what others consider as their talent is crap to them and vice versa), there are definite goals and rewards in games.

Both endeavors, however, require time and effort. It's why I seldom manage to juggle both at any one time (and why extra-curricular activities are sacrificed for the sake of your corresponding passions).

For the past few months, the aspect of myself obsessed with games is what's surfaced. In many ways, it's the me that looks for escape, a distraction from everything else. I have my feedback loop: I'm getting better at this, and other people should acknowledge me for my skill.

Recently though, I've been facing an emotional slump, and reading-writing is what I eventually fall back upon. It's art, and all the complexity that entails: art can be touching, gripping, and relevant to the challenges I face. But on the other hand, it can also be elusive, abstract, and shrouded in Mystery. There are no fixed rules, roles, or goals in life and fiction for me mimics that. I dislike the statement that writers are liars: for me, they articulate truth, even if it's not necessarily what we immediately perceive as reality.

This is me picking up the pieces, rediscovering who I am, rekindling my passion for stories, and coming back to what's meaningful.

(And on a side note, you should read Theodora Goss's Going for Real.)

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