Before I get into this subject; sorry again for my absence. I’m not gonna go into lengths I’m just gonna say there are some medical issues going on with me lately. Nothing serious, though, I think, just disruptive. I know I said I’d do more reviews, but I also said I’d still be busy for a couple more months and this health stuff is setting me back considerably, so bear with me for a little while longer, please.
Okay. Now. There are three things I want to talk about in this post and if you guys stick around until the end, I’ll explain why I decided to talk about this now.
So let’s start with…
I’m really frustrated, guys. And, for once, I’m not frustrated with myself and my creative process… I’m frustrated by this feeling of helplessness regarding others. There are so many levels of frustration that I go through when I see people who are more experienced and in every way better writers than me go into a creative black hole. It’s disheartening to sit by and watch someone’s creative drive die. You want to pick them up. You want to tell them this isn’t the end of the world, but at the same time… I know how it feels. When you’re a creative person and you feel that this is why you exist in this world; because it’s what makes you feel you have some sort of purpose when nothing else does, not being able to do it does feel like the end of the world. It feels like death.
Some years ago someone, a person who helped me out a lot through my personal issues, said to me that people can open doors for you, they can hold out their hands, they can pick you up when you fall, but what they can’t do for you is decide to live. Only you can do that for yourself. You’re the only one who can decide that, no matter how shit things get, you’ll keep moving forward.
This was something that I had to remind myself of in this situation. There’s an almost infinite amount of support I can provide a fellow writer, but what I can’t do for them, is make the decision to stick with it and move forward. It is ultimately up to them, and only them, to ‘choose to live’, so to speak. That will never be in my hands. And sometimes I really wish it was. Sometimes I wish I could fix people’s problems for them. Or at the very least make them see just how freaking talented they are so that they’ll start believing there’s worth in what they want to accomplish. Even if it’s not working out right now. Even if it’s painful sometimes. Even if you have to push it aside for the sake of your sanity… Just don’t completely give up. Partially give up if you have to, but don’t give up completely.
It’s like my eight-year-old niece told me the other day: “Sometimes you need to suffer for your art.” (she was talking about guitar blisters, but it applies :P)
I don’t usually talk about this with any level of seriousness because it tends to scare people and I understand why. There is a very thin line between ‘immersed’ and ‘disassociative’. When I say my characters feel real to me, it means that there is no conscious thinking process behind their actions and reactions. I don’t stop and think how they would react or what they would say in a situation, they just do. It’s an automated process in my mind. Instinctive. Like breathing.
Now, just because it’s not a conscious process it doesn’t mean I’m not the one creating these reactions in my mind. I know that I am. I know that these characters aren’t beings apart from me. I know that they’re figments of my imagination. I feel close to them as a creator would feel to their creation, but I don’t feel like I am them or that I belong with them in any sense. My fondness for them is more a sense of pride and accomplishment than anything resembling the love I would feel for a real life human being.
Disassociation blurs the line between what’s real and what’s fiction. The moment I start to believe these characters to be real in any sense other than a metaphorical ‘they are tridimensional well-defined characters’, the moment I start to think that Valcrest is a real tangible place, then I become disassociative. And this isn’t a side-effect of being creative or of being an immersive creator, but creative people prone to dissociative disorders often start out as simply immersive and spiral down into wanting to be one with their creation in a far more real and often disturbing way.
And people in my life, although they’ve never expressed it to me, have worried that this might happen to me. People can become disassociated with reality through obsession. If you play over 20hrs of the same video game every day of your life, your mind might start to blur the lines between what’s real and what’s fiction to the point where you won’t know where or who you are at any waking hour outside the game. People may also become disassociative due to the simple desire to escape. Due to just being unhappy with who they are or what their lives are. They want so badly to anyone else, anywhere else, that they’ll create the perfect escape in their minds and make themselves believe it.
And, personally, I can understand the appeal. I really can. However, this isn’t me.
I know I’m not my characters. I know Valcrest isn’t real. I know that when my characters talk to me I’m actually just talking to myself. Reality isn’t lost to me. And, as shitty as reality can be at times, I don’t want it to be. Writing is cathartic to me, it’s therapeutic, but at no point have I ever created anything with the intent of erasing my identity or my own sense of self. I have no intention of leaving this world, in a literal or metaphorical sense, before my time. Period.
Sadly, that’s not true for everyone.
I had some great teachers in my school life. In fact, some teachers were the only people I actually liked in my high school years. It was my sixth-grade math teacher who first said I was brilliant when I was motivated and that she hoped whatever passion I found in life ended up being something constructive and not destructive. She said this in the middle of berating me for being lazy in her class. Needless to say, math was far from being my passion in life. And the world may be at a loss because, unfortunately, curing cancer isn’t my life’s passion. I’m a very obsessive person when I truly care about something. I give it 110% and more if I can manage.
That doesn’t sound like a bad thing, does it? Dedication is a good thing. Yeah, but there’s a line.
Back when SOF started to become a lot bigger than Doom or I could handle at times, I found myself repeating something here and there to several members of our group; myself included, and that was “the moment this stops being fun, there’s no point in doing it anymore”. A lot of people quit that RP eventually. And I didn’t blame them for it.
In hindsight, when I look at all the work that’s already gone into creating Valcrest and when I think of all the work that still needs to be done to make this anything beyond just a role playing game, it can’t be considered anything short of obsessive. Just the amount of work I’ve put into Shadows Rise so far, just for episode one (there will be five), is insane considering Shadows Rise is a fraction of what we aspire the Shadows Series as a whole to become. With that in mind, let me go a bit into a difficult subject, just for the sake of context…
Now, I’m sure I mentioned that 2016 was a horrible year for me. I was always pretty vague about it other than “I lost my grandpa”, but it was more than that. I mean, grandpa’s illness and the pressure that I was going through trying to support my mom and helping my sister out with her kids because mom wasn’t here to do it… All of that and more… It eventually broke me down. And I honestly don’t remember a point in my life when I felt more helpless and scared and just utterly defeated.
I remember this one afternoon, when I went to see Deadpool with my brothers, I felt better than I had felt in months. We had a lot of fun at the movies and we picked up crap food for dinner on the way home and it was a pretty great day. And then… The first moment I was alone in my room with my thoughts I just broke. I was crying so profusely that I thought I was going to suffocate and die. For a moment there I might even have wished I did.
Now that I give a little bit of insight into my situation last year, let me tell you what was going through my mind in regards to my writing… It was a waste of time and effort and the cause of everything that was wrong in my life. For a while; a small, yet considerable, period of time, I genuinely felt that way. I started looking at everything I was so damn proud of; personal accomplishments, as the cause of all my problems. Because if I put as much thought and effort into other aspects of my life a lot of things might have gone better. I considered shutting down SOF, shutting down this blog, throwing away all my notes for Shadows Rise and kill that project before it even became possible. I considered disappearing off the face of the internet without a word to Wifey or Doom, even though that was something I repeatedly told them both I would never do. And that was the moment where I had to stop everything. Literally just stop everything I was doing with my life and just… Reevaluate.
I didn’t shut anything down. I didn’t go anywhere. I forced myself to stop thinking of any bigger picture for a while and just focus on surviving the shitstorm my life had become.
On September 1st, 2016; and I remember the exact date because it was the night before my grandpa passed away, I watched a playthrough of The Beginner’s Guide. I’m not gonna go into the particular of that game, but let’s just say that it was extremely cathartic for me considering what I had been going through in the past months. I remember telling Doom about it and I ended up venting a bit of my frustration to him in the process, which was a good thing because it led to the question of ‘do you want to take a break or something?’. I decided I didn’t. I wasn’t okay yet, but I was going to be and resenting myself for putting effort into things I enjoy isn’t right or fair. What I needed was to find some balance.
Which leads to the line I was talking about some paragraphs ago. There needs to be a line between being devoted to something and being obsessive. I don’t think I crossed that line, but I feel I touched it at some point around the mid-point of SOF and I’ve been close to pushing through it many times until life decided to beat me into submission. In hindsight, that was a good thing because I probably needed to stop and rethink some things, but I also wish it hadn’t been such a brutal realization. I’m still not 100% recovered if I’m to be honest with you guys.
Letting your work, your hobbies, or pretty much any one thing, take control of your life is extremely unhealthy.
Why I’m Writing This Post
I watched a video last night about Randy Stair. If you don’t know who that is, all you need to know is that he was a messed up guy who did animations on YouTube. He ended up shooting three people in the grocery store where he worked and then taking his own life. I have nothing to say about Randy or the horrible shit he did. Literally nothing. It was the video of this person talking about him that prompted this.
I’m not embedding it, but I will link it here. Fair warning, there are clips of Randy’s videos in it, and it might not sit well with you if you’re a sensitive person. Although, I don’t see how any sensitive people would still be reading this blog (if you’re new, hey, welcome!).
What, in the video, prompted me? It was some of the things the lady in the video; Joy, says about Randy being obsessed with his characters, talking to them, and wanting to be with them. I felt like that was a sign of something much worse going on with that guy, and that really stuck in my head.
Like I said, this isn’t about him specifically. I don’t know what he was going through and after what he did, I don’t care, but in general… This is about how your creative process can affect your mental state and vice-versa. I think I’m not the only person out there who needed a moment of ‘holy crap, I need to take care of myself better, I need some form of balance in my life, or I’m fucked’ and I know there are many who still need to have that realization. Feeling like a failure and beating yourself down to a point where you hate yourself and you resent your work, isn’t healthy. Being successful only means something if you’re healthy and mentally stable enough to reap the benefits. Otherwise, it’s utterly pointless.
So, that’s what this was about I guess.
See ya when I see ya guys… Keep your eyes peeled for my return with… Ugh… Twilight reviews I guess. -.-