The next “big” project

wp-1485241867040.jpgI’m going to do it. I’m going to start blogging. Why? Because I need to write MORE. Period. I also need to hold myself accountable, to not only whisper to myself “I need to write,” but to create a work space for all the public to see, and to challenge myself to fill that work space with verifiable progress.

Not only do I need to practice writing, I’m also recognizing (as in “cognizing again”) the value of reflection—one of those essential tools that come naturally to us when we’re young and discovering the world, but that we neglect once we think we know enough to authoritatively speak about the world. Rather than stubbornly stick to what I think I should be writing, I must allow—if not, challenge—myself to explore and consider yet unknown possibilities.

Perhaps I am, in part, inspired by my (now divorced) parents who, facing age 60, have been taking stock of their lives and fretting over their mortality. While I help my mother edit her memoir, I’ve recently been engaging my father in “big” conversations about our relationship, and why we haven’t been as close to one another as I am, for instance, with my mom. It really is a big, somewhat complex topic (and not the topic of this post); my point here is that opening a dialogue with my father, an activity that required energy, attention, some discomfort, and patient, thoughtful determination, has proven fruitful. Earlier this evening, I talked with my dad on the phone about his reflections over the past week (following our email exchange and after he also met and talked with my brother in person)—and opening that line of communication, to reflect on our relationship, has set us on a journey to improve that relationship.

Similarly, I need to improve my relationship with writing. Certainly, I am in my own way grappling with my own mortality as I stare at my soon-to-be 40-year-old self in the mirror, and I wonder, “What do I have to show for the past 20 years?”

So, it’s time to recognize a few truths, some of which I’ve come accept over the past year or so, and some of which I’m affirming here and now:

  1. Just as much as I once aspired to be a writer or visual artist, I’m also a gamer. So let’s include game creation in my public creative persona, eh? (I know, what took me so long, right?)
  2. Just as a writer must read, so must a game designer game—and in my case specifically, if I want to write an RPG, I need to spend more time playing RPGs and a greater variety of RPGs. Reflection also requires experience, and let me (publicly) confess, I don’t engage enough with literature, the fine arts, or with the gaming world.
  3. (And this is the “big” one) I’ve become so accustomed to organizing information, that my default impulse when initiating a project is to create an organizational structure before sinking my teeth into the content. You could even argue that this blog post is a structure or framework I feel I must create before delving into what I really want to do, which is write content for an RPG. I use Excel daily at my work, collecting and organizing data, crafting reports, and this practice (for better or worse) has become my dominant modality.

In my mid-20s, I learned that creating an outline before writing a novel killed my interest in the story (because I already knew what was going to happen), and my greatest success came from simply writing and discovering the story as I wrote.

I need to re-train my brain to generate content first, and to let the structure evolve from that content.

So, in large part (I know, I should have learned this truth long ago), I’m blogging to establish the practice of writing, the practice of reflection, the practice of exploration. Rather than limit myself, as I’ve commonly done in the past, to the “big” project, I’m deliberately setting a course to engage in related activities, whether that means writing about the creative process here, or participating as a player in a new RPG with a bunch of strangers. After all, I’m no Emily Dickinson.

The Tall Tale Boy, Part III – “Birth of a Bean”

We tell lies to tell truth.  Let me first tell you the truth.  The greatest year of anyone’s life arrives at age 19.  I anticipated 19 throughout high school then treasured it many years after.  I wrote poetry, loved heedlessly, lived shamelessly.  At 19, one thrusts themselves into the world with pith and lightning, with newfound freedom to explore and grasp the world, yet unladen by the shackles of adulthood.

At 19, I began to grasp mortality.  My winter birthday followed the fall of my great grandmother’s death.  It wasn’t the first death I’d known, but it was the first to capture the passage of time, the end of an era; my mother’s family fractured with my great grandmother’s passing.  I mourned the loss of history and knew life would continue, irrevocably altered.

I also journeyed the furthest I’d ever been from home.  I flew to San Francisco to meet an older man with whom (I thought) I’d fallen in love.  Alas, I arrived and did not live happily ever after; in fact, I didn’t even get naked with the guy.  But I did stumble upon a Hare Krishna Parade in Golden Gate Park, watch the very first episode of South Park while sitting on Bob’s couch (yes, his name was Bob)—and also suffered such an intense loneliness and desire for another that I felt as if I’d conjured a ghost from his third floor bay windows.

When I returned from the West Coast, with months of 19 yet to enjoy, I remembered the bean Harmony Rae had given me the summer before.  I’d never really forgotten; I’d simply been unsure what to do with it.  But when I returned to Ohio, full of disappointment, I knew the bean must hold some secret!  I began carrying it in my pocket and sleeping with it under my pillow.  On moonlit nights, I would gaze obsessively into the bean’s uncanny sheen, its reflective texture reminiscent of both the veins of flesh and fissures of a gem.  All my dreams of love, all youthful aspirations, creative verve, and my deepest, darkest, subconscious wickedness bombarded the bean with intense curiosity and desire.

But years then passed.  I thought less and less about the bean.  It didn’t changed, though I did.  I took it with me after I graduated college, and as I moved from state to state.  I kept it—never anything more than a bean—with other keepsakes, sometimes on display with my knickknacks, but more and more often, I stored it in a box.

When Harmony called almost fifteen years later, I had completely forgotten about the bean, so buried it had become with the material remnants of history we squirrel away, only to remember when we go digging again.

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