What are these “other people” of which you speak? I need them to play games. Bring me some!

(crossposted from the ol’ Tumblr blog)

I’ve been on a major tabletop gaming kick. I suspect this is my brain’s response to my giving up video games. This is a hypothetical conversation I had with my gray matter.

Me: I am giving up video games, Brain.

Brain: Wait, what? Why? Why would you do this to us?

Me: They take up too much of my time and money, dude. I need time for writing and money for, you know, food and shelter.

Brain: I think you’re crazy. Downright nuts. But hey, if you think it’s for the best….

Me: I do.

Brain: All right, you’re the boss. Hey, you know what’s fun? Tabletop games, man. We should totally play some.

Me:…Damn you, Brain. Damn you. *gets coat and hat and leaves apartment on quest to purchase tabletop games*

Quit one habit, and another gets more intense. You have to love that. Thanks, brain.

My game collection grows, but sadly, my list of players does not. Most of my friends live a ways away — not too far, but they have busy lives, too, so I don’t see them often. My only regular players are my wife and our roommate. That’s usually enough, but I can’t expect them to play all the time.

I’ve tried playing digital versions of games to scratch the itch. Just yesterday, I played a round of Settlers of Catan. It just reminded me how much I prefer a physical game. I’ve never liked playing against other humans online. Plus, I enjoy the tactile sensation of cards and dice. And even as socially awkward as I am, I guess I prefer actual humans to interact with.

So, in the hopes of finding more chances to game, I checked out Meetup. There are groups near me, but not as near as would be convenient. I did see an actual Meetup that I could reach easily enough, but it didn’t seem to be a regular location for the group. I guess I could try to start a group of my own, but not sure how that would work out. I’d rather someone else do that sort of thing so I can just show up and play.

And then there’s the whole “wait those people are strangers no no stay away auugh” thing I have going on. I am not good with new people. I’m not that good with people I know, frankly.

So everything remains the same. I stay cooped up in my apartment with my games, playing less than I want to because I’m so socially awkward and don’t want to talk to strange folk. Maybe someday it will get better. Ha.


The story-in-a-box: open it up and it unpacks itself

One of my favorite parts of creativity is the brainstorm. Writing is fun, but can be hard. Brainstorming is not hard. No idea is bad when you’re brainstorming, silly mortal! Even if you don’t use something you’ve written down, it’s keeping the brain hamster running in its wheel and could lead to other, better ideas. So you can just write down anything that comes to mind and worry about picking out the good stuff later. Until then, it’s limitless possibilities, and you get to just live the story.

I see ideas as boxes. Like a package from Amazon (one of the best kinds of packages, am I right?). It comes to you, you bring it inside. You have an empty room ready for it, and you take it there and open it. BOOM, explosion. Looks like that little idea box has a lot of stuff packed inside.

All the contents of the box begin to fill the room. Some of it is simple and obvious, like furniture — the developments that come easily from the basic idea. Then you have the stuff you have to open up and inspect, the cabinets filled with knickknacks — the more complex parts of the idea you must turn over in your hands/mind to see every bit of it.

If the brainstorm is my favorite part of creativity, then the unpacking is my favorite part of the brainstorm. When one idea leads to another, then another, and it feels like it will never end. I have that going on with my current story idea. I also have the “staring at self in mirror while brushing teeth” epiphanies, which are fun in their own right.

I have a little time off starting tomorrow. A perfect opportunity to play around with this idea. I was thinking of doing a zero draft by writing it in a “storyteller” format to get the plot down. A fitting method, I think, as it is a story in a tribal setting.

Let’s see what else this box holds.

Searching for a digital home

This is crossposted from my new Tumblr blog. I’m thinking of making it my new professional home base on the net. Yes, I know, I’m very digitally nomadic. I don’t want to stop posting here entirely, but as I mention in the post, I’ll probably just end up crossposting the longer stuff here. Maybe I’ll have a weekly collection of links to my notable Tumblr posts. Not sure yet. It’s still an experiment. Anyway, on with the post: 

I’ve dabbled in many forms of social media. Facebook, Twitter, blogging on WordPress, even had a brief fling with Google+. While they all have their merits, I don’t really click with any of them in a substantial way.

Why? I think it’s because each of them serves a need, but none of them serve all my needs. Facebook is for my personal life. Twitter is for the random things that pop into my head, or the small things that don’t deserve anything deeper than 140 characters (or, if I’m feeling wordy, 280). I write in my blog to expand upon a subject, play around with words, try to be funny, and to tell the world “hey, I’m a writer, I exist, and this is what’s going on with me.” Whatever I post on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t end up on my blog. Links to blog posts automatically show up on my FB and Twitter feeds, but otherwise those two sites would never see my “professional” side.

In my search for a home on the internet, I’ve only found campsites.

That’s one reason I’ve begun this Tumblr. I’m still looking for just one place where I can tell people “follow me here” and not feel like they’re missing out of any part of me. I do think this site fits me a bit better than most. I can make longer posts if I have the urge, but it also feels like I can just post a picture or a video and not be wasting anyone’s time. I can take as much or as little time to share content as I want (or have time for in my busy schedule). Flexibility is the key word here. I like it.

I’ll still post on the other sites, I suppose. FB will always be for the personal stuff, Twitter for the brain nuggets. Anything long I post here will probably also end up on the WordPress account because I’m big on redundancy as a form of backup and, in this case, reaching a wider audience. But for the near future, I will call Tumblr home.

Get out of my way, life, I have creativity to do; what am I, a writer or a set designer?

I’ve been terrible about posting regularly, haven’t I? I promised at least microposts, and here I am slacking off. I’m not just any slacker. A slacker king, I am. Too lazy to get my crown, though. Just imagine it on my head, won’t you, peasants? Perhaps I’ve slipped a bit into my antisocial shape. It happens. Often. I know it’s weird calling this blog “social,” as it’s not like I get a lot of comments or actually interact with anyone, but it counts as such to me.

Dealing with life changes right now. Moved into a different place. Will be getting a roommate tonight. Lots of adjustments. My creativity has suffered as a result. Or at least I’m using it as an excuse. Probably the latter. One reason I’m finally posting an entry! Writing in the blog is better than not writing at all.

Let’s see, what else to talk about? Let’s talk about my creativity. Because I never do that, right? Sorry, it’s just a favorite subject of mine. Plus, analyzing it might help it work better for me.

I’ve been wondering if I want to focus on one kind of general setting for my fiction. I’ve toyed with a few different ones in the past. Most of my older short stories took place in the modern age. Others were more vague “fantasy places,” obviously not modern, but indeterminate as to general time period or location. Never focused much on setting. Perhaps not enough? Anyway, as much as I like modern fantasy, I feel like moving away from it in my own work. Getting away from the clutter we live in. Escaping into escapism. So where do I want my stories to take place?

I’m thinking of creating my own world, or worlds. I still want humans, or at least mostly-humans, but I want to be unburdened with our Earth history and cultures. Get away from preconceptions. I thought a good era would be something ancient. Stone Age, no later than Bronze Age, tribes, maybe some city-states, that sort of thing. Heavy on the magic and fantasy. A lot of the themes I enjoy could fit into such a setting, such as heroism, magic, nonhumans, and mythology.

So that’s where most of my creative energy has gone. Brainstorming ideas for such a setting. Well, probably more than one setting for different stories, just in a similar era. It could just be the way my mood is swinging lately, or it could finally be the direction my creativity needs. Not sure yet. It probably won’t be as easy as I’ve convinced myself it will be. At least with short stories, I can play around, experiment, and not worry about building entire worlds.

One thing I have to deal with in regards to creativity: obsession with accuracy. I can’t stand the idea of writing something and having a factual error. I feel like it would make my entire work lose credibility. This makes me want to do, if I may meme for a moment, ALL THE RESEARCH. Nothing wrong with research. Then again, if I put everything on hold and try to absorb every single fact beforehand because of this fear of maybe not being completely right about something, when will I ever write? I suspect this is another method of mine to avoid creativity. So, I have to get over it. Research only when I need to and no more.

Okay, I’ve written enough for today. Hope it wasn’t too unfocused for everyone. I just felt like getting it all out in one go.

My on-again/off-again fling with Magic: the Gathering

At last, after journeys long and arduous, I have returned to you, faithful blog. Sorry I was gone for so long. Life intruded.

There is stuff I want to talk about! Lots of stuff. Well, a few things, really. Had to choose what to write about, and I decided it should be Magic: the Gathering.

Magic: The Gathering card back

Also known as “why I was always broke as a kid.” Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like all the cool kids, I played this game back in the day. I believe I started when I was in junior high. I’m not talking about “Oh, yeah, I preferred the Guildpact expansion over Dissention.” I played the core game, people. There were no expansions. So, spending all my allowance on booster packs wasn’t that big of a deal. I had at least some chance of “catching them all,” if I may quote the Pokemon. No way I could do that now. I’m one of those people who couldn’t stand not having, if not all the cards, at least a good chunk of them.

I kept playing through high school. Empty classrooms on lunch breaks were perfect for this. I remember losing a lot of matches. Actually, I don’t remember ever winning during that time. Truly a fact that boggles the mind of the game-obsessed me of the present.

Much later in life, I got to play again with some of the same friends I played with back in high school. My cards were long gone by then, so I bought a premade deck (Going Rogue, specifically). Also borrowed decks from my friends, who still had their old collection. And hey, this time I started winning a few. I was especially proud to do it with my Going Rogue deck because it let me imagine a swarm of wicked faeries tearing my opponents apart.

So, I guess I was just a crappy deckbuilder back in high school. Maybe I’d do better if I tried again today? I’ll never know.

My friends and I stopped playing years ago, and I packed my deck away. When I was going through stuff recently, I found it, and it made me remember all this. I love Magic. I wish it wasn’t such a moneysink, or I might try to get back into it. But at least I have memories.

And the old Microprose game, of course. The cards may all be old, but I much prefer it to the new Duels of the Planeswalkers. For one thing, and I know it’s a minor detail, but in the old game all you have to do is hover over a card and it will show you a larger version off to the side. In the new game, you have to scroll the mouse wheel. Like I said, minor nitpick. Also, the new one is too flashy and dramatic. The old game plays just like the tabletop version. It’s a thing of beauty.

It’s just too bad I can’t recreate my Going Rogue deck in it. Beware tiny faerie death.

And now I must get ready for work. In my next post, I may talk about the setting I’m tinkering with. Or maybe not.

My “Magic: the Gathering” namesake.

I found my Magic: the Gathering  deck while packing the other day. I have more to say about it, but no time right now. For now, let me show you the card that shares my nickname. I didn’t plan it that way. I didn’t even know the card existed. Still, now we are connected for eternity. Cool.


I must admit that I'm not as handsome as this fellow.

I must admit that I’m not as handsome as this fellow.

Yeah, still alive.

This post is nothing more than me letting everyone out there know that I am still alive. You’re welcome.

But seriously, we just moved into a new place and it’s been hectic. Maybe I’ll make a more thoughtful post tomorrow, maybe not. Let me think about it. Until I return, enjoy this picture of  a handsome monkey.


550d Monkey

So, so handsome. Makes me SICK with jealousy. (Photo credit: Flickr @Doug88888)