My first love wasn’t pet battling. It was literature.
My grandmother was a life-long English teacher, following in her mother’s footsteps. Her mother became one of a very few female English teachers at a prep school, because she had 2 tiny mouths to feed and her husband, my great-grandfather, walked out on them. Divorcees were both rare and reviled in the 1930s, but words gave her the ability to keep a roof over their heads.
When I was little, my grandmother would read anything to me, from classic poetry to The Monster At The End Of This Book. She would hate this blog, by the way, because I don’t follow the hardline rules of grammar in favor of a more colloquial (& hopefully therefore less intimidating) manner of writing. “I believe you spliced that comma,” she would say. “You should have indented a new line of dialogue,” she would correct, with a twinkle in her eye. Literature was her refuge after my grandfather died of colon cancer at 53, and for the 30 years she lived without him afterward.
I ended up getting a BA in English with a minor in creative writing and a bit of MA coursework, largely because of my grandmother’s influence. Literature has always felt like home to me. I could pick up a dog-eared favorite or start a new story and instantly feel grounded. I thought initially that I would teach, but found those courses boring. By contrast, I wrote page after page of poetry. Reams of it. After college I didn’t really have an outlet, so I gradually stopped writing. I tried the slam scene for a bit, but that didn’t really click. Self-motivation has always been hard for me, so daily writing exercises for no defined purpose fell by the wayside first. I wrote the first chapters of a couple novels, and an outline or two. I still read, but the creative process very slowly waned.
Before I knew it, it had been weeks since I had written.
By the time I realized it, it felt like it was too late. How can I even start, when I didn’t know it was gone, or what ‘it’ even was that I was missing?
I was heavily invested in WoW then, so random daily objectives sort of took that place. Not truly, of course, but in terms of just keeping busy, marking time. I started reading WoW Insider, and became pretty prolific commenter. When they had an open call for editors & columnists of course I had to apply. It was a natural fit. I had the credentials. I had the thousands of hours of writing practice behind me. The initial bit was easy. Name, where you live, experience, what do you like about the site. Then I had to write sample articles, and everything came crashing down.
How can I even start? That question again.
I submitted subpar articles with a cover letter full of vulnerable puffery and knew I had no chance before I hit ‘send’. Doubly so when they announced the people they’d chosen. I also knew as I submitted my crappy application that I had to start writing again. I was passionately into pet battles by that time, already answering plenty of questions about them in the comments because I knew them inside & out, so I knew what my focus would be. I took the name of the character I was playing most often then, and made a site that day. In hindsight, perhaps I should’ve thought on it a bit longer and picked something a bit shorter & easier to spell. I’m not sure that had I taken that time to think, I would’ve been jarred out of my stasis in the same way. I was resolved that the next time they put out the call for open application, that I would be ready.
Tamer Liopleurodon’s Battle Pet Roundup turns 2 years old exactly 1 month from today.
I owe WoW Insider so, so much for that call to arms. That first kick to get the ball rolling, the community support, and the inspiration to do better just by being there and publishing high quality content daily cannot be overestimated. They helped me reclaim the power I’ve known was in writing my whole life. Even with the additional practice I now have, I lack the words to thank them for that.
The pseudo-announcement from Joystiq that AOL is ‘shuttering’ that entire network of tech blogs (including WoW Insider) is heartbreaking. People are losing their jobs. People feel as though they’re losing their community, though people also seem to be banding together right now to keep it. That’s the one bright spot in all this. Selfishly, I’m disappointed that I’ll not likely have the chance to apply again and complete the circle that brought me here. Selfishly, I’m more than a little worried that without that carrot in front of me, I may stop again.
So I want to lend my voice to the plea: #SaveJoystiq #SaveWoWInsider
It’s the least I can do.
 – I’m very excited to know that WoW Insider does live on in spirit on their new, crowdfunded site, Blizzard Watch.