Slow Gin

My concept drawing of my character, Ginolwenye, from the Nature Walker Trilogy.

[Disclaimer – wannabe authorly post ahead. Read at your own risk.]

It seems that I am constantly in edits. The first part of the Nature Walker Trilogy, Wanderer, took me fourteen years to write. Now, mind you that was not fourteen years of writing every day or anything crazy like that. It was fourteen years of write for a while, put the manuscript away for a while, take it back out and fall back in love with Sath and Gin for a while, rinse, repeat. This face, rendered via Adobe Fuse CC, was always in my mind just like that, with that expectant look on her usually freckled face. She is still in my mind, almost constantly, repeating her mantra:

You aren’t done yet.
Finish my story. 
Get the manuscript back out.
Sath and I miss you.
I always do as she asks, being the ever obedient author and alter ego. Even when I was working on other things (Proud Racer, Clobberpaws, and The Baskervilles-coming soon – just to name a few) or not even close to a Nano month of any sort, she was always there – I don’t want to say nagging, because that’s negative, but yeah, she was nagging. She’s still there, wondering what is taking me so long.
A funny thing happened in the more recent years, though – thanks to a beta reader of mine who carried on his own nagging campaign. He said that he wasn’t buying how I was writing Gin. He said that after everything she had been through, to come out the other side still bowing and scraping and apologizing seemed inconsistent. I raged against that feedback for a long time. Fought it. Ignored it. But he kept on me about it, and as much as I hate to ever admit it, he was right.
I’ve come back to thinking about all of that in light of the recent political climate and the #metoo movement. At first, I was afraid that I should put a trigger warning for domestic abuse on the books because there are bits in there that are tough for ME to read, and I wrote them. No, said my Wise Beta Reader, people need to see that she was in those places and experienced those things and came out of it with her dignity and her mercy still intact. She came out with a better sense of who she was – what is more inspirational than that? She is an example of a woman that was bent to the point of breaking – but who never broke.
That isn’t who she was initially. It was a long time before she stopped quaking in fear at every stern expression or jumping out of her skin at loud noises (like Qatu knuckles cracking). She would burst into tears at the drop of a hat as much as she would the drop of a weapon. Be glad that he convinced me that she needed to show the strength that she had – I’m not sure she would be worth reading otherwise.
More importantly, though, it was through those conversations that I realized it wasn’t only Gin who needed to be stronger, and tougher, and more authentic. That isn’t who I was – or who I am, depending on the day, if I’m honest. But again, without knowing it, Wise Beta Reader was right – Gin is who I want to be, and who I’m sure many others in my situation want to be as well, and I hope she resonates with them as much as she does with me. Everyone’s situation is different, obviously, but if Gin can give someone the strength to just take one step at a time in the direction of safety, then she is doing the work – I am doing the work.
I also hope that this doesn’t make Wise Beta Reader turn into Full Of Himself Beta Reader, but you never know. I suppose he has earned it. 

How Gaming Levels My RL

Tired and Fussy by Nancy Dunne
Tired and Fussy, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.

First, let me say for the .0000 of you that are Lettuce Readers that didn’t know, I’m a gamer. I play Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). Currently I play Everquest and Star Wars:The Old Republic but I have toons (Avatars, characters, etc) running around in Jade Dynasty, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Runes of Magic, and probably Free Realms and Shaiya. I say probably because those two…oh, and Perfect World International as well…those THREE didn’t hold my attention long enough to count, really. Now then, disclaimer done, on to the post.

Simon and I are currently on a long-overdue honeymoon. We started in London on the 17th of May, flew to Paris on the 19th, and have just returned to the UK yesterday. We’re currently (as I type this) at his folks’ place up in Newcastle for a few days before heading off again to spend the rest of our trip in one of my fav cities on earth, Edinburgh.

The picture to the right, there, was taken last Monday. We went to the Louvre because it was chucking it down with rain (dontcha love Yorkshireisms?) and we thought it would be a good way to stay dry and see Paris. Dry, yes. Massively huge with ridiculously hard floors and lots of steps? Yeah, sadly.

So…onto how “Gaming Levels my RL” (Real Life). The idea for this post came to me as Simon and I were learning how to navigate the insanity that is public transport in Paris. There is a train, called the RER, a subway of sorts called the Metro, and then a tramway that thankfully we didn’t have to even think too hard about while there. We had gotten turned around…for about the millionth time…when I took hold of the map and started navigating. We found the right transit line and sat down, and Simon mentioned how good I was at navigating. I started thinking about where I learned to read maps with such ease and came to the conclusion that it happened in the old days of Everquest.

When your character got killed, you had to run back to where you died and 1. hopefully get resurrected and/or, if no “rez” was possible, 2. collect your things. I spent a LOT of time running all over the game world of Everquest (Norrath) and most of that time the in-game map was superimposed over the view of my toon running. Map reading should have been a skill set in that game. I would have been a Master Mapper.

Okay, that sounds too much like a hip-hop performer gone very wrong. Moving on.

The revelation about my Master Mapping led me to think about the other places in my life that my gaming experience has helped me level up (gain experience and progress to higher ability and content) in my real life. I came up with two more things that I’m good at in real life that I think I can tie to gaming.

The first one (or second one, really…that is counting which is part of Math, in which my skill level is a fat (0). Anyway…): Navigating crowds and new places without drawing agro. “Drawing agro” is a gaming term for moving your toon too close to something that wants to eat you. It realizes that you are close and BLAMMO. Dead Druid. Okay, maybe that’s just me. Again, moving on…

I am pretty good at not getting in anyone’s way, especially in a crowd. I think Simon was annoyed with me a few times because in a long queue I would move out and around a corner (opening up a place for someone to cut in front of us) just so that no one would accidentally back into me, thus drawing agro. I can also weave through a crowd when on the move, avoiding the very social (meaning one mob/bad guy will see you and will bring several friends to eat you) survey takers and beggars in London and Paris and managing to not knock anyone out with my backpack as I run past.

The third one (hey! Math (1) for me!) is auto-follow. In Everquest and other games, there is a command that you type that lets your toon follow along where someone else’s toon goes. That can be dangerous, in game, when that other toon runs into a forest or around a path through a mountainous area. In real life, if you don’t pay attention when you’re following or watch out for the person on /af with you, one or both of you will get lost. Occasionally in Paris I almost got knocked out cold by Simon’s backpack because I was following too closely and he decided to look around to see if I was still there. Bless him, he doesn’t game.

Anyway, those are ways that gaming has positively affected my real life. Don’t try to comment on the negs, okay? I know all of them…and to quote Stan from South Park, ” I am socializing *****! I’m logged on to an MMORPG, with people from all over the world and getting XP with my party using teamspeak.”

And yes, I realize how sad that was, quoting a cartoon character to rationalize online gaming fandom. So? /rude

/camp
/ex