Author's Note: I always write these with a very loose outline, typing into Word before posting here in Blogger. This particular post spiraled far away from where I had intended, but I feel compelled to post it anyway. I have a feeling it needed to be written.
I find myself in a bit of a conundrum.
I enjoy raiding. I’m enjoying ICC. But at the moment, we’re not really making any progress, and I know we could be. It frustrates me and I inevitably feel responsible in some way. Usually after the end of a bad raid, I really don’t want to even think about PvE. So while other folks go off to do their random dailies or regroup for Vault, I have another escape: Roleplaying.
Writing has always been cathartic for me, and roleplaying especially allows me to channel my energy into something – and someone – else and actually have an outlet for my irritability that won’t get me a swift kick in the ass and a guildban. I mean as it is, I’m already rolling out of 1000 for being snarky! If people saw half of the things I whisper to others, it would be, you know. OVER NINE THOUSAND. (That was sarcasm.)
I guess this is where I get personal, then go and cower somewhere for a while. But I think it needs to be said, because I know there are a lot of folks who can relate. I didn’t start roleplaying heavily until after my grandfather passed away in 2003. I’d certainly roleplayed before that, in tabletop and Everquest. Even had a very fun play-by-email game going for a while through high school. But that just… I don’t know. I hadn’t experienced the death of someone close to me before, and the kicker was my grandfather and I weren’t particularly close. I was shy as a kid and he was fairly intimidating. In a good way, but still. It was sort of the ‘admire from afar’ kind of thing. So when he passed away, it was a sudden shock, even though I knew it was coming. I found myself feeling angry, more than anything. We take these things for granted, and inevitably they don’t last forever.
So I started working that into the backstory of a couple characters. Not the exact details – nowhere close – but fragments close enough so that I knew what they meant, but I could play them out of context. My first paladin in WoW was a young woman who had lost her father to illness. She was furious with herself for a long time; felt she should have been able to save him. I’m sure I don’t need to point out the correlation there.
The thing about my grandfather that I probably respect and admire most is that he spent his life doing so many amazing things. He raised a family and moved them out to a flat plot of land in Eustis, Florida, building a home and a farm with his own two hands. He was in the Navy for a time, then worked as anything from an engineer to an electrician before finally retiring. He helped support his wife and her daughter through nursing school. Helped my mother to a Master’s in Education. At his funeral, at least ten people got up and told stories of the same magnitude.
I can only hope to have even a few people speak so highly of me after I’m gone. I know I’m never going to do the same things he did. I’m not going to enlist. I’m never going to build a house. I doubt I’d ever have the courage to move my family across the country. I’d be far too distrusting to offer help to anyone and everyone.
But you know what? My characters will.
As writers we generally tend to be fairly solitary, rather introverted people. Most of us exist more inside our own heads than anywhere else, living vicariously through our characters while we work a boring 9 to 5 and try to forget how much our real life sucks. I know I’m generalizing. I’m sure there are plenty of writers who are social and well-adjusted. I have yet to meet one, but I’m sure they exist.
You may not understand how we as roleplayers and writers enjoy the game the way we do. Why on some nights we would rather play pretend than go out and be social or even participate in a guild function. Why we log without a word after a raid, only to hop onto an alt and drag someone off to blend in with the scenery of Dalaran for a few hours. Why we look forward to writing a good thousand words every day.
Roleplaying is our escape, our solace, and our indulgence. And you know what? You can point to any character of mine, past and present, and I can tell you exactly what part of me and my life they represent. It may seem sad to you, but if this is going to be my legacy – well-developed and memorable characters that have lived and experienced life as an amalgam of my choices and experiences – then I’m okay with that.