Editors… the unsung heroes

As work progresses on cleaning and editing Converging Forces, I’ve been in a very unfamiliar position.

I’m not the one that has done any of the real work so far. Cassie has.

She’s using the track changes function, of course, and inserting notes, so I see and evaluate all her changes. Which, when it comes to grammar and spelling, are always dead on. The notes are more to point out to me things that seem long, wierdly placed, could use more information, that kind of thing.

She’s been working very hard on it, and it’s been great for me in one key respect; Cassie does NOT read fantasy or sci-fi fiction.

So, all the time I’ve been writing these, she’s never read them before.

She’s reading them now. And for the most part, she likes it. I’m not going to speak for her, but she seems to have really been engaged by and enjoyed Jessies story, and Terins story has been… well, I knew there were issues with it at the beginning. I had played with Manny plenty of times before, I knew I could throw him in the deep end and know he’d swim. I hadn’t really had James as a player before, so I really started out slow and established the groundwork, something that’s fine for a PBeM role playing game, and not so entertaining for a story to read.

I’m so happy with the progress, I can’t really tell you. They were just SO rough, so ‘not ready to read’, but I’ve been very happy with them as turns in a PBeM story.

Now, as the balance I always envisioned is being introduced, I’m getting to be very happy with how this is all working out. 

None of this is probably of any interest to you, but it’s what we’ve been doing lately. It’s why there isn’t blog postage. Who has time to think about WoW when I’m thinking of the Converging Forces story? I’ve been writing the next chapters in my head so I can get cranking.

The drawback to having your wife hooked on your writing? She wants you to KEEP WRITING. Specifically, to get it back to Jessie.

The conversations we’re having over the writing mistakes she’s corrected so far really make me feel bad. She’s the one finding and correcting them, and if I was a skilled writer, they wouldn’t have been there in the first place.

The single biggest thing that has come out, however, is truly, I do not use apostrophes right. I need to go back in time and slap the shit out of my english teacher, because she taught specific rules on the use of the apostrophe that turn out to be, well, bullshit. Flat out lies. I didn’t make those damn rules up, either. I was in class that day!

I truly need to make a shirt that says,

“What I do to the apostrophe is an offence against God and nature.”

Blog… not hit back

Trying to write when your mind is clouded… it’s not fun.

I’ve been trying to continue with Terin’s story in Converging Forces for, no lie, two weeks now. I’ve written reams of pages, none of which I thought, even at the time, was right.

How can it not be right? Because my voice was all wrong.

Get that? When I looked at what I wrote afterwards, it didn’t sound like me, let alone like the characters who were supposed to be talking or acting.

People talk about voices in your head, but that’s just funny. What, you get sick and you become a different person?

I’ve been writing on the blog during this time, and even then, it didn’t feel like I was hitting resistance… reaching for a coherent thought felt more like trying to catch a cloud. Nothing much there to grab a hold of, just some arms flailingly wildly.

Anyway, I can tell I’m finally start to feel better, because I sat down to begin writing the Converging Forces chapter all over again, and for the first time… it looks clear to me.

Hallelujah! I’m back, baby! I’m 100% solidly in the game!

(BBB would like to take this opportunity to thank his readers posthumously, knowing as he writes this that a meteor will be striking his house and hitting him in the head about 30 seconds after publishing the post. It was nice knowing you.)

Supersonic and lightspeed!

I’ve been asked via email, “How the heck do you keep writing so diligently? How do you sit in front of a keyboard and find words to put down on the screen? Any suggestions? kthxbai!”

The idea someone would send ME that kind of question makes me want to laugh my ass off.

But hey, look… 1300+ posts and counting. How the heck did that happen? Oh yeah… one day at a time, that’s how.

It’s the kind of question that doesn’t apply to you… until it does, if you know what I mean.

Here, revealed at last, is the grand secret of how I keep consistently writing blog posts here without fading away into the obscurity I so richly deserve.

I sit my ass down and write.

Now, I’m not being sarcastic. I know it seems that way, but that IS the grand secret. It’s the trick, the one thing that lets everything else happen. I sit my ass down and write something.

I don’t put it off, I don’t put other things before it, I don’t say to myself “I want to write a post but I don’t have time right now, I’ll do it later”, and then later say “Oh, I was going to write a post but it’s too late now, I’ll do it tomorrow”, and then tomorrow say ‘Oh, man, I’ve got a crazy day today, I’ll sit down and write something when I get home.”

I sit my ass down and write. I try to do it every single day.

I may not have a finished post at the end of it to hit ‘publish’ on, although I often do. Sometimes I write the PBeM story chapters, and sure, those now go up on the blog too, so you see ’em eventually. I also do other writing that you don’t see, background and research and fundamentals of civic structure and magical systems and military structures and all sorts of other stuff that may not ever see the phosphor-laden screen (or the iridiscent shine of LEDs) but help provide the foundation that my other creative writing is built from.

But I write.

I damn well sit down and write. Even if I have no idea what to say, no thought in my head, nothing going on… or too much going on, all of it seeming petty and meaningless and unworthy of dumping on your feeds.

Here’s the miracle of writing; once you start typing, words start laying themselves out, one after another. Pretty soon, sentences are formed. Whole chapters can develop, and before you know it… you have either dredged up some actual cohesive topic to write about and can keep going, and just go back and clean up that mess in the beginning later… or you can just keep going with inane crap until you kick start your brain.

For god’s sake, don’t tear it up and start over! Push on through, see what comes out. You can always go back and delete stuff later.

A second little secret? Sometimes, that wierd shit you plop down that comes from the back of your head, rambling and disjointed and all over the place, that can be some of the funnest stuff to read later. Save that post as a draft, come back to it sometime, and somewhere in that crazy will be something you will just tee off of, and say, “Oh wow, what was I on that day? Hey, that gives me an idea…”

Sit down and write. Make a point of it. Every day, in some way, do some writing that is for you, that is your own creative ‘kick out the jams’, blow the dust off your head, get the thoughts out of YOU and somewhere else where you can look at them, and give them the sound thrashing they deserve. It makes you feel good to get stuff out of where it’s crammed down in your gut, get it out there and just away. Put it in a blog post, put it into someone else’s words in a story, put it into an angst laden missive in your black leather bound diary with the red rose on the cover, but get some writing done.

How do you know it’s good?

Third secret. You never, ever, think that what you wrote was actually good. The best you can hope for is to look at what you’ve written, and say ‘Those are my thoughts, written my way, and I own them. That’s me on a page. Right, wrong or batshit crazy, hit publish and put it behind me. On to the next post!”

You can be writing theorycrafting articles, screenshots of a summer day, or a short story poem in iambic pentameter (whatever the hell THAT is), and if you are emotionally invested in what you wrote, you’ll think it sucks. Well, maybe not suck, but you sure won’t think it’s really good enough for OTHER people to read. If it’s REALLY good, you’ll be secretly proud of it… and then you’ll really not want to share it, because once you’re that emotionally invested in it, if other people don’t like it, damn that can HURT like a mo’fo.

Publish it anyway. Yes, you are risking some serious pain, but who said writing was for cowards and chickenshits? This is the real deal, this is your heart and soul out there for reals… you don’t do this if you’re a coward. DO IT. PUBLISH. And hell take the hindmost.

Fourth secret. When you write something and have those thoughts that it’s not worth posting, it’s not good enough for other people to read, it sucks, why did you waste your time… post it. Check for spelling and punctuation if you must, give it a last reading for sentence structure and grammar if it makes you feel better, but above all else… read it to yourself as though you were speaking it aloud, and if it sounds like how you’d talk to your most trusted and loved bestest friend, if it comes out smooth and clean and sounding like your conversational voice (or your ranting shouty voice screaming at the idiot that pulled the whole room and then ragequit after cursing at you for 5 minutes in that run last night)… POST IT!

We are not copywriters. Copywriters have very specific rules for professional writing, and they are there, and work the way they do, for a reason.

If you want to write, write. Strive to infuse your personality into your writing. Don’t worry about the rules, those are usually there to try and keep from alienating the short attention span reader. I say, screw that. Don’t focus on tailoring your message to the reader, focus on nailing your message presented YOUR WAY.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again one time; if a hundred people read what you wrote, you will never keep all one hundred reader’s interest. The best you can hope for is to keep the interest of the people who will LIKE THE WAY YOU WRITE.

That said, when starting out, it can be reassuring to have some tips and guidelines to follow. Follow rules if they really help you feel more confidant, if they provide a sort of safety net when you’re out there on the high wire and the spotlight is shining on you and only you. Just don’t let them be the crutch you use to tell you when you’ve written a ‘good’ post.

The best set of copywriting rules I’ve seen anywhere can be found here. Just thought I’d share.

Do I follow those rules?


Not because I’m smarter than them, or better, or any other pretentious crap. I don’t worry about the smart tips, because I’m already writing how I love to write. I’m not writing to please an imagined reader, and I’m not trying to take somebody else’s idea and spin it out into an article for a magazine for a steady paycheck. I’m not here to clear the personality from my writing and follow a set pattern; I’m here to blow off some steam, and along the way to use the words I write as I was once told you were supposed to use the words of a poem; to get my thoughts and feelings out there clear and clean for others to see.

If it takes me a bearwall to do it, I do it, not because I think you’re stupid and need shit spelled out for you, but because I’m having fun writing! I don’t want it to stop, sometimes.

Look, here’s the thing. If you’ve always wanted to write, but just don’t know how, you sit down, today, and you write something. I don’t give a shit what it is, take your grocery list from the weekend and turn it into a short story of how you had to escape from ninja pirates that had your house surrounded, and you only had THOSE few items to work with. Plus a kitchen, hey, I’m crazy, not stupid. How would you do it?

Or take some topic, I don’t care what, reach out and grab something from the air. Spelunking. Gravestone rubbings. Whether or not mallard ducks fart while they fly. I don’t care, just pick something. Then write about it. Just start typing it the way you’d say it, and go from there. See where you can take it. Tell yourself a story.

Write anything. But do it.

Put the writing in front of other things, instead of putting other things in front of writing. You can start off the day going to work, promising yourself “When I take my break I’m going to spend 10 minutes writing about x.” Maybe you won’t actually be ABLE to write during your break… but you’ll have been thinking in the back of your head about what you wanted to write all morning. It will be going around back in the ol’ noggin, and that’s some great stuff that comes out of there when you let it simmer long enough.

I take a USB memory stick with me to work most days, and over lunch I’ll do some writing, and save whatever I’ve got on there to bring back home. I may not have much, but just thinking about what to write during the day gets the typing process all smoothed out later.

Of course, there are those horrible moments when you just nail that internal dialogue. You come up with just the most awesome plot twist that sells your entire story to you, you know JUST the right tone to take, you get the words nailed down, ohh it gives you shivers it’s so awesome!… and then later you forgot what it was when you sit down to write it. Oh man, that’s got to be writer hell, right there.

Even with that, I think it’s worth it.

Anyway, for the budding writer, I’m as serious as I can be. You want to be a writer, then sit your ass down and make time to write. When you’re not writing, take time to THINK about what you’re GOING to write. Make it something you do.

And even though you think it sucks, if it sounds like you when you read it out loud to yourself… publish it, and then MOVE ON TO THE NEXT WRITING.

If you happen to have your own tips for consistent writing, by all means share them below. After all, I ain’t kidding when I say that you never really publish something and think that it’s freaking brilliantly awesome… and if you do, trust me. You were wrong. 🙂

I hope you all have a great week, and I truly hope that this trend of ever-growing numbers of blog writers continues. I love seeing so many new voices rising out of the wilderness. Send your posts like an arrow into the heart of mediocrity, for you cheer me up immensely when you do.

Oh, and that blog post title up there? I sat down today to write a post, with absolutely nothing on my mind but inane crap. The words ‘Supersonic’ and ‘Lightspeed’ popped into my head, so I wrote them for a blog title. And then I started writing a post that had nothing to do with those words at all, because that’s where my fingers and the back of my head took me. I didn’t try to force myself to write something related to those words when it wasn’t coming.

I could go back and change the title now… but I think that constitutes a last little secret all on it’s own.

The Chicago Bears!

No, not football.

Tomorrow morning, my family and I are taking a trip to visit Chicago. We’re going to be gone all week on a nice adventure, taking the train into the city, seeing all the sights, living large.

During this time, I won’t be on WoW at all, but I’ll still have my email and such.

There should still be post activity,  but I intend to spend what free time I have writing for the PBeM story, and putting WoW stuffs behind me for a while.

Have a safe week, my friends.

WoW! Sorta kinda maybe

I’ve been quiet about WoW lately, because most of the stuff I used to find fun… isn’t.

I used to enjoy;

  • Playing end game instances/raids with others
  • Leveling/questing/exploring in the world
  • Playing cooperatively while leveling with my wife

I’m not going to write some massive bearwall. It would be too long, and undoubtedly boring.

What I will say is, I didn’t enjoy the way Wrath made every 10 person guild a potential progression raiding guild, with that inevitable awareness in the back of everyone’s head that you could possibly see everything in the game… if you started raiding more often. And started taking it a little more seriously. I did enjoy the tempo and design of instances in Wrath, though. Say what you will about them, I enjoyed being able to get a group and burn through an instance at a fast pace. It was pretty cool. I’m not talking about the difficulty level or lack thereof, I’m talking about how long the bloody things took. With Cataclysm, we have the same 10 and 25 person raid progression go go go, but with Burning Crusade style instances requiring teamwork, coordination and cooperation.

I love the new heroic instances as a concept, and I applaud Blizzard for combining the carrot of leveled guild rewards with the stick of heroic instances that are hell on pugs. I think Blizzard sat down and did some serious thinking on how to deal with the endless bitching and complaining about asshats in PUGs. From out of these meetings came the realization that if they could just get the players to form larger guilds, and make them WANT to play in runs as guilds instead of PUGs, then the asshats they end up hating will be in their own guild… and all that bile and hatred would be turned on guild leaders and officers to deal with the asshats rather than on Blizzard.

A guild you can level with great in-game rewards, mounts, pets, Heirlooms and stuffs? Where having more people doing things levels you faster? And to level the guild you have to do things together that you used to PUG? Well played, Blizzard. Well played. I hope that your customer service complaints have been reduced in the percentages expected.

I’m not enjoying exploring the world, because all of Azeroth has changed, and the instancing means that my max level characters can’t just go out there and check things out 100%, learn it. Oh no, if I want to see the zone the way it’s supposed to be… I have to do all the quests in the zone, damn near. On everyone.

And hey, it sure would be nice to go hang out with a lower level friend, maybe help out… oh wait, I’m in the wrong phase. Oh well, guess you’re on your own. Sorry!

And I’m mostly not enjoying playing cooperatively with  the love of my life and best friend, whom I happen to be married to. You see, even if you’re grouped together, and playing together, and leveling together and staying in perfect sync XP to XP… a lot of this phasing takes you out of the game world into your own little custom zone, for you to address the serious stuff.

Boy, that’s just great when you were doing the quests together, and one of you is the Tank while the other is DPS/Healing. “Where the hell were you when I had to kill the bad guy? Sucker tried to eat me?” “Sorry, I think I slipped into an alternate universe there for a second. My bad.”


On a side note, a digression, a sidebar if you will…. Blizzard, it takes a special kind of genius to design a game that has as its sole end game focus GROUPING… to work hard to emphasize grouping, to drive people to bigger guilds, and to design content requiring teamwork and cooperation and coordination, just as I said before… but to make sure that while leveling up while questing, that you CAN’T COMPLETE THE LEVELING QUESTS AS A COOPERATIVE GROUP.

Boy, with all of that, you might think that I’m a whisker’s breadth away from quitting, right?

Damn near, my friends. Damn near.

What is keeping me from that is one main thing.

I CAN play cooperatively while questing with the woman I love. I just have to do it in Outlands or Northrend, that’s all. And then, once we finish in Northrend… well, I guess we’re done, because the new content is another clusterfu&^ for leveling while grouped.

So I’m playing my Frost Mage while Cassie tanks as a Bear. She dinged 68 last night while I’m still at 67, in Shadowmoon Valley.

It’s so much fun… sad to say, my biggest hope now is that Blizzard doesn’t “improve” the old content, it’s the only stuff we can still play together as a team.

I am also contemplating trying something wacky with folks on some other server somewhere, doing Elune only knows what. There’s a really fun-sounding concept guild called “Twits and Giggles” that the Disciplinary Priest started over on Fizzcrank-US, Alliance side. It’s Death Knights only, and as the title implies, it’s just for fun. I could try that. I’ve been leveling a DK on my server, but wtf, I could do another one, right?

It’s either that, or see if I can find someone somewhere that can use a Bear tank once in a while, but who can’t commit to playing that often. Yeah, put THAT in your application and see how far you get, huh?

Drawing results for the guild website and chat server, courtesy of Enjin!

It’s been one week since the drawing was announced on the blog, and Maxim and the crew over at Enjin.com have picked a winner in true video gamer form; they used a random number generator.

Personally, I’d have used some dice, but then again… I’ve got a lot of dice. Hmmm. Actually, remembering some of the gamers I’ve known, I don’t have a lot of dice. I only have one large tackle box full. I’ve known gamers with far more than that. Perhaps I should simply say that I have a wide variety of potential high rollers to choose from and leave it at that.

However they did it, your comments were counted, the names were entered, and the winner has been chosen.

Congratulations goes to the lucky winner, Ken R!

Ken R left the following winning comment on the original post;

I’m a long time reader of BBB but rarely comment. That said, I appreciate the serious thought given to whether or not to do something like this and appreciate him gving his readers a chance to win (and to bring a few others out from our lurker holes). 🙂

I would love to be able to go to my guild’s leadership with this as a present to thank them for the literal years of work that have gone into keeping the group active through multiple games and the comings and goings that will occur as real life intervenes in our gaming time together.

I’m a member of guild named Esquire on Mannoroth. While the guild name hasn’t always been the same, the group has played together in Everquest, Dark Ages of Camelot, and WoW throughout it’s lifespan with occasional dalliances in Star Wars Galaxies, Age of Conan, etc. This is a group of people committed to playing together and tackling content in everything we play as a guild and has cameraderie that simply can’t be beat. We have a website right now that no one uses because it’s a pain to manage and therefore gets updated rarely with our officers’ busy lives. Our Vent server is paid for out of the kindness of one officer’s heart, despite there being plenty around who would help.

Ken, I’m emailing you as we speak to get you all set up with Maxim.

For those of you that had commented on the post to enter the drawing, Maxim would like to offer you a a special two (2) MONTHS of free premium hosting on Enjin’ Advanced plan, which comes with a 10 man mumble server.

To take advantage of that offer, all you need to do is create a website on Enjin.com, and then send Maxim an email at info@enjin.com with the Subject “Big Bear butt commenter – your commenter name”.

In the body of your email, let Maxim know the details of the guild website account you created, and he’s told me that he’ll take it from there.

With that, I’m calling this drawing completed, and hopefully a success.

Good luck to everyone that entered, and especially a great good fortune to Ken, who I hope will enjoy the website and server with his friends for the entire year to come.

Good night!

NOT working as intended

Last night, I put up a post that was meant to share a funny video Manny sent me the link to.

It was very funny.

I hit publish, checked it out, and the video wasn’t there. No video! I checked a few times, and the embed code simply didn’t work. I had to race out the door that second, so I had no recourse to fix it any other way, like by just adding a link. I had to do something, so I deleted the post and bailed.

Over the course of the day, the case of the mysterious vanishing post has caused all sorts of confusion for readers, for, with the genius of feedburner and feed readers everywhere, you are not allowed to have ever made a mistake when you hit publish. It goes out exactly as it was at that moment, even if you delete it 2 seconds later.

Isn’t that nice.

Now, a smart feed solution would be to also send out updates to posts, so if things, like life itself, ever happened to change, maybe people would have the chance to see that.

Ah well, I’m sure someone will make such an original innovation someday in the future, and we will all look back on today’s feeds with scorn, wondering how we ever accepted such a static situation.

In the meantime, I’ve had several very helpful folks email me to ask why my blog has been hijacked, or to let me know that my feed is infected with a virus, or etc etc, because the feed has a post on it, but lo and behold clicking on the link results in the post not being found, and various and sundry errors occuring.

Gotta love hindsight. Wish I woulda just let it be and fixed it later.

The latest email I received was a very nice one from Elynea, which came in as I was fighting with idiots in a Stonecore pug.

I know I got the email, because my new phone chirped at me, and it is but a moment’s swype to open and peruse the message.

I read Elynea’s message while fighting, and wanted to reply to her right away so she wouldn’t worry.

BUT… I didn’t want to stop fighting in the pug. They may have been idiots and acting like tools, but that’s no excuse for me to be rude.

My new phone offered me a solution! I can haz multitasking!

I selected reply, and then tapped the microphone on the keypad, activating voice chat.

I spoke my message into the phone, and it processed my words, then converted my speech into the actual email message!

What I said was, “I know, I deleted the post because it was broken. Sorry about that.”

The phone took that message, chomped on it and produced a typed version. I shall now share with you what my phone wanted to send Elynea;

“I know I deleted the post it was broken. Suck on it.”

Ummm…. hold on JUST a second before hitting send there, pardner. Run that one by me again?

Perhaps… just perhaps… this new technology ain’t exactly perfect yet.

You’ll be glad to know that no Elyneas were told to suck on anything in the course of this process.

My wife DID get a good laugh out of the look on my face, though.