When your escape is also darkness

I think my creative nature, both writing and D&D, started during my parents divorce. I turned towards stories of hope, or rising from darkness and fellowship. These were the things I enjoyed in fiction and helped me during those times. In my youth I was at my most creative during high-stress periods — then, high school, the Army, my mother-in-law’s cancer diagnosis and eventual death.

My creative energy was often an escape from reality.

I think that’s typical of artists, if I can call myself that. For me writing about Sounders soccer and D&D and the things that I enjoy have been that escape for various points of my multi-classed life. Currently I help market a news-as-security service. I see a lot of bad news. For the past year that’s meant that I have been writing more, crawling out of the darkness that was so deep during the various phases of pandemic jobless and deep despair.

The last year was a good balance for my creativity — not too dark, but enough that I needed to write still.

A funny thing happened over the past few weeks though. The hobbies that I use for an escape were also covered in shadow. The whole thing around the OGL with D&D ended my motivation around Dungeon 23. For the Sounders there is a sponsor that has so many of my friends and fellowship angry.

Sourness eroded my interest in putting words to blank screens. These unnecessary community damaging decisions harmed my ability to escape.

I didn’t want to rage, because my writing isn’t about rage (any more, now that I’m middle aged).

I wanted to not think about the decisions that didn’t bring me joy. Instead of creating 365 nuggets of lore and place in my fantasy world, instead of sharing the joys of Renton being the Sounders second home, instead of being hyped for player signings, a new book, a movie I just stared at the blank pages.

They weren’t a way to escape darker feelings.

Friday some of that changed. Wizards of the Coast repealed many of their most controversial decisions, now releasing a thing called the 5.1 System Reference Document in the Creative Commons as CC-BY 4.0.

I cried tears of joy.

A darkness turned brighter. An emotional night had a beacon of light.

Then I called the Tacoma Stars versus Empire Strykers MASL game for Sirius XM FC. It was a thrilling game with a supernatural performance by the Strykers goalkeeper. Seeing the coaches before the match, Toth after the match, the players meeting fans on the floor after it — all of that reminded me why I love creating around soccer.

Writing is a funny thing for me. It’s what I do professionally and semi-professionally. It demands parts of my soul and parts of my mind be clicked together like a puzzle. Much of my process is a puzzle without a guide to what the result is going to be. I work through iterations in my head, but what if those iterations are blocked by a negative ooze?

I pause.

Writing doesn’t happen. It slows. I do the labor, but without the passion. I read my passion. My best works are those where my soul is exposed with fellowship and joy rushing out.

And because emotions are what they are, reactive to outside influences, having brightness in my hobbies is vital for my creativity. The full moon of storytelling seems to be back. Now, I wonder what the next story is.


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