1. Wherein the Writer Begins


Let this be a record of trial, of struggle, of discovery and success. This project, my master’s thesis, has been stressing me out for more than a year- since long before I began work on it. Even now I’ve only just begun work on it in earnest, but I have lost more sleep and sunny days and quiet evenings to worry and doubt than I care to remember. All I’ve known from the beginning is that I want this to be something that matters. It’s been a feeling of importance, of weight, of a coming moment that can change the future. My worry of course has been getting that moment right, having success in that moment. In life and in school I’ve spent so much time making smart choices. Being responsible. Taking the safe shot. It’s how I learned to be. Keep your head down, work hard, prepare for the future. Be the ant, not the grasshopper. And I believe that has value. I want to be prepared in life in so far as I can, to keep my loved ones safe, and not be flaky, shortsighted, reckless- at least when it matters. This has been my guiding instinct in many things, and especially in school. I have spent time and energy responsibly, doing what I have had to do in order to get the grade I need. But I haven’t afforded myself the opportunity to explore at all, or try to do something different or more creative than the assignment asks for on the surface. It is this that I’m afraid of repeating in my thesis. It’s something I’ve been worried about, and didn’t even realize I was worried about until now- I don’t want to just follow the outline again. I don’t want to just follow the instructions that somebody else has given to me to get an A. I’ve been really good at doing what I’m told well enough to get the prize. What I want now is to make my own way, to do something of my own and to make it uniquely good, objectively competent¬†and worthy of praise, successful in its own right. So I guess I feel like I have something to prove. That’s starting to sound a little shrink-level personal, so I’m gonna pull up a little bit. But suffice it to say that I think I’ve been feeling like I’ve been skating for a while. Faking it. Coasting. And I feel that it’s time to really try, and that is at once inspiring and scary.

What I want in terms of the content of my thesis is to follow my passion. I’m good at writing about things that other people ask me to write about, but I rarely write about things I like, I think because I don’t see immediate value in doing so. The internet is saturated with people bloviating (thanks Andre) about video games and comics and the end of Lost, so I guess I feel like adding my reflections to the garbled din is a little futile. And given the shape of things in my life in the past… ever, it hasn’t seemed like an efficient or useful way to spend time, so I haven’t. In retrospect, I think I would be happier and healthier at least psychologically if I spent more time doing things for me, so maybe that’s a note to take for the future, and maybe that’s what I’m doing right now. Whatever the reason, I haven’t ever written about the things that I like, and now, in what in all likelihood will be the end of my academic career, I want to finally do that. I feel that I owe myself this indulgence after decades of subservience to lesser themes. So now I think I want to write about video games. Games have played a big role in my development as a person. I remember them from childhood as strongly as I remember many other important moments. I relate things in life to them on a regular basis. Just now, as I was writing about about taking the smart path, I realized that it was a video game ¬†strategy, to play it safe. When you’re playing a game and your magic is strong but you only have a little, you save it, in case you run into a strong monster or something and you need it. But sometimes you keep saving and saving and never use the magic, always keeping it to use against a stronger enemy and before you know it you’re at the end of the game, and its your last chance to use this awesome spell you’ve been holding on to all this time. And you realize then that you could have used it a bunch of times in the past and you didn’t because you were being prudent. And you realize that games are supposed to be fun, you’re supposed to enjoy the experience, but you were so focused on working smartly towards the end game that you lost sight of enjoying yourself in the moment. You can always play the game again, but it will never be the same as the first time, no matter how advanced the game is and how much it changes when you play it. All that’s left is the final boss fight, and it’s a doozy, and it’s your last chance to use your magic. I’ve been saving magic for a long time, and now I want to see what kind of awesome spells I can pull out before the end.

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