From Square One: Learning to Blog All Over Again
Writing is an art best learned through consistency, I've heard.
If it’s true, then that means I've never truly understood the written word.
I've dabbled and I've practiced, but I'd be lying if I claimed to be consistent. I used to think that being a great writer meant relying on inherent talent regardless of effort. Getting As in English was proof enough that I was capable. In fact, I thought I was so good that I should co-found a blog and write a lot about video games.
Except, since we started Silicon Sasquatch, I've never written about games the way I wanted to. Instead, I've relied on a tired interpretation of professional games journalism. When I couldn't match an idea in my head with the style I thought I had to appropriate, I gave up. Instead of pushing through and trying harder, I found that giving up was intoxicatingly easy. Many more grand article ideas have fizzled out than I've brought to publication.
My output has been inconsistent since the beginning, largely because I was afraid of really putting myself out there.
I'm not so afraid anymore.
Nick and I met for drinks last week. We spent three hours catching up, which is great even though we chat in our team Slack channel every day. Our topics of conversation swerved in and out of work, dating, and politics, but we also talked openly about Silicon Sasquatch. We assessed our creation, like we always do when we're together, and reaffirmed that the planning, building, and maintaining of this project helped us grow into slightly less anxious and neurotic creators.
Still, while we mulled over how far this blog's successes and failures have pushed us, I came to a profound self-realization: Despite a near-decade of doing this, I've never let my colleagues, let alone our readers, hear my real written voice. There's a reason for that.
Since its beginning, I've tried to write for Sasquatch in a style popularized by the games journalists of my childhood. I grew up reading magazines like EGM and Nintendo Power, and from an early age I internalized their forced humor mixed with irreverence and elitism.
Gimmicks, attitude, and snark have always held the spotlight among games journalists—they still do. In the heyday of the ‘90s and early 2000s there was Sushi-X at EGM, Kieron Gillen at PC Gamer, and Bill Donohue at Official PlayStation Magazine—all personalities playing up their in-jokes, cynicism, and anger to entertain a largely adolescent male readership. Being a young boy who loved games and dreamed about a professional writing career meant these writers were incredibly influential. I knew their names like they were professional sports players.
As I took to writing in grade school, I found it hard to write about games without relying on sarcasm, shock-value, and unearned self-importance. The ghosts of games journalism past have haunted me for years, and I've done a shit job at expelling those spirits.
So why the epiphany now? I had a fucking terrible last year, that's why.
My tragedies have made me less patient with bullshit, both in the world around me and especially my own brand of it. One bit of personal bullshit I've long struggled to overcome is my grandiose vision for this blog and our many attempts to turn this into a professional, monetized venture. Even though Nick and I repeatedly decided, along with the team, that we shouldn't ruin the fun of it, I let that baggage pile up. Even when we weren't chasing the money, I still felt conflicted about writing anything unless my posts were perfectly polished—worthy of, I suppose, those magazines from my youth.
Instead, and rightfully so, we continue to make this space free of guilt and conducive to jazz-like improvisation explicitly because it's revenue neutral. I'm thankful for what we have, and what we've built. This team created a platform without pressure. The pressure I've felt stems from my desire to emulate content creation that, in truthfulness, I don't even respect.
So, it's time to change. I'll be consistent. I'll write the way I truly think. I'll air my opinions, ideas, and analysis. I'll do all this not to satiate my ego, but to improve both myself and Silicon Sasquatch.
Instead of incessantly wishing I could do more, now I will.
It feels like the right time to make this commitment. If you follow our work, maybe you noticed my attempts to shoehorn my personal life into my games writing. Those articles were small steps toward self-awareness. Now, and after a very dark time in my life, I want to take back control of my identity and do something productive.
Near the end of our conversation, Nick and I both basically said fuck it: Let's just put ourselves out there. We shouldn't second-guess what we have to say.
So, expect more from me. I'm always playing something new, which means I always have an opinion to share.
If I do this next part right, you'll be able to tell my writing apart from anyone else.
Thanks for reading, and for making Silicon Sasquatch such a worthy endeavor.