On column writing
Rant time? Rant time. CFN rules apply. Also liberal cursing, because fuck you, I love the sound of the word fuck.
I said at the start: people thought I was fucking amazing, and my thought, after growing up through years of being “fucking amazing” in academics and just about dying in college from performance fatigue, was one of horror: “oh fuck, now I’ll never live up to their expectations.”
I feel like it’s mostly true, despite what people try to tell me. I can’t tell if I believe it because it actually is true or if it’s because I’m still being pessimistic towards my performance like I always have. Figuring out whether you have a point or not is really fucking easy for me, but figuring out the truth about how awesome I am or am not is my kryptonite. People usually confuse me on the latter point, too, rather than helping me out.
On my stages of Blood Pact writing
Monday is brainstorm day. It is also new-column-posts day, and that’s no coincidence. I generally have a few ideas on my dry-erase board listed out, and the comments of the previous post give me a few more ideas, whether about method of writing (research, etc.) or actual topics.
Tuesday and Wednesday are spent writing the bulk of the post. I finish it up by 8pm on Wednesday because that’s raid time. I write in pieces & parts and rearrange the orders and themes around like puzzle pieces until they start to look like they flow together. The post is all fragmenty by 8pm, and half the sentences aren’t real sentences, but it goes idea A to idea B to idea C to “see how idea A connects to idea C to support idea C” to idea D to later on “and see how idea C and idea F play off each other to support idea G” to “see how idea G would be bad/awesome for WoW” … so I have an idea of where I’m going.
On my writing targets
I don’t like strict or anal outlines, but I also don’t like absolute freewriting. I lean on the end of freewriting, hence my style of many, many tangents, everywhere, all the time, and the blatant misuse of commas. But I like a few fences to keep me on track, especially when I have to hit under 1500 words.
One of my big struggles in high school academic writing in my Advance Placement classes was that I would assume my thesis and not explain it. It wasn’t until I got around to trying to teach fellow students algebra or physics — things that came very easily, almost naturally, to me — and seeing them struggle to put one concept and a later concept together… it wasn’t until then that I understood that you can’t assume jack in writing.
So I began writing like I how I try to teach people new things. I don’t like to waste people’s time when I teach them, and I also don’t like to discredit them. It’s Modern Physics taught to high school seniors, it’s College Physics taught to high school juniors, it’s Algebra taught to a guy twice my age but he didn’t have the circumstances and education I have. People are usually not complete idiots, despite what the internet would lead you to believe. There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers. So I set up my arguments assuming you’re an intelligent person who can follow ideas, and I stop to explain where you need explaining. Stopping or going slow is not a bad thing. Assuming is the bad thing.
When I read, I’m one of those people who “hears” the word in her head. So I try not to sound like a pretentious asshole when I teach someone something via written stuff. Using smart-people terminology is fine and dandy (priorites vs. rotations) when your reader understands them, but if your reader goes by popular definitions (rotations <=> priorities), then you gotta play by popular definitions.
Sometimes explaining complex concepts requires stepping back and going over the simple shit first to make sure everyone is on the right page. That takes up column space. I have to plan for this column space, especially if I want to say a lot on the bigger topic. Most of the time, I don’t get to explore all that I want to.
(The brain-psychology of it kinda fascinates me. If I don’t know how to pronounce a word, it’s harder for me to learn what it means, and when I read it silently, it’s a sudden silence in my “aloud” reading that I “hear” in my head when I read silently. It trips me up more if I try to read a word I can’t pronounce than it does to try to read a word I don’t know what it means.)
So when I write, I “hear” my words. I write my flow as if I was saying it to you. This ends up with having to edit out lots of “like”s and “y’know”s and even “y’all”s because, whatever, I use y’all all the time eye-arr-ell. It’s also probably why I abuse punctuation the way I do. I know the proper punctuation rules (most of them, anyway; semicolons, colons, and dashes still I get wrong half the time >:|), but I think when I use as many commas as I do, when I take breaths or go off on a side topic for a bit, it makes sense, so I can leave it that way.
So, fences. I need space to run, but I need fences to keep me on-point. Most of my read-overs are looking for the holes where I didn’t explain something fully. Where I didn’t connect idea A to idea B, so no, it doesn’t really make sense to progress to idea C now. Fences are my personal inner editor asking me how this supports my big idea, and me responding why, an my inner editor interrupting the first sentence without listening to yell at me, “THEN SAY THAT, FOR FUCK’S SAKE.”
I break from writing until Saturday, so I can absorb later research but also so I can distance myself from my writing. It’s that whole “kill your darlings” thing. I am totally rocking about my ideas when I’m in the middle of writing, but I will come back later a few days and rip out stuff, delete entire passages, that don’t contribute to what I was trying to say. Trying to edit directly after writing just doesn’t work for me. I have to fall out of love with my post and self before I can do that.
I’d actually been writing about destro before the warlock tanking glyph broke out. At which point I logged into Campfire and said, “destro’s cool and all, but HOLY SHIT WARLOCK TANKING.” Entire post is out the window and I need to research, understand, and write another one on a totally different topic I knew even less about.
My actual editorial deadline is Sunday at 9am. It’s basically have it done by Saturday night (2am counts as night, right?) or you’re being an ass to the editors. There’s no reason for me to piss off my editors; they make my shit less shitty.
So stuff that was released in the press release when I knew jack shit about what was in the press release (yes, same as you guys! Alex & Sacco told us nothing!) is really fucking stupid to post as comment. Way to not give me any sort of base respect for not being a total turd. Doesn’t matter that most of my column was actually on-target with the info released (FUCK YEAH, GO ME), apparently not being omniscient about every little thing (“how many boogers are in GC’s nose?”) is a crime to commenters (“he JUST NOW sneezed, so your answer is wrong, it’s actually zero! LOL L2READ”).
Give me a fucking break, will you?
What’s more frustrating is apparently people like to not post anything during the actual week — I actually watch & read as much as I can without going bonkers — but then post everything on Saturday or Saturday night when I don’t have time to write a completely different article and have it be worth publishing. Or even better, on Sunday when I’ve already sent my article to pending for editing.
Are you trying to be a giant asshole to me for shits & giggles? If so, keep going on, because you’re pretty fucking good at it already.
On critiques and tips
I’m open to critiques & comments — mind you, honest & constructive ones.
Telling me I didn’t read my shit isn’t constructive, and it’s rather insulting. I read everything I can find, but I can’t find everything. I’ve also been playing a warlock for four years. I’m not some old newbie who walked in with a golden pen of writing.
I play other toons and read other classes to strengthen my knowledge of trends in WoW design. I play a bear — it’s actually my alt, for some emailed comments to me who think it’s my main — so I can know all the tanking trends. I play healers to understand how healers do their shit, what they find annoying about DPSers, and see if I can tweak my DPSing to help them out. Looking at DPSing from a non-DPS perspective helps me out, and looking at changes to a spell from not only PvE but PvP and leveling also helps out, even if the developers balance it around only one or two of those areas.
So, not only do I read all the warlock stuff, but I read all the other classes, including monks, to make sure I’m not talking out my ass about what exactly is appropriate or overpowered for warlock gameplay. Cross-pollinate all the ideas!
That’s a fucktonne of information, by the way.
I wanna see you read all that in a week and stay on top of it while still having a WoW life (anyone who actually reads the WRUP knows I have no real life). So don’t tell me I don’t read, because I fucking do read. I just can’t read everything.
I would like to have beta readers for my posts. That would be awesome, particularly by email or IM where we can type big long paragraphs about why exactly my second argument is complete bullshit. I mean, I’ve tried doing it on Twitter, but it’s not really working, because I get info corrections that don’t really get expanded on why they’re wrong/right because LOL 140 characters.
Or I get the “you write the best post you can” comments. Those are great when I’m doubting myself, but most of the time I’m not actually doubting myself, you guys. I know I know the best of my shit that I can. I know I write well. What I want to know is if I’m writing complete bullshit on the spec I don’t normally play. “I believe in you” does JACK SHIT for me when I’m asking if I got everything right about How2Demo. Thanks for the kind thought, but really, ya ain’t helping me out, dawg.
Isn’t that what editors are for? No, not really, editors make sure that your column is actually kinda solid in writing junk like flow and how hard it is to read. Or almost plot-like things like “hey, you put the gun on the mantle in Act 1, but it’s, like, *holds up half the book*, Act 5 now and I haven’t seen it again WTF.” Editors are kinda like parents, actually. Editors assume you’re old enough to pick out your own clothes and dress yourself now, but editors will not let you walk out the door into public wearing THAT if you happen to dress pretty badly.
Copyeditors make sure you don’t fuck up the source code and formatting, as well as spelling/grammar guidelines for terminology. “AoE” ain’t a Merriam-Webster word, so there’s a whole WoW dictionary wiki page there for me to check this stuff multiple times over and to yell at the spellcheck function for telling me “DPS” isn’t an English word, & Lisa Poisso double-, triple-, quadruple-checks it after me. Also to make sure that no matter how much I love British spellings or metric things (it’s totally GREY and TONNE and SPECTRE to me), WI writes in American English, OK? (So, it’s actually GRAY and TON and SPECTER in WI posts.)
After I put my post in pending, I don’t hear anything about it until it gets published and the comments start appearing telling me which forum post buried on page 3 I missed. At least, I haven’t heard anything yet, and I really take silence as “everything’s pretty fucking spiffy, so go on with it.”
On shaping my class
Make sure you keep writing about your thoughts on Locks and deliver that feedback though. You’ve got the chance here to shape your class going into the expansion ^^.
I think Matticus was talking to Cynwise. Cynwise is pretty brilliant in whatever he writes, first drafts or do-overs, and I feel like I keep floundering half the time. It’s the reason I don’t post when I’ve written up similar thoughts: well, he did it much better than I did, and even covered things I didn’t.
It’s possible Matticus was talking in a general sense to everybody everywhere, and that would be a really zen thing to do, but I’m going to pretend he was talking to Cynwise, because I don’t feel much influential at all about warlocks.
I feel like so far Blood Pact exists to have commenters remind me that I know jack shit about demonology.
A post-script: on thick skins, middle fingers, and haters gonna hate
Adam Holisky (@AdamHolisky) March 27, 2012
So fuck you guys who assume the downvoting is because of lipservice.