Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Dust Off the Old Blog for a New Endeavor

It's time. Time to come back. 

A lot has happened since I last updated anything here. Back in the day, this was all about gamebooks and interactive fiction. While I'm proud of everything I accomplished in that area, and gamebooks will always be an important part of what I do, it's time to admit that that's no longer my main focus. It was an important era of my life, and one I will always cherish--and I do hope to write more interactive fiction in some not-to-distant day!

But for now, my focus is shifting. I think the best way to sum it up is to cross-post a Facebook post here, which effectively states where I'm at in my life. I'll paste it in below, to capture it for the ages (Facebook isn't good for long-term), and otherwise, expect to see more updates here soon :)

For those of you who are long-time followers, I won't blame you if you leave. But if you find that DnD, creative writing, game design, and comments on DMing professionally are of interest to you, then I encourage you to stick around. Without further ado...

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I turned forty last month. Four decades: childhood, teens, twenties, and now thirties, all complete and under my belt. 

I remember a Calvin and Hobbes comic I read when I was young; Calvin starts thinking ahead to future him, thinking of all the things that future him has done that kid him hasn’t yet done—the foods he’s eaten, the sights he’s seen, the friends he’s made. So often we fear aging, but isn’t it wonderful to have so many things that the younger versions of ourselves didn’t have? 

Younger me didn’t have Forrest, didn’t have Callie, didn’t have Story Tables, didn’t have five years experience teaching wonderful students at an amazing school. Didn't have memories of going to conventions and all the wonderful friends I made there (you will be missed, Geoffrey) I am so grateful.

And yet, of course, the clock is ticking. How many more decades do I have? We never really know, but another four or five at the outside, most likely. Could be a lot less, if the dice don’t turn up in my favor. I feel like my professional career is just getting going, and yet the years ahead to accomplish my goals are starting to look mighty short. 

If I could give twenty year old me some advice, I would encourage him to find his path early, not to wait. Pursue his dreams sooner rather than later, get married sooner rather than later, get started! Life isn’t as long as you think it is. 

This is true: I feel like I’m just now entering my prime. I think this decade will be the most productive and successful of my life. 

I was never very good at being young. I didn’t know how to let my hair down (ironically, since I kept it long) and have a good time. While others were out living it up, my idea of a great time was waiting until I found love to have sex, and staying up late with the guys playing Vampire the Masquerade. I regret nothing! Those times were amazing. And yet, I do wish I had danced more often.

I feel strong. I feel ready. And that’s good, because Callie and I are undertaking the most ambitious endeavor either of us has tackled yet: we’re trying to build a business out of our passion.

Decades seem to be a time of change; at least the last two have been, for me. When I turned thirty, I ended a failing relationship and moved halfway across the state to find a new beginning. I had the hard conversation with her the night before I turned thirty, so that I could go into the new decade on a clean start. It was hard, but it was the right move. It’s hard to believe that was ten years ago. Five years bouncing around the Bay, finding a career, finding love, earning a degree. And five years back in Ojai, working in paradise, but sometimes lonely.

This year, my relationship is the one thing that I’m 100% on. It’s a different kind of change the new decade ushers in: I gave notice at my job. Though I love teaching at Oak Grove (I can’t imagine a more perfect school for me!), teaching was never the long-term plan. Teaching, instead, was always intended to be a step on the path. For a time, I thought the next step on the path would be education administration, perhaps someday leading to founding a school of my own, based on revolutionary new ideas in education—ideas that the current research supports, but which the educational institutions of our society have not yet caught up with.

But in my heart of hearts, what I always wanted to do (and half the reason I became a teacher) was run roleplaying games for kids. I wanted to, like Becky Thomas at the Roleplay Workshop, eventually leave teaching to do this full time. But I don’t just want to run games for my little circle of students, I want to make an institution out of it. I dream of Story Tables branches in every major city in America, in the world. That, of course, is a damn long road, and I wouldn’t dare to make predictions about how far we’ll get, but hell if I don’t give it my best shot.

I look around, and I see a world that’s hurting. I don’t have much, but I have this one little salve, this pleasure, this escape, this opportunity for reflection and personal insight and growth, all rolled up with entertainment of a kind more satisfying than any other I’ve ever tried. I have that, and I want to share it. Somewhere out there are kids who need the same salve I was lucky enough to find, and I want to grow the institution that will bring it to them.

This is what I’m doing with my forties. Here’s to another great decade: the best yet!