Where do I begin?
The first piece of writing I ever shared with the world was a blog I wrote titled, "Style." I was seventeen years old, and a website had just launched for World of Warcraft players to write articles, discuss the game, and argue vehemently over who was better. At the time, I was one of the highest ranked World of Warcraft players in North America, and thought it logical that I share some of my highly-specialized knowledge about the game with other players. My blog went something like this (yes, I still have this saved on my computer, and I'm copy/pasting the exact text below):
After many months of waiting for this new "WoW e-sport" website to finally get off the ground, I can say im very happy so far with how gameriot.com has been running. It gives a lot of people their chance at being able to talk about what they want to talk about, and hopefully this website will bring a new style to the game we all love to play.
As a little introduction, this blog will be heavily focused on not only arena PvP from a mages perspective, but also just PvP in general. I have been playing the mage class since closed BETA of WoW, and have leveled 4 up to 60, one up to 70. Pre-BC the highest I grinded was up to rank 11, and post BC i've taken part in many 2k+ rated arena teams; 3s being my favorite and most competative bracket.
After playing with what I consider to be some of the top names in WoW, i've learned that in order to set yourself apart from every other run of the mill player (or mage in this case), you need to develop your own style. A lot of people prefer to make their style to be as flashy as possible, especially video makers. Although it looks nice when your tearing bads apart, it can often cost you the fight against another well skilled opponent. You need to remember that somewhere in your style your playing to win, and not just show off; something that took me a long time to really understand.
Hopefully this blog will give some insight to players looking to set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd. Arenas are just as competative as any sport i've ever played IRL, and god knows losing in WoW can feel just as bad as losing a championship hockey game as well.
How professional! Here I was, just another kid trudging his way through high school, but on the Internet, I was an expert; a master of my domain. I remember one of the moderators of the website commented on my blog not fifteen minutes later saying, (and yes, I still have this text saved on my computer as well—nostalgia is priceless):
Kaex Jul 29, 2007 at 3:12 pm
Excellent post, can't wait to read more.
Did I have any idea that the website barely had 1,000 users and he was baiting me to keep coming back? Was I aware of the fact that this moderator, Kaex, was probably commenting the exact same thing on everyone else's blog posts as well? Of course not! I took his comment to heart—"Wow, one of the moderators thinks I'm a good writer. This is incredible! MOM! HEY MOM!"
From that day forward, I blogged every day, sometimes twice a day, for almost two years. Except what was originally supposed to be a very professional blog about game strategies and gaming insight, eventually turned into a public forum for a very manic teenager to share his latest and greatest thoughts with the world. The result? I became one of the top 10 most popular bloggers on that website, and was eventually offered (by the #1 blogger, a Rogue named Ming) a potential salary position, since I was responsible for so much of the site's traffic.
Sadly, the game began to change, I went off to college, and within a matter of months, I stopped playing World of Warcraft and blogging all together. My once so-clearly-defined future of becoming a sponsored gamer, an ambassador and blogger to the e-sport, was gone.
It's a time in my life I constantly reflect upon, because it is a very clear example of how, in the beginning, you know nothing. You think you know—oh, you always think you know—but as you move forward with the adventure, something shifts. Suddenly, that plan you were dead-set on following doesn't seem to work anymore, and your creativity is leading you elsewhere. Except by the time you realize where you're headed, you're already on the other side. It's done, and you've changed.
I tell this story because for the past however many years, ever since I stepped out of the gaming world and back into reality, I've experienced a handful of these endeavors, all teaching this same lesson of beginning, middle, and end. And with each endeavor, I seem to excavate another cavern of my soul—what makes me, "me." I embrace a new challenge, and suddenly, I'm no longer a writer, I'm a musician! And then I start making beats, and suddenly, I'm a producer! And then I start rapping over the beats and suddenly, I'm a rapper! And then my raps start taking on a different form and suddenly, I'm a nonfiction writer! And then my nonfiction writing leads me to reading more nonfiction which leads me to becoming... an entrepreneur! A designer! A photographer! (Yes, this chain of events is true documentation of my journey.)
It is an endless path of discovery, a rabbit hole, leading to nowhere in particular except back to the question, "So who are you?"
What an impossible question to answer!
And I wish I could say that I've got it all figured out, am buddhist in nature, but I'm not. I'm really nothing more than a frustrated child in a growing body, banging my fist against the door of my heart asking for please, please, someone just tell me who to be! That would make things so much easier. Someone—a nice man, I'm picturing the little old man from Up!, did you ever see that movie? Great movie. If not, you should watch it. Really puts things in perspective. Anyways, I'm imaginging a little old man like him, opening the door and handing me an envelope. And inside the envelope would be a card, and on the card would be my fate in life—"Doctor," it would say.
But no! No, no, no! He [the little old man] would have it all wrong! And besides, who is HE to tell me who to be? I'm ME! I can be whatever I want to be! And with rejuvenated passion, I would slam the door and walk the other direction, ready to embrace life. I'm going to be ME!
Five seconds later, I would realize my predicament: I'm "me" is still not an answer to my question: "But who I am I to be?!"
Maybe I'm making this out to be a bigger deal than it is. Or maybe the lady with the big hair in the white lab coat was right—I might be bipolar after all. Medication could help, but then I'd lose my flair. I like my flair.
What I've come to realize is that, through all of these experiences, and all experiences to come, I won't know who I am until after the fact. I didn't know 10,000 people would care to read my immature rants in the form of blog posts until after I'd blogged for over a year. I didn't know I could rap until I made my first mixtape. I didn't know I could write fiction until I wrote my first story. I didn't know I could become a bodybuilder until after I'd gained 30lbs of muscle. I didn't know I would ever enjoy fashion until after I put on a very baby blue blazer and wore it out and had to deal with that strange feeling of wearing something completely out of my comfort zone.
In short: I've been meaning to start blogging again for almost seven years now, and I've been putting it off until I had a clear direction—"I know who I am!" I wanted to know whether I should present myself to the world as a bodybuilder, a musician, an entrepreneur—"What have you done, Cole? / Oh, nothing yet, but soon!" I wanted a direction because I was afraid people would misunderstand me; they wouldn't know, in a room full of boxes, where I belonged.
[Moral of the Story]: What I learned during my years of blogging about World of Warcraft, was that I had this same question back when I was seventeen. I wondered whether I should be a serious blogger, a funny blogger—I studied other blogs and tried to adopt what they were doing. I chose a direction—I would write about strategies and How To Become A Better Player—and I got to writing. Three months later, I wasn't writing about strategy at all. I was sharing stories about what it was like being an outcast at school but a celebrity in the World of Warcraft, detailing the awkward and often times hilarious inner-struggle of these two opposing lives. People started responding to my blogs with comments like, "I read your blog every morning while I eat breakfast, please don't stop writing!" and "I hope you fucking kill yourself you faggot fuck." It was exhilarating, my introduction to sharing myself with the world, and I've missed it every day since I stopped.
The Creative Process is exactly this. It's the understanding that you cannot, and will not know the end, until you've reached it. I would really like to say, in this moment, what I think this blog is going to be, just as much as I'd like to claim the foresight of Nostradamus to tell you how tomorrow is going to go, but I don't know. The creative process is the acceptance that you have absolutely no idea how things are going to end up, and you decide to leap anyway. It's love. It's a relationship with yourself. It's a door, and you are the only one who can open it.
See you on the other side.