2461: Gratuitous Self-Promotion


Hey, you. If you’re reading this, chances are you know me in some capacity or another, either online, offline or perhaps both. You may even follow this blog on a semi-regular basis, in which case thank you very much for enduring my directionless rambling.

Some of you may not be aware that I have another site, however; one with a bit more “structure” to its content, but also with a regular posting schedule. Some of you may already be aware of it, but perhaps haven’t checked it out for a while. And some of you may already be loyal readers, in which case, again, thank you very much.

My other site is called MoeGamer and you can find it at http://moegamer.net.

MoeGamer has a pretty straightforward mission: to provide detailed and in-depth coverage of Japanese and Japanese-inspired games that often don’t get the attention they deserve in the mainstream press — or, in the worst cases, get written off for one reason or another, usually on the grounds that they’re “pervy”.

I started it as a continuation of a regular, weekly column I had when I worked as USgamer; dubbed JPgamer, the column built up an audience of regular readers who appreciated what I did for these games, which was something that many other sites didn’t bother with, particularly in this age of growing and obnoxious political correctness that seems inclined to brand anything with pretty girls in as “problematic”. After I was laid off from USgamer, I decided to start MoeGamer simply to continue what I was doing with JPgamer, but over the course of the last few months I’ve been building it into something bigger.

Back in March of this year, I decided to reboot MoeGamer into something with a bit more structure; prior to this point, I had simply posted content on it whenever I felt like it and about whatever topics I saw fit. This meant that there were often long periods of time when I didn’t post anything, and I wasn’t happy with that.

As such, my reboot of the site sees me posting on a weekly basis, with a specific focus on a “cover game” for a month-long period. Over the course of four articles, I explore these cover games from a variety of perspectives: a look at their historical context; an exploration of their mechanics; a deep-dive into their narrative, themes and characterisation; and a look at their audio-visual aesthetics. This has proven to be a good way for me to talk about each of these games in as much detail as I’d like without overwhelming readers with a single, insanely long article. (Make no mistake, this is still long-form writing, however, because I believe there’s plenty of people out there still hungry for detailed writing even as the collective attention span of Internet denizens has gone right down the toilet in the last few years.)

MoeGamer is primarily intended for existing enthusiasts of Japanese (and Japan-inspired) gaming and entertainment, but I make a conscious effort with each piece to keep things accessible to everyone without any assumed knowledge. The order in which I chose to post the articles about each “cover game” was deliberate, too: talking about a game’s history gives you the opportunity to introduce it in general terms to those who aren’t familiar with it, then a discussion of its mechanics gives most people an idea of whether they’d enjoy playing it. After that, an analysis of its narrative is “taking things to the next level”, as it were, and finally exploring its audio-visual aesthetic provides a good opportunity to provide “further reading” with regard to its art, music and inspirations.

In other words, don’t feel like there’s nothing for you on MoeGamer if you’re not an existing fan of Japanese popular entertainment. I strive to make the site an informative, knowledgeable resource about some of the most interesting and underappreciated games on the market, from both yesterday and today, and hope that over the course of my articles, I can do my part to help dispel some of the unhelpful preconceptions that mainstream media perpetuates with regard to Japanese popular entertainment.

I’m doing this as a passion project at present, but a number of readers have been generous enough to pledge their support to my work via Patreon. At present, it’s a much-appreciated trickle of money each month that perhaps pays for a new game or piece of equipment, but it would be a dream come true to make enough money from MoeGamer to call it an actual job. I’m skeptical as to whether that will ever happen, but in the meantime I’m eternally grateful for each and every person who has shown their support to the site. If you like the sound of what I’m doing, please do consider pledging a small amount per month and help me keep doing what I love doing — you can do so here.

If you can’t spare any cash, that’s fine, too; you can also show your support by paying the site a visit and sharing the articles you particularly enjoy with friends and family on social media. MoeGamer is not ad-supported (any ads which do appear are WordPress’ work, not mine) and so remains clickbait-free, 100% guaranteed — share with confidence!

Thanks for your time and support. I hope you enjoy the content currently on MoeGamer, and which I’ve got planned for the coming months.

Here are some quick links you might be interested in:

October 2016’s Cover Game: Gal*Gun Double Peace

Previous Cover Games

One Way Heroics (September 2016)
RPG Maker MV (August 2016)
Ys (July 2016)
Dungeon Travelers 2 (June 2016)
Megadimension Neptunia V-II (May 2016)
Senran Kagura Estival Versus (April 2016)

All games covered by MoeGamer to date (including one-off articles and content from before the revamp)

More about MoeGamer

Moe 101: the beginner’s guide

2326: Purpose


In response to the WordPress Daily Post prompt for June 2, 2016.

Purpose is, I am told, that little thing that lights a fire under your arse. Trouble is, finding one’s purpose and then being able to actually, you know, follow it somewhere constructive is a bit harder than just lighting a match beneath your hairy, sweaty ringpiece and hoping for the best.

I don’t think I’ve found my purpose yet. This is probably self-evident to those of you who have either been following this blog for a while or who know me in real life. It’s not through lack of trying, mind you — I’ve tried all manner of different things, but none of them seem to have quite worked out in a way that is any way satisfactory. I’ve either found myself realising that no, I don’t really want to do that thing after all — or in the few cases where I’ve found myself actually enjoying something that I’m doing, I find the opportunity snatched away from me through circumstances entirely beyond my control.

The closest thing I feel I have to any sort of purpose is to write. About what? I don’t know. Games obviously spring to mind, as I do a lot of writing about those from various perspectives, and indeed one of the writing projects I’m finding most enjoyable at the moment is the production of in-depth studies of games over on the sister site to this blog, MoeGamerI’m currently into my third month of producing work of this type, and I’ve even managed to attract a few people to my Patreon to support me financially in appreciation for my writing, which is nice. Not enough to live on, by any means, but a bit of pocket money each month, if nothing else.

What else do I feel qualified to write about? Music is another thing; music may not be as much of a focus in my life as it was when I was at school, but it will always be a big part of who I am, and I feel pretty confident both talking and writing about music — and indeed teaching it.

On the subject of music, I have a curious (and probably not all that interesting) anecdote to share. I tend to find that my subconscious often reflects things that are at the back of my mind or causing me anxiety through my dreams, and one recurring dream I seem to have is that I’m back at my old school, I know that there are orchestra and concert band rehearsals going on — these are both groups that I was a member of throughout my entire time at school — but I deliberately choose not to attend them, nor to participate in the regular school concerts. In the dreams, I often run into my old music teacher Mr Murrall, one of my absolute favourite teachers in the whole school, and he’s extremely disappointed in me for not attending. Perhaps this is some sort of subconscious signal that I should try and do more with my music once again — question is, what?

That annoying question “what?” is the thing that I feel holds me back most from finding a purpose. Whenever I look for a job, I get hung up on what I should be looking for. Whenever I consider offering private services such as music teaching, I wonder what I should be charging and offering. Whenever I consider training myself up in a new field to try and find a new career, I stall on what I should be studying. What, what, what.

What should I do? I don’t know. But hopefully the answer will come to me at some point, otherwise I’ll just find myself staggering into middle- and old age feeling like I’ve not really accomplished anything along the way. And that’s not a prospect I’m particularly happy about.

2257: Rebooting MoeGamer


I’ve already written a substantial post over on my other site MoeGamer about a new plan I have to start writing more hefty long-form pieces on a regular basis, but I figured I’d write something here too. And, since I’m the sort of person who will happily write the same thing in two different ways because he enjoys the act of writing itself, I’m not just copying and pasting the text over, oh dear me no.

I’m rebooting MoeGamer. It’s not a drastic reboot, change of theme, change of layout or anything like that: it’s changing the way I’m thinking about it. To date (well, until last August) I posted on MoeGamer as and when I felt like it: when I particularly wanted to write about a favourite game, or when I particularly wanted to refute something stupid I’d seen from the mainstream press. (“There haven’t been any good RPGs since Final Fantasy VII” was a good example; “Dungeon Travelers 2 is a creepy, porn-lite dungeon crawler” was another.) I made an effort to post pieces of several thousand words in length, much as if I’d be writing a feature article on a regular games site.

And that was fine, apart from a couple of issues, the major one being that it’s very difficult to stay up to date on things to write about if you set yourself even quite a conservative schedule of posting. Eventually, the prospect of running out of things to write about became a bit demoralising, so I stopped to have a think and reflect on what I wanted to do with the site, if anything.

Today, Destructoid published a review of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 which attracted some attention. Not only was it written by a writer with a lengthy track record of baiting the outrage brigade at every opportunity, said writer took the opportunity to insult both the game and the people who might be interested in it over the course of his article. And, once again, I was reminded of the woeful inadequacy of the mainstream games press when covering more specialist titles such as modern Japanese games.

As foul a taste as the review left in my mouth, it gave me an idea. Why not try doing something completely different? By not being beholden to advertising revenue, I have the freedom to wax lyrical about games I find interesting or noteworthy as much as I want. And in-depth analysis is what these games in particular are sorely lacking. Now, I’m not particularly saying Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 is necessarily worth some in-depth analysis — although I haven’t played it yet, so couldn’t say for sure — but there are plenty of games out there which are being done an enormous disservice by games journalists who either don’t have the time to invest in 100+ hour RPGs, or who feel “this game is about boobs” is somehow sufficient to describe Senran Kagura.

Much of the problems with modern games criticism come from the twin pressures of time and performance. Everything posted on a site has to perform well, and it has to be timely, otherwise the ad revenue will be shit and no-one will get paid. Unfortunately, this leads to clickbait of various forms — most commonly of the outrage variety these days. I don’t necessarily blame the games journos themselves for this — though there are certain writers, whom I shall refrain from naming for the moment, who can eat a thousand dicks over their incompetent coverage of games that deserve better — because I know from experience they quite simply don’t have the time to explore a game fully in the same way a regular ol’ player will.

But I do. Because I’m a regular ol’ player. So why not leverage that fact and take an extremely in-depth look at a game after the fact, pick apart why it’s noteworthy (or not) from several different angles, and ultimately build up a library of deep, interesting analyses of games that don’t get the time of day from the mainstream games media?

The plan’s pretty simple. Pick a game each month, focus exclusively on that. Write about its mechanics, narrative, aesthetics and context — going into a full article’s worth of detail on each rather than trying to cram everything into a single “review”. Add additional detail as appropriate. Move on to something new the following month. Repeat.

This approach gives me time to work my way through substantial games such as JRPGs and visual novels and complete them to my satisfaction, then write about them in detail. It provides a suitable structure for me to post content regularly. And it provides a variety of perspectives for people who are interested in games for different reasons — not everyone’s as much of a narrative junkie as I am!

I’m sure it’ll be a challenge and I’ll doubtless run into some hurdles along the way. But while I have the time to pursue various creative endeavours, it’s probably best I do that rather than sitting at home twiddling my thumbs and occasionally bursting into tears at the fact I still don’t have an actual job.

I’ll be kicking off this new-style MoeGamer at the beginning of April with coverage of the recently released Senran Kagura Estival Versus, and taking things from there. I’m looking forward to this new challenge, and I hope you’ll be interested to read my work.

2114: Million-Dollar Question


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Million-Dollar Question.”

“Why do you blog?”

I’ve answered this question before numerous times on these very pages, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to contemplate it again, particularly for the benefit of those who have only found me recently and are disinclined to trawl through over 2,100 previous posts to find previous answers.

I blog for numerous reasons. Mostly habit, to be perfectly honest; after 2,114 days of writing something each and every day, it is very much part of my daily routine now, even if I do habitually leave it until the “last minute”, as I have done once again today, writing this at 1:10 in the morning when I have work at 9am.

The reason why I started, though, was to be part of something that sounded interesting. A few people I followed on Twitter at the time started talking about the hashtag #oneaday, which I investigated further and discovered was an attempt to write something each and every day for a year. The intention was not necessarily to write something good each and every day for a year, but more to get into the habit of writing something on a daily basis. The more you do something, the more you develop your craft, after all, and in something inherently creative like writing, the more you do something, the more you develop your own personal style, too. Since most of the people participating in the hashtag were games journalists to varying degrees, keeping their writing skills fresh was obviously a good idea.

I jumped on board — a little later than some of my comrades, but still within January. I kept an eye on what others were up to and sometimes drew ideas and inspiration from their work, but I was somewhat surprised to discover that a goodly proportion of the people who started in that January decided to abandon the project remarkably quickly. One of these people who jumped ship quickly was the person who appeared to have started the whole shebang in the first place. I decided that I was going to be stubborn, though, and I was going to stick it out until the end of the year.

So I did, along with a few others with a similarly stubborn streak. Then I kept going. Some of those others continued on with me; others joined the cause; others still abandoned the idea altogether. I continued for another year and kept going and going and going. Now, to my knowledge, I’m the only member of the original crew who is still writing something every day, though I have stayed in touch with quite a few of the people I met over the course of the first couple of years of this project.

Writing something every day is challenging. Not because the act of writing is itself particularly difficult, but because it can be a real challenge to come up with something to write about every day. I don’t like to spend too many days in a row writing about the same thing — those who follow me regularly will know that I could probably rabbit on about Final Fantasy XIV for months non-stop at a time — but rather spread my wings a bit and write about other topics, be they things that have happened that day, things that I’ve seen on social media, frustrations I’ve felt or successes I want to celebrate.

Finding those topics has encouraged me to use writing as an outlet for the things that occasionally swirl around inside my head and are in need of expressing, but which I find difficulty expressing out loud to another person face-to-face. Writing allows me to put things across I am unable to — or unwilling to — talk to people about in person, in other words. Interestingly, though, the more I write about things, the more I feel I am able to actually talk about them too; perhaps because I know that some people have read the things I’ve written and thus know all the most pertinent details before I start actually addressing them directly.

It’s been a helpful form of quasi-therapy, in other words; it allows me to work through things that might feel like they were unresolvable or frustrating if I left them inside my head. Sometimes the things I want to talk about really are unresolvable, but the simple act of communicating them in some way relieves some of the “pressure” because I’ve been able to express how I’m feeling — and indirectly help other people understand what it is I’m thinking.

So, as long as I have an Internet connection, a keyboard and working fingers, I have no intention of stopping just yet. I do occasionally ask myself why I keep bothering when my regular reader numbers are so (relatively) low, but my answer is pretty much always the same: I’m writing for me first and foremost; if other people derive some entertainment, comfort or understanding from it, so much the better, but my first priority when I write is always expressing my own thoughts and feelings.

2049: Dear Diary

0049_001There are times when I wonder whether this blog is the best way to handle getting thoughts out of my head in some form or another.

I used to keep a diary when I was younger. I’m not really sure why; I think it was partly due to the fact that I very much enjoyed the Adrian Mole books and fancied myself as being a similar sort of person to him in some ways. (I later realised that Adrian was a bit of a twat — or at least became a bit of a twat in the later books — and rescinded my earlier appraisal.) Mostly, though, it was about the fact that I enjoyed writing and found it cathartic, particularly if there were things bothering me.

I remember my first diary. It was a really nice leather-bound book with lovely paper, and it said “Journal” on the side of it. It was a souvenir from somewhere or other; I forget exactly where, but my first entry recounted a trip with my parents to the thrilling-sounding National Stone Centre, and subsequent entries had a touch of the “scrapbook” about them, with bits and pieces stuck in and all manner of things.

Then one day I decided to change things up a bit. I decided to use my diary as something a little more personal. Rather than effectively doing what I would do in a school English class — “today we went to [x] and did [y], it was [z]” — I decided that I would use the diary as a means of expressing the thoughts, feelings and emotions that I felt unable or hesitant to talk about with anyone, be it my friends or relatives.

My mental state throughout my school years was a little turbulent, to say the least. I suffered dreadful bullying at primary school, and this continued in secondary school until I punched my main tormentor in the face just as the school principal was coming around the corner. (I largely got away with it, because frankly he had it coming.) Although the instances of outright bullying calmed down somewhat after this watershed moment, my social awkwardness and inability to understand the concept of being in any way fashionable — a trait I maintain to this day, though it matters a bit less now — meant that I was occasionally still the butt of jokes, even from people who were my friends most of the time. If the cool kids were around and there was the opportunity to make a joke at my expense, people normally took it, and this didn’t do much for my self-confidence.

I learned quite early on in my life that I was the sort of person who was prone to falling for people pretty quickly. My crippling self-doubt meant that I was ecstatic anyone would even give me the time of day, and even more so if said person was a girl. Having little to no understanding of relationships, though, I didn’t really know how to approach girls and try to take things anywhere beyond friendship; this was about the time Friends was airing on TV, so I found myself relating very much to David Schwimmer’s Ross character, and would watch the episode where he and Rachel got together over and over again while fantasising about one day being in that situation myself.

Anyway. The upshot of all this is that I found it difficult to express my feelings about people that I found myself liking. I was embarrassed if anyone found out who I “fancied”, and my friends would often take advantage of my squirming by hijacking the middle pages of my exercise books, scrawling my beloved’s name in huge letters and decorating the page overly flamboyantly. I’d protest, but secretly I actually quite appreciated the fact that they were acknowledging my feelings, and in their own strange, mocking way, I think they were trying to make me feel better, because it almost certainly became clear to them over time that regardless of my feelings towards any of these girls that I fell for during my time at school, I would never, ever do anything about it.

It’s not that I didn’t want to, though, and that’s where the new part of my diary came in. I would use the diary to express myself and try to figure out my feelings about the people that I liked. I’d even — and I realise that this is probably depicting me as a weird sort of creepy psycho — plan out how an “ideal” encounter with my beloved at the time would go. I’d script a conversation — like a play — as if everything was going exactly the way I would want it to, and on one memorable occasion I even drew diagrams of how I’d get my friends to occupy my beloved’s friends so I could get her by herself and talk to her alone. (I actually followed through on this on one occasion of uncharacteristic courage; it didn’t work, though I did get a hug and a “let’s be friends” out of it.)

None of the romances I dreamed of in my diary came to fruition — I had precisely two girlfriends in secondary school, one of whom I became involved with when I was actually trying to get it on with someone else, who cheated on me at the school prom (and is now, so far as I know, married to the dude she cheated on me with, so, err, good job, I guess?) and another with whom I got together during a recording of the BBC’s Songs of Praise at the local animal shelter, kissed precisely once, didn’t see for three days and then got dumped by proxy because she “wanted things to go back to the way they were before”. And, at times, this lack of “action” got to me a bit, particularly as I saw some of my friends getting started with what would turn out to be pretty long-term relationships. But the diary helped. In some ways, it didn’t matter that I couldn’t muster up the courage to go and talk to these people that I was attracted to, because my diary provided me with a means to express myself without having to put myself on the line, without risking humiliation, and without threatening my real-life friendship with the objects of my affections; my greatest fear was telling someone that I liked them, and them promptly never speaking to me ever again after that. In retrospect, this was a silly fear, but it was a big deal to teenage me.

I’m not sure when it happened, but one day I looked back over my diary and I suddenly felt ashamed of myself. It was a fantasy world, I knew; these conversations I’d script, these scenarios I’d describe, these fancies I’d indulge — none of them would ever be real, and that got to me. I also became absolutely terrified at the prospect of my diary ever being found by someone I really didn’t want to read it, so one day while I was alone in the house, I took one last look through that lovely leather-bound journal’s pages, stared at it for a few moments, then took it outside to the dustbin and buried it beneath a number of stinky, empty cans of cat food. I can only assume it ended up on a rubbish dump or landfill site somewhere, but occasionally I wondered if anyone would ever actually find it and read it — and what they would think of the clearly troubled mind that scrawled in its pages on an almost daily basis.

To my knowledge, though, no-one ever did read it. And for that I’m sort of grateful, because it would have been mortifying; but at the same time, I wonder if I might not have been able to make myself a little more understood if people had read it. And I guess that’s partly what this blog is about; it’s not quite the same as my diary and I’m certainly not going to start scripting fantasy conversations between me and people I fancy (largely because I’m married to the person that I love and thus have no need to), but it lets me get the weights off my mind at times, and, since it’s public — the journal left lying open on my desk, as it were — I hope it makes me at least a little more understood to others.

And if not, well, you can have a good old giggle at how messed up I am, huh. Either way, thanks for reading.

1562: Soul-Searching

Unsurprisingly, yesterday’s bad news has prompted a certain degree of soul-searching. The reality of the situation still doesn’t quite feel like it has hit me yet. I’m depressed, yes, but it doesn’t quite feel “real”, if you know what I mean.

I’ve been taking advantage of this calm before the inevitable storm to do a bit of pondering about what I might want to do next, or how I might want to do it. And so far I’ve pondered the following options.

  • Teaching. No. Nope. No no no. Never. No. I may have all the relevant qualifications, but the last two times I tried teaching it had an enormously negative impact on my mental health. I enjoy teaching, but all the other stuff that goes with it — primarily to do with behaviour management — is just too stressful to even contemplate.
  • Private music teaching. Possible, but difficult to become established, plus the fact that I don’t have 1) my own transport (Andie and I currently share a car), 2) a real piano to teach at home or 3) a particularly suitable space to teach in. So I think that’s out, at least for now.
  • Attempting to return to a previous career in a certain tech-related retail chain. That door closed a long time ago, despite the fact that I’m clearly eminently qualified and good at it. This was evidenced by the fact that I made superb progress on a previous attempt to return, the management of the store I was applying to were enormously enthusiastic, then they abruptly and bluntly turned me down without giving a reason after contacting my previous management. (We parted on poor terms after I made an official complaint about certain managers’ workplace bullying.) That copy-book is forever blotted.
  • Freelancing. Not a terrible idea, but it brings with it a considerable degree of hassle, plus an unreliable paycheque each month. Successful freelancing involves endless pitching and hoping, writing content to tight deadlines if you do happen to be successful, having to do your own taxes (ugh) and occasional sleepless nights of despair as you note your bank balance is going steadily down and hasn’t gone up for a very long time indeed.
  • A permanent position on another site or magazine. Obviously this would be the ideal solution, since it would make for a relatively seamless transition from what I’m doing now. The trouble is, very few places are hiring right now; even new sites such as Kotaku UK already have a staff in place, while others have a well-established network of writers; others still prefer to recruit quietly from their extended network rather than prominently displaying their available positions. So while achieving this would be ideal, actually doing so may be challenging. Still, feelers are being put out.
  • Broadening my remit. I write about games. I haven’t written about anime, TV or tech professionally but I’ve had plenty of practice on this site and know I could do a good job. Question is, do I want to?
  • The shift that all games journalists seem to make at one point or another. A lot of games journalists end up in PR for some unknown reason — the better pay probably being a significant contributing factor. I know I could do a good job of PR with the skillset I have; the difficulty here is in convincing recruiters of that fact when I don’t have any practical experience.
  • Taking a risk, Part 1. I have a number of books in me, both fiction and non-fiction. I could try and write those, but actually “making it” — i.e. being able to make enough money to survive — with one will be a challenge, particularly in today’s crowded marketplace. It would have to be something great, unusual or both to stand out. Or perhaps I should write some vampire teen romance. Is that still fashionable?
  • Taking a risk, Part 2. One thing that came out of my announcing that I was leaving USgamer was that a lot of people reached out to me on Twitter and said that they were thankful for the unique perspective (among mainstream games journalism, anyway) that I provided on Japanese gaming. One went so far as to say that I understand the games they like and why they like them, which is exactly what I was hoping to achieve with my work. These people got me thinking: is there a market for specialist writing like this? Could I somehow do it full-time (or near-as-dammit) through something like Patreon? I don’t know how viable Patreon is as a platform — I’m yet to really see any successful projects from it — but it’s an interesting possibility at least. It’s also a big risk.

So that’s where I am now. There are also a number of options that have flowed through my mind but which are impractical at this particular juncture due to my lacking some relevant skills — things like working in localisation for Japanese games, for example. I don’t know where I’ll end up or what I’ll end up doing, but I sincerely hope it is sooner rather than later.

Wish me luck. Oh, and wish me happy birthday while you’re on.

1461: Day After Day

Jan 18 -- 1461Every so often when I sit down to write this blog thing every day, I look at the number before the post title and think “bloody hell, that’s a lot of posts.” Then I think “bloody hell, that’s quite a long time I’ve been doing this.”

Of course, given that my day job involves writing lots of things every day, it’s perhaps arguable whether or not having written a single post on here every day for the last 1,461 days is as impressive as it once was, but I like to think it still shows a certain degree of dedication and commitment on my part. And, given that I’m not the sort of person who spends a lot of time thinking particularly good things about themselves, that’s one thing with concrete evidence that I can specifically point to and say “yes, that’s good; that’s something I can be pleased with.”

I feel doubly pleased when I think back to how this all started. For those who have joined me recently, the basic gist was this: a few UK-based writers got together and decided to write something every day, initially for a year. I joined quite late in January in that first year, and haven’t stopped since. Interestingly, a significant number of the people who started that first year also gave up very quickly — the person I regard as the “founder” simply bowed out with a tweet that said “fuck #oneaday” one day and never picked it up again — but others stuck it out for most or even all of that first year.

Following that, I managed to organise a ragtag group of bloggers into a group who helped motivate each other somewhat, and in the process we raised a bit of money for charity. Again, though, relatively few people made it through the whole year, but I stood firm. Now, to my knowledge, I’m the only one of the original participants from either of those first couple of years to still be blogging on a daily basis and while I may not always have a lot of meaningful things to say, I still sit down and write every day, regardless.

Because it wasn’t necessarily about writing something meaningful or useful. It was just about writing. As with any creative endeavour, regardless of how ambitious it is, the only way to get better and refine your craft is to continue doing it as often as possible. You might just discover a few things about yourself in the process.

For my part, I’ve discovered — well, confirmed, really — that writing is a good outlet for me. If stress and anxiety is starting to build up in my head, as it often does, writing this post each day is a good means of venting some of that steam. I don’t even necessarily have to write specifically about what I’m stressed or anxious about; if you look back to the period on this blog where my marriage was falling apart and I was in a seriously bad place mental health-wise, you’ll notice that a lot of the posts are considerably more creative than they perhaps are now. I don’t think this is coincidental at all; misery appears to beget creativity, which may account for the whole “tortured artist” stereotype.

Note: I do not advocate the seeking out of misery purely to get your own creative juices flowing, but if, for whatever reason, you’re not in a good place, use that negative energy to make something. It doesn’t have to be good. But it can help.

Anyway. I think that’s enough blabbering on for now. Just another day in the increasingly long list.