Tag Archives: careers

So, A Bunny Walks Into A Blizzard…

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One year ago, when I announced to my friends and family members that I was quite literally dropping everything and moving across the country to chase my dream of working for Blizzard Entertainment, they were mostly supportive, but a little bewildered. Some might move to Southern California with Hollywood aspirations. I moved to Southern California with the very nerdiest aspirations.

There were also quite a few people who were not afraid to let me know that they thought I was making a huge mistake and that I was reaching too high. And yes, there were plenty of times since landing in Irvine that I stopped and thought to myself “holy shit, what did I just do?” but somehow I managed to block out the naysayers and keep going.  Maybe I didn’t block them out completely, come to think of it — maybe they just served as even more inspiration and drive to make things happen, just so I could prove them wrong.

So I did.

As of March 17th, I will be rolling out of bed in the morning and into my desk at Blizzard’s Irvine campus. My official job title is Technical QA Analyst II, which is a lot of fancy-speak for “waving my arms up and down and screaming ‘I NEED AN ADULT’ every time I break something, THE SEQUEL.”

(I’m kidding, there’s way more to it than that. For one, you don’t scream out loud. You write it down, i.e. “AAAAAAAAHSGDJGSHDGSJGDKDS;”.)

There’s a funny story behind March 17th and how it relates to my family. That’s my great-grandfather’s birthday, and he was a man largely regarded to be the champion of our family. When we first arrived in this country and the local toughs tried to intimidate him into paying them money for “protection,” he chased them off with a baseball bat and was never harassed again. He traveled the world, mastered seven languages, and was respected throughout his community both here and back in The Old Country(tm). When I was little, I would call him the “lion man” whenever I saw his picture because of his thick white hair that looked more like a mane than anything.

Lions. Hm. Seems familiar.

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Before the interview that led to my hiring, I stopped in the lobby to take a photograph with the Alliance gryphon. I don’t really know why — I just had the urge to do it. At that time, I was mainly playing Horde. But for some strange reason, I decided to hang out with those reppin’ the lions.

Then a few days ago, I was shopping at one of my favorite clothing stores and noticed that they were selling beautiful jeweled lion rings for $5. Guess what I bought.

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Logically, I know it’s all coincidence, but I happen to be a very superstitious person. March 17th has been an incredibly fortuitous day for my family ever since I can remember, and the lion has become our unofficial mascot, with significantly less inbreeding than the Lannisters.

Of course, nothing this amazing can come through without there being a few changes. I already announced to the world that I had stepped down from the HearthPro Podcast due to scheduling issues, which was not a complete fabrication. It was more a matter of there being real challenges in getting our schedules together, but at the time having just the possibility of working at Blizzard made me hesitant to ask the rest of the team to completely rework their lives if it meant I’d only be able to stay for another week or two — and man, am I glad I made that decision now! A couple of weeks ago, I also very quietly stepped down from writing at BlizzPro after being notified that I’d gotten the position, but wasn’t yet able to go public with the announcement.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen to this blog. I may cease to update it, or I may change formats and turn it into a personal blog rather than a gaming one; of course, anything you’ll find with my name attached to it on the interwebz consists solely of my own opinions, and not those of Blizzard Entertainment or any past employers. My Twitter account will still be entirely too active and I’ll be streaming my face off via my Twitch channel (my participation in this year’s Extra Life is still a go!). You won’t, however, find me on any more podcasts, guest or otherwise, and it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll be writing any more articles on lore or dreaming up game content in the community, for reasons that I’d hope are pretty obvious.

Several people have asked me what my “secret” was to get the job. I don’t have any real advice, other than don’t give up — it took me at least 30 applications and multiple interviews to get in. There were plenty of times that I was convinced I was doing nothing but throwing myself up against a brick wall and trying to make it a door, but I’d go back and re-read this interview with Brian Kindregan, lead writer for StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm and the Diablo team, where he addresses those same frustrations:

Every person I know whose career has taken them to a fun and creative place got there in a different way. So the bad news is that there’s no set path. The good news is that there’s no set path! I always tell people that the key ingredient is: you should be too stupid to give up. You’ll meet many people who will tell you that you’re not good enough, that it’s not a ‘real job,’ that they don’t want people like you, that you can’t make a living at it and the list goes on. But if you’re too stupid to give up, it will bounce right off you. You’ll meet people who you will think are more talented than you, smarter, faster, better, and more creative. But those people will often give up, and you can always be better than they are at being too stupid to give up.

Color me proud to be the stupidest bunny you’ll ever meet.

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A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes, Then Terrifies The Shit Out Of You

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Almost a year in the making, I’ve finally done it.  I start working in the game industry on Monday.

Everyone I’ve told has been jumping for joy and acting like I cured cancer.  The sentiment is appreciated, and I’m definitely not ungrateful for the job or rolling my eyes or anything, but it’s sort of mystifying for me.  Sadly, this position isn’t in creative development or quest design.  It’s a very important stepping stone to get there, and I’m thrilled to finally be able to work in my own industry, but as a kid, I never celebrated second place or almost or close, not when I knew right on the money or champion would be within reach.  I’d acknowledge the fact that I made it as far as I did, but I wouldn’t kick my heels up and say “WELP, this is it, close enough, I’m done.”

This is also why the mod I’m working on for Civilization V is taking forever and a day.

More importantly, what no one tells you about accomplishing a life dream (and do not misunderstand me, just getting into the industry is one of them) is that it is terrifying as shit once you actually achieve it.  Before, it was an abstract concept, a “yeah, I’d like to do that someday” where you always had the thought in the back of your mind that not everyone gets to be an astronaut or a ballerina and that somebody’s got to be around to make the sandwiches at Subway, so all you can really do is work hard and never stop until you a.) get there or b.) die.  Now you’re sitting there with an itinerary for your first day in front of you realizing that this is it.  This is where you find out whether or not you’re actually good at it.

Getting the job is one thing.  Being able to deliver is another thing altogether.  It has nothing to do with being confident in your own abilities — I know I’m good, but am I good enough?  Did the interviewer misjudge me and make a bogus recommendation that I have no way of living up to?  Am I going to finally get into a studio only to look like a total moron by the end of my first week?  I’ve devoted all of my resources and most of my life to this, even going so far as to put the game industry ahead of myself and my relationships.  To go down in flames now would mean that I sacrificed a good 90% of my life and all of my financial stability for nothing, not to mention that I don’t want to let anyone down.  I hate letting people down.  Every rejection letter I received up until this point, I felt like it was a slap in the face to every friend and family member who believed in me.  When I notoriously screwed up my phone interview, I was too embarrassed to ever follow up with the recruiter I’d been working with, even just to say “thanks for trying,” because I felt like my failure made him look bad in the eyes of his colleagues — “you think THIS loser would be able to do the job?  Hahahaha, go back to recruiter school.”

Not to mention my battles with PTSD and a complex mood disorder.  I think I’ve got them pretty well vanquished for now.  Despite no longer taking the medication that ended up incapacitating me, I can still do things that were once completely unimaginable, including leaving the house and talking on the phone.  Where once I was so agoraphobic that I couldn’t even handle being on a high-population server in World of Warcraft, I’m doing my grocery shopping with my head held high, even splitting up with The Fiance when we get there so that we can grab what we need from opposite ends of the store.  I’m chatting with the cashiers.  I order my own food in restaurants instead of hiding behind the menu and wishing that everyone else in the building would just evaporate.  But there’s always the lingering fear that I’m going to relapse, that one day I’ll wake up and be unable to make it into work because the world outside my window is just too terrifying.  There’s the worry that I may randomly burst into tears at the office or that someone will sneak up on me as a friendly prank and I’ll end up flipping them down onto the floor with my foot pressing down on their neck until somebody manages to snap me out of it (it’s happened before).  I’m terrified that even if I’ve made it this far and I can actually kick ass at the job, the Sha of Mental Illness is going to show up out of nowhere and ruin everything.

And then, of course, there’s the normal “new job” jitters — am I going to like my boss, is my boss going to like me, is this job actually going to be as great as it sounds, that sort of thing.  The game industry has its own set of “what ifs” to contend with, things like “what if the entire office is made up of dudebros who aren’t going to ever take me seriously or give me a chance in CDev because I’m a chick” or “what if I fuck something up so badly that the entire game is a failure and it’s all my fault and I ruined everything?”  I’m agonizing over what to wear on Monday.  The dress code is Standard Game Industry, i.e. the unofficial uniform of jeans and a hoodie, but do I want to go that route and blend in?  Do I maybe want to wear something a little cuter and more feminine, or will that make me seem prissy and unreachable?  How much makeup do I wear?  Should I just skip makeup altogether?  Will black eyeliner prevent them from taking me seriously as a colleague?  Oh God, is too much grey showing in my hair right now?

The reasonable part of me points out that as long as I don’t sashay into the office wearing a cocktail dress and Jessica Rabbit hair and makeup, I’m probably okay and nobody will even pay me any mind, but those “what ifs,” man, they’re brutal.  I can only imagine what a wreck I’m going to be after I get into the specialization I’m aiming for (hell, just thinking about it, my brain is screaming “WHAT IF YOU CAN’T COME UP WITH ANY GOOD IDEAS BECAUSE YOU USED EVERY BRILLIANT THOUGHT YOU WILL EVER HAVE IN YOUR DEMO PORTFOLIO?!”).

To answer your next question, yes, it is extremely exhausting to be me.

But I’m not going to run away and hide, because I’ve worked too hard and struggled too much to get to this point.  My foot is in the door, and I keep reminding myself that I am extremely good at what I’ll be doing and will probably be fine.  Everyone I’ve spoken to at this studio has been a great human being so there’s absolutely zero reason to expect anything different when I get there on Monday.  And if someone has a problem with my eyeliner, they can go fuck themselves.  I am the Bunny Overlord.  Let’s do this shit.

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Everyone Is Afraid Of My Huge Rejection

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Sorry about the title, but I don’t think I’ve thrown a good dick joke out there yet, and my portfolio is 100% incomplete without it.

A few days ago I touched a little bit on the majestic failure that was my first phone interview.  I pointed out that none of us should let rejections faze us, something that is, of course, easier said than done, and that we should instead continue to push on through until we accomplished our goal.  I talked about the importance of self-care when accepting a “no” but otherwise didn’t really go into much deeper detail on how exactly to get past that ugly word unscathed.

Step into my bedroom (giggity) for a moment.

Don't judge me, I wasn't the one who picked the wall color.

Don’t judge me, I wasn’t the one who picked the wall color.

I’m about to make a horrific confession for which there is no redemption: this is my inspiration wall, which I got the idea for from Rachel Berry in an episode of Glee.

I watch Glee.

Truly, my life has hit rock bottom.

Despite the fact that I utterly hate the character of Rachel Berry with the passion of a thousand burning suns — I find her completely irredeemable — I found her inspiration cork board to be a great idea.  Her version showcases her five-step plan on how to achieve her goals of being a Broadway star.  I may have the same nose as her, but my singing voice sounds like a dying llama with vocal nodes, so a Broadway board really didn’t do me much good, and I don’t have a particularly good plan as far as how to get hired by Blizzard.  At the moment it pretty much consists of:

  1. Assemble portfolio.
  2. Apply for jobs.
  3. Preemptively move home to California in the hopes that this makes me a more desirable candidate.
  4. ???
  5. Profit.

Essentially, it’s the game industry version of dropping out of high school and moving to Los Angeles or New York City to get discovered.

My inspiration wall is more of a reminder to myself not to give up.  Though I’m beating up Shas on a regular basis, it’s sometimes hard to avoid feeling sorry for myself, or like this is all hopeless and I’m being foolish to even think I could possibly accomplish what I’m trying to do.  When I start to get depressed, I simply look to my right and see an onslaught of arguments as to why I should ignore my jerk of a brain and remind me that yes, I am a worthwhile and capable person.  These arguments are:

  • The “story” my mother wrote about my life
  • My NaNoWriMo 2012 winner’s certificate
  • The “Don’t You Wish Your Girlfriend Could Mermaid Like Me?” bumper sticker I got from mermaid camp
  • All of the sweet letters and cards from my friends that I can find
  • The email letting me know that I had gotten a phone interview
  • The rejection letter stating that I did not get the job
  • A collage of direct messages from fans and idols of mine, kind comments on Twitter, my blog stats since the anti-bullying post, and photos of myself doing the following: attending a gallery opening of my photography, in the middle of my first professional modelling shoot, walking in my first runway show, hanging out with one of my music idols, my first public bellydance performance, and posing for a “promo” shot at mermaid camp
  • A small award for “Best Boobs” from last year’s Valentine’s Day party
  • The veil for my upcoming wedding
  • A full-length mirror

Most of the stuff up there is pretty self-explanatory, but undoubtedly a few items will seem to be strange choices.

To begin, a lot of you are probably wondering why I have a rejection letter taped to my wall.  Why on Earth could I possibly want that staring me in the face?  Because rejection is an important part of succeeding.  Anything worth doing is worth fighting for, and nothing that really matters comes easily.  Someday, when I’ve made it onto the design team, I will look back through all of the rejection letters and smile because the missteps make the end result all the sweeter.  I learned a lot from that phone interview (comedy option: that I should not be allowed to talk to other humans ever) that I can apply to my next one — and there will be a next one.  At the time I’m writing this I have six applications in with Blizzard, all for positions that genuinely interest me.  I won’t settle for something I know that I won’t enjoy or for another company that I don’t really want to work for just to get into the industry.  Reach for the stars, or don’t reach at all.  The path may be a little longer to get there, but in the end, it’ll be a lot less time and energy wasted for everyone involved.  This one job didn’t come through.  ‘Kay, there’s still six other ones that might, and if those don’t, then there will always be more jobs opening up.  I believe in fate, somewhat.  Maybe if I had gotten this job I would have hated it.  Maybe I’m about to get a call for my ultimate dream job, and if I had accepted this one, I wouldn’t be able to take it.   At any rate, it’s a reminder to me to work harder next time, and that yes, I am fallible.  The humility keeps me hungry.

My wedding veil is there to remind me, like the letters and cards from my friends, that I’m loved, and that whatever I do, I’m not alone.  The Fiance is along with me for the ride.  Where a lot of people think I’m foolish or naive for going after such lofty goals, he’s a third party who believes that my work is genuinely good, and not just good, but good enough.  If the stress gets to be too much, I know I can turn to him for support.  It’s also an example of a dream that I never thought possible coming true.  I had resigned myself to dying alone because I truly felt that no one would ever be willing to put up with me while I went chasing after my goals, or be able to accept me for the weird nerd girl that I am.  I used to dream of finding that one person, my soulmate, to serve as a partner in crime, though I never actually believed it’d happen.  Since it did, there’s no excuse for me to give up on my other dreams.

Finally, the mirror.  When I go to my wall and reread these things, I can glance at my reflection, and remind myself that I am the one who accomplished all of these things.  These are the experiences I am made of.  I set out to write a novel, and I did.  I wanted to be a mermaid when I was five, and it may have taken me twenty years, but I did it.  I don’t always like the girl I see staring back at me through the glass, but I can’t deny that she’s pretty remarkable with a grand and storied life that most people would probably think was at least three-quarters fabrication.  Also, I had no other place to put the mirror.  My bedroom is kind of small.

Is it hokey?  A little bit, but it works for me, and I think that we all need reminders of our own worth and ability once in a while.

I also created a special playlist in iTunes for myself that I put on whenever I’m filling out applications, making connections, writing, or feeling lost.

Again, it’s cheesy, but by surrounding myself with positive messages and affirmations, I can stand up tall, no matter how many times I get knocked down.

This doesn’t just extend to a single situation, either.  I’ve started to apply it to everything else in my life.  I make a mistake?  My bad, and I won’t do it again, but I’m not going to hide under a rock and cry about it for the rest of my life.  Somebody’s a jerk to me?  I’ve got even more people on my team.  Setbacks are a part of life, and every road has bumps in it.  Even once we achieve our goals, that doesn’t mean we should get complacent.  Keep doing whatever it is you do as passionately as you did on the way up.  Pretend like you’re still at square one.  Fight to get noticed, and once you do, keep fighting to prove that you deserve the attention and accolades.

The point is that rejection is nothing to fear.  Without rejection, we don’t learn anything.  It forces us to be flexible and creative, to reevaluate ourselves and keep from becoming stagnant.  Rejection doesn’t mean we’ll never be good enough, it means we know what detours we need to take and what we need to improve.

Realizing just how much you have in common with Rachel Berry, however… that’s something to worry about.

The Realities of Marrying A Creative Person

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Back in November, The Boyfriend became The Fiance, despite my best efforts to convince him that he’d be better suited as The Smart Guy Who Ran Screaming In The Opposite Direction, not because I think I’m hideous or abusive or anything, but because I know being married to a writer, designer, or ANY creative career-type person can be a real pain in the ass.

I’m not saying that people like us should avoid marriage or relationships altogether — quite the contrary, I think our creative nature and the unique way in which we see the world allow us to keep things dynamic and avoid the stagnation that plagues so many long-term couples.  This isn’t a “STAY AWAY” to the non-writers who love us.  It’s more of a disclaimer, a list of very unusual problems that can crop up in our relationships that most others don’t have to deal with, at least not in the same context.  The challenges are there, but they’re definitely workable as long as both parties take the time to consider things from both sides, and that’s what I’m hoping to illustrate now.

1. Long-Winded, Boring Rants

You know how bored and frustrated you feel when the person you’re talking to just won’t freaking shut up about a subject you could care less about?  Enjoy that experience every day for the rest of your life.  When creative people, especially nerdy ones, get excited about something, we just can’t let it go.  We have to share our joy with everyone around us.  It doesn’t immediately cross our minds that the person sitting next to us on the bus might not care about the influence that Sylvia Plath had on our early work or the intricacies of the storyline in a really great game we just played (and especially not our proposed changes to make the overall gameplay experience better).  Unless they’re creative in the exact same way that you are, there’s a pretty good chance they’re going to find themselves smiling and nodding to be polite, and they’re saints for doing so.

This isn’t even limited to writers.  Artists, you do the same thing.  The Fiance is absolutely brilliant in 3DS Max.  I’ve seen him create things in a matter of hours that look so real, I’m convinced I could reach out and pluck them straight off of the screen.  And whenever I tell him this, his eyes light up and he launches into a diatribe that lasts for a minimum of 20 minutes, the only words of which I understand are a few connectors here and there and “vertices.”  He says vertices a lot.  And something about maps.

In a relationship context, both parties have a responsibility here.  For one, those doing the ranting — when you feel the verbal tl;dr coming on, stop and consider your audience.  Try giving the annotated version instead.  When you see their eyes start to glaze over, you’ve gone too far overboard.  Those with the glazed expressions, don’t hold it against them.  They’re not doing it to show off or to be annoying.  They’re absolutely thrilled, and they want you to feel it, too.

2. The Challenges of Steady Employment

Nobody wants to go to work in the morning, but for creative types, having to get up and go to a decidedly non-creative job is the equivalent of being sucked into the Hellraiser box.  Those of us who haven’t been fortunate enough to find a job that allows us to use our talents are going to have to struggle through each day, leading to high incidences of burnout, especially coupled with the propensity among us to suffer from mental health issues.  Steady employment outside of our desired fields is going to be an almost insurmountable challenge for us.  It isn’t because we’re lazy or “losers” even though the media loves to portray us all as drug-addled high school dropouts who spend all day watching TV to help, like, the creative process, man.  Creative people also tend to be more sensitive and emotional, meaning that what’s a minor annoyance to other people is potentially agonizing to us.

And so a lot of us can’t really hold down a typical 9 to 5 for too long before we reach our breaking point.  Finances are a huge sticking point in any relationship, meaning that it’s hard for most people to deal with a significant other who may not be able to keep the same job for more than a year.  Even with the most understanding spouse in the world, don’t think that we’re ignorant to the repercussions of our actions.  The guilt I felt after quitting my last 9 to 5 was indescribable.  I felt like I was a screw-up, like I was a lesser person, or weak because I couldn’t suffer through it anymore.  I was lucky that The Fiance understood and supported my decision to do what I needed to do for my own sanity.  It’s a rare kind of patience that’s required.

If you find yourself sitting at the kitchen table across from your significant other who’s just come home with the news that they’ve quit their job, try to understand that they really did stick it out as long as they possibly could.  They are aware that their choice has consequences and it was made only as a last resort.  Console them.  Encourage them to seek out a career that will actually make use of their talents, but don’t nag at them about it.  I made this mistake once with The Fiance, inundating him with links to postings for 3D modelling jobs until he felt so overwhelmed that we had a five-day argument over it.  At first I was offended and couldn’t figure out why he was being such a dick when I was just trying to help, but then I thought about how I’d feel if he kept shoving design jobs in my face.  The constant pressuring would have driven me nuts, too.  Casually mention a job opening if you see one, but leave it at that.  Don’t insist that they send over their resume and portfolio right away.  If the ball is placed in their court, I guarantee you they’ll spike it right back over the net.

3. Freelancing

I am a freelance writer.  Even when I had a part-time retail job over the holidays (which admittedly wasn’t too bad since I got to sell tea, something I actually enjoy very much), I introduced myself as a writer trying to break into the game industry, never as a barista.  I wasn’t ashamed of my job, but it just wasn’t me.  I knew it’d only be a temporary fix until I could get hired for The Dream Job, so it never felt right to call myself anything but a writer.

I stand by my frequent statements that freelance is a fancy word for unemployed.  There’s no guaranteed paycheck.  You may be rolling in money one month, then find yourself selling all of your gaming consoles because you haven’t found a gig in five.  Freelance gigs don’t usually pay well, either.  Say you write for a website that pays you $100 per article, and asks for one article per week.  “Holy shit, $100?!” you may exclaim, but when you break it down, that’s only $400 a month unless you find something else to supplement it.  As an independent contractor, you get completely shafted come tax time.  Ending up with no return but no tax owed is about the best outcome you can hope for in most cases.  If you choose not to claim your freelance income on your tax return, LALALALALA I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT I AM NOT AN ACCESSORY TO TAX FRAUD!

Being a freelancer also requires that you be your own PR and marketing department.  It took The Fiance a while to realize that when I was constantly glued to the Twitter app on my phone, it wasn’t because I was discussing the latest celebrity gossip.  It was because I was introducing myself to other writers and people working in the game industry, trying to make my existence known and get some buzz going for my portfolio.  When I celebrated hitting 40 followers on my Twitter account, it was because that meant I had 40 people outside of my circle of friends and family who knew who I was and what I did.  Making digs at your freelancing significant other for “always being on Facebook” is hurtful.  Understand that even if you dick around on Facebook to avoid working, for us, it’s actually an important part of our job.  As of now, I’ve got my own Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn (HA!  No link for you!), and this blog in addition to the Twitter that started it all.  I even registered a new email address for the Overlord Bunny media empire.  I check each one every day.  My email inbox, Facebook, and Twitter are constantly open in separate tabs so that I’m instantly aware of any updates.

At the same time, I’ve also had to learn that there are a few times when the social networking machine needs to be put on standby for a while.  I’ve started to leave my phone at home when we go out to dinner, or leaving it on silent in another room while we cuddle and watch Netflix.  And of course, it absolutely gets turned off if we’re boning.  I somehow doubt it’s professional to answer the phone with “Hello? GET THAT AWAY FROM MY ASS!”

4. Weird Behavior

On our first date, I noticed The Fiance (then The Boyfriend) taking photos of random buildings with his phone as he was talking to me.  I thought this was pretty odd, so I asked him what he was doing.  “Reference photos for modelling,” he said solemnly, then went back to photographing a tree he later told me had amazing textures.

I’m notorious for stopping in the middle of whatever I’m doing to rummage through my purse in search of a pen and something to write on.  I’ve written chapters of novels on everything from receipts to napkins to my own hand, which I then refused to touch anything with until I got home to type it up solely with the other hand lest I risk smudging it beyond legibility.  I also occasionally find myself unable to sleep because an idea’s popped into my head, and my brain won’t shut off until I sit up in bed writing till after dawn, which is usually about the time my shorthand stops making sense and I end up losing about half of it, anyway.

In short, I hope you have a sense of humor, but if you don’t, you wouldn’t be here.  As a note to my fellow creative types, however, please, please, please try to shut it off at important events like funerals.  People tend to get upset when you’re sitting in the back of the church scribbling down notes on the program that the usher just handed you while muttering “this sentence sounds like shit, what if I…” under your breath.  Triple offensive points if it’s erotica.  Also, significant others tend to get disappointed if, after a particularly good round of sex, you come back and ask them to describe one part of it, not to be sexy or kinky, but because you’re stuck on this one part of the sex scene in your book.

5. Insecurity

Creative people are some of the most insecure individuals you will ever meet.  When job-hunting for our respective fields, we have to put on a brave face and really sell ourselves as if we thought we were the most badass individual on the face of the planet.  I think we all have our little catchphrases that we say in our heads to try and pump ourselves up before an interview.  Mine is “bitch, I am flawless.”  Yep, that includes the bold type.  The voices in my head are great with typography and formatting.

Impostor Syndrome is not technically considered an actual mental disorder at this time, but with how prevalent it seems to be, I wouldn’t be surprised if it made it into the DSM in the near future.  If you don’t feel like clicking the link, Impostor Syndrome basically means that you feel like everything you do is shit and anyone who says otherwise is an idiot, or that if you actually do succeed at something, it had nothing to do with your own ability and everything to do with luck, other people’s ignorance, people just being polite, et cetera.

Every single creative person reading this has just pointed at themselves and yelled “THAT’S ME!”

Not only do I fight with this myself, but The Fiance is convinced that his entire portfolio is crap despite the fact that it is anything but.  I spent six months of our relationship thinking that this warehouse scene he had apparently rendered in 3DS Max was a weird photograph of an empty building he’d taken for reference.  He’s been told by other people, including some who actually work in the game industry, that he’s actually extremely talented, but he refuses to listen.

It’s not that any of us are looking for attention or praise.  In fact, we hate it, because it makes us feel like we’re lying to people.  If we hand you something we’ve just completed, it isn’t because we expect you to tell us that it’s good, it’s that we expect you to alphabetically list every single flaw so that we can try (and, obviously, fail) to fix it.  This is where the conflict comes in.  Most people think we’re just being attention whores, and we think that the people around us are being insincere.  What will it take to convince us otherwise?  I have no freaking idea.  If you figure it out, let me know.

6. Droll Eye For The Creative Guy (Or Girl)

Depending on your particular creative field, you’re probably going to be absolutely zero fun to do certain activities with.  It’s impossible to shut off your inner critic.

The Fiance can’t take me to movies anymore and he’s almost afraid to show me any games.  I will grouse about what I perceive to be flaws with the storyline or, in the case of the games, gameplay mechanics, for hours afterwards.  As a former dancer — the non-naked kind, thank you very much — and choreographer, I’m also a real dick about any kind of dancing shows on TV or in music videos.  Meanwhile, I’ve quickly learned that if I want to watch a 3D animated movie with him, or introduce him to a new band I’ve discovered — he’s won awards at indie film festivals for his original scores and compositions — I do so at my own risk.  It’s almost as if there’s a veil around everything that only those of us with backgrounds in those particular fields can see through.  To everyone else, a movie is just a way to kill an afternoon, and a game is either awesome or kind of crappy but for no real reason.  I equate it to being a little kid who sees Mickey Mouse take off his costume head.  The magic is gone.  Suddenly you can see the frayed stitching on all of the other costumes, and you notice the cleverly hidden mesh that the actor looks through.

This makes it downright depressing sometimes, not only for ourselves, but for the people around us.  It’s important to remember that while we may see a million and a half technical flaws with something, that doesn’t mean we have to kill a layperson’s enjoyment of it.  A simple “Eh, I didn’t care for it” will suffice, rather than a detailed breakdown of low poly versus high poly models and the importance of UV maps.

(Hey, I guess I AM learning some of his 3D stuff!)

7. I’m So Ronery, So Ronery…

As the significant other of a creative person, prepare to be alone a lot, especially if they’ve managed to make a career out of what they do.

Each blog post I write takes me an average of about three hours, including edits, revisions, and the addition of media when necessary.  During these three hours, I cannot be disturbed.  I’m so focused on the work in front of me that I essentially go blind and deaf to everything else.  The Fiance can sit there and talk to me the entire time and at the end I will not be able to tell you a single word he said, although I apparently answer “yes” or “no” questions without realizing it, leading to some awkward moments when I find out I’ve agreed to something I have no memory of.  Either that or he’s trolling me, which is also a possibility.

Even with my shut-off mechanism, I still get horribly annoyed when someone tries to talk to me while I write.  I feel awful for it, but it’s the number one way to get me to snap at you.  If it’s for something important, however, like asking me what I want to do about dinner or telling me that you were just struck by a piece of falling meteorite and need to go to the hospital, it doesn’t trigger my rage response.  But this doesn’t help in the case of a neglected spouse who really just wants to spend time with you and talk to you about your day.

The guilt of this one has been eating at me a lot lately.  I’ve been spending more time applying for jobs in my desired field, networking, and writing than I have talking to him.  He’s lucky if I manage a solid hour of conversation per day.  He never complains or makes me feel bad about it, but the disappointment is almost palpable when I tell him I’m simply too busy to run heroics with him or can’t focus on a conversation with him because I just really, really need to finish this paragraph.  I actually have talked with people in the game industry about this, since they frequently work unpredictably long hours and yet still somehow manage to do things like not die alone.  One of them told me about a coworker who, when asked how his wife handles his seemingly constant absence, shrugged and replied “I gave her a credit card to do whatever she wants with.”

This is perhaps the most challenging obstacle to overcome for a couple.  The creative spouse isn’t coming home late because they’re going to the bar every night, or having an affair (Hell, even if we wanted to, we’re way too exhausted to cheat).  They’re late because their job requires them to be.  Even armed with this knowledge, being left on their own so often is too much for many spouses to handle, something that isn’t surprising at all. It sucks to be ignored as a kid when your parents are too busy at work to play with you.  It sucks even worse when you grow up and the person you’re married to does the same thing.

The only way I’ve found to combat this is to make at least one day off a special day.  No phone, no work, no distractions from anything other than spending time with your significant other.  It doesn’t have to involve leaving the house or cost a ton of money.  Some of the best dates I’ve had with The Fiance involved ordering a pizza and watching Doctor Who in our pajamas.  Obviously this isn’t always possible, so having a home office can help a tiny bit, too.  Even if you have to bring your work home with you, at least you can be in the same space instead of locked away in a dim office after hours while the dinner on the table gets cold.  Or share your lunch breaks during the week, if you can arrange your time off together or your spouse doesn’t work.  An hour together is better than nothing.

And As A Closing Note

I know that this post was decidedly unfunny, and I apologize for that.  But much like my article about my battles with depression, it’s one that I really felt needed to be written, if not for the general public, than as a way for me to show that even when I’m working, I’m thinking of The Fiance.  I want it to be known that I’m aware of the unique challenges we face in our relationship.  One of those is that I may be moving to Southern California within the next month or two without him.  He’ll follow when he’s able to, but in the meantime, we’ll be on opposite sides of the country.  Though I’ve been resisting this move for a while, he is the one who insisted I make it a reality.  The first time he brought it up, he mentioned that he really thought I had the talent to make it as a game designer.

“You haven’t read any of my stuff,” I argued.

“Yeah, I did.  You left the first draft of your book in Dropbox so I read it.  It was really good.”

I never knew this until two months after the fact.  He didn’t want to bring it up because the was worried I’d be mad at him for reading it and, anyway, he knew that I probably wouldn’t believe him.  (Of course I don’t.  IMPOSTOR SYNNNNDROME!  Flash!)  But it touched me to know how deeply I had his support.  I warned him that when I do get hired, it’ll mean lots of time spent working and not a lot with him.  He shrugged and told me he was fine with that, that he’d make sure to have dinner ready for me when I got home and that he’d take care of the chores so I could focus on my work.

When a relationship includes a creative person, or, as in my case, two, it really becomes more of a partnership than anything else.  Together, we’re an unbreakable team.  It requires a little more work and a whole lot more understanding, but the rewards are definitely worth the effort.

Also, the sex is awesome.