Tuesday, March 9, 2010

On Writing

I greatly dislike how lax I have become with the Butterfly, probably as much as I dislike how little the game means to me right now. I look back at my archive of posts, startled at how much content I was able to pump out to keep the masses entertained, even if the posts were frivolous. I made thirty-five posts in October of 2008; I'm lucky if I can squeeze out ten per month now. I love writing, but it fairly obvious my inspiration is running dry. After all, back in the day there were rants about spec inequalities or cheering on about new content to come to fill up the blogosphere. Today, there's just not much.

I have stories. Oh, do I have stories. Wonderful RP adventures regarding Negathle and her sisters, their history, their loves. But fiction cannot be forced, at least not in my case. It has to stew. It has to cook over time and absorb the aromas of details. Inspiration is a melting point - the heat builds up until the story suddenly flows. How many plots and ideas have I typed away on paper, only to be stored away in some folder, waiting for the melting point to be reached, if it ever does.

Not all stores are fiction either, but I am coming to find that most stories now are mostly laments than narratives. I could tell you how much I feel my guild as fallen, that the raiders of today are nothing like the raiders of yesteryear. Loot falls into their lap now. Just the other day one was day dreaming about a hypothetical fight that requires four tanks, the DPS and healers split up into separate duties and jobs. "That sounds just like... Al'ar," I said in gchat and was promptly ignored. Rants come easy to me know, and I don't like it. This is the Angry Butterfly, but that anger is turning more into depression, and the Depressed Butterfly just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Of course, there is always news, but news for a particular blog has to be news that is exciting to that blog, and not much news is very interesting to me anymore. I still read MMOChamp daily, but I admit that's all I have interest in, besides what filters though the blogosphere. I don't even have Warcraft fanned on Facebook. Why? Because it's simply too big, too popular. Thousands of bloggers and forums out there have already nitpicked the new information to death. My thoughts/concerns/rants are overlapping, and my apathy means I simply don't investigate as much as I used to. Fuck, how do you instigate hard/heroic modes in ICC again? What are the two BiS trinkets now? How is focus not like energy?

When things get too big and too popular, they lose their appeal. When everyone knows what you are saying when you announce "I finally dinged 80 on my Boomkin, and I'm starting to farm heroics" you are no longer a member of an exclusive club. It used to be fun to find someone else who played and trade server names and play styles - a secret handshake, if you will. But just the other day I met a lovely lady through a Meetup group who admitted to me (and the rest of the group) her great nerdy hobby is leveling her hunter. What are the odds? Well, significantly greater than it was two years ago. I wasn't particularly surprised (though I wondered why she directed the confession to me - had I let some piece of WoW jargon slip in conversation without even noting? I really do wonder how much I do this...) - but how do you write for a generation of gamers who probably has little to no appreciation for the times when specs were not equal, purple was not the color of a common raider, and knowing how to manage a shot rotation was crucial?

I suppose that's why I've always appreciated Pike's writing. She admitted coming up with topics was never easy, but she always pulled through, even if it was posting about something as common as a bank alt. She's taking time off from the game to let her creativity blossom elsewhere, but I am grateful the WoW community had the opportunity to be the recipient of her arts. I always wished I could satisfy the readers as well as she did, but I suppose, what with necessity being the mother of invention and all that, having a greater reader base had a hand in inspiration for posts. Obviously the Butterfly is no where as popular as Aspect of the Hare, so I never felt the obligation of filler posts. If I made any attempts at such, I suppose I felt that I was trying too hard to be bigger than I am.

Additionally, there is always the fear factor: The realization of exactly how few (or thousands of) readers you have. Open question posts have the merit of bringing out your readers, but they also have the curse of showing you that they might not exist in the numbers you were hoping for. I made a modest profit on the gambles I took by such posts, and I was quite satisfied with the number of responses they generated. However, I can imagine being equally as terrified by the thought of those posts generating dozens of responses. Having a large reader base brings about so many more obligations, and while I might have been able to handle it when my love for the game was still burning hot, I highly doubt I could meet the demands with any enthusiasm now. I feel guilty for only posting once this month for the small corner of the internet that enjoys(?) my writing - imagine my inner turmoil if the Butterfly had ever been huge.

Yet it is not these sort of posts - the reflective, pensive type - that gain the numbers. Blog hits are totally dependent on the guides. I've made a good solid dozen posts on loot, how-to's, and tips that have made circles around the WoW community, and I've very satisfied with them and the hits they've brought me, yet I'd be a fool to think they made any one stay around. Hopes are best not built around huge spikes made by loot lists. Guides are nice advertisements for the quality of the blog, and they are a ton of fun to do, but they are also deathly boring. Blogs that are solely comprised of guides rarely do well. Blogs need meat for readers to chew on, not simply snacks that readers can grab on the go. Opinions, analysis, open threads, and the occasional random off-topics keep the readers interested and wanting more.

I suppose it is a little presumptuous of me to write about what makes a successful blog work when I have little to show for myself. I can't say I haven't learned a lot by writing and reading WoW blogs over the last two years though, and hopefully these insights may be useful for some budding young bloggers out there. Just call me the Stephen King of WoW Blogs. Rawr!


georgeckardt said...

I attempted on several occasions to start one up myslef but just couldn't get the creative juices to start flowing.
I can't remember where i read it but someone noted that less than 1% of blog readers will leave a comment. While I rarely leave comments on blogs, I do enjoy reading them.

I for one enjoy reading your blog. Keep it going.


Anonymous said...

I'll always be around to comment - though I agree with you;

Still enjoy the game - still love to write. Kinda tired of writing about the game though.

Monroe said...

This post sounded really sad and it made me feel guilty for not commenting more (ever?)- I've been a reader for a long time and I really enjoy your writing. I've missed your more frequent posts but I definitely don't think that makes you a failure as a blogger, and I hope you find something to like again about the game!

Negathle said...

Oh, dear, that is definitely *not* what I intended to convey with this post. It is a reflection on nearing two years of blogging, and while it is rather sad in parts, it wasn't meant to instill guilt in my readers!

Llyrra said...

Angry Butterfly, Aspect of the Hare and the Pink Pigtail Inn are the blogs that top my list and it's been that way for a very long time.

As you said, there are lots of sites of guides and lists but it's to the thoughtful, insightful, expressive bloggers (like you and Pike and Larisa) that I enjoy coming back to every day to see what's on your minds. I'll always check in because, no matter how long it's been since a post, it's worth it whether it's WoW related or not.

I'm at a similar point of dissatisfaction; not so much with the game in general but with raiding and what it's become for me and your experiences and reactions have been hitting home.... a lot! And so relationships are formed when you blog, intentional or not. I'm invited into your world, a world that you are excited to share and it's a very comfortable and highly enjoyable visit. So, if you don't mind, I'll continue to hang around for as long as you have something to say.