This post wound up being a lot of text (over 2200 words including this bit), and it’s about personal stuff rather than some RPG I’m working on and/or drooling over.
Patton Oswalt‘s book Zombie Spaceship Wasteland is well on its way to becoming one of those rare books that I periodically reread to refresh its influence. I’ve liked standup comedy for as long as I’ve been aware that there was such a thing, and Oswalt is easily my favorite. Not only is he a fellow geek, but he has a really profound passion for what he’s doing that’s always showing through. You get glimpses of it in stuff like his magician bit, which is a story from early in his comedic career, but his book is angry and sad and beautiful and puts his passions on display. It’s got humor mixed in, but more than anything it’s a series of self-portraits, snapshots of different moments in his life.
My own life has never been very good at furnishing events that would make good stories. In middle school and high school I came to dread autobiographical writing assignments because I never seemed to have anything to say. My most successful such essay turned the assignment into a lament about how boring my life was. Things have gotten more interesting with time–in my early 30s I have just enough personal history to be able to tell stories about myself now and then–but certainly nothing on the level of what you’ll read in Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. One place where life resembles role-playing games is that events just kind of happen, and without adrenaline burning them into your brain, memories of events can slip away. There are moments that stand out, but it takes effort and craft to form an enduring narrative.
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