If there’s been one driving theme I’ve been noticing from November 9 to November 16 — which is today if you happen to be a time traveling natter — it’s “holy shit, I need a break”. Kratzen has done many things for me. It’s helped me think, it’s helped me write, and it’s helped me share opinions on things that nobody cared about and gave even less of a care after I was done tossing their salads. It’s also destroyed my sleep schedule, made me think of gaming as an obligation rather than as a privilege, and caused me to associate writing with the rigid structure that I impose onto articles such as these, where it is not enough to simply write an article, but where one has to also format its HTML and update multiple pages alongside it. It is partially a pursuit in publishing perfection, but as perfectionists know, maintaining such perfection will bring hell directly to your doorstep.
There’s more to all this crap than you might think. Do yourself a favour and view this page’s source code by right – clicking on it. You will see how not only every paragraph has its own unique identifier (all hand – made and maintained, as for the entire rest of the website), but how every meta tag, how every footer and title and date and everything, are all unique and formatted in such a way as to make each and every page a special standout, going so far as to make the emojis grey like so: 🌈. Before I changed computer monitors, I would even change the words within paragraphs to make sure they were all even squares. Now I realise that it’s only going to look proper on the monitor I have it loaded on, so I can fortunately restrain myself there.
When I publish an article, I have to ensure the spelling is proper, all the links to and from the article works, all the formatting is correct, all the little typographical details (like proper ellipses, hyphens, and dashes) are there, and that when I upload the work to my site nothing was damaged or changed along the way. And even through all these sanity checks, I still get stupid typographical errors I only notice the next morning. Even then I don’t like fixing them because my body physically revolts at the idea of spending so much time within the confines of Kratzen’s black and grey cells.
The entire writing and publishing process, for a 1,500 word article, can take between ninety minutes to three hours depending on how much research I have to do, how easy it is to find and edit cover art, and how long it takes me to physically write the thing. It’s exhausting to try to keep up each and every day, and this is so much of the reason why I had troubles with updating 10kB and Kratzen work in the past, and how I cut corners on each website’s posts multiple times: I hate looking back on those times at Froghand where I was a workaholic who would keep churning out five, six, ten thousand word articles in the span of a few days because I felt obliged to create such massive amounts of content for my non – existent fans. Like I was obliged not to disappoint them with a shorter article, or that I was disrespecting my subject matter by not giving it the full coverage it deserved.
The actual physical act of writing is a horrible, repetitive, and mechanical thing that one gets bored of if they do it too often. The only reason anybody ever does it at all is because of those rare instances, maybe once or twice a week, where they can look back on their work and feel proud to have written it. If you ask me to look back on all the reviews I’ve done for Kratzen, and you asked me to name five that made me go “damn”, I don’t know if I would be able to do it. I know that a lot of what I write may be eye – opening — even life – changing — to those who aren’t aware of quite the same things I am, like so many revolutionary writers and artists were to me when I was younger. And I really am grateful for the infinite opportunity and privilege to be able to do that. But when I can’t even take a nap without staying awake thinking about how the hell I’m going to publish a review that night when I’ve already wasted that time on YouTube, Reddit, talking with friends, sending e – mails, doing exercises, and even enjoying the Great Outdoors, I know there’s a fundamental problem I have yet to solve with both myself and what I choose to create.
Getting into the mood of writing, being able to express yourself, is something that only comes with the right mindset, the particular type of feeling where you aren’t just doing it as a chore or as an obligation, but as a feeling where you’re ready to give your audience a fair shake, and your subject matter the respect it deserves, where you can write something of actual quality instead of churning out crap just for the sake of having said you wrote something that evening. And I’ve been feeling that less and less lately as I’ve gone through the motions and the mundanities of my everyday life. I don’t feel like I’m stuck in a rut, but I have noticed the variety of activities and things I am interested in as of late have gone down dramatically ever since I made it a point to update Kratzen every day, and even when I didn’t make it a point at all, I still felt the obligation to check in, see if I was interested in updating it, and the answer would always be: “I don’t wanna do that”. So I didn’t, and I filled my time up with so many other things: rap music, anime, poetry, reading, dining, and stuff that made me feel more whole of a person than just doing what I’ve done my whole life: writing about things and trying to make a change.
I look back at that vacation I took during the time I wrote the Tao of Mario, and that second smaller vacation during October, and I think about how I tried to feel some sort of calm for taking a break from something I’ve been shackled to for the past thirty weeks. And yet even after all those I still don’t feel like I’ve fully been able to recover and appreciate all the textures of life before me because I’m so focused on this insular environment that I’ve set up for myself, and how hard it is to actually write within that environment because of the expectation of professionalism and class and rationality and logic and theory and all this other bullshit that I never needed before in order to write, yet I’ve forced myself to do so because I honestly think I could make a change in some people’s lives if I could look at the work they do and just be honest about why I think they’ve done it and how I think they can improve and what their things mean to me for having the bravery to show it to me.
And what do I have to show for all that class? Fuck all, that’s what. I feel like I’ve been talking to nobody for the past year and a half I bother to show up and put my heart and soul out there for the world to see, and what does the world say? Fuck all! That’s what the world says! That’s my audience. Fuck all, and I don’t know why I don’t just fuck off of doing any of this. But whenever I feel like just dropping everything and taking a hiatus for weeks, months, or years at a time, I think back to before I ever had any of this, before I even had a blog or even had Froghand or even had my own fucking art collective to show the world the validation of my right to live within it.
And I sure as hell am not the same person that I was back then, and I sure as hell am not going back to being a scrub who did nothing but play Steam games all day because he had nothing else in his life. But if I go in the opposite direction and become a workaholic again like I did with Froghand, I don’t know how I could look at myself and be proud of what I’ve done if the circumstances of their creation is so antithetical to how I want to treat myself as a human being. The haze I went through when writing some of those articles on Froghand, that dull numbing sensation where you don’t want to keep going, but you do anyway because you know if you stop you won’t know if you even understand the things you wrote within the past half – hour, is something I wouldn’t make anyone do, not even those who say they’re okay with working conditions like that. Because I thought I was okay with those conditions, and looking back at the damage it still causes me now, I don’t know what in the hell I was thinking pushing myself so hard.
I always hope that every project I do will become its own business and make enough interest where I can keep on doing it and be able to live comfortably off of the small joys that I generate out of writing to you. I want to build a legacy where I can look back on the work I’ve done and feel proud for having done it, like those small moments of pride I feel when I look back on The Degenerates and all the projects I’ve created within it. I want to create a legacy of free culture that anybody can enjoy and indulge in, not just those special classes of people who can afford it, and to be able to die knowing that I made the most of my life in order to change the world while I’m still alive. I don’t care if the vast majority of people had dreams like this and decided to give them up and settle for a lesser existence. I’m not them. I have no obligation to be them. And I have more demonstrable skill, talent, and knowledge than those spineless sheep have or will ever have.
But it’s not working, it hasn’t worked yet, and because Kratzen was my most mature effort to make such an enterprise work, an effort marred by its demonstrable lack of popularity, I don’t know what in the world I’m doing with it. I want to treat it like a blog like in the past where I can show my opinions of the work without feeling obliged to be a critic in the traditional sense, where I can just shoot the shit about games in an environment that lets me be as free as I want to be. But I don’t even know if I can do that because of whether or not I have a reputation that forbids me from doing that, or if I even have any reputation at all. I don’t want to be your typical Internet Funnyman who says stupid shit and everybody crowds around me because that’s what these imbeciles like to see. I’m not just a can of wit that provides cheap laughs and stupid jokes for you to repeat ad nauseum to your friends. I have real shit to say, and I worry that if I stop being so tempered in my writing, my most serious posts are going to go to the wayside because of how I screwed the pooch by not showing enough tact in the past.
I guess, in sum, Kratzen is nothing I expected it to be, none of the plans I made for Kratzen have panned out, none of the developers I’ve reached out to have shown a sincere interest in my work, and all the people I’ve gotten to know because of my entire writing career thus far — the whole year and a half are in the single digits. I don’t know if I can keep writing for myself, because I’ve done that for several years, and I don’t ever look at what I’ve produced from those times. I don’t know if I can even write as myself, because I don’t want to cheapen whatever I apply my name to. And I sure don’t want to keep writing if it’s going to cause me so much pain and struggle, but at the same time, stopping would make me such a fundamentally worse person that I fear what type of person I would become if I take that route.
It’s just a big, bloody mess, and for all that I put up that I’m the only person I can rely on for issues like this, it really hurts knowing that I’m the only person I’ve ever known that has all the personality traits that I spend so much time looking for. 99% of the time, being your own best friend will get you through life in such a positive and fulfilling way that you know you don’t have to rely on anybody else. But it’s the 1% of your time you’re in your most uncertain hours that you don’t know what to do with yourself, and it really makes you wish you know more real people who have the same real issues that you have.
I’m sorry to all those fans out there who I’ve disrespected by denying the existence of and who never came out because they were too shy or intimidated or otherwise indifferent to just come out and talk to me like a real human being. The amount of friends I’ve made on Tumblr just by shooting them a message or a fan mail is too many to count, and though I’ve lost every single friend I’ve had on there due to time and space, I cannot deny that they were really good people who I do not regret reaching out to at all. I’ve never once ignored an e – mail or a message from somebody who seemed genuinely interested in me, and I always made sure, even when I was fucking fifteen of all ages, to give them a reply they could take with them and really appreciate for having known they received it.
I can’t apologise for taking a trip off the beaten path and letting my feelings about this blog be known publicly and in a way that’s really only relevant to those who care about me not just as an artist or a joker, but as a person worth getting to know. If more and more artists were real with their feelings and were able to express them in a way that encouraged more discourse about all the struggles and efforts that goes into their work in a way that moves beyond relatable comics you can share on Twitter for likes and retweets, it would really legitimise all the time and sweat that goes into the production of even something as simple as the article you see before you right now. It’s something that I needed to say for a long time, and I can’t apologise for being a human being with human feelings.
To everybody who read the entirety of this almost 3,000 word blog post that I made within the broadside of an hour, I want to thank you for being a true fan. Not just of my work, but the person who made the work. I want you to know that you weren’t born for the sole reason of dying, and you don’t need to justify your existence by doing the same things I do. It’s enough to know you’re at least taking into consideration that life might have more meaning than the pursuit of mindless pleasures, and how you’re able to improve yourself just by doing the things you’ve always wanted to do, but were too hesitant in order to. It took me several years of sitting on my hands before I finally started up a blog where I can express myself in the ways I’ve always wanted to. And even if I’m not completely satisfied with everything that I’ve done throughout my short, humble career, I can at least look back on it and appreciate that I had the privilege to have made it.
Thanks for everything. I’ll see you tomorrow evening.