Virtual Realities: Memoirs of an internet spaceship politician
by Sugar Kyle CSM9, CSMX
Did anyone write a manual?
Every hurdle is a higher higher than the last. The decision to run for the CSM was an enormous one. It should have been the greatest challenge. Once I decided to do it, I just had to do it. However, as with so much in my near future, I was wrong.
It was cowardice that led me to do a soft announcement of my intent to run for the CSM. I was giving myself one last out. The response of my readership would define the possibility of my success. I tell myself that I was all in at that time. That I would have gone forward even if they all said no. It is easy to believe that after the fact but at the time, looking back over chat logs of me spinning in circles over my decision, I cannot say that I was that confident.
I spent two weeks writing my letter of intent. Wex pointed out that I had a habit of writing in a passive tense. He then recommended that I read ‘The Elements of Style’ by William Strunk Jr and E. B. White to help me clean up my bad habits. “I don’t want you to change your thoughts or your voice,” he told me. “But you have to come out and say I and Me.” Until he pointed that out I had not realized that I did write in the passive tense. I wrote not to offend people when I mused over thoughts and the reasons for actions and interactions inside of the game. It was a safety blanket that I had to strip off. I could not come to people looking down and to the side. I had to project the confidence that I had in my goal if not in myself.
It was a speech. One where my voice would have to sound out through the medium of text. It was a time where I had to often heard that the written word was dead, I decided to write. To write something that I had never written before. This would take the fact that I wanted to run for an office, empowered by the trust and belief of more strangers than acquaintances. I could not sit down and say, “This feels right and I have so many good emotions! Pick me!” Instead, I had to reach down and pull out the reasons, thoughts, and opinions. It was not enough to say that I wanted to run for the CSM. I had to say why I was worth supporting. Even worse, I had to sell myself. I am a terrible salesperson. I agonized over every single sentence. I structured and restructured it. I worked off of a structure of complete honesty. I needed people to see me as I was. He told me to sit on it and wait. I did. But, I buzzed with energy. I needed to get this done. I needed to release the stress and energy. It started to consume me until I could not think of anything else. I just needed to get it done. I couldn’t sit on this for weeks at a time.
“I’m going to post it,” I said to him.
“Alright. It is as perfect as it is going to get. Everyone is going to love it.”
Such support. It was painful. Every time he told me I was wonderful I wanted to tell him that I was not. Compliments left me uncomfortable. I also knew he didn’t lie to me. If something needed to be changed it needed to be changed. He believed in me as I did not myself. Still, my lack of confidence in myself whispered that he was deluded. Sure, he didn’t lie to me but he just hadn’t seen what a failure I was. Failure haunted my thoughts. I knew that I was throwing myself into a spiked pit of internet discourse. This was a place where people polished their skills in shredding others into small, gibbering bits. I had seen it. I had shied away from it until I couldn’t back up anymore.
This was a test if my belief was enough. I believed that it needed to be done.
The post that I wrote was honest. Honesty is the only way that I managed to cling to my path. I told myself that as long as I was honest, I could keep going. As long as I was honest, I would be okay with myself. Even if the world burned down around me, I'd be able to not regret. I would be okay when people laughed at me. It would be fine when I failed. As long as I was honest, I could endure.
Honesty had to be balanced with sense. I also wanted to list every flaw. It was one reason I had to write and write and write again. It took multiple rewrites to stop saying negative things about myself. It took those rewrites to remove the abashed, soft edges. It took those rewrites to reflect the confidence I had in why I wanted to take on this responsibility.
Rarely have I felt as sick inside as I did when I pressed the submit button that day.
I wish I could say that I wrote it and walked away. It sounds clam and mature. It would also be untrue. I posted my desire to the world and then waited for the response to roll in. I was useless at work that day. I couldn't concentrate. My phone struggled to stay charged with the rate of my checking for responses. Oh, I played cool. I absolutely moderated myself from instantly responding to people or reaching out to anyone. I had long ago learned how to be quiet when I wanted to speak. Inside, I was on fire in stressed anticipation. If anything, being quiet and calm when I was anything but was one of the harder things to learn. Was I lying by maintaining a semblance of calm?
It was an overwhelming response. It was wonderful, but the surprise underlined the fact that I had expected to be laughed at. A few people said that they had hoped I would make the decision to run. Someone thought that I would make a good council member? More than one person? Someone believed in me. It was a heady, new experience. It was also an awesome responsibility that wrapped itself around me. For if they believed in me, I had to make sure that belief was well spent.
The response left a lot of think about. My habit is to wander around something in circles until I have created a course of action. It also tends to drive other people to distractions. To avoid that, I ran away from the topic. For the rest of the week I wrote my normal day to day actions and thoughts about the game. Behind that, I let the idea settle. I read and re-read the responses. Alone, I basked in the craved for validation. But, it was not a done deal. There was a weakness to my approach. I had announced it to the audience that knew me best. Some had been reading my blog since I started writing. I had an in game chatroom where a dozen or so readers hung out to talk to me. Those people were already vested in some way in me. Their support was good. If those that already knew me did not support me I’d be in a truly weak position. Next, I had to see if that support would go further.
Previous: Part Two
Next: Part Four
“I wish I could say that I wrote it and walked away. It sounds calm and mature. It would also be untrue. I posted my desire to the world and then waited for the response to roll in. I was useless at work that day. I couldn't concentrate. My phone struggled to stay charged with the rate of my checking for responses.”ReplyDelete
Holy hell Sugar! For a couple of years now I’ve had my own little EVE blog and for over a year I’ve written for one of the major EVE publications and after all that time I still fret much like this, especially around the ‘major’ submissions. I just never had the guts to admit to it – well not until now.
There’s something about writing that feels more consequential, at least for me. It’s picked from thin air, it’s assembled from nothing, it’s all and only you. No wonder we fret.
That is so strange to me, Dire. Are people so confident that they can assume that what they write makes sense and is worth reading? The lovely part of a blog is that it is safe. A front door of ones mental home vs building an office building for others to inhabit.Delete
Well, I don’t fret much about my blog posts but then again I’ve never tested a formal announcement on my blog. While not exactly announcements, my ‘major’ pieces don’t get a blog preview – they go straight to the publisher. Those I fret about.Delete
The best way I can explain my experience is by pointing at the difference between teaching a class where you’re up front lecturing and being a student asking a question in that very same class. In both cases you’re speaking before exactly the same crowd but I fret a lot more when I’m teaching then when I’m a student asking a question. One feels like public speaking, the other does not.
I get nervous when something feels consequential though exactly what makes something feel consequential to me is often mystifying.
Probably how much you care about it. It may not be a huge, life changing topic, but something contentious, or something you struggled with. I don't think anything is wrong with fretting or wanting to feel proud.Delete
I found as a blogger that I got a lot of negativity for being proud of my writing and wanting it read. It is only recently that I managed to shake someones words about the ego that you must have to write.
I don't think it is about ego. It is something you create. People write poetry and paint without anyone ever seeing it. Writing in some forms is art and art is deeply personal.