I know that right now is technically Lessons Learned week, and I’m supposed to write something about all the things I learned doing Blaugust this year and how it may or may not change how I blog going forward. My blog is pretty well established and so the open question you might ask a first-timer, the “are you going to stick with it?” question, is pretty well answered for me.
But I wanted to revisit the motivation topic one last time, because I think there’s something there I can run with.
One of my biggest motivations, in general and in writing, is my wife. Before this gets written off as cheesy, I should explain. I’ve danced slightly around the idea that my relationship history prior to my wife was less than ideal, and I will say that the longest-term relationship I had prior to my wife was, in retrospect, really quite bad for me. I was often unsupported, supporting both of us literally and figuratively, and since it was also my first relationship, I was kind of a doormat and sort of rolled with it anyways. It took me a long time after we parted ways in 2013 to unpack what I had felt about it and to realize that it just wasn’t a good situation. That’s not to say I was a perfect angel or anything either – I was a 20-something weirdo nerd and I had a very maladjusted outlook on romance, and I know I made a lot of mistakes myself – and it took until I was near 30 years old for me to realize what I wanted, what I was missing, and to gain the self-confidence and self-actualization to act on that understanding.
I met my wife in 2016, through the online dating app OKCupid (sometimes they work!). She had a funny Mario-reference handle and I was at a point where I had, effectively, given up on trying super hard to date. At the time, I was about 4 months in to my training for professional wrestling, and I felt great. I was focused-in on my own goals, and I felt like a totally new person, the self-confidence I had gained in the years since my big breakup and my then gym rat status changing my outlook on a lot of things. Ironically, this is also what made things easy for me – I felt great about where I was in life and I think that helped carry me through what would have been an awkward getting-to-know-you phase for me. We quickly agreed to a pizza date, and spent hours that night after talking about a myriad of topics, including her zombie escape plan (it was awful) and her new dog (Shadow, who became our dog). It was pretty obvious right off the bat things went well and there was something there.
A month later, we made it official (Facebook status and everything!), and things have been really quite great from there. In a total contrast to my prior relationship, things are very open, communicative, and non-argumentative. Both of us are very supportive of each other and that’s not something I’m used to, so while it should be a basic standard, I let myself be without that for quite a long time in my 20s, and I sometimes still think about how ridiculous that was.
In October 2019, we went around the world (literally, from home here in the US to London, to Rome, to Tokyo, to Anaheim for Blizzcon, and then finally back home) and got engaged in Tokyo (taking a ring through customs 4 times, including the extra-detailed screening we had to do on the stop in Beijing on our way to Tokyo was an interesting experience), and while COVID delayed our originally planned March 2020 wedding, we got married just under a year ago now, in September 2020.
And yes, that’s all fine and great and romantic, but why is this here and about motivation?
Last summer, I was let go from my job. It was an incredibly stressful moment for both of us, and it was definitely a weird moment for me, as used to being “the provider” as I was. It felt really awful, and stories of how the US unemployment system were clogged up match pretty neatly to my experience (laid off in June, first response from the state office in…November), which meant that we had a pretty long period where, short of savings and liquid capital I had, she was the sole income for both of us. She shouldered that exceptionally well, encouraging me to use the time to work towards personal goals – to write, grow this site, to write books (many of the projects I have been alluding to are these!), and to take the opportunity that it made for me. We very quickly downsized our living expenses – a smaller apartment, switching cellular providers to get a much-lower monthly bill, and the rest was pretty easy in the world under COVID – no real ability to travel, to go to events, etc. It was a lot to deal with, and I wouldn’t have blamed her for snapping, pushing me back to a normal job, or both.
But she kept pushing me to work on my projects, and my dreams – to not have to go back to work and instead to write, to stream, and to generally go where my heart led me. I’ve written a lot of my best work because of that – because I haven’t had to make it a hobby I do on the side, a window I keep open in a tiny corner of my work setup to write between work projects (how most of my posts used to be written!), but instead, I’ve been able to focus solely on writing. Blaugust 2019 I had to do smaller posts, because there was no way I could do longer-form content daily while also working full-time (my longer posts sometimes take up to 5 hours to write!). This year, I’ve been able to write whatever I want, for as long as I want – and while it hasn’t always been easy (we’ll save more on that for Lessons Learned posts!), it has worked out better I think. August 2021 is already the biggest month for my site ever and the total views I have for just this month are going to be really, really close to beating my total views for the whole year of 2019. I’ve got multiple book projects planned for launch next month, and through our planning and her motivation, I have until February 2022 to continue to grow my writing as a business and see if I can make it, after all.
She’s been with me since I started this blog in February 2017, and she was just as excited and encouraging for the day I got linked on NeoGAF and MMO-Champion for 700 views as she was for when the site passed 100k annual views earlier this month. There’s something funny about having someone who believes in you and your passion, too – it makes you believe.
I often write here about how I never really expected this site, much less any other writing project I worked on, to be anything of a success. I still write like I’m typing into the void, for better or worse, but it seems to work well enough for me. But I can also see that being willing to write authentically – my voice, my opinion, for me and hopefully others enjoy it as well – has been something that has found an audience organically over time. She believed I could be successful at this, at writing in general, and it has helped spur me to this point, one I never expected to reach – that I will be able to be a freelance, self-employed writer and not have to go back to doing tech support, tax support, or convention management (the only 3 jobs I’ve done across various roles, not counting teenage jobs like “circus game attendant” or “singing ice cream person” and the side job I had of training new employees as part of my tech support role). The last time I thought seriously about being a writer was in 2014, when I wrote and released my novel, and that was an unexpected success that made a fair bit of change – but a lot of that was from friends and family via Kickstarter and not retail success.
But my wife never lacked that belief in me. She always celebrated that I was writing, that I was publishing, that I kept my nose to the grindstone and she always genuinely held up any victory I had, however small. She’s been an integral part of me finding my voice, sticking with blogging and expanding into writing more eBooks and self-published work, and I know without that support, I would not be writing here today. In recent posts, I’ve poked fun at myself and my old videos on YouTube, but a lot of why I have that footprint is because those projects were in darker times, when my ex-fiancee was just not particularly supportive. I gave up on all of those because it was time-intensive when I was a full-time employee who traveled quite often for work, and I wasn’t meeting with success or support. I look back on those because the person who made them is quite different than I am today – far less sure, less confident, but also less supported and less understood.
In a lot of ways, that support and understanding was all I really needed to feel like the time spent was worth it, that being read by no one and being followed mostly by “Blogging Income Now” bots on WP.com would give way to a genuine audience and a way forward to do something different and unquestionably better with my life. I’m glad she supported me doing this and working towards this goal when I didn’t believe in it as much because she helped make me a believer in myself and that is worth more than words on a screen could meaningfully describe.
So, what can I say, I love my wife, folks! And I appreciate you for reading, too, especially if you made it all the way here in this post (which is one of my shorter ones!).