Anger is my default position.
It isn't that I've stopped thinking. Nor is it that I like being angry. My anxiety levels increase, I become less productive, I'm focused on the wrong things and I end up writing a lot of things I wish I hadn't written.
I try not to be angry. I tell myself it isn't worth the effort, I tell myself that I should let it go, or that there are always going to people of a particular type in the world, there's nothing I can really do about it and that I'm better off just moving on and talking about something else. I tell myself that I'm writing a book and that I need to save my energy for that. I tell myself that I need to sell a book, and that it's better if people like me, even really stupid, ignorant, obviously misdirected people with bad upbringings. They have money too. And I tell myself that getting angry only makes a lot of smart, educated, decent people very uncomfortable, because they've been raised in a life environment where abuse or cruelty weren't common behaviors.
I tell myself these things. Then I start writing, and it just goes.
I saw a lot of cruelty over the years. Cruelty to me, but more towards affecting my outlook, cruelty to others. Seems I've never been able to get away from cruelty to other people. There's something about me in reality (not online, where the reader can't hear my voice or see my face or, probably, smell whatever pheromone I give off) that makes people want to tell me their troubles. And people have a lot of troubles. All over. For some reason, I seem to care about all that. Yet, because my default is to get angry, I'm really only contributing to all those troubles.
I have an incident on this blog where I just friggin' lose it. Every now and then. Sometimes, I leave it up. Sometimes, I feel compelled to pull it down. But always, always, I want to bury the blog, tell the whole environment to go fuck itself, and settle into an existence where I am not compelled to deal with people who are just so ... stupid.
Here I am, though, not doing that.
Yesterday, I got pissed. Really, really pissed. It was in part because of a passage I wrote Monday that was freaking brilliant, but has since been impossible to follow up on. Like making a five hundred mile dash to the coast in record time, only to find there's no fucking ship to board. I know what I want to say; I know the details of what needs to be said ... I just don't know how to say it in a way that stupid people won't go pffft! what a load of bollucks. It's not a load of bollucks. I know that because the research behind it comes from the Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the Department of North Carolina State University. The research convinced me, changed my mind, broke my brain open and was responsible for the writing I did Monday.
But ... the research is accusatory. It says, certain people in positions of power are abusive and self-serving because they're self-promoting, ambitious and charismatic, and they're compensating for perceived misfortune in their lives by promoting an atmosphere of cruelty and 'fun' through emotional sadism. And this speaks directly to my experience with DMs who abuse their power, promote player-vs.-player, intimidate their players, crow about the greatness of their worlds and dismiss player agency of any kind while defending the right to be deceptive.
I'm working incredibly hard not to make the book accusatory. I'm washing out everything in the book that might carry some of the stink of this blog, that is extraordinarily accusatory. That is fine for this venue, but I don't think that works for a book that is meant to helpful. So I am trying to find the right language. I'm trying to say, "here are the pitfalls, don't be a dick," in a positive way. I'm trying to do it, while at the same time being detailed and thorough about the behavior of a dick, because I have that research that some very smart people worked on to explain exactly why dicks are dicks.
So this is in my mind. I'm angry that I can't find the way to write it. I'm angry because there are trolls telling me that I'm a bad writer when clearly I'm not, and even more clearly I'm tearing myself into pieces trying to be a better writer. I'm angry because there's ordinary crap going on in my life that is being added to the pile. And anger is my default position.
Then there comes this fellow who tells me that the idea that the GM or the players would ever come meekly to a campaign, asking to play, is ludicrous. At once I recognize that this asshole's demeanor is obviously so outwardly dismissive of the least sort of weakness that people who aren't blowhards immediately feel it isn't worth approaching him. In his universe, no one is ever hesitating before sitting down to run, or asking to be part of a campaign. In his universe, the very idea is a tremendous laugh riot - and he said so, in the next comment. The next comment that says, "I am looking forward to your book. While I'm sure there will be things I disagree with, I am also certain that there will be insights I have not considered."
Right there, I just fucking lost it.
Anger is my default position. I wasn't half as angry with him as I was with my own frustration at not being able to hammer those 'insights' (hard-fought, acquired research from expert sources) into language that guys like this might open their eyes at. But that is where the anger went. The whole condescension of it sent me off. "I'm sure you'll write a cute little book, with a few cute points, but I'll keep my superior point of view just the same."
So it goes. I should be satisfied that he's going to read the book, right? It's a buck or two in my pocket. I should shut up, and take his money, and not worry in the least about whether he agrees with the book or not. I should concentrate on being liked, so many people will buy the book, because they think I'm a great guy and that I'm someone readers can identify with. I should not get angry.
Unfortunately, I am not, in actual fact, a person that readers can identify with. I am not the common man. I am not one of the boys. I'm not interested in the things ordinary people are interested in. And I am not basing my writing about RPGs on my opinion. I'm basing my writing on difficult-to-interpret research that has been telling me for months now that many of the things I do as a DM are wrong.
You, the reader, and I, the writer, wouldn't be friends in real life. You would almost certainly really bug me. I would probably be bored by the things you like to do, or the things you're interested in, and I doubt very much that anything I do on a day-to-day basis would impress you. You and I, we have nothing in common. Beginning with the fact that I don't think that our having things in common means shit where it comes to the business relationship between us.
That business relationship is based on one thing. You have money. I'm working to write a book that is worth that money. The book won't make you feel good about the game you're running. Nor is the book going to give you a lot of warm, fuzzy feelings. It is going to describe in an advanced way how to improve your Dungeon Mastering.
We don't have to be friends for that. In fact, you don't really want a friend for that, do you? I think at this point, where it comes to your DMing, a friend isn't going to be much help. A friend won't be honest.
I will be. And it will hurt.