Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Windmill

On Monday, after some weeks of discussion and investigation, I announced my readiness to teach DMing online.  For that I owe an apology.  I must admit, I was so involved in my own concerns about having the wherewithal to teach the subject, to effectively live up to promises I would be making and giving value for value received, I completely failed to consider other people.

Let me be forthcoming.  These past three days, no one has come forward to take a class.  My gentle readers can imagine, I'm sure, the complexion of my thoughts through this time, as I re-examine all the decisions I made, from the price to the choice of content to the possible hubris of presuming that it's a possibility I should have suggested in the first place.  My best thinking - the only condition that wasn't exhaustively considered - is that others would feel as uncomfortable with the prospect of facing me on camera, and all that would imply - as I feel with living up to the expectations of willing and highly challenging students.

I am a bear, I don't deny it.  I did, however, discount it.  I've been thinking all of myself and for that I do apologize.  I should have planned this better.

One question I can answer, as a step towards encouraging people to believe that I'm an ordinary person and that I don't bite, is to explain why I feel I could be a good teacher, offering genuine insight for your campaign.

There are a number of ways I could come at that explanation.  I've acted in many capacities in my life; something of a jack-of-all-trades.  I've worked as a cook, moved furniture, acted on a stage, handled accounts payable, managed databases, sold magazine subscriptions, published research that has appeared in libraries, organized events, sold my own book at trade shows, worked in construction, worked in landscaping, worked as a janitor, been a manager, worked white collar jobs, worked blue collar jobs.  Sometimes for years at a time, sometimes for a few months.  Through this process I have learned to communicate with vastly different types of people and learned to communicate with them according to their perspective.  I have trained people in virtually every occupation I have taken - and more importantly, been trained by wise persons of every stripe in how to get along in the world.  I grant that I'm a tiger in text, but I also know how to put that on a shelf.  I know the difference between what is important and what is really important.

Atop that, I love this game.  I love every part of it: playing the game, drawing people into the game, talking about what the game deserves and the impact of the game on our world, the details of the game and the philosophy that underlies the game.  I don't write this blog as someone who does the game in my spare time or ever considers setting the game aside to do something else.  I don't consider other things "more important" - partly because I've done those things, side-by-side with company vice-presidents and convicted criminals.  Chasing "Importance" is a fool's game.  Importance is what we love.

The sidebar includes a description of me that I garnered from others' comments about me in the early days of this blog.  I still smile at being described as gonzo or grouchy.  There's something bemusing at being described as an old man shouting at kids to get off my lawn - as I have been on many sites.  And nothing is more definitively accurate as the label, 'Quixotic bastard.'

I'm sure it was pejorative.  I've been described as Quixotic in one way or another since before high school . . . it is what people always say when we try to take arms against anything that seems impossible to beat.  We're told how trying is such a waste, we're told that the surest course is the best course - and all too often we listen.  What we forget is that Cervantes' hero was not a 'loser.'  It is only that he defined 'winning' by different standards than those used by others.  Even in the 17th century, 411 years ago, this was the trial that every person faced: do I resign myself to a life of complacency or do I keep fighting?

That is why I am the right person to teach Dungeon Mastering.  I'm not here to teach you or anyone how to understand the game as you're "meant" to understand it.  I'm here to teach how to live and breathe the game as you, and only you, can.  Personally.  Not the right way.  Your right way.

You're not getting there on your own.  We both know that.

I'm just a windmill.  I look big and scary, I creak and groan and move my arms around, but if you look in your hands you'll see that you have a lance.

Come on and tilt with me.


Ozymandias said...

For what it's worth - and the main reason I'm commenting is so that your readers have another outside perspective - the only thing holding me back from signing up is my current work situation. My schedule does not allow for me to play the game and, additionally, when I return home in about a year, I will need to locate a new group. Were it not for these circumstances, I would be your first student.

Indeed, I've given considerable thought to signing up anyway and taking a "refresher" course when I get back to the States. Alas, I do not believe it would be my best interest, and knowing that I fear I would make a poor student.

So yes, it sounds like I'm making excuses, but fuck it, it's the truth: if I could, I would, but I don't know how. I can only hope that you're still doing this next year.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Ozymandias, I embrace that completely. The circumstances are the circumstances, that's all. I rely on the kindness of many strangers, not just you my good fellow; so rest your conscience.

Samuel Kernan said...

In a similar situation where I am very interested, but not running a game right now. I would very much like to take advantage of this opportunity in the next year sometime.

MountainBlogger said...

Thanks for taking all the time you have and offering this course. It's always nerve-wracking to "put yourself out there". I haven't commented much but I've been following your blog for years and am definitely very intrigued. As the others have commented my life situation (in my case, being out of work) prevents being able to justify the expense -- for now.

As soon as said work situation issue is taken care of, my plan is to purchase How To Run and your course.


Matt Shields said...

I think the best thing people could do to get a comfort level with the idea of speaking with you face to face is listen to your podcasts. Hearing someone speak is a lot more personal than reading prose, in my opinion.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Thou stabbest me in my writer heart, Matt.

But you're right.