Reflections on 2016

To be honest, New Year’s always hits me hard. Late December has always been difficult as I struggle to make ends meet, and New Year’s Eve is usually my lowest every year. Everyone is celebrating about their progress the previous year and looking forward eagerly to next year; for me, I’m simply watching people pass me by and move forward with their lives. I have been stuck in a sort of limbo for the past two years, unable to make ends meet and battling bouts of depression along the way, and this year has been no different.

The beginning of 2016 was decent to begin with except for a dramatic yearning I had for a particular girl. Unable to tell her my feelings and potentially break off her engagement, I kept quiet and suffered. Later, she betrayed me, and a lot of those emotions turned to anger. The first half of the year I was very unhappy. I still have small fits of rage at some of the most irrational and minor things, and I have not been able to fully relieve myself of the anxiety and pressure I feel almost every day. Anxiety saps the ability to be happy out of your life.

My career during the first half of the year was actually pretty solid. I was writing for Blizzard through Team Liquid, and I got a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go to IEM Katowice as an esports reporter. The trip itself was a blast, and I have a lot of really great memories despite the exhaustion of work and travel. The people that I met there (in particular Kitara/Snowholmes from StormKings, the mYinsanity players, and my fellow writers TripleM, Muugi, and Zullhammer) were absolutely incredible, and I enjoyed spending time just talking and hanging out with them very much. I had no idea what the hell I was doing; I had never flown on a plane before, had never been to foreign country, and had no idea how or where to go to get from the airport to my hotel. At the event, my first interview ever was with Kim Phan, Senior Director of Esports at Blizzard, and I scrambled to ask relevant and interesting questions. But I got through it. Over a four day period, I wrote three articles and did four interviews alongside close to 48 hours of travel.

However, my career took a big step backwards not one week after coming back from Poland. I quit TeamLiquid.net, got blacklisted from TeamLiquidPro, and I was on the rails looking for a new job to pay rent. During the next few months, I was split between a volunteer position at mYinsanity, paid articles at Splyce.gg, and a new startup organization called Esports Edition. Looking back, there were a lot of problems with all of those publications, and even though I was technically writing a lot between February to July, I wasn’t really progressing anywhere. My deepest desire is to relive my experience at IEM Katowice; to travel the globe and interact with other people, get their stories, and bring them to life in interviews and articles. That’s what I’m most passionate about. None of those organizations were really offering me that nor helping to improve my writing, technique, or education.

Esports Edition in particular caused me a great deal of distress. Their vision of blase content saturation differed from my view of impactful, hard-hitting articles that brought the esports scene to life, and in the end, I lost pretty much all interest in writing for them even though I was actually making enough money to pay bills with them. I’m not the type of person who continues to do something I hate for the sake of security; call it a flaw if you will, but I have difficulty with having my dreams stifled. I quit Esports Edition (was technically fired) and decided to just take matters into my own hands and created my current website. I have pages and pages of notes about business goals, how I would start a freelance writing business, rates, marketing strategies, etc., etc. I went in hard on the idea and began to just create the content I had always wanted to create: mass interviews and big feature pieces.

Since the conception of my website, I have interviewed several players and casters such as Equinox, Khaldor, darkmok and Nurok from Misfits, and Sunshine. I still have plans for many more. I also did feature pieces like the First Impressions pieces in the style that we did back at Team Liquid and big quasi-journalistic pieces like the Road to BlizzCon articles. There were plans to do a full 16-article series for the Road to BlizzCon, but I was hit with depression quite hard in the middle of October and I completely only two pieces during that time period.

Unfortunately, I hit a rock wall with my freelance material. Despite the immense amount of work that I put into these articles, my view counts average between 500-1000 on most of them; only two people have ever signed up to support me on Patreon. My follower count on Twitter has slowly creeped up by about 50 people this year but has otherwise stayed stagnant. On top of that, I have applied to several writing jobs all year and faced countless rejections or have been ignored completely. News sites that I look up to like The Score, Dot Esports, or The Esports Observer have pretty much completely overlooked me despite a fairly impressive resume and over three years of experience writing about esports. I don’t mean to complain, but I will admit that these relatively poor results have greatly affected my motivation and often keep me wondering if I should be doing this. Some days, the feeling of futility is so strong that I’m not sure I can even publish a finished article.

Added to that, I have slowly gained back all of the weight that I lost two years ago and have to once again climb out of the crater of obesity. My self image is so poor that I cannot fathom doing HotS Thoughts videos on most days because I can’t bear to look at myself; this is largely why these videos are so few and far between. I struggle with bouts of depression which completely deny me the ability to put together even a single coherent sentence and often deny me a lot of work. I’m not looking for pity points, but these are some of the problems I face daily, and I want to be honest.

Of the positive things I’ve done this year, I acknowledge at least that I’ve learned a lot. I read several journalism books cover to cover in early fall, and I have slowly come to think of myself as a journalist instead of a writer. My knowledge of HTML and formatting has improved significantly, and I work hard to make my articles look excellent. I also learned quite a bit about Excel, SQL, databases, and php programming doing my statistics project even though much of it is useless for what I do (BTW, that statistics project is dead, unfortunately). I have slowly come into my own this year, and I think I’m actually one of the highest ranking editors in the Heroes of the Storm scene. I can easily manage a group of writers and run a publication of my own if I wanted to. In fact, I have considered opening my own publication several times. I’m a pretty mediocre writer, but my skill as an editor and a mentor is quite high. I still have infinite amounts to learn, but I am more confident in my abilities than I have ever been in spite of all the depression and disillusionment.

Here are my stats for 2016:

  • 116 pieces of esports/gaming content
  • 18 videos, 97 articles
  • 58 paid articles, 58 unpaid articles
  • Average 8 articles per month
  • 41 News, 28 Features, 15 Guides, 14 Interviews
  • 11 @TeamLiquid, 9 @mYi, 4 @Splyce, 35 @Esports Edition, 17 @Inven Global, 20 self-published, 2 @Blizzard

My latest goal at Inven Global is to backtrack and begin writing news articles as often as possible. In 2015, Thorin produced over 365 pieces of content in a single year; as a baseline, that is my goal. I want to be able to sit down at my computer every day and create something. Daily news articles combined with my feature pieces at Teamliquid.net (I’m back, we’re back) and my own site and occasional videos will patch things up nicely. I have a lot of plans for the future, but I am living under the weight of a lead cloud; I am not unhappy with what I am doing, just unable to find happiness quite yet. Perhaps when I reach a tipping point….

Thank you for your support over the year. Even just an occasional shoutout helps so much.

P.S. I’ll do a video and talk about my specific plans for this year soonish.

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