Link to Questions 1-9
Ah, yet another "non-writing" question that is actually really sort of about writing. Okay, I'll let another one slide in since getting 20 non-writing questions is actually a bit on the hard side once the repeats are accounted for.
So here's the thing: I don't write about social justice INSTEAD of about writing; the two are absolutely inextricable. Take notes now. This'll be on the quiz.
If you learn NOTHING else from me…well, okay, if you learn nothing else from me it should probably be that a writer who wants to be successful needs to write every day (or very close). But if you learn TWO things from me, the second one should be that narratives matter. They matter a LOT. Who tells them. Where they start. Where they end. What's being left out. What's being included. Entire mythologies about who we are (whether those mythologies are religious or not). They all come from narratives—stories.
Who we respect and who we dismiss. The way we think about our place in the world. All of this comes from stories. How we erase certain people from stories, emphasize the flaws of one group, emphasize the virtues of another.
It's all shaping the narrative. If we refuse to accept the narratives that marginalized communities try to tell us about our own complicity in forms of oppression, we are picking which stories we will listen to and which we won't.
And that has everything in the world to do with writing. Because when you take on that mantle of storyteller, particularly in a all stories are political. Even a story with "no social justice" IS a story about political and social structures. It is a story with assumptions about gender roles, about race, about sexuality—in the case of "no social justice" it would be the assumption of the status quo. And and whether the writer are defending the status quo actively or simply passively not questioning it, that value system will come through.
Contempt for social justice, particularly in fiction, is one of those things that springs up when people want to ignore the stories that might make them feel a little bad about their culpability and participation in societal injustice. If it were truly a non-issue, it wouldn't get people so riled up.
11- Where would you travel/visit/vacation?
It's probably a tie between Ireland and Orlando. There are things I want to see in Ireland, and a casual glance at my last name might let you in on at least part of the reason why. (The other has to do with some maybe woo-woo/personal spirituality stuff that I'm hinting around about, but not quite ready to get into on an open channel.) Orlando has so many cool amusement parks that I've never been to. It seems like I could easily book a month there, and only have a few days of even slowing down to catch my breath…and maybe get a foot massage.
Sadly, my budget dictates more modest travel plans. An AirB&B just out of town or if I'm going wild, a drive to Disney for a couple of days. I've been using an Amtrak rewards card and I'm almost up to the point where I can take a round trip. I might try to get to the Midwest this year to see some Internet friends.
12-Hey: what was your first....DnD experience?!? How old were you? Who was your DM? What module and who was in your party?
We're talking late 70s here, so there's a lot of these experiences lost to the shroud of time. I do remember we were playing BASIC Dungeons and Dragons, without the advanced rules you find in game stores today. Your "class" could be "elf" (which meant you were ALWAYS a fighter/magic user because that's what "elf" meant back before Advanced Dungeons and Dragons set it up so that classes and races were separate identifiers). I remember playing through the very first module (The Keep on the Borderlands). My friends and I were pretty young and were getting a lot of the rules wrong, but the older we got, the more adept our understanding became.
I'm so old school, they tore the school down.
Role playing games are one of those weird cultural touchstones for me. Much like console video games. My life has essentially been mapped to their development, so I've grown and matured as they have, and my tastes have evolved with the medium. Basically me, video games, and role-playing games all got over "rescue the princess" or "kill the orcs" plots right around the same time. The games got more sophisticated as I did and the niche genres (as well as the late nineties and early aughts within the "gaming cultural zeitgeist" that the mechanics of the game could greatly enhance or detract from the intended themes) became more and more attractive. Not that I don't sometimes want to bust out my old Palladium Books and have one last Heroes-Unlimited-With-Ninjas-And-Superspies-Martial-Arts-Running-Around-the-Rifts-Campaign-Setting for nostalgia's sake (because if you haven't had a supe character use a Chi focus to throw a Death Head transport into another Death Head transport, you're just letting the best things in life slide right by), but mostly I'm into telling stories and improv acting and digging deep into personal drama.
But somehow we always end up back at Dungeons and Dragons. There's just something about that game…it's flexible enough to carry VERY sophisticated themes, but with a combat system that can do hack and slash without getting bogged down into mechanics if the characters want to solve their problems with violence…or when there is no choice. Also dragons.
I can't be sure exactly what my first character/campaign was, but I know two things:
1) I was a magic user. I know that because I'm almost always some kind of magic user. I've played a handful of fighters and rogues (there was a fighter-who-was-double-specialized-in-the-bow archery kick for a while after Kevin Costner's Robin Hood came out), but for the vast majority of my tenure as a seasoned dice dork, I have enjoyed magic of some flavor. Mage. Cleric. Psionicist. (All three in the case of one particularly lenient DM.) And of course in 5th ed, bards are finally cool, so I've been playing a lot of them lately. Let me bend the laws of reality…within reason.
2) I didn't have a party. For years, I couldn't find more than one other person at a time to play D&D with me, so one of us would be the dungeon master and the other would be the adventurer. So my first game would have been just me and a friend.