Taking the leap

As of June 1, I will no longer be Editor-in-Chief of Blizzard Watch. This decision was purely voluntary, nothing is wrong, and there are no politics in play. The business of Blizzard Watch had little to no influence on this decision. Simply put, I didn’t want to do it anymore. However, even though I’m stepping back from the leadership position, I’ll still be writing and contributing over there, so I’ll still be around.

To go into more detail, there are two primary reasons I’ve made this decision. First, I no longer enjoyed the work on a personal level. I haven’t been putting much time into Blizzard’s games recently, which made it difficult to drum up the passion to write about them let alone direct an entire staff’s coverage of those games. More and more, I found myself dismissing news and topics because I thought, “how could anyone find that interesting? It isn’t worth our time.”  Someone with the manga-level burning passion of youth should be given the space and ability to direct the editorial.

Second, my professional life has been centered around writing about World of Warcraft for ten years. I’m 30 years old. I’ve been writing about WoW since I was 20 and I’ve been playing it since I was 16. When I asked myself if I wanted my life, professionally and creatively, to be solely defined by Blizzard Entertainment, the answer was no.

These thoughts have been weighing on me for awhile. I stuck it out for the sake of my Blizzard Watch friends and family — because they absolutely are my friends and family — but finally came to the conclusion stepping back was the responsible thing to do. The June 1 date is really a formality at this point, because the team has already stepped up and knocked it out of the park as I transition out of the leadership role.

I believe members of the team will discover skills they didn’t know they had simply because they never needed to until now. Once they have, they’ll make the site better than ever. Fresh blood and new ideas are a great thing. (Plus, let’s be honest, some of them have been doing this job even longer than I have. They know what they’re doing. If I didn’t write this post, I bet most of you wouldn’t realize I’d resigned.)

As I said, though, you’ll still see me around Blizzard Watch. I’ll still be writing news and the occasional other silly thing. I won’t be involved in management, nor will I be in any position to provide insight into the business or operations anymore.

Going forward, I’ll be focusing specifically on writing, both freelance work and my self-publishing.

In December of last year, I released Rookie Mistakes, the second installment of my Lady Superior series. Around the same time, I launched a Patreon to support supplemental fiction releases. At the time, the plan was to release new installments of Lady Superior on a regular basis, interwoven with short stories, vignettes, and all of that sort of thing. It’s now the end of May 2017, I’ve barely managed to squeak Lady Superior 3 to my editor, and I’ve shamefully released nothing on Patreon.

As it turns out, it’s incredibly difficult to produce creative content when you’re playing editor from 9-5. For awhile, I seemed to manage it. I’ve released three novels under those conditions. Eventually, though, I couldn’t keep it up. Running a website by day and writing novels by night leaves little room for much else. In most cases, I only saw or interacted with my girlfriend (who I live with!) for stretches of 5-10 minutes at a time when I needed feedback on something I’d written. I sacrificed sleep and meals to buy myself a few extra hours to accomplish something. By the time I came to the decision to step back, I hadn’t felt truly well-rested in weeks. Everywhere I went, everything I did, I felt like I was dragging my ass.

I want to rediscover the joy of writing. Writing Lady Superior is the most fun I’ve had writing in a long time. Dedicating most of my day to the thing I didn’t enjoy to the detriment of the thing I did enjoy was an increasingly unpleasant experience. I want to continue delivering the world of Lady Superior (and other fictional worlds!) to all of you. And, certainly, I hope you enjoy it.

Lady Superior concept art by Faebelina
Lady Superior concept art by Faebelina

Lady Superior 3 should be coming your way in the near future. At the moment, I’m tightening up the manuscript with my editor. After that’s complete, it’s a matter of waiting my turn on my cover artist’s commission list. Once those things are done, Lady Superior 3 will be in your hands. Going forward, I’ll have significantly more time to focus on continuing the series and releasing smaller pieces on Patreon. As soon as that process is off the ground, I’ll start promoting my Patreon again. And I’ll need to find a way to apologize to the handful of people who’ve supported me during this lull. At the very least, they’ll be given the completed Lady Superior 3 straight up when it’s ready to go.

I’ll also continue freelance work, which is a significantly smaller time investment than a full-blown editorial role. Right now, you can find some of my work on NowLoading. In addition to covering the news, I have a (semi-) regular column called Digital Fables where I discuss story in games. These are my pieces so far:

Overall, backing away from Blizzard Watch is a financial risk, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. If it turns out my writing isn’t good enough to make a living off of it, I’ll go back to the drawing board. In either case, I feel this is the right thing to do at this point in my life.Plus, I’m looking forward to having time for gardening again. It’s that time of year, after all.

(Header image courtesy of SouthernWI under Creative Commons.)

9 Comments

  1. Rich

    Hey Alex. I came here from the Podcast you guys released today. I didn’t even know this site existed. I am glad that I do now!

    I wish you all of the luck and fortune in the future. I look forward to seeing the new stuff that you write, both for BlizzardWatch and for your personal writing.

    Thank you and good luck!!!!

  2. Malorne

    Hello Alex,

    I’m Malorne if you remember from Blizzard Watch, I complained about not knowing enough of your personal lives in the articles while I have been following all of you around for a long time since the days of the old website.

    I just wanted to chime in and thank you for everything you’ve done ! You created a very special snowflake of the internet with Blizzard Watch and it required a lot of courage to step in as editor-in-chief and create the Patreon campaign for the website and hold everything together since then. I am confident the staff is very competent and will handle it fine, but that doesn’t mean we won’t miss you.

    I wish you the best of luck for this new personal challenge !

  3. Malorne

    I wanted to comment on the Horizon Zero Dawn article but it seems the creators.co website has issues logging me in so I’m posting it here:

    Hello Alex, it’s Malorne again. I just read the three articles you linked on your “I’m leaving Blizzard Watch” one.

    I thought the one on boss fights very interesting. It reminded me of WoW where the bosses are huge and hit you with your fists even though they are standard trolls or humans and are supposed to be casters… 😉

    I didn’t know about ludonarrative dissonance and will pay attention to it in the future !

    About Horizon Zero Dawn, I didn’t know about the game (to be honest I mostly play WoW and don’t have a lot of time remaining for anything else), but you made me want to try it ! :p

    However, I disagree with your point about “You can’t write Ozymandias. It’s already been written. You can’t write The Machine Stops. That’s been done.” Maybe I’m the stupid one in the crowd but I didn’t know “Ozymandias” nor “The Machine Stops”. I’m Belgian so maybe those are “standard” literature that is taught in the US while we mostly see european (mostly French) stuff in Belgium school. My point is that different people will have “already seen” different stuffs so they might still be surprised at something that you saw coming from miles away because you already knew that kind of story.

    The particular case of “The Machine Stops” as you described it reminded me of the mogu in Mists of Pandaria, where their empire fell because they were too reliant on their slaves who just stopped working for their masters. However, if I didn’t know about the mogu story, a video game could tell the “The Machine Stops” story and I would not feel like it’s a story that has been told and re-told over and over again. Do you get what I mean ? I would get that “Oh my god, they were reliant on the machines and they just stopped working so their civilisation crumbled? Man !” moment and just think this video game story is so entertaining or whatever while you would just be like “meh, it’s The Machine Stops all over again.”

    You seem to know a lot about existing stories, fantasies and cultural tropes that exist out there. I don’t. Because of that, I can be “amazed” at stuff that you would think brings nothing new to the table. I don’t know how to feel about that. In a way, I feel like you “spoiled” yourself by having already seen “everything”. In another way however, you probably enjoyed it when you learned about those things originally. Whether you enjoyed “The Machine Stops” or “that game which copies the The Machine Stops story” doesn’t really matter in the end. It gives you a new way of seeing things, as long as you are careful not letting it ruin your experience in those games… 😉

    Thank you for these articles, I enjoyed reading them !

  4. As a professional journalist and a at-one-time-promising fiction writer, I certainly agree with the difficulty of doing eight hours (at a minimum) of one type of writing each and then being able to turn around and crank out even more, hopefully even better, writing, once you’re off the clock.

    You’re making a decision many people in your position have made before and one that many others who haven’t made the leap (yet) agree with. Good luck.

  5. Bruin

    Hey its Bruin from BW.

    I just purchased Lady Superior.

    I met you at BlizzCon 2 years ago and you were a jolly good fellow.

    Also, you’ve done a lot for 30.

    Good luck!

    I have very much enjoyed the fruits of your labor.

    See you around 🙂

  6. jabrone77

    Hey Alex.
    I need to apologize to you.
    I know I was banned from Blizzardwatch….I could sit here and give you a bunch of reasons or excuses for my behavior, but ultimately, it comes down to decisions I made. Wrong decisions.
    I’ll be the first to admit I deserved to be banned. I’m both embarrassed and ashamed of the way I acted. If I could go back and change the way I acted over the last few months, I would.
    You were always my favorite writer…despite how our last interaction went, I always looked forward to you writing.
    Anyway, I’m not sure you’ll see this, or care if you do, but for what it’s worth I’m truly sorry. It pains me to know my shitty attitude possibly contributed to you deciding to call it quits. I re-upped my Patreon support, and heard your last behind the scenes podcast. Your final words to just be nice hit me right in the gut.
    I wish you all the best. You’re a talented writer, but more than that, you’re a good man. I regret taking that for granted.

  7. KerSplat

    I’m a nearly continuous reader of both WoW Insider and Blizzard Watch, but a very rare poster. With this transition I have to speak up. I just want to say THANK YOU for so many years of excellent content, controversial topics to discuss, keeping us up on the news, providing a place where fellow nerds could assemble. Thank you, as well, on the podcasts for being someone who could follow Blizzard’s games but also allow yourself the freedom to criticize choices they made when you didn’t agree. It was clear to me, at least, that you’re a fan, but not a fanboy. I and we appreciate all you’ve contributed and we wish you nothing but the best of luck and good fortune in the future. /salute and thanks again.

  8. Ross

    I’m excited that you’re moving on and doing what you need to to forward your career. I hope to continue reading your interesting content in whatever form it takes.

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