I’m answering a question that was asked on twitter that probably won’t be of general interest, but, well. It’s a question about the dedication of Cast in Deception.
Over on Twitter:
Hey, a few years ago a few of my friends and I turned up in the special thanks section of your novel “Cast in Deception*”. We were really excited about the shout out but I’m wondering, why did we turn up there exactly?
The answer is a tiny bit circuitous — which is to say, this won’t seem like an answer until closer to the end.
My household is basically a geek household — a house full of people who drift from one end of the over-focused spectrum to the other (can walk into moving cars against a red light because they are *thinking* and everything else is autopilot). The so-called “normal” anchor (for a value of normal which passes muster in our house) is my spouse.
I have two sons. When the oldest was a toddler, he would sit in my lap and play Doom. Or rather, he would make me clear the level — he hated the noise the demons made — and then happily explore the 3D environment when everything in it wasn’t trying to kill him.
My younger son drifted toward computer games as well — but he had no interest in Diablo or other RPGs.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Said Younger Son is the editor to this post. Hi!]
My husband introduced both to youtube, in part because of a series of youtube videos: “Will it blend?” in which someone with a super powerful blender shoved things into it and emptied the remains — if the blender survived. (One of these things was an iPhone.)
He also inadvertently introduced them to XKCD and Order of the Stick. (I digress. I do that a lot.)
This lead — of course it did — to the wider environs of the internet — to various bulletin boards, the rest of youtube, etc.
This is going to sound like a digression.
I was published before I had kids. My first novel came out in 1991.
My children therefore grew up around a writer. They grew up listening to frustration and struggle and anxiety, all elements of acts of sustained creation (imho). They knew that books — at least mine — were not written overnight, and that it was *work*. It wasn’t traditional 9 – 5 work, but it was what I did.
Writing is not for everyone. But I think, on some level, that I want everyone to be a *creator* of something. Not because we’re somehow exalted existences (and frankly, my advice is always to have a Real Job first, because I *like* having a roof over my family’s head) but because there’s a kind of deep joy in parts of it.
I don’t think that people who do create but don’t attempt to make a living at it are foolish or wasting time.
I think it’s important, however, to find something you love doing, and … do it.
This is not like loving chocolate. If you love chocolate, you eat it. You do not go and pick the cocoa beans and milk the cows and whatever it is that’s required to *make* chocolate. You buy it, you eat it.
There is *nothing* wrong with this, btw. It’s my attempt to make a distinction between the use of the word ‘love’.
I love writing. I wrote even as a child. But writing *for other people* requires an additional skill-set. Regardless, there are times when it is anything but fun, and large clumps of hair are being pulled out. So my use of “love” here is: that thing that brings you enough joy you will wade through the unavoidable tedium and anxiety in order to do it.
Love of something is internal. I could not somehow light that internal fire for someone else. If my kids enjoyed things, they pursued them. I didn’t tell them what they should enjoy or why. It was enough to watch and listen.
I’m sure you can see where this is heading.
Both of my sons played Doom. Interest in Doom took them to Doom-on-the-internet. They then started to play doom online in private servers, which lead them to a small but active community of Doom gamers.
This lead to dinner stories of Doom games and the people they knew only by Doom monikers (i.e. every single person they played with, many of whom were not North American). Some of those names came up fairly early, and some came up frequently. The kids were not, by this point, toddlers; it was not required that I know every single aspect of their lives.
At some point in the murky period between then and now, they found Doom wads and mods, and servers that played combinations of the ones they liked. Stories of Doom and its many wads became a consistent dinner conversation. I still have distinct memories of stories about people I have never met.
One day Older Son said to Younger son: why don’t we combine this wad with this other mod? I think people would really like it!”
[Editor’s Note: Neither mod was actually a .wad file, both were .pk3 files]
And Younger Son said, “Sure.”
This caused a whole new range of stories and observations because of course there was observation — of the community, of the map and mod creators, etc.
(I would love, some day, to find some trace of Ijon that is current on-line, because Ijon stories were incredibly popular and lead to me reading a lot of forum threads, among other things.)
This combination of WAD [again, technically pk3] and mod was not simple, and neither of the two were programmers yet. But they threw themselves into what seemed, at a remove, to involve a *lot* of tedium and a bit of fun. (Especially the multiplayer-only bugs and the endless, endless debugging.)
They had their own pseudonyms, they were part of this community. I was not.
But over the course of time, they learned a lot about people and communities that were entirely virtual. My Younger Son, who avoids talk about anything emotional, ever, sat down for a very long debate with someone that … no one else felt up to debating. I asked him why he’d done this the next day, and he said that someone had to do it.
This shocked me, but in a good way.
Because of a charity auction, I had a dedication that I’d set aside for the auction; various things happened and the dedication wasn’t wanted. So, I went to the sons, and said, I would like to dedicate a book to these total strangers who have, nonetheless, become somewhat familiar over the years.
And they thought this sounded like a good idea.
I have never interacted directly with any of you, but I am grateful that you are all out there doing your own things.