Leveling Up

I’m not a video game guy. 

My gaming skills peaked at the House of Pizza in Morrisville, Vt., in April 1986. For a few glorious hours, I had the high score on the Centipede arcade game and was the coolest 12-year-old in Lamoille County (in my mind, at least). 

I didn’t own a gaming system until 1996, when I bought a Super Nintendo on sale at Service Merchandise. I was decent at Tecmo Super Bowl, but I never managed to beat any games. Wasted a lot of nights trying to make it to the end of the SNES Star Wars game, but I could never take out the Death Star. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make it past the second level of Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage.

I borrowed a friend’s Xbox several years ago and gave Halo a shot, but I gave up after about 90 minutes.

“Stay on target!”

My family had a Wii for a few years, but I mostly used that for exercise.

And kids these days with their Switches and Fortnites and Steams and Gamergates and Minecrafts and Worlds of Warcraft (I know that’s an old one, but that doesn’t mean I know much about it) … 

Bah! Get off my lawn!!!

Like I said, I’m not a video game guy.

But I do enjoy doing video game things in real life. Things like getting lost on side quests, collecting gold coins, and unlocking achievements. 

I’m at one of those points in life right now where I hear a booming voice saying, “ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED!” I’m visiting my in-laws for Thanksgiving, and none of them can hear the voice, so I guess it’s my achievement alone. I pity them.

Anyway, this morning I finished revisions to my novel manuscript ahead of the Dec. 1 deadline to submit it for an editorial assessment. 

A couple months ago, my laptop’s hard drive died, with no way to retrieve the data. So I had to redo my fourth draft revisions before moving on to even thinking about prepping for my editor. But I pushed through, fighting off the lower level thugs of procrastination, frustration, and sleepiness. Every once in a while, those jerks would get an assist from the big bads, anxiety and depression.

But I did it. With two days to spare, no less. Now I get to go on a side quest to some comic book shops and used book stores, maybe spend the gold coins I collected in the form of a paycheck.

Of course, now that I’ve leveled up, things get harder. More thugs and bigger bads.

Stuff like getting a couple more novels started. Making sure I’m dedicating time on the daily to writing, even on those days when work has been hard and I’m tired. And steeling myself for what awaits me in that editorial assessment. 

I’m basically sending my work out to get torn apart. I need to be ready for that. I don’t doubt that my editor will be professional and kind, but the manuscript I’m sending her is the best version of my story so far. I’m pretty happy with it. But I know it’s not ready for publishing yet, and that means viewing my work from a different perspective. It’ll be tough, but I need to do it.

I’m going from a traditional side scroller to a first-person shooter writer.

I’m not good at video games, but I’m getting better at life. As long as I don’t have to blow up the Death Star, I’ll probably be ok.

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