When I was about thirteen I got my first computer – and I did what any horny teenage girl did, I used it to meet guys.
It was only later that I met my best friend Barrie Hall, (same last name, no relation), he inspired me to start creating online Dungeons and Dragons and Vampire characters for whatever roleplaying game was awesome at the time. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and character creation has never been my strong suit, but I was obsessed with it.
It wasn’t just the art of story telling either. I worked really hard on my characters, but they rarely got the good storylines because a) I was new and b) everyone had more experience than I did, so I was sort of floundering no matter what I was writing about, but that didn’t stop me, I still kept creating, and I still kept finding an escape for the shit that I was going through.
A lot of my own personal petulance, and bratitude came out in my characters, and when I look back now I smile and chuckle because I was so, so, naive. During those two or three years I learned to become fascinated with fetishes, and with psychology, I became curious about relationships and what made people tick. I got into some sticky situations, but I also got to act out my fantasies in my head, and that part was amazing.
Writing with other people, strangers, from around the world, in a lot of ways is the reason that I am a writer today. Those roleplay nights in the chatrooms were some of the most inspiring nights of my life, and the crazy part is that some of those people are some of the best writers that I have ever seen in my life. Roleplaying online gave me an escape, but it also ruined me for books, and if you don’t believe me, you should check out the Underworld franchise. The entire film series was based on a roleplay game. It’s interestingly, not even an original idea, it was basically ripped from a roleplay created by roleplayers that I remember watching in live time
The way that it worked was pretty much like twitter, you make a post and someone replies, sometimes several people reply to the same post, and you get to pick and choose what you respond to. You describe what the character is saying, doing, writing, roleplaying online was like a personal writing class with some of the coolest people on the internet.
They were people that were just like me, they lived with anxiety, they were isolated, they had friends outside the game, but often not many, they had relationships online with each other, and they were definitely their own cliques. Just like highschool actually, but on a computer.
The difference between then and now is that then I had adventures that I could read and be a part of online, and you have math class.
I spent a lot of years on my computer after I got it, because the kids that I talked to, or adults really, were like me, and they gave me a sense of belonging. I learned about politics, sex, psychology, etc. But I also made friends all over the world, like Mia the Demoness from Denmark, and Kristy from Texas. Barrie from Newfoundland and Andrew from Australia, interestingly after almost twenty years I still talk to Barrie and Andrew, and though we’ve never met I consider them family.
There were a lot of people who tried to – and sometimes did – take advantage of me, but there was also a lot of laughter, and inspiration, and as I got older my focus began to shift, I started spending less time in chatrooms and on forums and I started focusing on my writing.
It took me a long time to accept that right now I don’t really have it in me to write an entire fictional book or series, but I am stepping my toe in with the fiction blog Cosmic Jinx, it’s not quite the same as jumping into the deep end of the writer’s pool and learning from the best of the best.
The stories that were written in those chatrooms will never be replicated, and though many will try over many centuries, no one will ever capture the majick of being a roleplayer in the early seventies to the late nineties.
There is something truly special that happens when people who are on the same pile of insanity collect together. There is a beautiful kind of chaos that is created when we are on the same creative path, learning and teaching each other how to be better, stronger, wiser, faster, smoother, nicer.
I learned a lot about how to be a better person from those roleplayers, even though it took me a lot of years to implement the changes that I needed to make for my life to shift into creating me to be the person they thought I was.
The point is, if you have a community of people who inspire you to be better, to be the best possible version of yourself that you can be, if they push you and challenge you to push your creative endeavors to deeper and darker and more interesting places, as long as they aren’t encouraging you to hurt anyone or yourself, please say thank you to them.
These majikal bubbles of creativity don’t come along often, it started with LARPING, which some people think is silly, (it’s not) it continued with roleplaying, and it continues today with live video game streaming and youtube videos or instagram groups.
There is so much creative energy in the world, and when we pool our resources we create majickal pockets of time where we can draw on that energy and use it to push us forward when we’re feeling down.
I know that right now shit is fucking hard, I know that right now you’re lonely, bored, and uninterested in doing anything because there’s nothing to do and you’re not allowed to connect in person with the people in your life that matters.
I know that there are some of you dealing with rumors, trauma, abuse online, or offline for that matter, and you feel like your problems don’t matter but I promise you they do.
I truly believe that this pandemic is breeding creativity around the world, people are finding ways to do things they never thought of doing before, like the Vancouver Yoga teacher going to stand outside people’s houses so she can teach them yoga, while keeping them inside so that everyone stays safe.
New ways of discovering vaccines are being created every day to combat this pandemic, which means that scientists are becoming more creative, they’re learning new math, they are looking at the universe in new ways, and each of you are a part of what they are learning about how things work and who we are as human beings.
All this to say that I know it’s difficult, but there is hope. Last year I stood in my living room, meditating while staring at a wall. I was thinking about Trump and I was running the possibilities of how he might win another election, and I was genuinely afraid that he might try anything, so I muttered “we go to war”, I didn’t mean anything by it really, but the more that I thought about it the more that I realized it really looked like he would start a war, to gain another four years.
“You don’t elect a new president when the country is at war”, a former hacker friend said that to me, and I never forgot that. Turns out we didn’t go to war, we went to a fucking pandemic, I honestly didn’t see that coming. At least not consciously, anyways.
I know it’s tough, but it’s time more than ever to dip into the well of the collected creative energy and see what you come up with. You are absolutely at your best when you are using your darkness to create something beautiful.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall