When a Dream Becomes a Nightmare

I have a secret to share with all of you: I have always wanted to be a streamer.

Ever since Twitch was birthed into the cosmos, I have longed to participate.

Is it to foster a community of like-minded souls and share with them as I build my own small corner of gaming culture? Not so much. Do I wish to stream so that I might bring my brand and storytelling to a wider audience, widening my potential audience? Well… that’s the lie I tell myself and everyone else.

Here’s the honest, bare-bones, ego-free answer:

I want get paid to play video games.

That’s it. I want to play a video game and muse aloud while I do so (which happens regardless) and I want to earn green-leafy-cashy-spendy-money while I do it.

This, for those curious, is the wrong way to approach streaming.

Why, you cry, is that such a bad thing? Well, because most people never even get an audience. I should know; I tried streaming for almost three solid months to absolutely no avail. Having a stream be empty from start to finish isn’t an aberration, it’s the norm.

You can’t make money when no one is watching.

So instead of making due and soldering through like I’ve done with my writing career, I’ve instead settled into a toxic cycle of preparing to stream but never actually streaming thereby allowing myself to avoid the soul-crushing isolation of being ignored on not one but two creative endeavors.

This cycle is starting to consume all the resources I have in my life. Time, money, and the good will of my wife. All of those things are precious, and I’m blowing through them like a coke addict on a bender. I spend hundreds of dollars that I could be putting elsewhere into games that I’m eternally ‘just another purchase’ away from streaming. I have a boom for my microphone, a USB audio interface, and a dedicated camera FOR SOMETHING I NEVER ACTUALLY DO.

I don’t stream. I. Do. Not. Stream.

I need to hammer this point home, because it gets worse.

The games I want to stream most are Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering Arena. These are card-games, and to boost your collection, you can skip their built-in free-to-play models and buy raw card packs. I do that. A lot. Way, WAY too much. Think of each pack as a loot-box, and I’m buying hundreds of these things.

Every time my internal monologue is the same:

“Yes, it is THIS pack right here. This is the pack which is the tipping point. By opening it, I shall be the man in the barrel over Niagara. Once it’s open, I’m rolling around in the money barrel and I can quit my job and be an author and finally begin to love what I do and who I am. Mwah ha ha ha haaaaa!”

*opens pack, is disappointed*

“This next pack is…”

So on and so on, one eternal chain of bad reasoning and all the long-term memory prowess of a goldfish.

My face has been in my palm multiple times while I’ve written this. My groans have groaned at just how obnoxious and obvious these patterns of behavior are.

Unsurprisingly, the hours of these mental gymnastics collect into days, into weeks, into months. Then I wake up and it’s July 12th and the last time I streamed was in February. I haven’t edited the novella I’m constantly whining that I can’t complete due to lack of funds even though I’ve spent more than enough for a cover on Magic cards.

I cannot adequately convey to you the frustration of finding yourself in a rut so deep that you can’t get out of it. I know I’m in there, I know it’s self-perpetuating, but all I get for trying to scrabble out is mud under my fingernails.

It’s such a bizarre age we live in. We’ve never had better access to artistic pursuits. Want to be an author? I could rattle off a hundred places to start without scratching the surface. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, can be a streamer in a matter of moments. This is, paradoxically, the exact reason why making a name for yourself has never been more reliant upon luck. There is an endless sea of words and the voices behind them, all of them burning with a passion for creating which keeps them swimming along.

I think it’s time that I admitted that it’s time for me to accept that I’ll never make money playing video games. I also think it’s time I go ahead and move forward with my purported purpose for owning all the expensive hardware that I do.

Even if I only end up where I started, the only way out is forward.


The Unsheathed Quill



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The Unsheathed Quill

The Unsheathed Quill


The Quill is the brain-child of Justin Wallace, an author, producer of podcasts, DM to an unruly crew, and nerd with a family of more other different nerds.