“You’re off the edge of the map, mate. Here there be monsters!”
This is a line from the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, said by Captain Barbossa to Jack Sparrow at the beginning of their duel during the film’s climax. It’s a line that’s been playing through my mind for the better part of the last month or so, any time I stop to think about the reality of what I’m doing as both a writer and a Twitch streamer. Because I know there are people who have achieved success from nothing through writing, and I know people who have gone from nothing to success on Twitch. In both cases, there’s a fairly solid blueprint to build from; a fairly detailed map you can follow that will generally lead you towards success, provided you have the right combination of skill and good fortune.
In my case however, I don’t feel like I have that map. Not anymore anyway. Because while I’ve heard all the stories of authors coming up from nothing to the heights of the New York Times Bestseller’s List, and I’ve even watched as people on Twitch have gone from streaming on the couch with their dog to grasping the Holy Grail known as Twitch Partnership, I haven’t heard even a single whisper of someone who’s managed to do both. Let alone do both simultaneously.
Which is, of course, what I’m trying to do.
Feel free to call me crazy. I’ve been calling myself crazy just about every day for the last four months or so; ever since I truly committed to becoming TheGamingAuthor at GuardianCon back in July. That was the first time that I realized I would be sailing off the edge of the map to pursue this dream, and in the intervening four months, the edge of that map has only gotten further and further behind me. It’s a state of affairs so intimidating, filled with so many unknowns, that it’s almost enough to send me screaming back to the safety of dry land and never again deviate from the trail that so many others have blazed before.
Because there’s another line that’s been rattling around in my head for the last few days. One whose sentiment pre-dates Pirates of the Caribbean by an amount of time I couldn’t even begin to guess at.
“Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
To give this one proper context, we’re gonna have to wind our clocks back a bit. All the way back to March of this year, if you can believe it. Because that’s when a fellow Twitch streamer talked me in to going to TwitchCon; the massive annual convention put on by Twitch itself. Now, at the time, I was just starting out as a streamer and had no idea what a fry as small as myself would do in a pool filled with all of the absolute biggest fish in the Twitch Ocean, but I also very much enjoyed talking with this fellow streamer and wasn’t about to pass up the chance to meet her face-to-face. So even though I was still saving money up from my cross-country trip to GuardianCon, I also started saving up even more money to attend TwitchCon a few months later in October.
And attend I did.
I’ll set aside my stories of meeting the streamer who talked me into it, as well as all the other streamers I’d come to know in the interim, and simply describe my experience like this: If GuardianCon felt like a gigantic family reunion, then TwitchCon felt like an amazing corporate bonding retreat. One that only further cemented my commitment to figuring out a way to marry the author half of me with the streamer half, and become TheGamingAuthor in full.
This was only two weeks ago, and once again I realized that I am sailing way off the edge of the map. But this time, thoughts of steering this ship around and returning to safe harbor never really occurred to me. They never really occurred to me because attending TwitchCon showed me that while I may be sailing my own ship and plotting my own course, I am not alone. The people that I have met on this journey, both at GuardianCon and especially at TwitchCon, have been without doubt or exception the kindest, warmest, and most welcoming and supportive group people that I have ever met.
I’m off the edge of the map, but there have been no monsters here.
And all of this brings us to Saturday, October 28th 2017.
I’ve been back home from TwitchCon for all of two days, and one of the biggest streamers I follow is kicking off his broadcast that day with an hour-long Q&A session for and with small/beginner streamers about the basics of streaming and other related topics. I went back and forth about whether or not I wanted to line up to ask the one question I could come up with, and eventually just said “Meh, what the hell?” and got in line. Long story short? What I thought would be a five-minute answer turned into a fifteen-minute interview about why I chose TheGamingAuthor as my username and how I’m trying to integrate my writing with my streaming.
To say that this was unexpected is just a little bit of an understatement, but the boost that it’s given to both my writing and my streaming has been tremendous. It’s given me what feels like the final piece of the puzzle, the final variable that I needed to solve this GamingAuthor equation, and the support that people have been showing for it in the week since that interview has been so much greater than I expected. To the point that the three-day weekend I gave myself this weekend has been a surprising shade of unpleasant. While I was able to overcome that on Saturday by binge-watching all Stranger Things: Season 2 (which is AMAZING, by the way!), I was much less successful at that yesterday. All I’ve wanted to do this weekend was keep writing, and keep streaming that writing under Twitch’s “Creative” directory, and not doing that has been a miserable experience.
Because while I may be sailing far beyond the edge of the map, doing so has finally let me find a job that I truly love, and it doesn’t feel like work at all.
My name is Zachery Richardson, and I am TheGamingAuthor.