How your past influences your craft

Vince KingstonGreetings everyone!

Many of you probably don’t know me. So first off, I guess some introductions are in order. My name is Vince Kingston, and I’ve been hanging on the fringes here at Stargazer’s for a while now. Michael and I have been chatting quite a lot over the last little while, and I decided I wanted to try my hand at these so called guest posts.

I’m a gamer of some number of years (I’ll just say it’s been since elementary school, and leave it at that). I’m a husband to a wonderful Danish lady, and live in Denmark with her. I’m a father to a wonderful little (or not so little) soon to be 12 year old who lives back in Canada. I am Canadian (though I hope none of you will hold that against me).

I’m an author with his first published work finally out in the world. I work as an accountant by day for a European company, dealing with the accounting for five branches.

And I was bullied as a child.

When I first approached Michael about doing a post here, I was originally going to do a piece about my perceptions about the differences between gaming here in Denmark and back home in Canada (I may still do that, but that’s not what this post is going to be about). Instead, as I worked through the drafts of my novella, and now the draft of my novel, I got to thinking some about how I grew up, and how that has in turn influenced my writing.

I know I’m not alone in having survived bullying (I’ve seen reports now that state something like 1 in 4 teens are bullied in school). Hell, if you’re reading this post, chances are pretty good that you yourself were a victim of bullying at some point in your life.

As I was working through my novel the other day, I got to thinking just how much the two main characters are like me. In the novella, I explicitly stated that the main character (Brandon) was the victim of bullying in school. Now unlike Brandon though, I never gained the ability to do cool things just by thinking about it.

Instead, most of my junior high years (so between the ages of 12 and 16) were spent with a combination of being beaten up on the football pitch, apples crushed into my hair, white out correcting fluid all over my clothes. This was a tough period in my life, and ended up influencing how I would deal with things all the way into my adult life. I have very little self-confidence, and constantly second guess myself. I think that if it weren’t for the love and support of my parents, I’d not have made it through at all.

What I’ve noticed has been that everything in my creative outlets, whether it’s my writing, or my RPG campaigns, have been influenced by all this bad stuff which has happened to me over the years. My protagonists are almost always underdogs in some fashion. The antagonists they face are frequently some kind of ‘bully’. I never realized it until I started the various written projects I have on the go.

Even now as I work through the second novella, and near the end of the novel, I can see these influences quite clearly. The novel should prove to be very interesting I think, as it delves quite clearly into those feelings of helplessness and fear that those who are bullied experience.

Overall I have found the writing has been a very therapeutic experience, and has allowed me to get out all my fears and frustrations. I also hope that my writing can give hope to those kids out there that are going through what I went through.

So followers of the great Stargazer – how has your past influenced how you approach your games/creative projects?

2 thoughts on “How your past influences your craft”

  1. Great post, and yes, I was the target of bullies as well, but it was largely because of my idiot brother. I’ll spare the details. Glad you made it through with a positive and creative outlet! (I’ll tell you what, things turned around when I decided that since nobody in authority was helping me that I’d take matters into my own hands, damn the consequences. First bully I decked lost her pretty front teeth, and word travelled fast after that!)

    How has my past influenced my craft? As a player, my PCs all tend to have very well-defined morals and principles. Moral attitudes shifted like the sands of the Sahara in my house, and I longed for the stability of a good set of guidelines. I actually found it in D&D, doing my best to be as LG as I could in the real world (but probably bouncing between LN and NG quite a bit). When I refused to help my brothers get away with a “not-really-a-crime”, I was accused of playing too much D&D!

    As DM, My cities tend to be these urban monstrosities with very little sense of security and privacy and plenty of heavy, oppressive feelings to go around. I suppose this is how I felt growing up as the moral deviant of the house. You know, a kid that has a clear concept of right and wrong and chooses right must be up to something! Search her room! If I wanted privacy in my own room, I had to slide my desk in front of the door and pull the curtains. I couldn’t do my household chores without someone leaning over my shoulder “to make sure I did it right”. Go out with my friends? I was guaranteed to get the third degree over not only where we went, who was there, and what we did (fairly normal questions, IMO), but they wanted a minute-by-minute detail of every activity I engaged in while I was out, and by the way, one of my brothers had to go as an escort. It was usuallky the dorky one, and he did anything but stay out of the way. It was like living in a cult compound!

    In my game cities, there’s always somebody nearby, and the room you get at the inn is guaranteed to be crowded. Walls are not these nice insulated things we have these days; they are planks of wood that offer a modicum of privacy. The adventurers fare better in small villages where they’re often allowed to sleep in the barn for a few coins.

    My group likes the feeling I put into the cities. Those who hail from Chicago and New York like the familiar cheek-by-jowl flavor, and the ones from smaller towns like being reminded why they don’t want to live in big cities.

    I never really thought about how my past influenced my game worlds. Thanks for spurring that on!

  2. Michael, are we letting Canadians post in the blog now? I’m out of there…

    JUST KIDDING, Vince terrific post, and it is great that you are guest blogging here! Sorry I took so long to comment (classes and RL and all that) but a very heartfelt welcome.

    I guess I was bullied on occasion, but the first time it happened in first grade I grabbed the kid and hung him from a hook on the door. ?being the biggest kid in the class has its advantages.

    I must say that I had a terrific support network, between my mom, my uncles, my grandparents, that never let me feel like what was happening in school was the defining moment of my life.

    Again thanks for that post…

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