It is strange that I enjoy writing on stream. I am am not who enjoys people seeing the words as she writes them. I blame it all on teachers who walked the row of desks in elementary school and beyond. The ones who peered over my shoulder, and the shoulders of my peers, to either help with what we were doing, or to ensure no cheating was occurring during the test. But I had a tendency to freeze up whenever that happened. Words, numbers, whatever I was working on would suddenly STOP. FLOWING. In both my brain and then on down to my hand.
Part of it stemmed from the atrociousness of my handwriting. That sense of shame that my teachers could not read what I was writing. It was fine (not really) when they couldn’t read it when grading, when I wasn’t around to squirm with discomfort. But the moment they asked me—MID WRITING—what a word was, or pointed out that my writing was difficult to read, I would freeze up. Shame would paint my face red (as a ginger it is very easy to paint my face red. Nearly everything can make me blush, but I digress). I would mumble a reply, apologize profusely, and silently beg for the teacher to just MOVE on. Then glance with a mixture of anger, and that all too familiar shame, at the ink that stained my left hand. I would wonder if I had bad handwriting because of being left-handed. Smearing my pencil ink (because it was all pencil ink in elementary school) certainly did not help with the legibility of my printing.
It also didn’t help that there were periods in my elementary school life where I was told to try writing with my right hand. Perhaps I had been using the wrong hand! But a pencil in my right hand felt wrong. And the numbers and letters that flowed from the ink were just as illegible. We learned cursive, and a teacher realized that they could read my cursive better, so for a while they suggested I write in all cursive. And I can’t remember how long that worked. (Or even if my memory of all of this is correct or just a mixture of scenes from childhood, some disconnected but now connected in my head. A version of the truth that may not be correct, but feels damn correct to me. Memory is a wild thing and maybe one day I’ll blog about that. But moving along…)
Then it seemed like there was less of a concern for improving my handwriting. Teachers struggled to read it, but I don’t recall hearing about it, or being made aware of it.
And maybe this is not what brought about my weirdness of people watching or peering over my shoulder when I write. Maybe it was just the embarrassment of people seeing my unedited words when I wrote on the computer. The ease of it for people to see the mistakes that I made. The plot inconsistencies. The ridiculousness of it. There’s something vulnerable about exposing that rough draft of something to people. Of letting people see how much I mess up and how little sense that I make. Of seeing the way I process through the first stages of storytelling.
But with streaming, that stuff bothers me a little less. Likely because I have a giant square of color hiding MOST of what I write from anyone daring or bored enough to read it. The fun of streaming for me comes in the social aspect (gasp?) of writing in front of an audience. I like to know that other people are writing with me, at the same time as me. Maybe they aren’t writing but they are working on something else. We sprint (that is write/productive/whatever) for anywhere from 15 minutes to 30. Then we take a break and chat. Talk about what we have been working on, and it is nice. Then back to sprinting! During the sprints there are some chill Lo-Fi beats playing for everyone. There are pitfalls to all of this too, in that sometimes chatting can be distracting. But overall, it is nice.
There is the accountability factor too. I feel like I have to write something. ANYTHING (next up on the docket: learning to finish more of what I start so this blog isn’t so woefully sparse). People are literally watching me. They can kind of see my text scrolling (because I show the smallest bit of writing above my little colored box with text that explains the “rules” of my stream). They can get an idea of whether or not I’m truly working on something. Even if they can’t really read it. They can see it moving. Incrementally. Bit by bit. That accountability is nice. The feeling that I’m not alone as I do this incredibly solitary activity. It is nice to have an audience or the appearance of an audience to ramble to when I get stuck with something or excited about something.
I am an awkward streamer. I tend to chat into the void better when no one is around. But, overall I enjoy doing these streams. And I’m going to keep doing them to. There are loads of people on twitch doing more than just streaming video games (but watching people play games is also a lot of fun too). Check out some of those categories, and who knows, maybe you will try to stream yourself writing or drawing or whatever one day. It’s okay to be awkward. So if you are bored on a Tuesday or Thursday morning at 6am then hop on over to my stream: twitch.tv/agingerwrites. I can’t promise you will be entertained, you might find it boring as heck. But, maybe you will find it helpful to write with someone else. I’m not very good at shilling myself, eh? Speaking of which…
Remember that podcast I mentioned? It is live! You can listen to my husband and I talk scary movies and other scary things over at anchor.fm/creepycabinpod or look for Creepy Cabin Podcast on spotify, apple podcasts, and google podcasts. Thanks for reading! Let me know if you stream or podcast too.