I’m not often moved to write about music but this thing has been a relentless obsession for so many days now, it’s hard to imagine existence without it. I try not to binge on it, and only allow myself to hear it a couple times a day, but even so, it haunts me all the time.
It’s splendid, just splendid. I know nothing about how this kind of music is made and what makes one piece better than another, apart from my own taste. What I like about this one is the richness and diversity of all the little themes, how patiently they are introduced and layered one on top of the other, and how well they work together to evoke in me a sense of distant sadness, far-away places, or cherished memories. Not necessarily joyful, nor painful, but life-changing. And ahead, striving for lofty heights beyond reach, grateful for every step of the climb. It’s such a rush.
The ME3MP Platinum Solos Hall of Fame (PHoF) is, I believe, the oldest community archive. The earliest entries in it date back to July 2012, possibly to the same day when the platinum difficulty was introduced with the Mass Effect 3: Earth DLC. Back then, even the best players needed about an hour to complete a platinum solo. Nowadays, veteran soloists can do it in under 15 minutes.
I have been a part of the Mass Effect fan community for a long time. But while my fanfiction writing is in evidence everywhere on this site, I’ve not written much about my involvement with Multiplayer Challenges and Halls of Fame, although I’ve been working on development and maintenance of that project regularly since the summer of 2016, when Bioware shut down their official forums. This is because what I have to say on the subject is largely technical and thus of dubious interest to the hypothetical readers of this blog; and writing about technical things requires more premeditation, structure and overall effort than my usual ramblings. I’m finally taking the plunge now because I plan to make all the data collected by the project publicly available some time in the next few months. The series of articles starting with this post will detail the project, the material and the process of wrangling it into shape, both as a manual for potential contributors and as homage to a long-lasting, fun and challenging hobby that taught me a great deal.
This is the second in what will hopefully be a longer series of posts where I critique the beginnings of my own stories, written long ago, and try to make them better. You can find the first post here. Today I’ll look at my oldest, dearest and most popular Mass Effect fanfic, Fruit from Palaven.
Last night I finished a novel that I started writing more than seven years ago. It wasn’t the first, or the last novel that I wrote with enthusiasm up to the 90% mark just to burn out on the last hundred yards. I am, of course, happy that I finished it. It’s a quiet kind of happiness: not the kind to make one jump up and down and clap their hands with glee, but more like relief that something that was wrong has finally been righted. I’m also hopeful that it means I might some day finish my other abandoned works and lighten the load of debt and guilt they’ve been weighing me down with.
But at the same time, I’m sad. Sad that it’s done and in a way — gone. A story is born inside the author’s mind, and there it grows and shifts and changes, and so long as it’s not written, it has a peculiar freedom to go in different directions, a potential to develop in different ways. The act of writing turns it from imagination to banal reality and thereby robs it of some of its magic. Infinite possibilities collapse into imperfect words. In a way, a story dies as it’s created.