‘What has this yutz been up to?’

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Hey there! It’s been a while.

I was actually a bit surprised to come back and see my last post was Aug. 9. It had felt even longer than that, but a recent e-mail showed me it was time to get back into gear and push some text:

Just a short note to say that I have appreciated your writing (you are bookmarked in my favourites), but I am getting a bit tired of seeing a bear’s behind every time I check your page.  I do realise that you also write elsewhere (and have checked out your gaming articles as my family is big on gaming), but was wondering if you could maybe do a short ‘I’m really busy living my life’ kind of blog to just get the bear off the top.

How could I deny such a simple request? And in case you haven’t noticed, the “bear bottom” commercials are all but non-existent anymore and I don’t want to be the last one foisting that image upon innocent people.

So, why have I not written here for a few months? It’s really not an airtight excuse, but the truth is I’ve been concentrating more on my video games writing, and for an astounding reason.

In August, I decided I should try testing the waters more for a potential career in games journalism. I began to submit work not only to the awesome LeftStickRight, but also a unique open community called Bitmob. I was thrilled to see some of my pieces get feature on Bitmob’s front page, and toward the end of August I saddled up to meet the LeftStickRight boss and other writer to cover FanExpo Canada.

On the way up, at a rest stop, I grabbed a burger and checked my e-mail. There I found a new message from Susan Arendt, senior editor at an online magazine called The Escapist. She had seen my Bitmob submissions, enjoyed them, and thought I should write some stuff for their publication. At that point my brain was carpet bombed my various reasons for elation:

1. Prominent members of the gaming/technology community were actually reading my stuff.

2. They want me to try writing more stuff for more people to read.

3. Apparently, they’d even consider paying me to do it.

Freelance writing has always been one of those ideas wisping through the back of my mind, but I never considered myself a viable candidate. I just never thought I was the sort of “type” editors would be looking for. But now I had someone literally suggesting I try it for them and the feeling that I could somehow make it into this industry became too tangible not to attempt.

So after an incredibly fun time at FanExpo where I took a number of photos  depicting the deaths of Ian Yuan at the hands of cosplayers, I came home and tried my hand. I learned there were no instant assignments; you had to submit short pitches based around various topics and if one caught their eye, they’d order a full-blown article. Luckily, one of the three initial pitches I’ve made was chosen–on silly weaponry in video games–and I went straight to work.

After submitting my draft, I quickly learned The Escapist edits more thoroughly than my newspaper ever has. I received it back with multiple requests and suggestions. What worried me most was Arendt telling me I was trying to be “too cute” at several points. I went back to work, mustering up the confidence that I could produce something better, and she was much happier the second time around. That’s when I realized that she had been right: I was trying to be too cute. In my earnestness in such a new situation, I was trying to fall back on my oldest style of writing, trying to be Dave Barry instead of letting the voice I’ve developed over time be at the forefront. And then I realized that I actually had my writing edited by a prominent member of the gaming/technology community and I gave a little squee. Writers can be weird like that.

The whole process for the piece took around a couple weeks, but it’s been a blast. It will appear in The Escapist this Tuesday, and I’ve been counting the days with much anticipation. Ideally, I’ll gain more exposure and maybe even the attention of people who’d like to give me a full-time gig. At the worst, I’ll be shipped out of the publication’s forums on a rail, but I’ll still make more writing that one piece than I would for a full week of work at the newspaper.

Whatever happens, I really, really hope I get the chance to do it again. But that’s my main reason for not writing: my head has mostly been occupied by this opportunity. I’m hoping that after this all comes to its climax, I’ll be a little more balanced because I don’t want to give this blog up entirely.

Think I managed to bury that bear? If not, then hopefully this picture of a red panda licking a grape can provide some much-needed balance:



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Cursives!

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As someone who truly is a lover and not a <3er, I mourn the blows modern technology has inflicted upon the written language. The world has become increasingly capitalization- and vowel-optional. Weaker punctuation has been hunted to the point of near-extinction as populations of stronger marks like question and exclamation explode and increasingly gather in packs. You think I'm lying???? Just look at them!!!!!!

But on the bright side, technology is evicting one trend that I'm more than happy to see go: cursive handwriting. I can't wait for the last generation of crusty squigglebits to flourish off into the sunset.

Sure, the concept of cursive wasn't so bad. It's a form of writing designed for speed and efficiency, right? You don't have to lift the pen as often and everything just flows together.

The means of educating us to the ways of cursive was pretty good, too. If you're like me, you were taught on extra-wide highway rule paper, like this:

Not only do you learn how to write the cursive letter “A,” you get advance notice on how to pull off a three-point turn.

After days at the desk scrawling out giant letters, most of us actually became pretty good at the style. Unfortunately, as life goes on, our letters tend to deflate into scraggly strands of ink. What could’ve been as simple as a shopping list is instead a matted hairball of confusion clogging the pipes of communication. It’s like an individual’s cursive writing melds with their DNA, creating a new dialect that’s only decipherable by them, and even then they sometimes can’t even make out what they’ve spazzed onto a page.

My experience — and personal vendetta — with all this comes from the newspaper office and, specifically, submissions from senior clubs. No, I have nothing against the Greatest Generation and its right to let everyone know their pinochle scores, but whenever a handwritten submission comes in there’s always a period where you have to pick out bits and pieces just to make sure you weren’t sent their prescription forms by mistake.

It certainly doesn’t help that our area has a high Polish concentration, meaning many of the names we have to spell out can be made by bashing the bottom row of your keyboard and ending it with “-ski,” as such: Bxcvznski (which, of course, is pronounced “Smithski”). We must resort to — and this is completely true — a proofreader who possesses major Polish pride to determine whether we’re even close with the names as we’ve decoded them.

So we give seniors a pass because of the whole World War two-peat victory thing, but if you’re under the age of 65 and want to make your local newspaper very happy, never EVER send them anything written in cursive. We don’t care how perfect you think your handwriting is; you could send us your new podiatry clinic press release in calligraphy on frameable parchment. It doesn’t matter. We will come after you, and we have someone trained in the Polish Deadly Arts.

End here with a smile.

Startup

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Welcome to Latshaw Loses It, a blog where I, Tim Latshaw, intend to get back into writing as fun and hopefully provide something worthy for others to read in the process.

I’ve grown up always writing for amusement in at least some regard. Many examples of the kind of stuff I’m talking about can be found on myDeviantART page. I picked up journalism in college and have gone on to become a reporter and editor, but over time I feel my outside writing effort has faded some as I’ve concentrated more on the style of my profession; hence this blog.

I intend to use this blog to post regular writing of various types, from small stories to satire of current events to possibly even some simple musings on my personal life. We’ll see how it goes, and maybe I can keep it categorized.

By the way, I also enjoy writing video game reviews and related items for UGTV.ca. If you enjoy such stuff, you can often find my work there.