Let's Talk: Critical Role

The last twenty-four hours have been wild, my friends.

I don't even know where to begin, except...well, the beginning.

Last year was a rough year for me; in fact, spring 2018 saw me barely holding it together. I put on a brave face because, well, I'm good at it - I've always had to be good at it, but I couldn't read, I couldn't write, I couldn't think. Ultimately, I needed a distraction.

My sister and brother-in-law had been playing D&D for a while, and were in the middle of a campaign to get me to play with them, when Mike said to me one day, "Have you heard of Critical Role?"

I had. Everyone said it was good. I'd tried to listen to the podcast for Vox Machina at the end of 2017 while I was painting, but I just couldn't get into it. This was going to eat hours of my life! I didn't have four hours for one episode!

Or did I?

With a little pressure from him and my sister, I sat down and gave The Mighty Nein a shot - and I fell in love. I had not laughed so hard in my life, the actors were equally as engaging as their characters, and the world they were creating together blew my mind. They were telling stories in a way I hadn't been able to in years!

When the cast took a brief hiatus to, you know, have a life, I dove into Vox Machina. And that's where the real love set in. I adored the M9, I'd laughed with them and cried with them, but I wasn't prepared for the way I felt about this foundation story: by the time we meet this original band of adventurers, they're already larger than life.

Larger than life, but not indestructible.

I watched the way these characters banded together like a family, like my own family, and I watched them face every impossible challenge together. I think I got through all 115 episodes before the fall, that has to be record time, right? I couldn't stop watching because I found echoes of my own flaws in these characters, and my own triumphs too. Believing in these people and their story taught me a little about believing in myself and my own struggles too, so I got back into therapy after nearly a year-long break, easing my way towards treating the monster hanging onto my back: PTSD.

This disorder has taken a lot from me: my peace of mind, my ability to sleep for longer than a max of four hours at a time, my passion for life; like the trauma that birthed it, it took me apart in pieces, but I was regaining my sense of self. I was learning to enjoy things again, I was figuring out how to stand up for myself, and really express my passions. Things I had always preached at my friends to do.

Then on November 6th, my ten-year-old nephew died.

And my world stopped.

If you've never lost a child that you have loved, then you can't comprehend what comes next. I didn't go to work for almost a week, I developed a pretty constant tremor as I sat with our family, and whatever sleep I had been getting went out the window...and even writing that, those seem like such minor complaints in the face of that loss. Tomorrow will be four months to the day that he's been gone, and even now I sometimes feel like the grief might to overtake me.

Between grieving for Jaden and trying to process my own trauma, I felt like I was facing down a horde of dragons with my back against a wall and nothing but a stick to defend myself.

Luckily, the cast of Critical Role had taught me how to fight dragons.

And death.

And loss.

And grief.

I leaned into the struggle, and leaned on my friends and family. I told people what was happening, what had happened to me, and together we've created the tools I need to fight these dragons. I'm in the middle of my fourth re-watch of Vox Machina, and I'm not out of the woods yet, but I am re-learning how to enjoy living my life.

I'm working on my own novel. I'm planning a trip. I'm preparing for my new niece at the end of the month.

And this group of nerdy-ass voice actors playing D&D have seen me through it all.

Yesterday they launched a Kickstarter to animate these characters I love so much, something Mike and I have talked about wanting for a while. We backed it instantly, no questions asked, and in twenty-four hours they had about four million dollars. The Kickstarter doesn't end for another forty-four days. My story isn't unique, there are thousands of people on Twitter talking about how Critical Role picked them up when they were lost or struggling, and that's why they've made as much as they have in such a short amount of time.

They taught people how to believe in themselves, so we in turn believe in them - and that kind of faith is going to pay to bring an incredible story to life in ways we hadn't thoroughly imagined.

I, for one, can't wait to see what comes of all of this.

If you want to see what's going on with the Kickstarter and back it, go here. You'd be funding an independent company and giving them the means to tell their story the way they want to tell it: without cutting corners or sacrificing a lot of creative freedom. We all want to get behind indie artists and pay them what they're worth, and this is one way to do that.

People don't gain success in a vacuum: when they rise, they enable others to rise with them. Giving Critical Role this exposure is granting a potential platform to give voices to smaller artists. When we all band together, look at what we can accomplish.

The stories we tell matter, that's part of the reason I spend so much time reading/reviewing books, and this is just one more way to get them out there. I hope you'll at least join me in cheering these people on, they've given me so much that I think writing this blog post is probably the least I can do to spread the word about their project.

It's just a drop in the ocean...but an ocean is just a collection of drops, right?

Take care, I'll see you,

Tamarah

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