Surviving Esports: The Zyori Story is now available on Amazon!

After three years and over 300 hours of work, I’m proud to say I published a book through Amazon KDP. My manuscript was officially accepted on September 19th, 2019 and made available for international distribution. It was a difficult process, but I’ll be forever glad I saw it through to the end.

I first started writing about my esports experiences simply for therapeutic reasons after I finished university. I was having trouble falling asleep at night and someone suggested writing down my thoughts, just to get them out of my head. It turned out to be a brilliant strategy.

I found the process of organizing my thoughts into a notebook to be greatly beneficial. Making lists and cataloguing my thoughts made it easier to tackle big problems that didn’t have clear answers. Getting all of it down on paper also gave me some peace of mind, since I didn’t have to worry about forgetting anything.

The more I wrote, the powerful the act of writing became. I didn’t have any great aspirations of publishing the words; I was writing just for myself and my own well-being.

Two years later I got hired as a full time commentator by Beyond the Summit. At the time I thought securing a salaried position was the ultimate achievement in esports, and possibly the perfect ending to my series of stories. Little did I realize, the real adventure were just beginning.

But at the time I didn’t have that perspective. Instead, I compiled my stories into a manuscript. I wrote about 40 pages of material before hitting a wall and deciding to put it aside. I knew I had interesting stories to tell, but I struggled to frame them. My writing just wasn’t captivating. What seemed like incredible stories in my head turned out rather mundane on paper.

I quickly became demoralized and threw my short manuscript in the garbage. Our workload continued to increase at BTS, and I let myself get distracted by my new job. I forgot about the manuscript all together. It wasn’t until I left Beyond the Summit and started looking for another side project when I rediscovered my desire to continue writing.

After leaving BTS, I helped create a new company called Moonduck Studios & Agency. I had so many new stories to tell since I left BTS that I decided to rescue my 40 page manuscript from the recycling bin. I couldn’t help but laugh as I re-read my original outline. It seemed so rudimentary compared to all the new experiences I wanted to write about. I felt eager to begin the therapeutic process all over again.

Within a week’s time I had another 40 pages added to my manuscript. It felt great at first but again I ran out of creative energy for writing. It was daunting to consider how much more there was to write and edit. I was starting to realize how big of a difference there is between writing for myself and writing for an audience.

At this point Moonduck was picking up momentum as a new company, and once again, I let myself get distracted by work. I put my now 80 page manuscript aside for a second time and focused all my energy making Moonduck the best it could be.

It wasn’t until another year after that when I restarted my writing for a third time. I wrote another 20 pages and started to wonder what would become of my manuscript. By now I was excited at the prospect of having a published book, but I was self conscious about the quality of my writing and contents of my story. My biggest fear was that someone would read it and tell me sincerely that it wasn’t interesting.

I cleaned up some of my text and decided to ask a few of my friends and family what they thought about it. All of them were greatly supportive, though the most important was SirActionSlacks. Despite his usual reputation for jokes and memes, his face turned serious when I described the outline of my story. He looked me in the eye and told me point blank that he thought it was a great idea worth pursuing.

Zyori writing in Boulder, CO

That little push was all I needed to get right back to work. I shifted from writing as a hobby to writing for a purpose. I mapped out a timeline and started listing out everything else that needed to be done. The amount of work remaining seemed almost overwhelming, but there was always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Some days were more difficult than others, but I made a pact with myself to work on the manuscript at least six days every week, unless I was at an event. No matter how little I wanted to create, I tried to hold myself accountable to sit down and put forth the effort to write for at least an hour. The experience reminded me of a long reputation grind in World of Warcraft; 1% progression every day eventually adds up for a big reward down the road.

Once the first draft was finished, I went back to start my first edit. I was surprised at how poorly my writing told my story. The text felt more like a statement of events rather than an emotional account of difficult decision making. I found myself rewriting nearly the entire manuscript, this time adding self-reflection and context to make it a proper story. It was a tedious process that felt weirdly akin to plagiarism; though, of course, since I wrote the source material there was no issue.

Once the second draft was complete, I handed it over to my editor, Chelsea Jack, for the next round of editing. She did a fine job correcting my grammar and sentence structure, but her most valuable suggestions were related to the content. She identified several parts that seemed irrelevant the plot or missed the mark, and adopting her changes made the whole story more cohesive.

The hardest part about the whole endeavor was finding the right tone. I wanted the story to be an honest account of my experiences without seeming petty or shallow. I didn’t want it to be a collection of “gotchas” from my past. It was difficult to find the right balance between sharing all the juicy details and tactfully omitting aspects that are too personal. In the end I think we found a good middle ground, which is mostly a testament to Chelsea’s great perspective on the industry.

Writing a full-length book was another fulfilling, yet difficult challenge. There were many points I wanted to give up entirely, but I’m glad I didn’t. Compared to working live on camera, it was refreshing to produce something that was so heavily edited and reviewed. I enjoyed the process of truly organizing my thoughts and stringing them together to tell an interesting story. It’s something that I would probably like to do again, but not until I have another story worth telling.

Surviving Esports: The Zyori Story
now available in paperback and ebook