I used to write all the time. I used to jot down ideas on every writable surface with any kind of pen – the snobbery came later – and I had so many ideas and thoughts I felt were important enough to save.

I first started doubting myself in university. I had a boyfriend who constantly and subtly told me I wasn’t good enough, what I did wasn’t good enough. He complained about everything. He complained about my body, about my ideas, about my art. He abused me both physically (sexually, if you have to know) and psychologically. The primary mode was psychological though. It made me feel useless, worthless, and that no one in their right mind would ever love me, and so I was lucky that he had shown me mercy and deigned to be with me.

That ended when he wanted me to commit suicide with him.

At this point, my writing had slowed down significantly, but not stopped. I spent a few years recovering from him, and then I was back to it. Ideas everywhere. So many books with my scribblings all over.

I kept at it until I got my second job in the industry. That’s when I met the not so hidden sexism that lurked pretty much everywhere in games.

It changed the way I wrote. That realization and my participation at a role-playing forum. In 2005 I started writing for Fenix. Not long after I was picked apart in space after space. People told me I knew nothing, had nothing to contribute, that I was wrong, biased and generally just a bad person.

The apex came around 2008? 2009? I can’t remember the year, but I remember the review. It was picked apart, taken out of context, misquoted and my lack of skill and knowledge was well analyzed. As soon as I spoke up in my own defence I was told to shut up, more or less. The article was in print. Whatever I said after would be a poor defence. A useless effort to save myself. I was also questioned why I didn’t respond to the accusations. They must be right then, if I never spoke up for myself.

It reminded me a lot about my abusive boyfriend, but in concentrated form. The inability to do anything right. The undermining of my knowledge. The contempt when I spoke up for myself.

Returning from that took a long long time. My confidence was shot. I changed a lot through that experience and I was (and am) afraid in a way I had not previously been.

People I thought were friends, or at least friendly, turned out not to be. To me, it established a truth. I was not, and would never be, a part of that culture. I would always be an outsider.

My writing stopped.

The only reason I continued was – in part – spite, but also at the urging of my best friend. She still believed in me. But I got even more careful, even less personal, and worst of all, I was constantly afraid. From then on my writing has been tinted by the fear of being harassed. It comes and goes, bit it is always there. Sometimes it flares up, like some sort of soul rash. An itchy feeling at the back of my mind. Ugly red hives across my self esteem. When I scratch it, the confidence I once had is reduced further.

Maybe the people who went after me can’t tell the difference between me then and me now, but I sure as hell can.

My sense of humour is bitter as black coffee, salty and ironic and sharp. My writing is wrapped in layers and layers of cotton to avoid anyone poking themselves on the spines hidden beneath the (hopefully) rational analysis.

I have stopped writing so many times. I think most of my defiance has been beaten out of me through reactions on innocent questions or discussions online in various forums I wouldn’t even know about except sometimes “helpful” souls will send me the links, I presume full of glee and schadenfreude. I used to write on everything, and now I don’t.