“You need all your own napalm. Don’t waste any trying to help out people who don’t care about you. You will need the fuel to help people who love you and to cut your way through a lot of bullshit.“
Freelance game critic and UK based writer, Cara Ellison; is another millennial who decidedly paved her own way in the world through nontraditional means turning her voracious love for video games into a career that allows her to follow her passion doing what she craves.
Having had enough of her gig on the QA team for GTAIV at Rockstar North, two years ago, Cara took on writing full time. She is a regular contributor to several blogs and magazines, including The Guardian and Eurogamer, and also writes a series called S.EXE about sex in video games for Rock, Paper, Shotgun which is currently on hiatus as Cara takes a break to pursue other projects.
Somewhere along the way, Cara who describes her writing style as “sexually-charged and aggressive,” discovered that the things she wanted to write most about, (long form narratives that really take an in depth look at the ins-and-outs of all that goes into developing a video game from start to finish), did not interest most blogs and magazine editors. So, once again, taking the plunge, Cara turned to loyal fans for support.
Through the crowdfunding site, Patreon — like Kickstarter.com, but with a twist. Instead of supporting one project, funders subscribe by pledging a specific amount on an ongoing basis. This way, creatives like Cara can actually make a living doing what they love with help from supporters who enjoy the content they produce – kinda cool hun? Currently, with almost 600 patrons for her Embed With series, Cara makes over $2,500 per article with 15 articles posted. This allows the self-proclaimed vagabond to live her dream. Manifest caught up with Cara amidst her travels to find out what makes her tick and here is what she had to say:
M: What’s one thing about you people would be surprised to know?
CE: I was once an assistant to diplomats at the Japanese Consulate in Edinburgh, where I did speech translation. I had to leave because I got a job working at BBC Radio Four.
M: What is the biggest misconception about you?
CE: I think the biggest misconception about writing for places such as The Guardian or for TV is that because you are a ‘known’ or popular writer, you are somehow extremely rich and privileged. Until this year I barely made the price of rent and my privileges only occasionally include being bought a pint by a fan. The rest of the time I’m the scrub of the family.
M: Who are your idols?
CE: Rap artist Nicki Minaj is fairly high on my list, because she’s a really gifted rapper and I think anyone who works with words can admire how she arranges her rhythm and consonant sounds to punctuate songs. She’s also capable of some very raw, emotional, or inspiring lyrics. I also really rate Mallory Ortberg. I think she’s empathetic, deeply intelligent, and god damn she’s funny.
M: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in life thus far?
CE: You need all your own napalm. Don’t waste any trying to help out people who don’t care about you. You will need the fuel to help people who love you and to cut your way through a lot of bullshit. If you even get an inkling that someone doesn’t care about you, cut them out of your life immediately. No one has ever gotten anywhere trying to make assholes love them.
M: What is one thing that really irritates you?
CE: I think there’s an extraordinary lack of empathy on the Internet, an inability for some people to see a human behind bylines or Twitter handles, and that can make for a miserable workplace.
M: What is the one gadget you can’t live without?
CE: My laptop because I travel around the world writing about game developers for a living, and without it there would be no words. In fact, I’ve taken this old thing to a Genius Bar in several different countries in a panic. Thank God for warranties.
M: Do you have new projects in the works?
CE: Hah! Well as soon as I finish up my Embed With Games, “Gonzo” essays, I am going to edit all twelve entries into an ebook and a print version. I’m also going to embark on writing a series of short cyberpunk stories, and hopefully get a full time job writing about games somewhere. Oh, and I hope to stop being itinerant and actually rent a room in one place for a bit. Perhaps New York, if visas permit.
Check out Cara’s latest post for Rock, Paper, Shotgun Here.