The Jousting Life

Friday, October 3, 2014

Why I Created The Jousting Life

Recently, I was asked a very good question:
"What is your driving motivation behind TJL? Clearly you've put a lot of effort into building and maintaining a very comprehensive website about competitive jousting. I don't see you benefiting financially (at this point), you don't joust, sell equipment, train horses, or host tournaments. It's great that your audience is growing, however it sounds to me like you feel like you are doing more work than you are getting pleasure out of the venture. Why are you focusing on competitive jousting? I'm not trying to play devils advocate, I'm asking only because you have been looking for input and I'm trying to help you figure it out." – Jess

The short answer is... I wanted to do something worthwhile with my life. I am disabled* and unable to have a real career, but that doesn't mean that I don't want to contribute something to the world. Creating The Jousting Life seemed like something I could do to help a group of people that are involved in an athletic and artistic endeavor that I think deserves more support and attention than it gets.

The longer answer is...
When my husband and others that I know became involved in jousting, I saw that there was no neutral comprehensive online source of information about contemporary competitive jousting. Some jousting troupes had websites, and a couple of tournaments had websites, but those focused only on their own troupe or their own tournament. The Facebook groups that I was aware of seemed to mainly involve jousters insulting each other and claiming that their style of jousting was the only REAL style of jousting.

It looked to me like there was a real need for someone to try and organize all that chaos into something that would benefit EVERYONE involved in competitive jousting. To create one unified website and associated social networks to facilitate positive communication between different groups of jousters, and to provide a place where people could easily find:
- the latest news about tournaments and other joust related events,
- lists of jousting troupes and jousting organizations,
- manufacturers and retailers of jousting equipment
- books about jousting
- and other useful information related to jousting.
To create a resource not just for those already involved in jousting, but also for those looking to learn more about it without having too difficult of a search or having to struggle through all the anger and divisiveness apparent on Facebook and in several mainstream news articles.

I saw a need, and I thought that maybe I could help fulfill it.

You're right, Jess. I don't joust, sell equipment, train horses, or host tournaments. And while I certainly enjoy jousting, especially the mounted melees. Jousting in and of itself is not why I have worked so hard in creating the website and its associated social networks. What drew me to create The Jousting Life was the desire to do something that needed doing. To feel useful instead of useless. To no longer live a meaningless existence. Yeah... I know... every life is meaningful. Yada, yada, yada... I did not feel meaningful. That is why it is so important to me to find out if the people that I set out to help actually see what I am doing as helpful.

I didn't expect them to see that right away. I knew it would take a couple of years to become established, but I thought that eventually they would come to appreciate what The Jousting Life has to offer to the jousting community. How would I know that they had begun to appreciate TJL? They would start supporting it.

And I have gotten support – from photographers, from fans of jousting, from a few jousters who have written articles about specific aspects of jousting and who have answered my interview questions about tournaments, even from a few academics who study jousting. But I still have to ask repeatedly for tournament organizers to let me know when tournaments are planned and to send me the official results after the tournaments have run. It's rather difficult to post timely news articles about recent tournaments when I can't even find out who won what.

A long, severe depressive episode combined with a lack of response from tournament organizers that I had requested information from, is what led to my recent rant. I am somewhat embarrassed about having blown up that way, but I think I needed to do it. It's a relief to have let out all those frustrations that had been building up inside me. The comments and messages of support that I've received from readers and members of the jousting community have also helped, and I am very grateful to everyone for writing them.

For all of the above reasons and others too nebulous to explain – that is why I have put so much time and effort into The Jousting Life. I wanted to do something that would make a difference. A small difference, to a small group of people. But I never aspired to anything larger than that.

*If you are curious about my disability, I wrote a rather long post about it several years back. Not much has changed since then. Click here to read it.

No comments:

Post a Comment