Who I am, and where I’m from (man)
Hello! I’m Mark Cooper, also known on the Internet as Astragali. I’m an expatriate Briton, originally from South Yorkshire, but now resident in south-west Connecticut; I emigrated in December 2005 to be with my then-wife. Despite what a lot of people seem to think, marrying a US citizen doesn’t automatically make you one yourself – I’m still a British citizen, though I am a legal permanent resident. I’ve got a green card and everything.
Stuff I’m into
Reading: My favourite author is Terry Pratchett, although I’ll read from quite an eclectic range of genres – fantasy, humour, non-fiction, sci-fi, biographies, you name it. And I love having an e-reader for when I’m on the bus, though it still doesn’t beat curling up in a chair, or lying back on the bed, with a proper book.
Collecting dice: I’ve been collecting dice since I was about 18 when (like a lot of nerds) I got into Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and became fascinated by the fact that dice didn’t necessarily have six sides… I’ve appeared on British TV with my collection (although I’ve lost a good number of them over the years, for various reasons).
My love of collecting dice led to my choice of username: I was casting around, looking for something pretty unique, and came across “Astragali”, which are the anklebones of sheep, used by ancient civilisations as dice. I’m pretty sure I’m mispronouncing the word, though – I say it is “Ass-truh-GAH-lee”, when I believe it should be something like “Uh-STRA-guh-lee”. But I prefer the way I say it, and a lot of my friends do, too, so I’m sticking to that pronunciation!
Cross-stitch: I started doing cross-stitch back in the late 1990s, though I remembered, not long after I got into it, that I’d done that sort of thing back when I was in primary school. All I’d forgotten was how to start and stop… I’ve not done any in a while, though I’ve still got all my threads and fabric and stuff. Maybe I’ll pick it up again in the not-too-distant future.
Cookery: I love to cook almost as much as I love to eat. And I don’t mean bang-it-in-the-microwave cooking. I mean proper, use-actual-recipes type of cooking, including baking. Sadly, with my present living situation – a shared, residential building with a communal stove that doesn’t have an oven – the opportunities to indulge my interest have all but gone. Sigh.
Computers: I’ve been a computer nerd since about 1982, right back in the days when computers were 8-bit and loaded programs from cassette tape, and my life has pretty much revolved around them ever since. And of course, for all that time, I’ve played computer games – but I didn’t consider myself a “gamer” until I got into playing Minecraft, in October 2010. I’m certainly not MLG-pro, or any of that, but I have fun…
Writing (of course, hence this blog): Something I don’t presently understand about myself is that I don’t know why I like writing, other than it being a creative hobby. I didn’t really write much when I was at school (I’ll be 41 this March, just to give you some perspective), unless it was for an assignment. And it was usually pretty lousy. That’s not false modesty, by the way – I was never good at deadlines in school, so my work was generally rushed and sloppy.
So I really can’t identify what it was that made me take an interest in writing for the sheer delight of it, or what made me improve. Oh, I’m not trying to put myself across as the next JK Rowling or Stephen King or whatever, but I know that I have improved, and I’ll hopefully continue to do so.
Why start The Digital Quill?
Good question. I’m glad I asked me.
Well, in the course of blogging at The Minecraft Scribe, there have been occasions when I’ve wanted to write about other things: different games; recollections from my life; rants about this, that and the other. But I didn’t want to post non-Minecraft articles at a Minecraft blog – it feels fundamentally wrong to me to do so – although I still wasn’t sure about doing a more personal sort of blog.
But my partner, Kristal Crow, was doing her level best to convince me that I should bring together all my writing onto one site, rather than having it all scattered to the four corners of the Internet, and making it hard for people to find my non-Minecraft writings. As ever, I trust her judgement, though it took many hours of wrapping my head around many of the things she said I needed to do. That’s not because the concepts were hard – it’s because I’m not comfortable with marketing myself (which is odd, because I can be quite a show-off at times).
I got quite the headache from trying to get to a position where I could be comfortable with what Kristal was advising me to do – and I don’t usually experience such a high degree of difficulty in taking her advice. I knew she was right; I just had to get the rest of my brain to agree. It took some doing, but Kristal is the reason you now see The Digital Quill. How well I’ll do with blowing my own trumpet, however, will emerge in the fullness of time.
So, The Digital Quill’s going to be mostly my creative writings – I still don’t want to do an online diary, or any of that nonsense – but if I do feel the occasional need to blog about my life, or the world at large, it’ll end up here, for better or worse.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading what you find here.