Addiction is a funny thing; it happens slowly at first, and then all at once. One week I was the guy who still needed to have frets explained to him and could barely keep up with the rock-for-dummies "Eye of the Tiger," and the next I'd invested in my own Rock Band gear and I was sneering at players who hovered their pointer fingers over the green button. I mean, the pointer obviously goes on the red, the middle on the yellow, ring finger on the blue, and pinkie on the orange. And when it's time to hit the green, you slide that finger up. JESUS, HAVE YOU PEOPLE COME TO ROCK OR IS THIS FUCKING AMATEUR HOUR?
I had soon formed a regular trio with two other freelance-journalist friends whose days were similarly flexible. At first it was casual; we'd take turns on different instruments and laugh at our clumsy musicianship. But then something changed. I don't know if we actually hit the 10,000 hours of "deliberate practice" that Malcolm Gladwell says makes someone an expert, but one day, it felt less like goofing around and more like band practice. We alternated vocals, but I was always the guitarist, and my avatar of choice was Moosejaw Boudreau, the game's lumberjack, because he's my spirit animal. My writer friends -- let's call them by their preferred avatars, Mothership Q and the Duke of Gravity -- were the bassist and drummer, respectively. We even gave ourselves a proper name: Per Word Rate, which may seem like a nerdy journalism joke, but we spelled it with umlauts over the O and A so it was actually pretty badass.