First, I would like to thank the organizers of the A to Z Challenge for creating a place for people to write, write, write and share it with the world. There’s so much stuff out there that was written this month and I haven’t read even a fraction of it. Most of my reading came from checking out the blogs of people who stopped by here to comment (thank you!) or who followed/liked what I’ve written on WordPress. I’ve found a handful of new writing blogs to follow which is great because reading good writing is how your own writing improves.
I’d also like to thank Pizza Maid for creating the 30 Days of ARPil challenge in which people answer questions about their main character(s) in the MMOs they play. I hope I didn’t go too overboard with all of this grimdark Secret World stuff. I tried to keep it under control, but there’s only so much you can do in the face of a filth epidemic that floats around and turns people inside out. You can search the hashtag #30DaysofARPil on Twitter if you’d like to find posts by others who have written about their characters.
Also, go read Duke of O’s X-COM Fiction @ Null Signifier. It’s good stuff even if you’re not a fan of strategy / RTS games.
So, about this April writing thing. Part of the problem I have with writing fiction is convincing myself that it’s OK to let go and just write. I’m normally thinking that everything has to be described perfectly using carefully selected words that have been sculpted into a statuesque sentence that retains its strength every time I read it. What I’ve learned from the A to Z Challenge is that the most appreciated fiction entries are those that resonate with other human beings without regard to how they are written. Interesting and amusing tales from Liling’s childhood seem to be the best-received, as far as I can tell, and I can understand why: we’re human beings and we like reading about ourselves.
Sure, there’s a time and a place for ethereal poetry that touches on the things that are going on within me emotionally. Imagery abounds in well-written prose. This kind of language channels a direct connection to my soul. It doesn’t always translate into things that other people can understand, so it must be placed strategically – used as background decorations rather than as the magic carpet on which the main actors sit.
I seriously feel like MMOs just don’t do it for me any more, but at the same time they are the blood that runs through my veins and the thought balloons in the comic strip that is my bumbling, mundane life. They’re stories told via a tedious medium. They’re mechanics conveyed using time-consuming, content-gated systems. They are experiences that beat around the bush instead of just fucking their players and taking them to heaven. Here I am, though, still playing them.
(Too much coffee? Perhaps not enough.)
What did I learn from April? Nothing, obviously, because I keep doing these “post every day this month” challenges despite having burned out on them a long time ago. It’s a little easier with fiction because all I have to do is come up with stories and work in references to whatever I’ve read or experienced in my life that happens to be floating about in my mind at the time. Some of the most memorable words I’ve read on the topic of coming up with ideas for what to write about come from Silvia @ Silvia Writes:
One of the most common questions a writer is asked is, How do you come up with all those ideas? One answer is life, just live life, but that’s too easy.
Observing the world can be inspiring. Reading. Moreover, there is the muse — I wait for my muse to talk. And if it doesn’t, that’s called writer’s block. Some writers despise the idea of writer’s block. No such thing, they insist. Just sit down and produce copy.
There are as many answers as creatives, none wrong. We all live within ourselves, within our perceptions. It is in such places, I think, that art is born.
As I grow older, I am easing into an existence which increasingly values creative expression and the practice thereof. Games continue to be the conduit for this; I don’t really see myself writing about anything outside of the realm of fantasy. The tropes are all overdone and tired, but somehow we never seem to tire of using our imaginations to string together new ideas and come up with novel retellings of the same tales we’ve heard hundreds of times before. So what I’ve learned from April is that my interest in games has diminished but not evaporated and that my interest in writing has increased.
I thought about creating separate blogs for writing and gaming, then stopped thinking and realized that there’s no separation between the two in my mind. I’ll continue to categorize and tag them appropriately, but I’m not going to place a partition between them right now. Play what you like, blog what you like, write what you like, when you like. Don’t care about page views. The end!