This post has been a little long in coming, but my car has broken down and it’s been a busy week at work. Yes, those are my excuses. At least you’re waiting 5 days for a blog post instead of six months like the last time I spaced out.
This past weekend I was at the Boston Festival of Indie Games, where one of my friends was promoing a game that one of his friends had written, and that he had done some writing for. I was happy to support him, but it got me thinking.
That’s essentially the goal, right? Ultimately, a creation can be good, it can be bad, but you want to get it out in front of people and have people consuming your art. I can claim to be a genius (I don’t) or the next William Gibson (I’m not), but the proof is in the pudding, to murder another cliche. Creation is often a public act, and I’d rather have it that way.
This is not to say that I believe art must be shared. Creation for creation’s sake makes sense, especially in the visual arts. But honestly, that’s not how art is framed anymore, and it never really flew for writing. I can easily write for myself, of course. But what’s the point? If I kept journals, no one but me would care how shitty they were. And I can see from years of experience with shitty journalling, you don’t end up actually caring. Journals serve as insight into what we were thinking and seeing at the time, and one of the wonders of the human mind is that you don’t need an interpreter for yourself. That being said, that’s one of the reasons I keep my journalling in a very utilitarian bent now…it’s about recording things, it isn’t really about writing.
Blogging is about writing for me, but I still don’t consider it creation, per se. Sure, I’d like to belief I’m somewhat insightful, but to what end? I’m really just saying what I’m thinking, and though that may help me broadcast my stature as an insightful person, at the end of the day I haven’t made anything new.
My roleplaying experience is somewhat at the opposite end of this spectrum. I am creating, but I’m creating for a very limited audience, and translating that creation to a larger audience is very difficult. I do take my experience running games as a sign that creatively I might have something, but that in and of itself is meaningless. And that may be why seeing my friends in the independent games community provokes my thoughts so much. They’re doing it, I’m not.
Though that doesn’t mean I have a desire to make games…I don’t. But games have always been the outlet that gets me thinking about writing, and translating that into the purely fiction space has been somewhat choppy. Even when I write fiction it doesn’t resemble what I write for games at all, and that’s honestly a weakness, most likely. I know what techniques engage my players, and I steadfastly have not used them in fiction.
The lesson that could be taken from all this is that I’m trying too hard. The games space is one where I see my creation received, and received well. At the same time, I see my friends creating games…they aren’t going for the next D&D, just a solid, fun experience that doesn’t resemble anything they can get from anyone else. That may be what I really need to do. Focus on writing the book I want to read, or even just the setting I want to read, first. I always get stuck on originality, something that’s not even always a good thing in fiction. But that is likely a topic for another day.