I’ve been trying to write more recently. It hasn’t gone particularly well. We are always our own worst critics, and this has become more than apparent in my flailing attempts to produce something. The things is that I’m not actually interested in succeeding.
Let me step back for a moment to explain that Gordian Knot.
Role Playing Games have been a hobby of mine for quite a long time now. It started when my dad brought home a CRPG classic called Baldur’s Gate 2. It was quite successful for it’s time and it was well received by audiences and critics. More importantly however, it became an instant classic and even now fifteen-odd years later, just about any computer gamer who knows his classic CRPGs has played this game and will tell people about it when they list their all time favourites.
This game got me started on tabletop RPG games(Thanks Dad!) before I had even started playing one, an act I didn’t do until my cousin Jonathan came back from university and got us all(mostly me, and others through passive-aggressive bullying) hooked over a Christmas break. Since then, I’ve been playing for years in various different games with dozens of different characters and like 20 different people across two different continents.
Now let’s step forward.
Playing RPGs, making characters, designing worlds and stories is a lot more enjoyable for me than actually writing a story. When I write, I know what I want to do and what I want to happen; I can’t separate what the character would want and what I would want. They are one and the same because, to a certain extent, that character is me. In a somewhat Jungian sense, I think every character made by anyone is an extension or reflection of themselves regardless of how hard they might try otherwise.
So instead, I prefer to design worlds and people and watch them interact with real people. It does sound like a bit of a cop out for being a meandering writer, and even looking at it now on my computer screen I feel like I’m copping out. But that doesn’t make it less true. I would rather design hundreds of different worlds with thousands of characters and write about their life stories than write a novel about a couple of guys and gals having a whirlwind adventure through an armoire.
Stories for me are a collaborative effort. Since my early years when my dad read stories to my sister and I, and he would do these different voices and we would jump up and down and get excited and scared, simply reading or writing a story without shared input isn’t interesting for me. I like seeing how others react to what I’ve made. I like seeing them jump on it with gleeful abandon and tear it apart as they find each little clue I left or mistake I made. It teaches me something in a creative chaos that inspires me to do more. I learn what I did wrong and how it can be done better, and in turn my friends get entertained. It’s a testament to this process that I’ve had my friends in Canada talk about trying to arrange games on Skype or meet during my vacations.
Or maybe this is because of the world I’ve grown up in. I’m not usually an impatient person, but I’m as guilty as the next person who madly clicks the refresh button for a website or the delivery status update for an Amazon package like a rabbit on meth. The internet age has grown a generation that are accustomed to fast and frequent input, and I know I’m not an exception to this. I want to see people enjoying my work or experiencing my work, and waiting until I’ve written a whole book seems incredibly tedious. Especially since I don’t actually see it!
I don’t want social validation for anything I write. I don’t want accolades or money. Hell, I don’t care if someone reads it(this blog is kind of proof of that). It’s a bit like being a teacher: I want to know that someone is happy and learned something. I can see that effect in my tabletop games, but sitting and writing and hoping to finish a novel isn’t anywhere close to that. Not by a long shot.