Writing and Gaming
Writing and gaming have always shared a symbiotic relationship in my life. In a way, it’s a chicken and the egg type concept. Back in the days of Billy Jean and zipper jackets, I was playing a lot of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons with my friends. I imagine it took over our lives much to the same extent video games do today amongst the junior high and high schools of the world. It was an escape but it was also an inspiration, a muse. I’ve always been creative in one form or another and with my young brain already filled to the brim with Star Wars, Spiderman and Lord of the Rings, I gladly jumped in when tabletop gaming and miniature wargaming opened the doors of imagination.
I was drawing a lot then and, of course, I began drawing my characters, other characters, monsters, and landscapes. I was frustrated though because I couldn’t express the stories I wanted to express as quickly as I wanted to through art. There was cool stuff happening in some of those games and I wanted to talk about it, wanted to get it all down! Sketching and the comic book style of art I was doing at the time just wasn’t getting the job done. (There was no lack of trying either! I have a box of badly drawn comic pages to prove it.) For some reason, I had not made the jump from drawing about it to WRITING about it.
It started with a wild idea, my creative writing teacher and a journal. The assignment in English class was to keep a journal for a few weeks about ourselves. I was up for it but I realized it would be much more fun to write a journal about my RPG character. Now THAT got my juices flowing! I remember being scared to death to approach my teacher about the idea but I REALLY wanted to do it. By the end of class I had mustered up and made my decision. I would ask her.
Knowing much more now than I did then about education and teaching I think I have the clout to label her “amazing.” When I first tried to explain the idea she was surprised and a little confused (remember, this was when no one knew what a role-playing game was) but something about the way I asked her must have signaled to some inner teacher instinct. She agreed to the project but reinforced I would need to write every day in the journal.
Boy, that was a mistake.
When it came time to turn in the assignment, my folder was the thickest of the bunch. My journal revolved around one of my characters and his life with his traveling companions in a far-away fantasy world. It was nothing fantastic. It was filled with tedium and held no solid plot line what so ever. However, the spark had caught the tinder and I began to see the creative connection between what was happening in my mind’s eye when around a game table and writing it out so others could read it.
What happened next sealed the deal. About a week later (after she had actually READ my entire journal and turned it back to me with an A+) my teacher asked me to meet her during some resource/study hall time. I wondered if I was in trouble for something but she comforted me and said she just wanted to show me a few things about the journal I had written. When I met her she sat me down, took that misshaped lump of clay, and began to talk to me about plot lines, plot twists, themes, character development, and showing me how the journal contained numerous options and ideas to expand on. She encouraged me to keep writing.
And, in fits and starts, I have.
It was an amazing gift and sometimes I’ve wondered if I’ve squandered it, not respected it for how rare and special of an event it was. I’ve written a lot since that meeting with her. Small stories for myself, fictional piece for my classes and I’ve written about my gaming. I’ve written up storylines for games for fellow players to play through. I’ve played in role-playing games and then written stories to fill the gap between adventures or add more detail to a character. I spent numerous years on City of Heroes and I ladled thousands of words into my character’s story and spent hours researching his background so it would fit into the world yet be original. I’m currently doing some of the same for my LOTRO character. Writing and gaming, gaming and writing but through it all I’ve never seen a dime for anything I’ve written. Matter of fact, it’s only just in the past year that I decided to get serious about the idea of publication.
Does that mean it’s been squandered?
I dunno. Maybe? Kinda? Sorta? I guess time will tell.
This time around, in between family, hikes, gardening, mowing, work and play, I plan on doing things a little differently. This time I’m using this blog, some solo game mechanics and the creative whirlygigs in my head to do something I’ve always enjoyed doing, taking a whole handful of completely random results, events and some creativity to lay out not just some gaming report but a story set in a vibrant never-never world. Gaming does this for me. It takes these odd bits of pieces and turns them into a playing field for my muse. The less I know going in, the more I love the challenge. This time around, when I do it, I’ll be showing both sides of the curtain. More on that in an upcoming post!
As for the writing, well, I think I’ll always be invested into it in some way. I’ll always be writing. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to not tell a story. I have far-flung ideas of getting my stories out there, connecting with other folks through my writing, and maybe even making a few coin on them from time to time. As I grow a bit more wise, I’ve come to find out that it’s very important to just create, to do, to forge and present what you like to do. When I was young I was overly concerned with making a buck on what I was creating. I think it’s what was powering my fear which, in turn, actually kept me from doing it! These days, I see that the most important thing you can do is share what you have fun at doing.