I don’t usually do posts like this on the WordPress, but hey. Found me a new group of WordPress peeps who will hopefully become nice friends. 🙂
So someone who I just met yesterday but who I hope will become a good friend nominated me for this. RipuAncestor, who writes The Fey of Life. I haven’t been able to check it out yet, but it’s next on my reading list. I think it’ll be good. 🙂
Thank you so much for reading my little stories and for saying such nice things about them! I’m glad we found each other.
Here’s the part where you’re supposed to nominate other blogs. I usually don’t like doing things like that because I always worry about people feeling left out. But I’ll try.
Dear Cosmos – a lovely Sims 3 story that is very creative and unique and awesome, and the characters all look great, and well – you should go read it!
Uhhhh…none of the other stories over on my sidebar qualify, really. Either they haven’t updated in a while, I know they were just nominated to do this thing by someone else, or I don’t have a close relationship with the author and don’t feel comfortable tagging them.
So….if you’re reading this and you have a blog and you wanna answer my 11 questions I’ll post at the end, do it!
And here’s the point of the meme – answering 11 questions about my work! 🙂
Have you noticed some repeating themes/plotlines/style choices/other quirks in your stories?
Existential depression would be a major one. Meaninglessness and the search for meaning. Emptiness and aloneness. Death.
Also fire and waterfalls. 🙂
But I think the darkness is shot through with light.
Like the narrator says in Surreal Darkness, love is the answer to the void.
Also I tend to find a few images as I start to write the story and then they begin to repeat themselves and to develop special meanings. Like waffles and syrup in the Valleyverse. Streetlights in Surreal Darkness, although I haven’t figured out their meaning yet. I just know they’re always around. Guess I should think about that.
As the story goes on, I like to call back to earlier parts. I like it when things have meaning and rhythm and when the end of a story ties back around to the beginning.
What do you find to be the best cure for writer’s block? Or do you not experience it at all?
Actually starting to write. Sometimes I’ll avoid it for a while, but I find that if I force myself to sit with the draft something will come.
Do you have a character/Sim you’ve created that you’ve especially fond of?
No! Of course not! I would never have a favorite among my darlings. What are you talking about?
No, no favorites at all! Absolutely not one Sim who has been my constant companion for over six years and who has taken over my brain and who demands the best I can give him and who is my shadow and who I love deeply. Nope!
Also I would NEVER buy a blue cardigan and wear it with khakis in cool weather.
Do you have a preferred genre to write in?
I found Edgar Allan Poe when I was in 7th grade. He’s my literary hero and role model. 🙂
I used to sit in the armchair in the living room and just repeat The Raven out loud to myself over and over, marveling at the words and how they went together so perfectly. And of course his stories were so beautiful, and, well – now I write psychological horror, what can I say?
Are there some features that bug you in the language you write in?
When a word ends in S and I need to use a possessive. I just can’t bring myself to write something like “Shamus'” I think “Shamus’s” looks much better, but the internet tells me I’m wrong. So none of my characters have names that end with S and I WILL find another way to write the sentence if that situation comes up.
The darkness ends with S.
But it doesn’t possess anything, so there!
Also I just googled to see if it was actually wrong and all the rules for apostrophes and words that end in S seem very complicated.
What is your favourite thing about making the Sims stories?
Oh man oh man oh man. I don’t even know.
I think just how awesome the game is at creating very surreal and odd little stories, you know? My stories are very much based in the game, which I think sometimes people forget that because they’re all “literary” and stuff. But they are set in the game, with all its fun little weirdnesses. I love it when silly stuff happens in the game and I have to make it all work and make sense, like in Valley when Bella and Mortimer and Bella’s brother autonomously came to watch Seth’s house burn and I had to work that into the story.
In my very first ever Sims story, my Sims 2 Pleasantview legacy, the entire legacy’s theme and plot was set by a screenshot of the founder on the phone with the globe speech bubble over her head and a Social Bunny visible in the background.
Also I’ve been thinking lately about how relationships are very important to me. Like people say “Write for yourself.” and “You shouldn’t care if no one reads or replies.” And I know that there are other people out there who are perfectly happy with that, and I’m glad for them. I wish I could be more like them, because then maybe I would have less angst.
But then if I had less angst I couldn’t write what I do, so there’s that.
But anyway yeah – relationships and community are very important to me, and I need to know that other people read my work and that it meant something to them, you know? I know that my naked need for feedback offends some people, but eh. They’re free to not look at my blogs if it bothers them. It’s just…
I love hearing all the different things that people see in my work, because they see it differently than I do. Their comments help deepen my own understanding of the work, and they can actually change the story as I write it, because people’s comments give me new insights and new ideas.
And then I love reading other people’s stories, when I find ones that I like and that I think are good. I love seeing other people’s souls. Other people are very beautiful to me, and I love seeing who they are through their work. I love talking to them about our stories and ourselves and our views of the world.
I come from a long line of Appalachian musicians who played their music for their community. I don’t play music, but when I watch the documentaries and read the dissertations that people make about Round Peak music (I grew up on Round Peak Church Road), I can tell that I am descended from these people, and that I approach my writing the same way they approached their music. It’s not a solitary activity. It’s a path of communion with other souls.
So I guess that’s one big reason why I prefer Sims stories to writing a short story all by myself and then having to keep it private while I submit it to magazines and waiting months and months for an acceptance and then…well, I’ve only had one story published so far, but all I know is that it’s out there in the world. Lonely and sad.
But with Sims stories you hit publish and nice friend people can immediately read it and talk to you about it and it all has meaning and worth.
What kinds of stories or blogs do you especially like to read?
I like to read stories with pretty sentences and lots of emotions and real characters and a decent amount of time and attention put into them.
I guess if I’ve noticed a trend in the Sims stories I’ve particularly liked over the last few years, I like ones where the main character goes through some trauma and grows and heals as a result.
Gee, it’s almost like I like reading stories I relate to!
Besides writing, are there other things you like to do on your free time?
I am in an awesome World of Warcraft guild that raids twice a week. AND we just got Archimonde, the current end boss of the game, down tonight for the first time! 🙂
I also read books, hang out with the kitties and the spousal person, research esoteric things on the internet, write terribly long posts on my LJ about the esoteric things I researched, and talk to my Sims friends!
Are you a cat person or a dog person, or something else?
Cats! I love cats very much a lot and the spousal person and I have quite a few. 🙂
What is your favourite mode of transportation?
Driving my 2001 Cadillac that my family bought me a few months ago! 🙂 Nicest car I’ve ever owned.
Also I just really like driving. I have ever since I got my 1989 Thunderbird when I was 16 and took it up 77 into the mountains and then down the twisty curves on 52. I love playing awesome music while I drive. I love the feeling when the music is pumping and the sky is pure blue and you roll down the windows and it’s like everything is yellow joy.
My job requires a few hours of driving a day, and I’ve been doing it for 10 years. So I am definitely a master of driving now by “the ten-year rule”, and I like knowing what I’m doing – watching the traffic and the relative speeds and swinging in and out of lanes and all that. It’s nice.
Could you name some of the little things in life that make you happy?
Cats and friends and the spousal person and people saying nice things about my writing and pretty things and tasty food and 7 Deadly Zins wine, because it tastes like a fireplace!
Okay now here is the part where I pose my 11 questions!
- Do you think that Sims stories are Art?
- What irrational prejudices about Sims stories have you come across in your time in the community?
- Why do you write Sims stories?
- Why do you read Sims stories?
- Do you know how completely awesome you are?
- What is your opinion of fire and waterfalls?
- Do you work organically with the game or do you impose your premade vision on to it?
- Can you look back at your older work and NOT hate yourself?
- How much planning do you do for your story?
- What has been your experience of the Sims community?
- No, really, do you know that you’re awesome?
I wanted to add a bonus 12th question!
My dear friend roseoftheoakmoongames on Tumblr asked me what I thought made for a GOOD writer, and here is my answer. Feel free to answer this on your own blog if you want! 🙂
Rarely is the question asked: what makes a good writer?
Okay actually that’s probably asked thousands of times a day every day on the internet.
But this time my dear @roseoftheoakmoongames asked me specifically, so here is my specific answer. Also she capitalized good, like this : GOOD writer.
There’s a similar question in the Sim Storytellers interview but I was trying to not show up in Simsecret that Friday so I just said “imagination.”
Which imagination is important!
And then a couple of years ago someone asked me for writing advice, and I said that noticing things and being open to your experiences and emotions and having the courage to face the darkest parts of yourself were all important. And they are.
I will try to expand on those things and also not even be scared of showing up in Simsecret here! Damn the haters, full speed ahead!
I think that to be a GOOD writer you must be yourself, utterly and completely.
That takes time. And courage and strength and a certain quality of not giving a plum if you do show up in Simsecret. 😉
I want to say that there is nothing wrong with being a bit derivative when you’re starting out. Like I said, being yourself takes time. You’ve got to cross great chasms of boiling darkness on a very thin string, and also there are huge bird monsters flying around you and they want to eat your fingers and also your teeth, and also far down below you in the bottom of the chasms there are millions of haters staring up at you, their mouths streaming forth judgement and condemnation and suggestions that you jump off the very thin string.
But you can’t. You cannot jump.
And hey, if leaning on someone else a bit as you first edge out over the chasms helps you stay up on that string, go for it.
The trick to becoming a GOOD writer is to stay on that string, stay on it for years, letting go of all your supports as you learn and grow and become stronger, and then eventually you can even start doing tricks, and after many many years you become the master of the string.
It is not easy, though.
Sometimes the bird monsters will eat a finger or two or even a tooth. They’ll grow back, don’t worry, but it’ll hurt like hell for a while.
Sometimes the screams of the haters will get to you, and the string will wobble and you’ll lose your balance, and you will come close to falling off.
Sometimes the darkness boils up and over and it blots out everything else and you can’t see the way forward and you think about stopping, but eventually it’ll calm and sink back below the string and you’ll be able to see the way forward again.
At first, you need help. So you read writing blogs and industry blogs and you reblog lists of synonyms and links to various resources and ways to say “said”, and you scare yourself with lists of “don’ts” and “these are reasons why work gets rejected from the slush pile”, and you read what editors say they want and you try to fit within their lines.
These things will all eventually drop into the chasms.
You know you’re on the way to being GOOD when all your rules and role models and guides and lists and resources fall away into the boiling darkness, and it’s just you and the string.
The haters will be screaming very loudly at this point. They don’t like it when people walk on their own. Probably because they can’t do it themselves.
This may be the hardest part of the walk. It was for me.
But if you want to be GOOD, you gotta keep going. Even when you’ve lost all your supports and the bird monsters are eating all your fingers and all your teeth and you can’t see anything through the darkness and all you hear are screams about how you suck and you do everything wrong and you will never be good enough. And some of those screams won’t be coming from the haters. They’ll be coming from inside.
I think that here is the difference between a writer and a GOOD writer.
A writer turns around at this point. They go back to their supports, to their lists and rules and corporate approval and non-threatening mediocrity. They slip on a mask and they act like everyone else, and they write what’s trendy and what will get them readers and comments and likes and sales and social status.
A GOOD writer will keep going. A GOOD writer will stumble and almost fall but then they catch themselves and find their balance again, and they take one step forward and then another and another.
I can’t tell you what their writing will be like. That is a very individual thing. Which is the point.
A GOOD writer walks along that very thin string, among the hungry bird monsters and above the screaming haters and the boiling darkness, and they become more and more themselves. Fear and pretense and masks and dependence on external authorities all fall into the chasms, and as the GOOD writer walks along the string everything extraneous burns away.
Current song: Amazing
never gave in, never gave up
I’m the only thing I’m afraid of
A GOOD writer is fearless in the service of her art. A GOOD writer rips out her heart, sets it on fire, and turns the smoke into words. She sends the words out into the world, and her trust in the words is greater than her fear of being alone.
A GOOD writer is one who deals in truth, and only in truth, and before her fire the darkness and the hungry bird monsters and the haters all fade away and become as nothing, and the fire burns and burns and lights her way across the string, and she is not afraid anymore.
A GOOD writer is herself, and only herself, and she writes down her soul in letters of flame, and she lights the way for those who come after her, a trail of fire along the string that says, “Yes, you can do it. The journey is long and dark and full of danger, but at the end there is Words, and Sentences, and Rhythm, and Art, and it is the thing itself, and it is beautiful, and it is worth the journey.”
A GOOD writer knows that the words are worth everything, all the fear and doubt and self-hatred and screaming and tears and blood.
A GOOD writer walks in beauty that she made out of pain.
A GOOD writer knows that love is the answer to the darkness. She loves and loves and loves and loves some more. The love pours through her words and sentences and rhythms and it bears her up as she walks. The love fills the bellies of the hungry bird monsters and they fly gently around her, supporting her. The love flows through the darkness and tames it, and it responds to her will. The love stuffs the mouths of the haters and silences them, and their words do not reach her anymore.
The GOOD writer is the master of her soul, and the world trembles with her every step on the thin shining string.