Emerging from Freeplay, things haven’t particularly slowed down – and digging through my submissions, it looks I missed a few things too.
This is a piece that originally appeared in the Emerging Writers’ Festival Reader.
Every piece of writing – in fact every act of creation – is an exploration, a mapping of elusive contours of thought, a process of divination and excavation. At the other end, every experience of a piece of writing – or every creative work – is the same: a scrabble through uncharted caves, a handheld guide through an unknown city, a slow resonant unveiling of how things are and how they came to be.
But mention the word play in association with either of these processes and the arguments come at you hard and fast. We are serious writers and thinkers, they say, explorers of uncharted territory. We stalk the wilderness and return with wisdom, heroes of our own creative journey. We are adults struggling against the dark, and we have no time for such trivial things.
Perhaps play is the wrong word then? Or perhaps it’s something that needs reclaiming through reflection and re-examination of how creativity works.
One bright spot in a difficult few weeks is the launch tonight in Sydney and then on Tuesday in Melbourne of the Emerging Writers’ Festival Reader. In it is my first ever book-published piece titled Play is the Wrong Word, which takes a look at the importance of play as part of the creative process. Here’s an excerpt, but please buy the full book to support emerging writers & future editions.
In which I step back from all of the games and culture stuff and try to reclaim some of my own creativity.
At GCAP, Natham Martz talked about Amnesia Fortnight at Double Fine – a 2 week period in the middle of Brutal Legend when the entire company put that project aside and prototyped a bunch of smaller games, which gave them the grounding for Costume Quest, but also helped recharge their creative batteries.
Just before Freeplay hit, I had the realization that not only was I stressed about the event itself, but I was also stressed because i hadn’t really spent a lot of time, for a long time, working on my own stuff, and ultimately doing what we implored people to do at Freeplay – to just get out there and make things
Since being self-employed, my own projects have fallen by the wayside as i’ve tried to maintain paying work, realised how much time it takes to run a festival, and tried to find the balance between money and creativity. The main one of those is the novel I’ve been working on for a few years now, and while I still care about it and want to see it finished, I also think a break would do that work good – and would give me a chance to try out everything I’ve (hopefully) learned as a writer.
NaNoWriMo is perfectly timed for that break. I know my premise, plot, characters, first few scenes, and the core conflict – and even this early, I’m starting to feel my way through the shape of the thing. I’ve done it before, and know it’ll drive me absolutely mad, but I’m also looking forward to seeing what comes out of the whole process. I’m signed up as Pcallaghan if anyone wants to follow along there.
It does mean that I’ll likely be blogging a lot less for a little while, at least about games and culture. Shame. But I do have some thoughts on why we need to have the moral outrage & censorship arguments, narrative and mechanical grinding in Dragon Age, and the role of archetypes as they apply to not only game narrative, but to the cultural discussions we have too. I’m sure I’ll need a break from the 50,000 words though, so maybe they’ll get written before they evaporate completely.
If not, see you back here on December 1st for a Nano debrief.
The first of my Arts Hub columns has gone up . Subscribers only, I’m afraid, but if you are one, you can read my thoughts on the intersection of video games and the arts. This first one talks about some of the issues with games critics, their audiences, and cultural criticism in other mediums.
It’s been a busy, but incredibly positive, week. The biggest news is that I’ve submitted the final work for a project that I’m incredibly excited about and should be able to talk about very, very soon.
I also finished the first draft of the first new content for my novel in over a year. I’m working on adding chapters to fill out some character development and to stop the main beats of the plot feeling so rushed in the second act. It’s been really strange to go back and write new content for those characters in that world, especially as it’s a novel that I began 3 years ago and the person I am now is very different from the person who sat down to write it originally. What’s been most surprising is seeing patterns evident in the book that reflect things I’ve been going through in my personal life, and only now being aware of them. It really brought home how the creative process is, in many ways, a process of digging through yourself. It also really brought home how crappy first drafts are.
I also received feedback from my two presentations at the Victorian IT Teachers Association Conference. You can find it .