A side effect of this blog – a planned and wanted side effect! – is that it encourages me to revisit some of my fiction writing. I don’t expect to pull a novel out of every random bit, but the process of writing here is a nudge to look at writing I’ve done elsewhere and at other times. That’s something I can learn from; and in this case something that got me thinking about the, “If you don’t like what’s out there; just make it yourself” type of response I see in some gaming discussions.
I latched onto horror as one of my favorite genres to read (and also watch and play) at a pretty young age. It’s certainly not the only thing I enjoy; but it’s usually my first thought when someone asks what I’m interested in. Thing is; I neither write horror well nor particularly enjoy writing it. (*gasp*) It could well be that I psyched myself out by comparing myself to others, or could be that I never trusted myself enough to practice – but the point is my *reading* interest isn’t necessarily my *writing* interest or talent. (For anyone curious, everything I write tends to turn into fantasy, with a good chance of YA. I don’t know why – though I do have some favorite books in that genre. It’s just where my stories seem to fit. And hey, I’m ok with that. Dragons appearing every time I try to tell a story is ok by me; they’re fun company.)
If I start feeling like I really want to see, say, more diversity in horror I certainly could smash my face into the keyboard and try to write a decent horror novel. And my friend who prefers writing horror could, if he wanted, try to write what he feels is a good YA fantasy novel. Or…I could listen to my friend’s ideas about YA and, if I agree, incorporate that into my work; as he could with horror. Now we’re both working in the realms we click with AND with a different perspective. Blame it on being raised by an electrical engineer if you’d like, but that seems more efficient to me. I may disagree with what my friend thinks is “good” of course, but it’s still my decision what to incorporate and what not to. Learning what someone else likes hasn’t hurt me.
Or, take someone like my mother. She’s an avid reader and has rather good taste. She’s also the previously mentioned electrical engineer, with little to no interest or skill in writing fiction. Should her opinions be discounted because she’s not in a position to create the things she wants to see? I think that’s a poor way of looking at things.
I feel like there’s a lot of gray area in here that folks also forget about. Say I have a story idea that I’m excited about. I think it’s a great idea, but I know I don’t see a lot of it being made. If I can see other people out there asking for more stories including [thing], it’s huge encouragement for me! Or maybe someone mentioned they’d love to see a book about [thing] and it’s not until that moment I realize that’s something I’d love to write.
I sometimes see the argument that adjusting something creative is always “giving in” to one group or another. I think that spiel is over simplified, as well as making quite the assumption. If I’m writing something, even something as simple as a blog entry, it’s because I have ideas that I am trying to get across to the reader. If I use a phrase that gets in the way of my meaning being understood as I intend it to be – including if that block is because I’ve used a word with crappy connotation – I would rather know about it and have the chance to rephrase. My *meaning* coming across is more important to me than the words I choose, in that situation. And the choice is always with me, to adjust or not to adjust. Simply having a different perspective and better understanding of the way my writing affects other people hasn’t forced me to do anything. It allows me to go forward with *more* information; something I consider a plus.
I’m not saying folks who make games or write books ought to feel obligated to be at everyone else’s beck and call. There’s a balance in there, one that only those involved can tinker with. But if my mom mentions something she’d love to see more of in YA fantasy, I think I’ll listen instead of telling her to just write it herself, then. She’s yet to tell me to just rewire something myself, after all.