So I haven’t been around these here internets all that much lately. It’s not something I feel guilty about but it does make me sad. I never feel quite unless I’m giving myself pep-talks or chattering about books and hockey and writing here on the blog.
A few blog posts ago I had a bit of a spike in my readership. All sorts of interesting people were reading and sending me messages, which was flattering and lovely, but when I suddenly had an audience I found I had a whole lot less to say. I spent a whole lot of time wondering what kind of blog this really was. Was it a hockey blog? A writing blog? Did I have to be deep and meaningful all the time or could I keep on posting random photos of my dog at the beach?
The reality is, this has always been a blog about Beth, and Beth is a mixture of all these things: sand and ice and ink and words. She is both frivolous and occasionally astute. She uses small words as much as she uses big ones.
That’s not the whole reason I’ve been AWOL, though. I’ve been writing. And writing and writing and writing. I always think a revision will be a simple, straight-forward affair. I already have the words, I just need to make them pretty. But somehow it never ends up like that. I’d say I’m almost done with this draft of the Sea Story, but I’ve said that before and it turned out I was lying. I don’t want to lie to you, fair blog readers, so let’s just say that I am working hard and hoping to be done sometime soon.
I’ve also been doing fun things like going away for the weekend to attend the EB Games Expo with my husband and our housemates. I’m still fairly new to the gaming world and I exist somewhere in its far outer reaches, with all the strong female characters and character-driven games. Even so, gaming has done amazing things for my creativity. I’d even go so far as to say it has changed me as a writer.
I have this theory about creative types and Big Ideas. It’s important to read in your genre/ listen to the kind of music you make/ watch movies if you’re a director, but I think if that’s ALL you do, you’re crippling yourself. If we’re all drawing from the same pool of creativity, we’ll all write the same kinds of books and make the same sorts of movies/music/art.
Imagine your life as compost. Chuck everything in — your day job, your kids, that quirky guy who serves you soy lattes at the hippy cafe down the road. Throw in all the media you consume, all the books and movies and games and television shows. Add your hobbies, the places you’ve traveled to, the town you grew up in. This compost is where your ideas come from.
Now, imagine you’re chucking the same sorts of things in, day after day, for years. Maybe a pumpkin vine will spring up if you eat a lot of pumpkin, but you’ll never get anything else. You’ll only ever get the same sort of ideas. If you want something new and different and exciting to grow, you need to throw something different in.
An example I like to give is Carrie Ryan, who writes hugely successful YA novels about the zombie apocalypse. Growing up, Carrie refused to watch horror movies because they terrified her. She planned to be a romance writer. The one day her husband convinced her to see the Dawn of the Dead remake and she’s been writing horror ever since.
I can give you many more examples, but the point is this: Stretch. Grow. Do something different.
That’s why I play video games. This past weekend, among the cosplayers and zombies, while eating ridiculously unhealthy carnival food, while standing in line and lying under trees and on bean bags, I found it. The seed of a new story. Inspiration
Oh, and if you’re a writer, particularly of YA novels, and you want to stretch a little, checkout this game. You won’t regret it.