Taking Writing Seriously

Hello, friends! It has certainly been a long time. I apologize for abandoning you, but I had school, and about three internal crises. But I’m back now.

So what have I been doing over the past two or three weeks? (How long has it been? Even I don’t remember.) Well, I went home for Easter break and visited my family for the first time since Christmas…that was fun. I’ve also struggled VERY MUCH to write a short story by mixing a modern day family crisis with the fall of the Aztec empire (sadly no time travel involved, sorry). I’m getting feedback on that today from my professor, so we’ll see how that goes. And I went to a job fair. And at that job fair I had an Epic Realization (TM). I need to start…

(Yes, that is my realization-face. Why do you ask?)

I don’t treat writing like it’s an actual job option. Of all the recruiters who asked me what I wanted to do after college, I didn’t tell one of them my actual current dream, which is to live in a tiny apartment with a moderately nice roommate and work a nice day job editing or something, while hiding under the covers and writing novels in my free time.

Partially because I’m salty that I didn’t realize this was my dream until AFTER I spent two years and $60,000 in loans at college. What is life. Why does my brain work this way.

But seriously. Why didn’t I tell anyone? Maybe I’m afraid that they’ll laugh at me, or give me a weird look like “what are you doing at a job fair then,” or a sad look like “ah yes, there goes another delusional millennial down the moldy drain of debt and tears.” Which is probably true. But don’t ruin this for me yet.

The thing is, I’ve never treated novel writing as a viable career option, which is 80% of the reason I went to college in the first place. I understand that yes, I will need a second job (see apartment dream above), but I believe novel-writing can be and is a viable career path in itself and I SHALL BRAVELY FOLLOW.

So as the last two weeks of school wrap up (amen hallelujah), I’m thinking about plans for this summer. Hopefully plans that will send me on my way to making novel-writing my career. And because I know you’re all extremely interested, here they are.

  1. Build a better blogging schedule. I want to try for at least once a week (which I was already kind of doing until Giant Final Projects hit), and since I won’t have as much to do, I might even try to post twice a week. (Gasp!) Of course, summer includes me forgetting what day of the week it is 90% of the time, so we’ll see how this goes.
  2. Take a REALLY good look at my Nano/Camp Nano novel. So my Camp Nano has been a total flop this year, mostly because I wrote 2500 words, got super discouraged, and have not worked on that story since. (Not a normally recommended writing strategy, but we all need breaks sometimes…right?) I was on the verge of scrapping it, but when I went to my Camp Nano page to delete the project and replace it w/ the short story I’m writing for English, something inside of me said… “Look at this one more time. It’s still kinda cool.” So this goal might involve a lot of tears, but hopefully it’ll be worth it.
  3. Write something NEW! Faith, don’t you have 5 or 6 projects you could edit? Yeeees…why would you bring that up? Anyway, what I have in mind isn’t technically completely new. For Camp Nano July 2016, I started writing a time-travel story that I didn’t get very far on because time travel is a butt and I didn’t have the timeline mapped out. But, I still really like the idea so I’ll be going at it again. Screams to follow.
  4. Write something ELSE new!!! Okay Faith stop it! You’re going to die! Look, I have justification for this one. I’ve been wanting to write a fantasy novel for a while BUT I don’t really know how, so I’ll mostly just be worldbuilding. Not writing. You hear that, brain? NOT WRITING YET. Honestly, the amount of energy it takes to keep these brain cells in line…
  5. Reading quite a bit. I have a lot of books on my TBR (most of which are currently eluding me in the void of my memory), and as long as I can get to the good library a few miles from here, I’ll be set. (My school library is quite good for research but very lacking in the novel department.) As anyone who follows me on Goodreads knows, I’ve fallen behind on my 2017 Reading Goal of 52 books, so hopefully I’ll catch up in the months after finals.
  6. Watch Netflix. IT’S NOT PROCRASTINATING IF IT’S ON MY TO-DO LIST, IS IT? I actually just got Netflix and would like to catch up on some shows my friends have been watching so I can be Educated. So it’s a real goal. Really, guys. I’m serious.

Of course, I’ll also be working 40 hours a week at my school’s dining hall, and socializing when I have the chance. (I do that. I’m an ambivert. Sue me.) Not to mention planning my trip to Spain this fall, and who knows what will happen to my goals when I’m abroad. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

TL;DR: I wanna start treating my writing like an actual career. So this summer I’m gonna woman up. Hopefully.

(Inspiration for this post comes from Hannah Heath’s recent post that inspired me to give up and then un-give up on my NaNo novel, and from Nate Philbrick’s resolution to write 500 words a day before work. Maybe I’ll do this too. Even if it means getting up at 5 am…)

 

Stay crazy, friends.

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Worldbuilding According to Sims 4

I have fallen, my friends. I have been sucked into the all-consuming world of Sims. They warned me that it would tear my world apart, but I never imagined it would be like this.

Thankfully, while I’m getting my soul sucked out, I’ve been able to notice some nice worldbuilding tips for y’all.

In case you don’t know, Sims is a virtual reality game in which you create animated characters to inhabit a small town (or a city, if you have the right expansion pack). There isn’t a stated goal, but I think it’s to live the “ideal life,” whatever that is.

Now, the Sims games are owned by Electronic Arts, an American company located in California. For the most part, the in-game culture reflects American styles, values, etc. However, there are a few notable differences, and this is what I think we writers can learn from.

  1. No personal space.

This was the first thing I noticed. Your Simmy friends will just walk right into your house, eat your food, use your stove, play your video games, and sleep in your bed, and no one bats an eye. The first time this happened to me, I’d made a lovely plate of hamburgers in the park, and another Sim just waltzed up and started eating my food. What’s up with that, bro?

A logically minded person might argue that because the Sims are automations they can’t be expected to comply to social rules, but I say nay! The programmers could have put this in if they wanted! The Sims society seems to be a strange mix of pluralism and individualism — although each Sim is pursuing their own goals, friends are quite open with each other and expect all houses to be open spaces.

Notable exception: Bathrooms. Apparently they’re still not okay with undressing in front of each other, even family members.

What writers can learn: When designing a new culture, you’ll unconsciously model the social rules after your own. Think about bending this, even though the results may seem inappropriate or offensive at first.

  1. Lax parenting.

I’d really like to get the Sims 4 City Living expansion pack to see if this holds in that environment. (Someone tell me please.) It’s not unusual to see kids walking around the neighborhood with no parent in sight. Sim parents don’t seem concerned if the toddler wanders out the front door naked. (This did happen. I am not making this up.)

From a creator’s standpoint, I wonder if this is supposed to hearken back to the “good old days” when kids could run all over town without fear of muggings or alien abductions. (Oh wait. Alien abduction is a thing in the Sims. Never mind.) But no matter what they were thinking over at EA, it seems that Sims expect their children to be much more independent than your average American child.

What writers can learn: Think about how safe your society is, or how safe it’s perceived to be. Think about familial expectations. Do the kids do chores? Do they wake themselves up in the morning? Who gets them to school? Who stays home with them? Do both parents work? Do they hire a nanny? The possibilities are endless.

  1. Time has no meaning.

The last two cultural quirks I suspect were borrowed from other cultures. After all, if Sims is going to be played internationally, it’d be nice if the “ideal life” isn’t exclusively American. However, I don’t just think this one’s borrowed. I know it is.

Being late isn’t a problem in the Sims. If your job is set to start at 8:00am, you can head out the door around 8:15. Same with school. There doesn’t really seem to be a standardized bussing system. (This may have something to do with the fact that Sims just teleport from place to place, but shh.)

In America, we tend to be pretty uptight when it comes to time, but I know that some cultures are not. It seems that Sims Culture is one of these.

What writers can learn: How does time factor into your society? Must you arrive early? Late? Have futuristic teleportation devices affected the way your society sees time? What about stories set in the past? What about before clocks were invented?

  1. Goodbyes are optional.

This one I find particularly interesting. Occasionally the Sims will say good-bye to each other, but the majority of the time they just leave. As an American, this seems incredibly rude to me. However, my good friend Maggie recently told me that in France people don’t say “you’re welcome,” and my Chinese professor told me that in China you don’t say “excuse me” if you bump into someone. So every culture’s different.

What writers can learn: Don’t be afraid to remove components of conversation that you think are crucial! On the other hand, you could add a component that you don’t generally have. What if every conversation had to be preceded by remarking on the color of each others’ clothes?

Well, who’d have thought I’d make a whole blogpost based around the Sims 4 game? I guess the purchase was worth it after all. Now to go procrastinate some more…

Stay crazy, friends.