I think my frustration with missed opportunities, to which my brain returns and returns, is based on the fact that people do write for different reasons.
There are people like me, who write because they have a story to tell. The story is there, in their brain, it is turning its wheels and writing itself, bits and pieces, while waiting in the station or riding a bus/ subway to or from work, or in bed before going to sleep. Bits and pieces scribbled on a paper while in a boring meeting or waiting at the doctor’s.
I couldn’t live without writing. OK, maybe one month or two, at the maximum, and even then, usually my brain is busy cooking new stories (or pieces of them, because yes, often my imagination functions in bits and pieces which need bridged later.). I was playing with toys too as a schoolchild, but I was also playing with words, writing – because it got to a much wider playground than the toys could give me.
When I am sad or angry, writing is another way to channel or soothe my feelings – be it a fighting scene or, by contrary, a comic one. When I am happy, my excess of energy is also channeled in writing.
When I was in love (because yes, I know enough young people who, once they are in love, they spend all the time with the lover and stop writing), I used my feelings for writing more enticing love scenes too. Still now, at 13 years and a half of wedded bliss and 22 years together (well – still in love, but in a different way than the first butterflies), some of my male characters get certain reactions inspired from my husband or I ask for his opinion directly. But I kept writing all the time – only that he received more love letters too – full folders! (And before my husband, when I had an unrequited crush on someone who never knew, it was also materialized in filling notebooks with stories and verses, and inspiring somehow from him a character in a story).
So, yes, writing is my hobby (albeit not my only one, but my main one) and I would always make time for it. Especially when writing with others and knowing that there are people waiting for my contribution.
Given that I am writing mostly historical fiction, by researching and re-creating that environment, I also get to live it for a while, in my imagination, through the various characters, but returning, at the end, to my hot bath directly from the tap and full fridge. (Yes, each character has his own distinct personality, so I am not them, therefore I am not living vicariously through them. They do horrible things I wouldn’t do sometimes.) I also get to explore with my imagination situations and mindsets which I wouldn’t like to be confronted to in real life. (Or which aren’t suitable anymore for our modern life).
Unfortunately, many of my writing partners aren’t this way. Yes, writing is a hobby for them, but one of many, and never a priority, even if they are writing with others. (Because for me it wouldn’t be a priority only if writing alone, which I had done extensively before discovering RPGs, and some day I will return to it).
Some refuse to acknowledge the fact that writing with others is a collective hobby (yes, this is a RPG-oriented site, so I will focus more on writing with others), where all the team is affected when one is missing from the match/ training session, and they compare it with more passive things like “It’s like a good book which I can leave on the couch and pick it up when the mood strikes” – but in your book reading, all the characters aren’t waiting for your creative input!
For some people, it is a social outlet mostly – they prefer to chat than to write, and to make friends. Once they get friends in real life, they forget about it. And even if not, the discussion with the writing friends is more important than the actual writing of the story.
And in some people’s minds, once they made a character, the story continues in their mind in their own way, without the need to be written out.
Some people are writing just against boredom, because they can’t do anything else in those moments (they have no money to get out, they aren’t allowed to get out, etc.) and writing wouldn’t be their choice if they could do other things. These are people like the co-creator of my site, who once starting college and away from her parents, gave up writing completely and vanished in the mist. Or they find a love interest and don’t feel the need to write anymore while in love.
And all these don’t feel the need to follow a story, to write consistently, to finish what they start. They don’t have that feeling of accomplishment when finishing a thread and passing to the next episode in the story. As if there is a disconnect somewhere in their mind, and they can see only tree by tree, not the forest.
If I enjoy a story, I want to build on it post by post, I am excited by every turn, I want to contribute to it, to see it advancing and to move to the next chapter… Most people seem so… I guess PASSIVE is the right word.
The existing plots have all the potential to become great stories, there is openness for many other plots which would come from individual initiative, and, in 3 years, it has been extremely rare that a plot idea was rejected totally. Sometimes it was slightly modified in order to fit better the setting or to incorporate more people, but it was not rejected, so people can do almost everything they want (reasonably for the setting.) Why this passivity? Why nothing sparks their enthusiasm to keep writing consistently?
From here, my frustration with plots which should have ended long time ago if they received 1-2 posts a week from everybody involved, with characters and stories caught in limbo for several months. (Yes, I am not that impatient to dream about rapid fire â€“ actually I hate rapid fire/ posting volleys, which create too much pressure for me).
They say: “People seem to be having fun in general, even if it’s more occasional fun…” But this “occasional” is bothering me the most. We are a writing community. A story should go on at a steady pace. Steady might mean once, twice a week… but constantly.
The issue with “a lot of time between posts” is twofold: a) the story is stalled and b) by spending so much time between posts, one gets out of the flow for that specific story, and no wonder that they lose inspiration! In such cases, I have to read the whole thread several times to find the initial inspiration/ mood to answer, because in between, the story went further and I am more in the mood of the current most active ones.
I have read somewhere that writing discipline (writing constantly, even if it is only one page/ one post) is important for any writer in order to keep the inspiration flowing. And yes, this is what I am trying to do, but far too many people donâ€™t bother to do it, writing only occasionally.
Constantly might not mean every day (even if I try my best to do it, without stressing about it). I am trying to keep posting every day (or almost every day), to make a good example, I am trying to come with new ideas… but sometimes it is very tiring when 80% of the ideas are only mine. Given that it is a collective hobby, it should have discussions and contributions from everyone… And sometimes, yes, I am at loss of ideas myself… and when I ask my writing partners and I receive the answer “I don’t know”, “I have no idea”, “How you wish”… my frustration increases.
It also seems that people have interest in writing only certain characters, or only certain aspects of the characters’ lives, while a story implies writing several character types in several circumstances which make sense for their lives.
E.g. a Navy officer has in the story not only the role to charm ladies at a party, but mainly to take part in battles or to lead work scenes as well… to show only a few aspects. He should interact also with his superiors, with allied officers, he can lead an exploring team, enforce the law under his competence, etc. And among the Navy officers, if they were chosen for example, there can be (and should be) a diversity of personalities as well: the ambitious perfectionist, the drunkard/ gambler who can be blackmailed or can blackmail others into betrayal or extorsion, the womanizer (or soft lover, because he can be sincere too) who spills a secret to his lover by mistake, the one wh o isn’t professionally good but he has the right upbringing and patronnage and power thirst in order to advance stepping on corpses….
So if the story needs these aspects/ scenes/ characters and nobody else is willing to write them… somebody has to. We are all here, first and foremost, to write an interesting story together, immersing ourselves in the right setting through this. it seems I will always be this ‘someone’, because I could never say/ think ‘I have no interest in writing this character/ scene.’ if it is a part of the story i love and it makes sense in our setting, then I should clearly do all research and everything possible to make the story happen.
…And this is how some people get with more temporary characters than others, and with writing for more NPCs than others who don’t have interest in them or who see them less of a character because they have less writing time. They aren’t less.
There had been a while when I was regretting everything others didn’t do, just because I was convinced that, since i am writing with others, everything should be shared. Now I don’t care anymore about this, neither about other people’s rants that people shouldn’t have so many characters or NPCs. They are there because they are needed in the story and nobody else was willing to write them. That’s all, folks. Somebody has to do it in order to have a well-rounded story, a well-rounded portrayal of the world we are writing about.
Sometimes, I can’t help thinking that if I wrote the story “Before the Mast”alone, it would have been finished long time ago. Other times, I remember the wonderful people I met with this opportunity. But I am still frustrated by snails, who have time to update Facebook, to knit, to chat, to play video games… to do anything else… but not to write when not only I am waiting for their contribution for… weeks and weeks.