Tuesday, February 26, 2013


This has been a month of quiet, almost sub rosa publication for me, with Sullivan appearing as an e-book and my Sims2 neighborhood, though not yet officially hosted anywhere, being played by a handful of people who PMed me about it to whom I sent the Mediafire link, and as a consequence I've been turning over in my mind the possibility of a series of blog posts about bridging the gap between creating something and publishing it.

It is a peculiarity of our age that traditional venues for publication are consolidating and growing less accessible at the same time that new ones are proliferating, along with windows into the affairs of others; so that where ever I go on the internet I encounter two kinds of people: those who think there's something special and esoteric about creation and publication, and those who think that there's nothing special about either at all and anybody can just go and do them. The first sort of person is likely to never venture to do what she wants because she thinks she's not special enough; the second is likely to rush in and attempt to publish too soon, with less than optimal results.

My main thesis is that we are all creative. Since we are a social species, we often wish to share that creation; but creating and sharing are two different things, and different kinds of work require different kinds of sharing. One may know how to do either thing and not the other, or find that habits developed in the process of sharing (for example) new recipes may not serve us well when we want to share a portfolio or a story. That's certainly what I found when I decided to make Widespot to share; yet I soon found an underlying unity between the experience of making the game neighborhood and making a book. So I was thinking a post or two of practical advice, extracting this underlying unity and giving examples of how the same principles apply, might be useful to beginners in almost any field, and the first thing I thought was: "Start with what you know."

But the more I tried to shape that first paragraph mentally, the more I realized that what you know is not where the process of creation or of publication starts.

They start with desire.

We all have the raw desire to create. If anything is a human universal, this is; and if some creative force suitable to be called God exists, then this creative desire is the divine connection between it and us. We create things we need, certainly; but more than that, we create things to create them. Scratch marks on stone, tunes hummed through hollow reeds, stories in word and gesture, piles of pretty rocks - we like to make them and we have always made them. It's fun. And beneficial, not only because we create things we use, but because we train our minds and our hands and our senses into competence, until we can make clothes that fit, food fit to eat, shelters that keep out the wind and the rain, stories that help us make sense of our lives, rules that keep most of us at peace with most of the rest of us most of the time. None of us is good at any of these things when we're born, but we learn them, and learning is fun, and fun is learning.

So we all start with play.

Creation is fun.

That's principle number one.

"But what about clothes?" I think. "I don't make clothes because I like to; I make them because if I don't, I don't have clothes that fit." And that's true - we all make things out of necessity as well as pleasure. But then I realize, I also don't create my clothes from scratch. I follow a pattern, modifying it as needed, and sometimes, when I'm familiar enough with it, and comfortable with it, I will make a major change to a pattern, like adding sleeves or pockets or something. But before I ever go so far as to design clothes, I would have to reach a point of actively liking to sew; and even if I designed a few items for me, I would require a certain level of competence before I felt called on, or any desire to, design them to share with anyone else. I'd have to know that my experience solving the problems of fitting a new design to my own body would be useful to others out there, somewhere, trying to get clothes that fit their bodies; and part of the draw of publishing a design would be to give those people something that would please them. It's work I can't do, until I've played with it awhile.

So play, or pleasure if you prefer, is the bedrock on which we create and the background that enables us to publish effectively.

That's point number one, and I'll leave you to ponder it while I work out what point number two is, possibly this week.

(We're all making everything up as we go along, mostly, anyway. You understand that, right?)


  1. Oops. Blogger deleted my former post. I think this is what I said:

    Interesting analogy between writing and God.

    One might also say that one creates in order to glorify God. As God is the creator of the universe that may have put the creative juices, desire and force, in the humans that he (generic he) had created, it would make sense to create in honor of God.

  2. Blogger probably thought you were spam the first time. Not sure what you did to change its mind (it's not like the spam filter can read; it just detects anonymous posts and links) but you obviously did it right.

    The notion that "in his image" refers not to our physical forms (which would be absurd) but to the capacity and drive to create is not something I came up with all myself, either, though I can't remember where I first read it. Probably C.S. Lewis or Tolkien. Sounds like one of them, anyway.

  3. Actually, I pressed the "Reply" button, and I think Blogger replaced my previous post with the new post.

    Personally, I don't consider it absurd to not refer God to humanity's physical form. To each his own, I'd say. Rather, that might be one way to interpret God as a personal creator deity, which is highlighted in the Abrahamic religions. In Eastern religions, the concept of God varies. Also, from what I know of the Christian community, "in his image" may also entail the emotional and spiritual side of God - the ability to love, the ability to care, and free will (which includes the ability to sin or stray away from God). It wouldn't be so far-fetched to think that "in his image" connotes that believers or humans in general (take your pick) would have an immaterial, non-physical side.

    I have never really read C.S. Lewis or Tolkien, though I have read their predecessor George MacDonald back in the old days when I was obsessed with fairy tales and tried to read every fairy tale at the library.

  4. All this God talk reminds me of a story idea that has been ongoing in my head for the past few weeks. I was actually thinking of creating a Sims2 neighborhood with a couple of families, and basically each family will report their "experience with God", even for atheists who deny God's existence. God is not an actual Sim in the game, but God is not really a metaphor either. In this imaginary Sim world, God exists as an objective reality, but his relationship with the characters and behavior in the world may get a bit interesting. For example, a Sim may "talk with God" in the prayer and reflection room in English (because I am writing in English), but God may respond, "Blah blah blah." and the reader is only left with how the Sim feels and responds to God's words, not God's words themselves.

  5. Peni, do you mind if I link to this post directly over in the thread, as a place where folks can get Widespot until MTS is back to putting up submissions? Or would that be too much traffic for here? I don't want to inadvertently cause a denial of service for you here!

  6. Goodness, I doubt the demand will ever be so high as to overload things! Go ahead, if you think people won't mind being sent to a blog that is only ever tangentially sims-related.