Day 62 – the sacrilege of writing about writing

Watching TV shows yesterday was certainly nice, and not playing any more Magic was nicer still. That means, that as much as I enjoy playing Magic, and as much as I apparently can actually turn a fairly stable (albeit slim) profit from it, my suspicion that it could never work for any relevant amount of time (like, say, a year) due to me hating it too much is very valid. It also means I need a contingency plan in case I can not go to university in October that is completely removed from playing Magic.

When I set out to develop Genesis, I assumed I would enjoy all aspects of it roughly evenly. Despite finding less time to keep working on it than I would personally like, I now know that assumption turned out to be laughably wrong. I like coming up with card designs just fine, and enjoy pushing the boundaries of what is possible with Magic cards, to see what happens. But that wouldn’t keep me occupied for a week, let alone long enough to get some proper results. I am, on the other hand, really enjoying the writing part of it. Writing long fiction is an entirely new experience for me, and while the process is about as difficult, time consuming and frustrating as I expected it to be – with me having done close to zero amount of actual writing even now – I do find it to be much more rewarding than I could have possibly anticipated. Every time I run into a wall, where I need to close some plot holes and/or logically explain how some situation or other came to be, it takes me hours upon hours to come up with a solution that in retrospect seems both intuitive and fairly easy to reach. Coming up with an elegant and simple solution to what seemed like an insurmountable obstacle is the pinnacle of satisfaction. Another thing that, while even more work than I thought, is much more fun as well, is to breathe life into my characters. Inventing a detailed background to each and every one of them – almost all of that background not being relevant for the story – is both a monumental amount of time spent, and something that is obviously desperately important in order for me to understand where these people are coming from, and exactly what their views on the world – and resulting from that, their actions – would be. What is even harder for me though, is to develop their social or verbal ticks – anything really that makes them special and recognizable, without being too pushy and obvious about it. There is a very thin line between making a character round and making it obnoxious, and attempting to walk it is a challenge I certainly enjoy.

The more time I spend constructing my world, my characters and the story I intend to throw them into, the more I fall in love with them and the whole creative process. This is still just a trial run, but I am more hopeful then ever that Genesis will actually be written, and I really hope that people are going to read it (and enjoy reading it). Does that mean, I want to be an author? Well, I have actually never been naive enough to assume I could just write something and then live off doing that. I’m also far from convinced that I could stand up to the pressure of deadlines and such. No, I don’t think I would want to be an author, even if the opportunity presented itself. But if I manage to make Genesis happen, and people read and like it, I could definitely imagine writing a proper, original story. And if I should really find myself with no good plan come October, writing a novel is probably something I could ship to my parents as a sweet life experience to make. I would obviously still want to work on something else besides, but planning at least 3-4 hours a day to complete it, is not out of the question.

Another thing I have been thinking about, is just where to take this blog. I again find myself with mere minutes to update today, before I need to go to a Poetry Slam, and most of my posts end up being fillers anyway. In the beginning, I thought I might be able to prewrite some things, and post them when I have no time or no inclination to write something properly entertaining for you, but that is a notion that is hilariously unfeasible. On the days I have the time to write more than one entry – when I don’t want to spend that time doing something else – I prefer writing a longer/deeper entry. Writing two good entries on a single day just will not happen with any kind of regularity, so if I keep the blog daily, the reality will just be that many, if not most, of my posts are fillers. I am prepared to lose my bet, and move the blog away from the forced nature of updating on a schedule. Before I do that though, there are several things to consider:

Will I bother writing at all, when I no longer “need” to? Is it even necessary?

I’d be delighted if you could give me some insight on this. Do you enjoy the fact that you will always have a post here every single day? Or are you generally annoyed to come here, finding out, that yet again there isn’t really anything of interest to read?

I really need to get going, but this is a topic I need to make a decision on, so I would be very grateful if you could help me out 😉

Love you

Iris

3 thoughts on “Day 62 – the sacrilege of writing about writing

  1. Hey Iris,

    One of the things that make me keep reading, personally, is that I know there’ll be something new to read every day – even if it’s a short bit. I suspect if there were too many days where I checked in vain, I’d eventually stop checking. Knowing my own habits, I think this is fairly likely.

    However, ultimately, this blog’s something you’re doing for you own sake (even if you started because of a bet). Maybe it’s better for you to move off the daily schedule – it certainly sounds like you’ve at least considered that possibility, and I do admit that a lot of the entries lately seemed a little more “rushed” and a little less a labor of love.

    I myself would have a hard time keeping regular updates happening without a locked-in schedule, and you strike me as the same, so maybe moving off the daily schedule’s going to relatively quickly lead to the end of the blog. That’d be a shame, of course, but it might also be best for you – again, you know this best yourself, I think. Feeling constrained by something you ultimately are in charge of yourself strikes me as counterproductive.

    It’s your own call; If you think maintaining this level of activity is more bother than it’s worth, that’s understandible. It’s almost midnight and I’m rambling, but I hope you understand what I mean. Otherwise, feel free to ask or elaborate on your own thoughts.

    -Marcus.

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  2. The certainty that there will be something new to read creates an immensely strong pull to come back every day, yes. I doubt, however, that it helps much to find new readers, who will judge the value of your blog by your content; and obvious filler posts, as well as straying too far from Magic will probably not entice them to return.

    The main issue is that this might be an all-or-nothing deal for you. If you stop updating daily, you will not only lose that (probably in itself irrelevant) bet, but also have to admit your failure to yourself, which seems to be something you really hate. If that were not the case, a less frequent (but still regular) update scheme would be a good solution. In any case, you need to find out why and for whom exactly you do write this blog, and why and for whom you would keep writing if you conceded that bet.

    As for updating frequency, I witness myself right now at Magic Universe how too few updates simply kill your reader base. Of course, another reason might be that I am now the only author, but I produced most of the content before already, and my articles actually drew the most readers usually, so this can’t be the deciding factor. I lost over half of my readers (or at least single views, which isn’t exactly the same, although I doubt there is a systematic difference in ratios) over the last couple of months and am now certain the reason is too few updates overall. I guess two times a week is the minimum update frequency to sustain a stable reader base, or alternatively absolutely regular weekly content always on the same day (both of which I cannot offer).

    To be honest, your daily updates might be the real reason I still read your entries overall (not least because I want to see if you make good on your bet). I am always interested in other players’ opinions on draft formats – especially if they are good players – but that kind of content seems to be on the decline here, and do not care much for any of your other stuff. I mean, you’re from Berlin like me, you’re a passing acquaintance of mine, and of course, you’re a female Magic player, so I obviously take some interest in what you write, even about your personal feelings and issues, but in the end that is just mild curiosity – I do not know you well enough to REALLY care. (People who know you even less than I do probably won’t care at all. For that reason, if you keep the current tone and content of your entries, I predict that your readership will likely not exceed the number of your closer friends by a lot.)

    It’s not that none of your potential topics could possibly catch my interest, though. For example, since I dabble in fiction myself, the idea of reading some of your prose is quite appealing to me. However, as I already mentioned, your Genesis project is really as far away from my preferences as speculative fiction could ever be. I must also admit that my desire to read stuff you write just because YOU wrote it is constantly diminishing since you seem not to care at all for my own writing – not for the articles I publish at Magic Universe, and doubtlessly even less for my blog or my own fiction. While we obviously do have similar interests, your attitude of not caring for content produced by other people (unless you idolize them like LSV, I guess) serves to increasingly alienate me from you. I suspect that other people might experience much of the same, but do not bother to tell you explicitly. If you do not care what others have to say, why would they care for what you have to say? (Well, there ARE actually possible good, rational answers to that, but people usually aren’t that rational.)

    Anyway, it all boils down to the question why and for whom you blog. Everyone blogs in the end for themselves, but if you constantly convey this message (which I feel you do, even though you are in the habit of asking your readers what they want to see here), you shouldn’t be surprised if you yourself constitute an ever increasing percentage of your audience.

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    • If I stop updating daily, because I think it will be better for the integrity of the Blog in the long run, I doubt it would feel like accepting failure, rather like actually starting to care about the blog for it’s own merit. Though I do think, that I might stop updating at all, if I no longer had that strict deadline, and I did want to know if for those few people who come back here all the time (most of my reader base shifts, I think, and only three ASL players read this with any semblance of regularity) it is a positive to update daily – but with inconsistent quality – or actually detrimental.

      Interestingly, I am one of those people you lost for your blog when you stopped updating frequently, and I have never been able to force myself to come back, because after a few days, I just forget I wanted to. Although that may indeed also be party because I no longer enjoy reading Magic related content – but then again, you often wrote about non-Magic stuff, so probably that isn’t as big a part after all.

      Part of my worry was, that an ever increasing part of my readers come from all over the world – usually they are from 7-10 different countries every day, and having that kind of international audience does make me want to, well, suck a little less…

      For now, I need to get back to Berlin, and think a little more on this, but thanks a lot for taking the time to answer 🙂

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