TLDR: As a writer I’m more of a gardener than an architect. I’ve been enjoying gardening (writing) recently and I downloaded Super Metroid, the subject of one of my earliest fanfictions.
I recently downloaded a Super Nintendo emulator for my computer and I’ve been hoarding games on my hard drive in anticipation of my USB controller arriving in the mail. This is related to writing for two reasons.
The first is that I’m reading about how cultivating play is important to having a pleasant existence in this universe.
And secondly that the second major piece of writing I ever undertook was Super Metroid fanfiction. I still have the story in a folder in a box in the top of my closet.
I enjoy my writing most when I’m writing by the seat of my pants, without an over-arching plan, taking only what is in front of the characters at the moment and simply letting ‘er rip. I also find that this is how I do my best writing.
When I try to be more of an architect with the 3-act structure planned out and all my tentpole scenes neatly arranged, my writing feels dull and forced: character goes here, pulls lever, opens door to advance to next plot point.
I am not a professional writer. I have the luxury of being a “gardener”, the sort of writer who writes little seeds here and there, tills most of the dead sprouts back into the ground with the rest of the compost and waits to see what takes root. This takes more time than rigid plotting, but so far it’s the only thing that works for me.
This is how I cultivate play and lately I’ve been writing scattered seedlings that interest me in what I’ve started calling “my Denebola universe” since it is a space adventure centered around the star Denebola. (I fall in love with names and Denebola has a fantastic ring to it.)
I imagine that these seedlings will someday tangle together into a vine-sized novel, if I may force the gardening metaphor further. I have necessarily paused on the short story front. I have two short stories submitted. Fingers crossed. And one short story that is done and needs to be submitted, but I first need to read some of the stories published by the mags I intend to submit to before I decide where to submit it first.
On to my second point: Super Metroid.
Like my awe over The Empire Strikes Back, Super Metroid was an unforgettable experience of my youth. I still remember landing on the planet Zebes in the pouring rain for the first time, not knowing what I would find. Then exploring abandoned tunnels and a long, creepy descent into the ground. There are no enemies right away other than some local wildlife, which seems more interested in being left alone than attacking you. Super Metroid had mystery and atmosphere. It had a gradually expanding world. The whole universe felt alive and breathing just beyond the edges of the TV screen.
I wrote some truly terrible Metroid fan fiction when I was younger. Someone might find it delightful, but it is dreadfully embarrassing to me, but at the time I was writing it, it brought me joy. If there’s any theme to this rambling post it’s that seeking joy is not easy. All the should’s and advice and “what works” for other people and the internal doubts and worries over “why do I even bother”, get in the way and sometimes I can’t even think of a thing in the world that I enjoy. It’s frightening to lose sight of. So I guess that’s why I’m writing this, to remind myself a few places where I’ve found joy.
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