The urge to create
I’ve just written a novel. In fact, I’ve not just written it, I’ve proofed it, edited it (as best I could) and self-published it online.
(And before you all rush to Amazon, it’s not actually available for sale. I published it so I could redeem a code for two free printed copies. Those will be given to alpha readers, who can then tell me why the book sucks and I can fix it before sending it to a proper publisher)
The novel took me the best part of eight months, the first of which was spent writing intensively almost every day as part of NaNoWriMo. With 50,000 words under my belt, I relaxed a little and put the next 100,000 together over the course of five months.
While I may not have been writing as frantically as I did in November, finishing the book still took a lot (if not, most) of my spare time. I’ve had a number of personal commitments to deal with since the year began – not the least of which was getting married! – which meant writing was largely relegated to lunchbreaks and as many weekday evenings as I could muster.
Throughout the last two months, as I edged closer and closer to those wonderful words – “The End” – and read through my work to see what needed to be tweaked and fixed before printing, I was conscious that I was putting off other things: namely, leisure. I cut down on the number of games I played, books I read, shows I watched, all the while thinking I could indulge in these pleasures as soon as the book was finished.
The book was finished on Sunday. And yet throughout the week, a nagging question has been burning in the back of my brain: what can I create next?
I had been so looking forward, particularly over the last few weeks, to just enjoying my spare time again. To losing myself into the video games I’ve been dying to play, to resume my love of reading. Great writers read, I’m constantly reminded, and they can’t do that if they’re always writing. If you don’t read, you don’t learn anything that can help with your own stories.
But what should I create next? Perhaps it’s just because the last eight months have been largely focused on this novel, and I just haven’t adjusted yet. But there’s an urge to create, and it’s one that a lot of people suffer from.
I’ve spent the week at Unite Europe, a conference for games developers that use the popular Unity engine and it’s wonderful to see so many people whose entire lives – or the majority of them – are dedicated to creating things they enjoy. It’s inspiring, bordering on infectious. I’ve found myself tempted to download Unity and attempt game creation for myself. At the very least, I’m leaning towards dabbling in Twine, the interactive fiction tool.
Maybe my next creation is an interactive novel/story played through browsers. Maybe it’s a feeble attempt at a video game, perhaps based on my fiction. Maybe it’s one of the novels I have left unfinished, or a sequel to this one. The ink has barely dried and yet I’m keen to dive into that world again.
But then what happens to those games and books that have been waiting for me to finish my recent project? What happens when in another eight months I realise I still haven’t been relaxing (writing a novel, while fun, is NOT relaxing). You can’t force yourself to relax, but should you at least try?
If you think there’s a point to this post, you would be wrong. Perhaps the urge to create is so strong, so intense that I just needed to write something while I wait for my flight home. Who knows? The point is (ah, maybe I do have one) I think creation in all its forms can be wonderfully addictive and I urge everyone to try it. Just be aware that there may be no turning back.