Being a writer

I’ve been watching an interesting debate unfold on an egroup, about whether role play gaming is a productive thing for an author to do. Some folks, myself included, think yes. Others feel it wastes time, and distracts from the important business of Being A Writer.

As bardcraft is an important part of the Druid tradition, I’ve spent a fair while talking with other folks about what a bard needs to do, in order to truly walk that path. Creative expression is a big part of it, of course. However, there was agreement that it takes more than making things, to be a bard. I think it also calls for more than spending time writing to be a good author. You have to live, experience and explore in order to have stories to tell.

For a bard, listening is a vital skill. We listen to the music, songs, poetry and stories of fellow bards, and we learn from them. We listen to the words of the people around us, and the truths that come from their hearts, even if they aren’t beautifully presented. We listen to the wind, the songs of birds, the whispers of the ancestors and the cries of the future being born.

 We listen to the silence.

To my mind, writing (and any other creative expression) should not be about separating yourself from the world. Paganism is all about embracing life, in all its richness, and any practise that isolates us, is at odds with that spiritual dimension. Writing should be an act of engagement.

Therefore, I must argue, any kind of experience or pursuit is a valid one, for the bard and author both. Not just valid, but necessary. We need to be out in the world, listening, experiencing, feeling and thinking. And no one should spend their days sat at a computer, tapping out words to the exclusion of all else. That isn’t living, it isn’t honouring nature within us.

If you want to be an author, take some time to live, in the manner of your choosing. There is far more to being an author than that part of the process involving crafting things out of words.

8 thoughts on “Being a writer”

  1. Excellent observation! I have encountered such attitudes before, from those who think that you cannot be ‘this’, if you are also ‘that’… why not? Real life is complex – it’s nice to have goals and ideals, but we live in reality, and to understand that reality, you have to, as you say, actually live it!

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  2. So well put , I agree ..I personally feel those who make these games and such are artists in their own right and how can we come to any kind of honest opinions if we have not tried or experienced something? Open Minds & Hearts should guide us in our paths..Again I say well done…

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  3. Hell yes its productive…in fact, if most of those people who get into serious role play are NOT writing by now, then its our loss. I used to go in and watch them when msn had open chats. I would sit for hours just watching a book play out right in front of me. It became so much better than watching series on TV, or buying a book. Every night became a new chapter. Oh, I loved it. I missed that. Now while I didn’t play, I was very addicted. And I am not talking immature role play here…I am talking very thought out and serious role play. These people had web sites, entire lives built up for their characters. WAS AWESOME.

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  4. I’m on the “Yes” side here. As some of you might know I began writing in fandom, but part of that was participating in RPG’s and I learned a great deal because of my participation.

    RPG taught me structure as a writer as well as character development. There was also the need to research when we submitted possible story lines for the group to participate in. This helped develop my ability to work with others in the evolution of a story–hello! editors & cover artists.

    One particular RPG I was a part of was in the Angel fandom. Since the universe was already established there were rules and regulations as to what could/couldn’t be done by certain established characters (mainly the vampires).

    We created our own original characters who interacted with the established characters of the Angel-verse. Part of doing so was creating a character profile that included but was not limited to physical attributes, abilities both magical/non-magical, and back story. This required us to create a character that was well-rounded, but had potential for growth.

    My character was a pagan who happened to have the psychic ability of psychometry. Due to her ability she was a perfect fit to be the personal assistant to an established canon character (Wesley) who dealt with the acquisition of magical amulets, manuscripts, etc. from around the world. I had a hoot with this character.

    So, HELL YES! RPG is a great way to prepare yourself for the professional world of publishing on numerous levels. Any one who says other wise need a kick in the arse. LOL

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  5. I’m loving these responses! Even some of the old, clunky, off-line, games I used to play, before kids, had enough to them to stir the imagination… I had group in an rpg once that included a fighter with awesome offensive skills, but for some reason had sucky defense. I eventually figured out that I had totally forgot to equip the guy with clothes and armor. He was running around nekkid except for a nice pair of boots and a helm. That has to be 15+ years ago, but we still get the giggles imaging his adventures. I know he had a great story!

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  6. Interesting. I am an inveterate role player, writer and pagan. I use role play to work through everything from settings to dialogue. Working up characters is easier, tweeking them and refining how they think and feel by putting them through situations in which you have to react fast and work on instinct,its a great way to flesh them out. The immediacy, the interaction with other minds, the honing of that character’s thoughts and feelings, its such a good way to bring them alive. Role playing is also good for the therapist as well as the writer, its very good to encourage people to try new situations in safety. Writing though can be very hard, especially if you get a block. Role playing with friends can overcome that by bouncing ideas off other people. It can refresh your mind. It is a great creative experience allowing you to experience situations you might otherwise not have. Immagination is a wonderful thing and needs to be kept stimulated. Role play is a great tool for this too.

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  7. there are a few druids (myself included) who have played druids in RPGs as part of exploring the attraction, before moving into it in the actual lives. Playing and exploringis good, and RPGs are indeed a safe environment in which to test aspects of who you are, or might be.

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