Monday, November 17, 2014

Confessions of a Collector

So here I am, sitting at my keyboard, having a debate with myself. It goes a little like this:

Me; Do I really want to tell people that I, um... do that thing?

Myself: Sounds like time for a true confession.

Me: Now that's just silly. All sorts of people do it! That's like "confessing" to having a piece of chocolate after dinner.

The thing in question is World of Warcraft. Yes, I play. And yes, it is a tad embarrassing if only because it's the big behemoth of MMOs. While I loudly proclaim my love of gaming, I tend to keep a lid on my enthusiasm for WoW. It's not like one of those Korean games that you play "for the artwork" or whatever. It's a guilty pleasure--the sort people can get addicted to. As a friend of mine put it: "it's that awful ex you keep going back to."

Nevertheless, I play, and I have to admit I kind of love it, particularly right now. The latest expansion came out last week, and it's the most fun I've had playing the game since I started years ago. (With several long breaks between then and now (she hastily added).) What makes it so good?

Well, a lot of things, but in particular, for me, it's the collection aspect. World of Warcraft capitalizes on the human instinct to collect, in the past through pets, gear and achievements, and now through a new feature that allows the collection of "followers"--non-player characters who assist your character.

Though I wouldn't say I'm a hoarder, I do like to collect things, and sometimes those things are a bit strange. Books, ink stamps, key chains, crocheting yarn--those are all pretty normal. Toothbrushes, not so much. (Ostensibly they are for cleaning, but I'm not exactly the most meticulous of housekeepers, so really, there isn't much point to them.)

Anyway, in musing on these things, I got to thinking: can I tap into that instinct to collect in my writing?

Books delve into so many other human desires. We love to fall in love, thus Romance. We love self-description, thus the appeal of the Hogwarts Houses in Harry Potter or the magical Ajahs in Wheel of Time.

Surely there are books that resonate with our passion for collecting. Isn't that a staple of fantasy, to go on a journey searching for various items to complete a quest? The signs in The Dark is Rising come to mind.

And yet, I can't think of any books that give me the satisfaction of collecting vicariously through the characters. I'm wondering why that is. Have I not been reading the right books? Or is that feeling just too difficult to get across on the page?

What do you think?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Strange Beast Called November

It's November, everyone! That lovely month of good food and festive feeling and not quite hating winter's guts yet.

Who is doing NaNoWriMo? Who is wishing they were doing NaNoWriMo? Who is lamenting that NaNoWriMo even exists? (I see you, Patrice.)

Personally I've just finished editing a final-ish draft of a new book, and I'm not quite ready to write the next one, in a month or otherwise. So no NaNo for me. Instead I find myself in the challenging but optimistic position of not knowing which of many tasks to take on first.

Exhibit A: Reading!

If I'm not writing a book this month, maybe I should take some time to read a few extra books. I started off strong with Maggie Stiefvater's The Dream Thieves (which was just as good as I was hoping), and now I've gone and picked up four more books at the library today. Three are by authors I already know and love (including Clariel by Garth Nix!!!). The other was an impulse grab. If I do nothing but read, maybe I can get through all of them before they're due in two weeks. But that's not likely because of...

Exhibit B: Research!

I absolutely have a new book in mind to get started on writing, but the trouble is, there are a lot of historical elements that need investigation. What do 17th century Holland and 1920s Appalachia have in common? Well I'm not spilling the beans on the answer yet, so I'll have to leave you in suspense. If you do have an answer of your own though, leave it in the comments. I'd love to hear it!

Exhibit C: *mumble mumble*

[Super secret project here.]

And if that weren't enough, there is, after all, a holiday at the end of the month. Happy November!