Much like Carrie Fisher quoted in the above article, my love of words began with a love of reading. I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on from Danielle Steel to Wilbur Smith, Sydney Sheldon, Jeffrey Archer and everything in between. Looking back, I suppose not all of it was age appropriate but it never really felt that way to me at the time. Under the blankets long after I was supposed to be asleep, I laughed, I cried, I went hunting, solved crimes, flew an aeroplane, rode on a broomstick and astride a ferocious fire-breathing dragon. I learned about love, lovemaking and soared the highs and lows with witty, gritty but always compelling characters. And I wrote.
Initially, it was a conglomeration of teenage angst. An outpouring of confusion, unrealistic expectations, first loves and first kisses. Hopes and dreams and those inevitable bitter disappointments. But it wasn’t until I discovered a text-based game set within the canon created by the phenomenal Anne McCaffrey and her world of Pern that I really embraced my love of writing and storytelling.
Yes, it was roleplaying and nothing more than an incredible amount of fun had with other players that loved to write. However, in the decade that I have been involved, I learnt so much about creating characters with histories and personality quirks. I investigated their hopes, fears, flaws and strengths. Thought about the influence their childhoods might have had on them and how that shaped them as adults. I learnt how to get into their heads and figure out what made them tick, what would tear them apart to expose their vulnerable underbellies and devised plots to test their limits. I also learnt which types of characters held my attention and which I quickly became bored with writing, what my subject limits are and what I wanted to convey in terms of story content.
As I have learnt in writing Resurgence, a novel is of course, far more complex. But, I wouldn’t be where I am now if not for the hands-on learning experience provided by such an avenue as text-based roleplaying.
In closing, the acronym used for such a collaborative writing affair, is M.U.S.H.’ing – Multi User Shared Hallucination – and I think that describes rather nicely the experiences as both a reader and a writer.