Making For

There’s a lot of motivational writing about making things. I know I’ve done a bunch of it, with an exhortation that you should try making things. There’s an idea that you’re a writer, because you write, so you should write. Sometimes, it’s framed as writing for yourself, or sometimes it’s framed as writing the things you want to see in the world.

If you can respond to that, that’s a powerful drive.

It’s not the reason I write, I don’t think. Not really.

I write in this blog daily (when I am writing daily) because it’s practice. Because I feel good when I have achieved the difficult task of doing it. But it’s not why I write any individual piece. I write because I think about the things my audience cares about. I think about what you, the people around me, have responded to, what you share, what you care about. That’s part of what encourages me to write. I ask you what I should write, it’s a common thing you’ve probably seen me do.

That urge is very common and it works for me.

I don’t really write fanfiction or fanart. These are ways you can take the work of others, and show how it matters to you, through the medium you favour. I don’t write that kind of fiction or compose music or draw, so the form my creative energies to express take is making games. Thinking of mechanics and related game objects, and thinking about ways I can invite people into that space, to be there in a way the fiction doesn’t necessarily allow. This means that for some people I know, I see their art or their stories and I think I want to make a game for that.

These game ideas get written up and they sit around, because it seems intrusive to me to present someone with that. For artists especially, it screams of I’m trying to monetise your work. For some the problem’s even worse: I have a card game designed to explore the world of a friend, and that friend hates card games.

I think about this because I think how many things people would be doing, if they could find an audience of just one. How little encouragement you need to keep trying, to keep going. Commentary from one or two people got me to finish three books. Feedback from two people kept a podcast going in its fledgeling days. Some of my games are made just waiting on a response from one person. This week, I was told that we don’t have a game for a particular niche, and now I’m thinking about a game I can make for a kid and a family, just because of that niche.

Some people can ‘just do it.’ But some of us need an audience. Some of us need to know that what we’re doing matters to anyone else in the world, and that there’s a value to putting it out there.