#AuthorToolBoxBlogHop- Playing With Life

playing with life

Welp it’s a new month, and it brings about my second post for the Author Toolbox blog hop. Like last month I struggled with what I would write about. Again this “giving advice” thing isn’t really for me. But gonna give it the old college try.

Anyone that knows me, knows I stumbled into this author gig quite by accident. I’m not a person that lives and breathes writing. Not in the way many will talk about. I started writing for fun. In 2010 I began playing a PC game called The Sims 3. It was fun to have control over the pixelated people I’d created. As I played, little stories about their lives would roll through my head. I mean the tag line for the game is “play with life” and as writers isn’t that what we do with the stories we tell? We create characters from scratch, and give them life.

About a year in I discovered Sim Lit, blog stories that were illustrated with game shots to enhance the reading experience. It was an eye-opener for me. The stories that played out in my head with the game could be put into words, and people would want to read it. Let the fun begin right?

As I’ve been struggling with direction and the stress of writing I’ve gone back to re-reading my own sims stories as well as ones written by writers that I follow. That prompted the idea for this post. What “playing with life” aka writing sims stories has taught me about writing in general.

first drafts

I know this is something that gets tossed around a lot. Not sure why, but it does. While I’m not advocating for people to run out and publish the first drafts of their books, I do want to recognize that not all first drafts require major work before they are ready for the world. Most sim stories are done in a serial format meaning you get the story spoon-fed to you chapter by chapter on what could be an erratic schedule. Most of those stories are usually the first-ish draft of that chapter. The time to overthink and second guess is taken out of the equation. The writer goes with their gut on the direction of the story and the plot and that’s it. It’s not a bad way to handle things because too often I get stuck in a cycle of second guessing. Having the mindset that the story at its core is solid the first time out aids in taking one less worry off the table. And I’ll say again. Edits are made, tweaks to the plot adjusted, but the first draft isn’t always a complete dumpster fire.

readers

In the writing world we are told to not respond to reviewers. Readers and writers should travel in different circles that don’t overlap. That once you put the story out into the world, it’s no longer ‘yours’ and that is all rather sad. One of the joys of writing a sim story was the direct access you had with your readers. They left comments on your blog, you answered it, you knew they were invested. And in some ways, those comments would help shape the story. It was a good thing to get that insight to have that interaction. I miss it. I mean we write to entertain our readers, why is that invisible wall there?

story

When you write a Sim story you aren’t getting paid. You write because you are moved to tell a tale and you post it because you want to share it with others. Sometimes in all the hustle and bustle that is the writing world, writing for the sake of writing can get lost. Writing sim stories reminds me of the joy of creating without all the added worries. Sure I care about what I put out, but it’s in its purest form of simply being creative. Letting the story flow, the characters take shape and do what they please. Just to enjoy the journey.

So that’s it. The three lessons doing sim stories have taught me in my authorly journey. And it’s what launched my career. My first book began as a sim story. Jill, who the book is dedicated to in memoriam, was my biggest fan of the story in that format and convinced me to make it ‘real world’ so it could be a book. Without her, I don’t know if I’d be on this path, but I’m forever grateful.

I’ve learned and have grown as a writer since this book was released into the world, but as it stands, for my indie titles it’s still my best seller.

fiendish_ebook_cover

Until next time

~Meka

21 thoughts on “#AuthorToolBoxBlogHop- Playing With Life

  1. Louise Brady, Author says:

    I love the Sims 🙂 I have Sims 2, and I’ve gone as far as putting my novel characters in it. (It didn’t go well, one burned the house down the first day!)
    I agree, interacting with readers is amazing: I used to love it when I wrote fanfiction and started conversations with other fans in the review section 🙂 I wonder at the invisible wall with book publication too. Maybe fans want us to interact more?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meka James says:

      Fun! I played Sims 2 for a little while, but when I got started Sims 3 was coming out and I moved over to it. I did kill my very first character by fire LOL it was totally on accident. But yeah, it happened.

      I loved interacting with readers. Reading their comments and getting a first hand look at how they perceived the chapter I’d just put out. I would love it if the fans interacted at more. Just not sure how to go about that.

      thanks for stopping by

      Liked by 1 person

      • Louise Brady, Author says:

        I need to get an updated version, I think there’s a 4th Sims now and I’d love to see what’s been added 🙂

        It’d be an interesting project to try and figure out how to encourage fan interaction, but I’m not sure how it’d work either!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Meka James says:

        Yes S4 came out about 2-3 years ago. Not sure, time really blends together. If you’re use to playing S2 then you’d like it because they went sorta back to that.

        Not sure about how to get reader engagement. One of the many mysteries.

        PS I hope this reply ends up in order, there was no ‘reply’ option on your second comment.

        Like

    • Meka James says:

      It’s a little different from Wattpad as each sim story is hosted on individual blogs. There isn’t one dedicated place in which to find all the stories unlike on Wattpad. But there is still a community, with forums and such so readers can find stories that might interest them.

      thanks for stopping by

      Like

  2. Lee Lowery says:

    This is new to me – I’m not familiar with Sims Lit. I’m guessing I’m not the target audience. But it’s always interesting to learn something new. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meka James says:

      Yeah, it’s probably only known to those that play the game. It’s not serious writing, all of it is simply for fun, but that’s the best part. Little to no stress.

      thanks for stopping by

      Like

    • Meka James says:

      Yes, sometimes it can be easy to forget to do it for the love of telling the story. Sim Lit can be fun if you’re into the game. Otherwise maybe not so much LOL. But writing on a personal blog or something like that could work.

      thanks for stopping by

      Like

  3. Iola says:

    I used to love the Sims, back in another century. I haven’t started playing again because I’m pretty sure it would get mega-addictive.

    I think the “rule” about not interacting with reviewers mostly applies to Amazon and Goodreads, and came about from conversations like this:

    Reviewer: I read X by Author Y. I didn’t like it because it had a A-B-C plot and I don’t like those plots.
    Author Y: You’re wrong! A-B-C plots are awesome! You must be stupid if you don’t like them.
    Reviewer’s friends: I’m not going to read or review books by Author Y because I don’t want to be called stupid if I don’t like it. Also, Author Y was mean to my friend.
    Author Y: Waahhh! The reviewers are bullying me!

    There are plenty of places you can interact with readers online, from your own website to sites like Wattpad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meka James says:

      LOL It can get really addictive. But it provides a great stress relief. I don’t have to think too much, just play. It’s nice.

      And yes, the not interacting with reviewers/readers in that sense is understandable. We’ve all heard the stories of authors ‘behaving badly’ and that’s not what I’m after. But I enjoyed writing my story and want to talk to people who enjoyed reading it.

      I’ll have to go back to working on writing some blog stories to get that one-on-one interaction.

      thanks for stopping by

      Like

  4. Lauricia Matuska says:

    It’s interesting that you mention the wall between writers and readers because making that connection you desire is supposed to be the key to good marketing. I believe the caution about responding to reviews is a caveat to be wary of getting stuck in a cycle of defending your work. There are many awesome ways to connect with your readers through various forms of content marketing. Don’t abandon that connection! Find ways to keep up any helpful interaction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meka James says:

      Yes, exactly! It’s like a major catch 22. You want to find and connect with your readers, but also not really interact with them. Oh yes, I have taken the stance of not reading reviews. I am never tempted to respond, but sometimes the not so positive ones can hurt and I don’t need that sort of negativity in my life. LOL

      thanks for stopping by

      Like

    • Meka James says:

      🙂 Glad you enjoyed the look into what started it all. And the pictures I used are all from different stories I’ve written. This was a fun post to put together.

      thanks for stopping by

      Like

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