I made a list of all the things I wanted to do in 2017, including things that may seem far-fetched and impossible, and things that I want to continue. Investing in my art was one of these things.
I am a writer. I am a gamer. I love the combination of these two things, the potential they inspire, and the creations that now exist thanks to them. I love how SimLit has helped bring me back to myself, my passion, and my creative energies. Writing SimLit, for me, is a form of self-love and self-care. I have indulged in countless hours of gameplay, world creation, character development, and storytelling. I do not view these hours as a waste of time. In fact, they have been an inspiration to me for many other projects and pieces of my life. I find myself uplifted every time I enter the game and hear the silly little tunes knowing that new worlds can be explored, new characters lie in wait, and new stories are bursting at the seams beyond the loading screen. This game has sparked imagination, inspiration, innovation, and regeneration in my life.
Fellow SimLit writer and gamer, CathyTea wrote recently on her blog about 500 Letters – a site that generates your personal artist statement with just a few simple clicks. Naturally curious, I decided to try. Honestly, I generated a statement 3 times before I found one I like. Well, you know what they say, third times’ the charm?
To be frank, there were pieces from the first two generated statements that could’ve fit me, and pieces from those statements made it into the final statement I feel best describes my SimLit work. However, there were pieces that were a little too mismatched that I wasn’t satisfied and clicked “cancel.”
Here’s what the generator came up with:
Lizzie is an artist who works in a variety of media. By investigating language on a meta-level, Lizzie wants the viewer to become part of the art as a kind of added component. Art is entertainment: to be able to touch the work, as well as to interact with the work is important.
I read that second sentence and I knew this was the statement for me. I do want my readers to become part of my art.
As a SimLit writer, I expect others to read my work more quickly than if I published a book, and the interactions between my readers and I are much more in-depth than a traditional author-audience thanks to the Internet. I also expect most readers of my stories to be Sims gamers, sharing in the nuances of the game and appreciating the framework due to the game.
I do think art is way more than entertainment, and that statement, in that of itself, is narrow. However, there is an diverting and pleasurable aspect of art that cannot be denied. I hope my stories bring joy and pleasure to my readers in addition to making them think and question.
The generator also said:
Her artworks are characterised by the use of everyday objects in an atmosphere of middleclass mentality in which recognition plays an important role.
I like using everyday objects in my stories. I like commenting on the boring, mundane things because they are part of life, and a necessary part at that. One of the things about Sims games is that it forces me to notice the “everyday things” because I’m building homes, workplaces, and environments for my Sims to occupy. I find it fun to incorporate said objects into my stories.
For example, in KCLKF, chapter 4, Kass is waiting for her dad and discovers a “biology research” book on her table. She flips through, and thinks of Davis, the cute new bartender she just met since he said he was a biology major. It was just there on the table in game and I didn’t have to explain it, or I could have removed it, but I took the opportunity to include the book in the story.
Later in KFLL, 2.22 Muddled Words, Kass is at Davis’ home and she notices pictures on the wall (base-game or expansion pictures- I’m not sure) and asks Davis about them. She learns that Davis played soccer. She also learns that the “kid in the football uniform”
- is his brother, Derek
- who has a football scholarship to Mesa Grande University in Simizona
- he was a quarterback at Stary Community School in Twinbrook
- his mother wants the family to go for Derek’s homecoming in a month and
- he has a game in Bay City in a few weeks
As a funny side note, I laugh in retrospect because the “kid” is probably the same age as Kass. Even so, I enjoyed using an “everyday” object as a source for character development and more worldbuilding.
I’m not sure if I’m stuck in a middleclass mentality because I’ve been privy to both sides of the economic spectrum but I suppose I most resonate with the middle class.
I agree with CathyTea when she says these following words could be a credo for SimLit writers. I got these words too via the generator:
she often creates work using creative game tactics… Play is a serious matter: during the game, different rules apply than in everyday life and even everyday objects undergo transubstantiation.
Play is seriously fun. SimLit has transformed my life, and I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but it is true. SimLit brought me back to my roots and things that I love, reconnecting with an integral part of myself- the writer and the artist. Gaming is a serious thing for me. I like the alternate reality feel of the Sims games, and yet something that is still familiar. Anyone who has played the Sims knows that “different rules” really do apply in the SimVerse and everyday objects take on a whole new meaning.
I hope to “touch” or inspire my readers on some level, and desire emotional engagement and investment in my stories, again because we play the Sims, but also because I like to think I am a skilled craftswoman of language and hope that my writing is halfway decent. In other words, I hope you keep coming back because I write good stories.
I have been writing most of my life, and yet, I still struggle, like many artists, I would imagine, with perfectionism and feeling incomplete. There are always things that could be tweaked or turned, fluffed or fixed, and some things that could have better preparation and planning. I started Kass’ story with the idea of writing a family legacyesque tale, and by chapter 4, I knew immediately that something would be different with the introduction of EXCES. Then I knew I wanted to address EXCES better in Kass’ second story, KFLL, and then realized I needed better backstory to fill in the blanks and so I&S was born. Writing in retrograde is certainly challenging and fun, but also sometimes frustrating and requires “tweaking” to avoid continuity errors.
Yet Kass is my baby, my creation, my alter-ego, and I wouldn’t do away with her simply because writing her character is too complex or difficult.
Another thing the generator said:
Her works focus on the inability of communication which is used to visualise reality, the attempt of dialogue, the dissonance between form and content and the dysfunctions of language.
I feel there is truth here. I have a communications degree and I am fascinated by communications theories. I also build drama and tension through lack of communication (i.e. Kass and Gage’s friendship, Amy withholding secrets from her family, Amy and Howard’s marriage breaking up). Miscommunication is a common theme in my other stories too (i.e. Rachel and Bill in CFT, Gage and Lè in FRWL, Sam and Ruby in MLWC, and Kass and Billy in I&S). I think it would be safe to say that at times, a theme in my stories could be what happens when communication fails. I love the power of dialogue and how it creates meaning and dysfunction simultaneously. I also enjoy the ability of language to help us visualize “reality” or specific scenes, especially because of the limiting nature of the game at times.
By taking daily life as subject matter while commenting on the everyday aesthetic of middle class values, she tries to grasp language. Transformed into art, language becomes an ornament. At that moment, lots of ambiguities and indistinctnesses, which are inherent to the phenomenon, come to the surface.
I’m not sure about what follows “lack of clear references” since I think of myself as a concrete writer who likes world building and character creation. I do leave some things to imagination. I also enjoy breaking stereotypes and norms and thinking outside the box. I don’t think this makes me any less clear or concrete or any more ambiguous or indistinct.
However, I do think the more I write, the more questions arise and the more things I need to answer/address in story. This has happened consistently with Kass’ story. It is constantly evolving thanks to the need to address ambiguities.
Thinking of language as an ornament is particularly beautiful. Christmas has come and past, but the ornaments still hang on the tree in our household. We have a tendency to leave the tree up for awhile for enjoyment and well… laziness. I like to look at the ornaments every evening and focus on one at a time. I imagine each one has a story as each one has a name. Each one had a creator, an artist, if you will. Art (the ornament) inspires language (the words) and those words inspire art (the stories). In the same way, the art (the game itself) inspires language (my response) and the words that come inspire art (the stories).
The final words from the generator:
Her works are based on inspiring situations: visions that reflect a sensation of indisputability and serene contemplation, combined with subtle details of odd or eccentric, humoristic elements.
I hope my writing is inspiring. I’m not sure if my writing is indisputable, as it requires much improvements, but I hope I invite readers to contemplate, to think beyond the stories to their own lives – to think, to ponder, to imagine, to dream, and to question. I definitely think I have details that are odd, eccentric, and humorous. By the very nature, the game has its own oddities so writing SimLit would have its eccentricities. I think this comes through in all SimLit I’ve read.
I’m not sure about humor. I have a strange sense of humor. I don’t particularly like comedies. I prefer slice-of-life humor as its more relatable, and at times, darker humor. Things I write that I think are hilarious may not be to the average reader. I’m okay with that. I’ve learned not everyone picks up on my sense of humor, and my “funny” scenes may not really be all that funny, but I do think there are elements of humor in all my stories.
So that’s it – the end of my long ranting, hopefully coherent. It was interesting, at least for me. What are your thoughts based on my writing? Any feedback? Any place where you strongly agree or disagree?
Click the generator yourself and tell me what you come up with as I’d be curious to know. 🙂