Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Creative Energy: Renewable, but not Limitless

First, apologies for my absence and for missing the later half of the Rule of Three Blogfest. I had an unexpected interruption to my internet access which made finishing it pretty much impossible. I will try to post a conclusion to it this Friday. I don't want to leave the story hanging especially since I know that some of you were enjoying it. Though I confess, my heart isn't in this one and I'm still not sure how to end it.

I've really been suffering lately from a huge slump in my creativity as far as my writing goes. And I've finally made the tough decision to acknowledge what was draining my creativity away and to do something about it.

Back in June for Alex's It's All Fun and Games blogfest I mentioned that I've been playing The Lord of the Rings Online for over 2 years, after having gotten hooked on MMORPGs a couple of years before that. One of the things that I loved about LOTRO was the large community of extremely creative individuals that I became involved in on the server Landroval. Landroval was the unofficial Role Playing server and there was always a lot going on. It wasn't long before I got caught up in the world of RP and exploring the depths and corners of J.R.R. Tolkien's lore through my characters. I learned A LOT about Middle-earth during my time in LOTRO and became something of an expert on Tolkien's Elves. I even got into the habit of hosting somewhat involved RP events open to the whole server.

Performing the Music of the Ainur
And then there was the music. You see, LOTRO has this unique system that allows you to use 9 different in game instruments to play music. You can freestyle it manually through the buttons on your keyboard, or you can create special musical notation files (abc files) that allow you to play complex pieces of music in sync with other players. Over the past two years my husband and I have become experts at creating these files (which involves maneuvering the music around to make it work within the musical limitations of the game) and have run our own band doing regular concerts. And, I must say, we were awesome at it. We could take any piece of music out there (in midi form) and convert it into a fantastic sounding abc in game. I converted everything from Beethoven to the Beatles to (one of my most recent songs that I'm uber proud of) Time Warp from Rocky Horror. I converted the Nutcracker Suite and it was amazing. I converted most of Carmina Burana and used that, along with other music, to recreate the story of the creation of the world of Arda (what Middle-earth is only part of) for a special performance in game. It was the most amazing thing I've ever done.

That was in September. And it dawned on me that I was pouring so much of my creative energy into LOTRO and its lore and music that I barely had any left over for my writing.

Because, my friends, creative energy is not limitless. I think sometimes we tend to think it should be. After all, creativity is just this ephemeral thing. It's just ideas. But it's not just ideas. All those stupid people who are always asking authors where they get their ideas from are getting it wrong. EVERYONE has ideas. Every single person. People have ideas about all sorts of things all the time. But a writer, a story teller, is someone who takes an idea and makes something real out of it. We take a thought and make it into a story. We are craftsmen and artists and we have to apply massive amounts of energy to our work to make it into something concrete and lasting.

It takes a lot of work to write a story. And you have to be careful how you use your creative energy, because it can so easily be used up on things that are not as important. Like blogfests and challenges and fanfiction and role playing events and music that only exists in a virtual game world.

I've loved LOTRO and the people I've known there and the experiences I've had and the amazing things I've accomplished. I think that I've been a positive force there. I know I've given a lot of myself into that game. But I can't do both. I can't be Fionnuala the Minstrel and Sarah the Author. I don't have enough creative energy for both and I'm no longer afraid to admit that. I realized that I had to choose between them.

Farewell, Middle-earth
I will miss Fionnuala the Minstrel and I'll always be grateful for the time spent in that community. The people I met in LOTRO will probably never know how grateful I am to them for all the support and encouragement I've received over the past couple years from them. All the times when they complimented the stories I wrote about my characters and praised my music and were awed by my events. All of that is what gave me the confidence to finally, after so many years, consider taking writing seriously and make a real effort to become an author. I cannot thank them enough.

But it is time for me to focus on being Sarah the Author. There are so many stories in me. I want to tell them. I want to share them with the world. I want to finally do it. No more excuses. This is the future I want. I'm going to go make it happen.


  1. Good for you!
    I think you're right about the limits on our creativity. I've been dry of ideas for a few months, while I've poured a ton of energy into creative blogging.
    Fortunately, an idea has finally hit for my third book, so I can continue being a Ninja...

  2. Alex, my problem isn't being dry of ideas, it's my brain fizzling out when I sit down to turn the ideas into something less nebulous. Hopefully, I'll be able to fix that now!

  3. Eloquent title and post! Oh yeah...that brain fizzle thing...I've got it too. Best of luck with getting that spark back.

  4. I feel your pain. I used to play EQ2, so I know what's it like to have to give up something you love doing like taht because you need to be able to accomplish something else.

    Speaking of things with limitations: there was an interesting study done recently that concluded pretty definitively that willpower is finite. I'm sure creativity is the same way.

  5. Thanks, Nicole. I've been working on a new outline for my multi-book saga and it's really coming together this time.

    Andrew, that does sound interesting. I'd agree that it's finite. We're finite creatures, after all. But I do think that people generally have more willpower than they think they do.

  6. I used to write fanfic at an online site and had to stop too so I could focus on writing books. I'm sure you'll rediscover plenty of creative energy for your books!

  7. I hope you find the creative energy for your writing! It sounds like you've already started, though. :)

  8. hey Sarah...I was wondering what happened to you. PLEASE finish up, when you can. Use the prompts if you wish, to help jump start you. That is also what they are for.

    Also, I hope you remain part of the REN3 community: go to http://renthree.blogspot.com/ for all new info, voting, etc.

    Hope all is good now and your creative bug bites you in the tushy soon!!! :)

  9. Oh lovely! Even if your character's not there anymore, can other players still visit your house or hall or whatever and hear the music? DH plays the game (he's currently a Hobbit called Beets but he's got three or four other characters) and I'd love to hear your stuff.
    I agree though - creativity is not limitless. I've devoted so much time to editing and preparing to query and starting the sequel that I've barely knit a stitch in the last six months.

  10. Deniz, if you go to Youtube and do a search for, say, LOTRO+MVT, you'll find a ton of videos up of various concerts or RP performances we've done. Sound quality varies. Perhaps Sarah can post some more specific ones later when she's on.

  11. Thanks Brian, will go take a look! Er, listen.

  12. Hello there,
    I am just popping over from Alex's blog hop. I have been trying to do a few a day or when I get some free time. I'm sorry it's taken me a while to get around to you, it's just that there are so many phew!! So "hello" and great blog. I will pop by as often as I can. Good to "meet" you.
    Eve :)


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