Yes! The Liebster rolls around again! I’m happy and honored to be nominated by peatock/losebetter! His intriguing legacy starts midway through the generations, which adds the charm of a fully and organically developed backstory by the time we meet our first characters. I’m really enjoying his story–and his artwork is delicious! If you haven’t visited The Velasco Legacy yet, check it out!
Here are peatock’s questions:
- let’s get right into it: why do you do it? what draws you to writing simlit, however you write it? do you have other creative projects? if so, how does writing simlit differ from those in a way you enjoy enough to balance it?
The why: Comes a time for me when it’s more inconvenient, distracting, and itchy NOT to write a SimLit story than to write it, and the reason I write is so as not to be inconvenienced, distracted and itched by the not-writing. I really do try to practice restraint, especially this past year, because I am busy (busier at some times than others) and I do have a lot of other creative projects. But when three-quarters of my mind gets tied up in a SimLit story that’s waiting to be written, then I’ll write.
I suppose the deeper why is that Simming and writing SimLit provide me with an effective tool to process themes or questions. I’m beginning a Murkland Starter Challenge, and the ostensible reason for writing it is to process my questions about living in a world with a breaking-apart jet stream, melting polar caps, and increasing magnetization of the earth’s atmosphere. Then, all these other themes, like multiple universes, cross-incarnation communication, and dream/reality tensions are starting to come up, so I guess I’m wanting to explore them.
The real reason is because it’s fun, which to me means “stimulating, satisfying, engaging, and rewarding.”
I do have loads of other creative projects: I play cello and piano, I cook, I garden, I practice yoga, I sometimes draw and am likely about to return to it, I teach, and I’m a web-editor. I suppose all of life is creative!
So how does SimLit differ from my other creative activities or balance them? It’s quite different from music, and I often use my cello practice sessions to settle into the next chapter I’ll be writing. I’ll often review the themes or goals of the upcoming chapter before I practice, then while I play Bach, the direction of the new chapter begins to reveal itself. Like music, cooking, gardening, yoga, and drawing happen in the physical realm, with actual concrete matter, so they’re a nice grounding balance to the virtual and electronic aspect of Simming and writing SimLit.
My teaching and web-editor activities are both so closely related to writing SimLit that when they are demanding, it’s challenging to find balance. This past year, with developing a new online writing class and overseeing a huge web-migration project, writing SimLit has had to take a backseat. Fortunately, the new class begins in a few days, and we launch the new websites this week, so I’m foreseeing all sorts of creative energy being freed up to return to my SimLit projects!
- how long have you been writing simlit? what originally piqued your interest about the medium?
I’ve been writing earnestly since September 2014, with TS4’s release.
Before then, I had a few false starts. I started on the Exchange back in TS2, but it was so laggy and cumbersome to upload pictures and input text that I abandoned it. Plus, I was addicted to playing TS2, and anything that came between me and playtime was a bother. In TS3, I posted a few legacies on the forums–but they got removed, I guess because of adult content or someone objected, which is pretty funny, seeing as I write mostly scandal-less work. But Tiger, the gen 2 legacy heir, was the love-child of my SimSelf and (a married) D’Andre Wolffe, so maybe that was a bit much for some readers?
What piqued my interest were candi020765’s and ephemeraltoast’s stories back in the TS2 days. I stole a lot of hours from other projects reading those stories! They were magic to me.
- you’ve all written a LOT, and in a short time. what motivates you to get up and do it as often as you do? if you get writer’s block, how do you work through it?
With Goofy Love, I made the goal of keeping the writing in sync with the game-play. So I’d play in the evening, and write the next morning. At first, I was writing so I could play. Then, I started to fall in love with the act of writing–it felt good! And I would play so I could write!
I think I must have had a back-log of stories I wanted to write. I also, up until fall 2016, had the creative energy to write. Both of my jobs were in stable and undemanding phases, so I had a lot of daydream time, and SimLit fit into this perfectly. I could play one evening and let the story reveal itself; I could continue weaving the story during light-weight office work the next day, and then I could write the story that evening. It was a fun and immersive cycle.
That all changed this year when I got two big work projects, one for each job. Without the free hours for daydreaming, and with having to direct so much creative and organizational energy into my work projects, my writing really slowed down. I’m still happy with what I produced, though! I’ll probably keep the slow pace for a while and aim at steady updates, rather than the rather cyclonic pace I wrote at for the first two years.
Oh, but what motivates me? That itch. That funny feeling in the brain that there’s something I need to explore.
I don’t really get writer’s block because I feel pretty in-tune with my creative cycles and creative energy, so when I notice that it needs to flow or be directed elsewhere, I just go with that. I do take a lot of breaks from stories and start new ones when I need to, so that keeps writer’s block at bay. Often, for me at least, the feeling of “writer’s block” really just signals that I need more time for ideas to steep. The brew’s not ready yet. I always know that if a story really wants to be written, it’ll keep itching me until I write it.
- whether you’re writing game-driven or plot-driven simlit, sometimes the characters get finicky, and don’t always do what you expect. who’s one sim from your story or stories who has surprised you? either with how much you love them, what reader response has been, or how they’ve developed over time?
Without a doubt, it’s Sugar Maple Bough. I won’t spoil it because I don’t think you’re yet at her amazing acts of self-determination–and how she spreads her radical call to other Sims. But let me just say that she blew my mind. She blew it so much, in fact, that I’ve sort of separated that whole experience from my memory of my Simming life. It didn’t really happen that way, did it? It’s myth.
But actually, it did happen that way, and Sugar changed my understanding of what a Sim is and what Sims are capable of.
Sugar still blows me away whenever I see her in game. She simply shines. She’s not a show-off, like some super-smart Sims are. And she’s not stubborn. She’s simply aware.
- how much does setting factor into your story? this can mean set building, or simply the space(s) your sims occupy. do you find you have an idea of the space’s “personality” and how it develops the same way you do your sims?
Setting factors into my story and game a lot! I’ll often choose which game to play based on which world (save) I want to visit. And each seems to be integrated with the themes that develop in the story which comes from that save.
I definitely do have a feel for each setting’s personality, mood, and tone, and it affects both the game-play and the story.
I’m really enjoying the Murkland Starter Challenge right now because the world that Brennachan created for it is so funny, charming, quirky, and vibrant. And the game’s engine picked right up on that and has been creating Townies to match.
- if you had to assign yourself three traits like we do our sims, which ones would they be, and why? do you think others would assign the same traits to you?
I’ve got tons of Sim traits! Goofball, glutton, good, active and lazy (both), creative, art-lover, music-lover, vegetarian, loner, cheerful, bookworm… But to narrow it to three, these three seem to result in SimSelves most like me: Loves Outdoors, Creative, Goofball
I think others would probably assign those traits to me… if there was a “weird, eccentric, quirky” trait, I have a suspicion that many members of the SimLit community would assign that to me. But I honestly don’t think I’m weirder, more eccentric, or quirkier than your average random game-generated Townie!
- another in that vein: if you had skill levels the way sims do, which skill do you think you would max out first? Oddly enough, logic. I’m not a chess-player (though I’ve lived all my adult life with one!), but when I took the GREs back in my early 30’s, my logic score was my highest. I wish I’d max out something musical, but though I’ve been playing cello for seven years and piano nearly all my life, I’m only at about level 6 and 7-8, respectively, for those skills.
- the sims is a storytelling platform – but it’s also a game! c: what other games are you drawn to, or what genre? what’s one you’ve played recently and enjoyed?
Last summer, I was quite addicted to Lumosity’s train-track game and their barista game!
Since I got busy with work, I haven’t really played a lot of other games. Since I miss my Sims, I’m not ready for other games yet, but when I do play more, I’ll probably go back to Lumosity because I love mind-training games. I just love puzzles and the way my brain feels after a good work-out!
- i know these can be fighting words, but i have to ask: what potential functionalities of the game in the future are you most excited about, from a storytelling perspective?
I really, really, really want pets! And weather. And university! From a storytelling perspective, pets interests me most because I want to do a mastressalita and write a story from a four-legged’s perspective. I want to play a dog legacy. 🙂
- what’s one game mod or piece of custom content you love, and why? if you don’t play with mods/CC, why not? do you think your experience has been different to people who broaden the game with mods/CC? I must play with MCCC because it allows for no Sims getting culled! While I was playing the legacy, I was modless for legacy compliance, and culling was heartbreaking, especially when my founder and all the legacy ghosts got culled. For a while, a few of us were trying to develop a play-style that prevented or at least limited culling. But having MCCC removed that need and opened up the game in all sorts of beautiful ways!
- in honor of pride month! ❤ do you have any LGBT/queer sims in your stories? if you do, share some information about them – what are they like, and why do you like them? how does their queerness factor into who they are and how you play the game/tell their story?
I have lots! I play in a “true-love” style, which means that the only romances that happen in the game happen autonomously or through whim-fulfillment. (Of course, MCCC is a match-maker, too.)
One of my favorite couples was my first lesbian couple in-game, Manzanita and her beautiful wife, Eleanor. I’d had a really hard time finding anyone that Manzanita liked–she kept fighting with all the guys who showed an interest in her. And then, when I noticed the way she and Eleanor looked at each other and when I watched their body language and the physical space around them, I lightened up the control, gave Manzy lots of free reign when El was a round, and soon enough, while dancing together at that spot on Cradle Rock where all the generations dance, they fell in love.
Because I let the Sims choose their romantic involvement, and probably because I’m an ace, myself, I have a lot of ace Sims. I also have a lot of Sims with nontraditional gender expression–I think this, too, is partly reflective of my personal style and partly reflective of the nature of the game.
I’m not really sure how my Sims’ queerness factors in to how I tell the story. For the most part, I present their sexual orientation and gender expression as an integral part of who they are, something which I accept as part of them. If they seem to accept that aspect of themselves–and if those around them do, too–then in the story, it’s simply (or complexly) integrated into their identity. When they seem to question or resist who they are–or when those around them do–this becomes part of the story, too.
This resistance was part of the tension with Mesquite and Paris, back in Gen 2 of Goofy Love. Their body language, physical proximity, and conversations often pointed towards attraction between them. But neither wanted to act on this and both became involved in rather unusual heterosexual relationships. I was still feeling my way through understanding Sims when I was writing that part, so I didn’t make much of it in the story, but when I think back on Mesquite and Paris, their denial of their attraction to each other forms a central part of their stories, to me.
peatock, thanks so much for these questions and for the nomination! I’ve received another nomination, so I’ll wait until after I accept it to make my nominations. Stay tuned! 🙂