Writing, creativity, and infection

I have always turned to my more creative pursuits when I get sick, burned out, or overwhelmed. This week was Teh Cold, lasting far too long, and so I have been thinking about little side projects I have simmering, including some fun fiction writing. I have managed to keep myself from actually writing anything for them, but reading them again spurred me to ask an old friend if he might be willing to take a look sometime and let me know what he thinks.

He responded with, among other kind things, “I will be watching your style for the happy influence of E. Nesbit :)” He knew me way back when, in my read-10- E. Nesbit-books-every-week days. When I first read his comment, I thought, oh, no, there’s nothing of Nesbit in these stories at all, more’s the pity.

But then I started reading E. Nesbit again this week and… well, it turns out those stories not only have shades of E. Nesbit, but  it was as though I was channeling her to the best of my unpracticed ability. It was definitely uncanny how much my stories reminded me of her books – and here I had no idea at all.

Which leads me to infection. I have this odd habit of getting infected by other writers’ styles. I read a whole lot of, say, Earnest Hemingway, and my writing is short, sharp. I read philosophical essays, and I start using long-winded prose with far too many metaphors – indeed, the terminology of ponderous conceptual thinking permeates my prose with periodic injections of contemplative serums. I’ve been trying to use that tendency to write better academic articles, but it’s slow going on that one. I read too much from too many different areas to become properly infected, perhaps.

Meanwhile, I’m working on the WoW quest, and trying to find the right language, style, and humor to fit within the WoW narrative. But for some reason I’m have a lot of trouble getting infected by WoW writing style.

It’s not that there’s not a lot of text. There is. Lots. Every quest has many words to read, often humorous ones, usually in the voice of a particular character, and somewhat loosely united by the WoW gestalt – or perhaps, its spielgeist. (Ask me later about that one – it’s my term for the spirit of the game.)

But somehow I can’t  get that vital infection from the quest narratives. Yes, S., it’s probably partly because I Don’t Read (who reads the quest? I mean, really), but I’ve been trying! Really I have!  I might have to go back and do more of the new content that’s been put in the leveling zones (which have really quite improved narratives, as well, IMHO). Meanwhile, maybe I’ll consider writing dialog that is inspired by E. Nesbit’s style…

This would likely be an ideal place to insert some pithy discussion of Lessig and the requirements of inspiration and imitation for true creativity, but, alas, I’m not quite sorted enough to wax on about such erudite topics, as I am still somewhat put out by this pesky cold. So I’ll leave that good work to you, dear reader, and move on to other pursuits, such as the noble pursuit of some healthful rest and much-needed tonics. Yes, I think a bit of chicken soup is just the thing.


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