When I was thirteen or fourteen I started writing a book. I finished in when I was 20. Right in the middle, you can see where The Depression started. Since then I’ve had a handful of short stories and essays published in actual magazines, I’ve written audio dramas, advertisements, reviews, scholarly articles, non-scholarly articles, put out 6 visual novels, and written for a couple of other games.
Next month I’m doing NaNoWriMo for the first time, and I’m freaking terrified.
“But you’ve written a 20k word game in two weeks while programming as you go! Surely you can do 50k-80k in a month with a little extra push.” Yeah, not the same.
Interactive fiction is permissible and permeable, its possibilities expanding ever outward. You can avoid making some of the smaller decisions in favor of the big ones. Don’t know how a scene should go? Leave it in the hands of the readers. Yes, you have to watch those stories weave and weft between each other, but they’re almost compartmentalized, creatures unto themselves that makes the overall length of the whole particularly bearable.
Then there’s the inexplicable smallness of visual novels. How, despite their grand background schemes, they’re human stories. Tiny tales between individual people that build themselves into castle strongholds for our human desires for connection. There’s no need for pastoral sweeps across abstract landscapes or indelicate musings on the physical nature of these terrible bodies we’re forced to inhabit. The language of the visual novel is conversation and emotion and action. Where purple prose can bloom into impassioned confessions and scintillating embraces. It’s a medium where words can skip delicately across the water because they don’t have to carry the entire weight of the story on their shoulders. They can pair-bond with shape and color to bear something more beautiful than either could produce on their own should you expertly craft them to do so.
So writing them feels like a conversation with friends. A story told around a fire, laced with rum and innuendo. It’s delight and destruction all at once, giggles and guttings.
And I don’t know if I can do that with a traditional book. If I can capture that all-too-specific spark. If I can drag a story through a single character. If I can make her decisions carry weight if she’s the only making them. Can I push myself to fill those deadly 80 thousand words.
Filled with such dread, why do I dare to do NaNoWriMo?
Because I’m freaking terrified.