Why I Write Reason 11: To Have Something To Show for My Time

Long ago and far away, I read an article or an interview about the Wild Cards series. If you’re not familiar, Wild Cards is a shared-world superhero/science fiction setting. A wide range of authors contributed short stories and novels to the canon. It came about when a group of authors in New Mexico, including George R.R. Martin, were playing a game called Superworld. They invented their own superhero mythology, created all sorts of strange characters, put a lot detail into it. At some point they realized they were spending more time on this superhero roleplaying game than on the writing they hoped to get paid for. That’s when the idea to publish the first anthology of stories set in that universe came about.

I’ve been a tabletop roleplaying game aficionado since high school. There have been games that I have gotten enthusiastic about. I’ve put time and effort into creating all sorts of elements for those games. I have written full campaigns for games that I was not even running, was not planning to run, and have never run. If you have a fully-functional life and it’s a healthy pastime, that’s fine. If it becomes an obsession and keeps you from doing other constructive things, it’s a problem.

When I read the Wild Cards article, I was not happy with my life and I wanted something more to show for it. I did have binders full of ready-to-run campaigns and worlds that I had created and all sorts of fun stuff. That’s not what I needed at that point in my life. That was not a career. That was not accomplishing any life goals. It was not paying my rent. So I shifted that energy into things that had the potential to land me a job.

I write because I want to be able to show that I have accomplished something. The books that I have read have brought me immense amounts of joy over the decades. The same can be said for movies that I have watched, and games that I have played. But they are not a body of work. They are not a legacy. They are not an accomplishment. I need to have something that demonstrates I did more with my life than waste time being entertained.

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