I am a fairly active player in World of Warcraft. Hard core gamers would call me 'casual,' with a sneer, but my non-gaming friends think I'm obsessed. I am a druid healer and my husband is a rogue dps -- together we keep Azeroth safe from demons and such. WoW is probably one of my biggest obstacles to meeting my self-imposed writing deadlines. Sigh.
Early on in my WoW history, I overdosed on the game and started dreaming in WoW graphics, and imagining that I could do a backflip as a ran jauntily along (the same thing happened years ago with Tetris, but I digress). I also pictured health bars over peoples heads. This idea stuck with me then and has recently been unearthed, unintentionally, by Roland.
In a recent blog, he focused on how everyone should care about making the world we live in a better place. Reach out and make a difference. Empathy versus Apathy.
I play on PvE server (player versus the environment - where the focus is questing and bettering your character, often working in teams). Many players prefer PvP (player versus player, where no one is safe and an enemy player may just hang out next to your character's corpse all day, killing you every time your resurrect). PvP players call PvE players 'care bears.' For me, it's true. As I take flight form and head to the next dungeon, I will stop if I see a player in distress. As a healer, I will bring his health up to max and give him a buff that increases his armor. I'm a care bear. It helps that players have a little icon above their heads that show their health level.
You following me? Good. Because here is where it becomes relevant.
In today's culture, when someone asks you how you are, the trained response is 'fine.' Unless it's your closest friend, you would not tell them you are stressed because you don't know if you can pay the mortgage or grieving because your friend just died. And, just as it would seem inappropriate to share the negative, you also wouldn't tell them that you're great because you just lost five pounds or that your relieved because you just found out you still have a job for the next school year. People, generally, don't care. It's not because they're all jerks, but our culture is so anonymous that people don't understand how to react when someone allows it to be personal.
Wouldn't it be amazing if we all had health bars above our heads, then the people who actually care and want to help would see our distress. I would be able to tell that my colleague's health is low even though she's putting on a strong front, and give her the help she needs. But why stop at health? As a druid, I have a bar for mana (which is my magical powers, but it comes from spirit). If my mana is low, maybe a well-meaning friend could give me a hug. My husband's warrior has a rage bar -- and, while good for fighting in game, if someone's rage is that high, they need time to calm down. I know, it's all silly, but the sentiment is there. If our fellow humans knew how each action of theirs added to the suffering or well-being of their peers, the world would be a better place.
Now the question: What does any of this have to do with the profession of writing?
Well, why are we writing? Fame and fortune? Yeah, I'm not holding my breath. Because we have a story to tell? Maybe. But then why do we care to share that story and why would anyone care to read it? I think every writer hopes our stories will reach someone. Make a difference. I focus so much on making my main characters relatable and real -- not because I am an artist but because I'm a human. As a writer of romance, I promise a happily-ever-after. Isn't that what everyone wants? Maybe reading my story will add to the reader's sense of optimism. Maybe they'll relate to my heroine and gain hope. Who knows? Either way, I look on writing as a way of reaching out to humanity. And, altruism aside, I love to write so it increases my health and spirit. :)
Why do you write?