“Creativity is a continual surprise.”
Ray Bradbury

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Virtually typing at the Milk Wood Market
Memoirs From Second Life: Typewriters Rattling In The Woods
Sat 2009-09-05 14:33:08 (in context)

I was tired yesterday. I'd started the day early, and after getting back from the Boulder Municipal Airport, I was not, Enn Oh Tee Not intending to leave the house again. I was done. I'd had a lot of stress and dread leading up to that day (for all that flight instructors repeatedly assure me that a biannual flight review is nothing to stress over), and, having walked away from the appointment with a brand-new endorsement at the cost of a slightly bruised ego (stupid power-on stalls, stupid left-turning tendencies, stupid turn coordinator ball making me look stupid) I wasn't planning on doing anything resembling work for the rest of the day.

Writing dates? Not hardly. I had a date for a face-plant into my pillow, thanks.

I fired up Second Life over a late lunch, figuring I'd play some mindless clicky games at my favorite arcade/casino spots until I was ready to collapse. Which was when I got the Writers Guild group notice about the Milk Wood Writers' Meet.

"Hope you can join us for an hour (or so) of focused writing. Bring your WIPs or start a new one. Join us and create something!"

And I thought, oh, what the hell. I haven't done my Morning Pages today; I should at least do that. So I teleported to the attached location and pulled my notebook and pen out of my bag.

The Milk Wood is a lovely forest scene, as you might expect, with trickling streams and crashing surf and swaying tree branches and birds that sing and fly in and out of sight. The Market, or Gypsy Camp, is a forest clearing between a small bridge and a big furnished caravan wagon.

In this clearing are several picnic benches. On each picnic bench is a candle, a stack of books, an apple, and a typewriter. Each object is scripted. You can light the candle, view the writing goals attached to the apple, and I forget what with the books.

The typewriter animates your avatar, of course.

And the effect is oddly compelling. Watching my avatar banging away at the keyboard, listening to the tap-tappity-tap-kaching!-tappity-tap-tap noises coming out of the computer speakers, I'm all, "Well, I might as well be writing too, mightn't I?" And it's not just Kavella Maa's typing that I'm hearing; the typing of other attendees is clearly audible as a series of separate tappity-taps. The space I'm sharing with other writers-in-action may not be physical, but it's absolutely real. It consecrates the hour and charges it with energy for the task. The other writers may in fact be puttering around the kitchen or visiting the bathroom, but from where I'm sitting, they look hard at work, and it gives me that added push to get my own work done.

As with most things Second Life, this simulation isn't meant to replace doing such things in person. But when local friends aren't available, when I don't have the energy to head out to a nearby cafe, or when I'm just craving the company of this particular group, this is a strangely satisfying version of Going On A Writing Date.

It's 1pm SLT on Mondays and Fridays. They are thinking of adding Wednesdays as well. Don't forget to tip your host. And if you're in the Boulder NaNoWriMo group, you will be hearing more about this on the forums come October.