Many thanks to everyone who attended my NaNoWriMo workshop in SL on Friday. In the end this turned into my longest talk/discussion on the subject yet, with almost everyone staying for 90 minutes to listen and ask questions. I really enjoyed it and would like to thank Harriet Gausman, proprietor of Milk Wood writers’ sim, for asking me to speak and for hosting NaNo in SL each year. Special thanks must also go to Caitlin Tobias who I asked to take a few pictures of the event, and who produced the stunning images seen on this page.
We’re now into the last few days before NaNo 2017 starts, which means beginning the mental preparation for the month to come and making sure the little things get done, such as remembering to actually register this year on the NaNo website. I’ve just this moment done my registration, and any of you who are curious can see my progress here.
This year, instead of writing a new novel from scratch, I will be attempting to finish the book I started last year, which is provisionally titled, “Once Upon a Time in Second Life.” Last year, I got 30,000 words done on this and I’ve added an extra 6,000 over the past ten months. I thought I would share here the first couple of paragraphs of that book. If you ask me nicely in the comments, I might just share a few more!
How do you get out of a relationship in Second Life without appearing to be the bad guy? This was the problem preoccupying Len USR. It isn’t an unknown predicament for plenty of men outside of the metaverse, let alone those within it. Let us consider the stereotypes they fear. The woman is vulnerable. The woman will break. The woman will cry. The woman will talk. The woman will be supported by other women, who also will talk. The woman will say, “You are just a typical man, no different from any other.” The woman will post memes on Facebook about being used or about the rarity of ‘real’ men the way they used to be made. Metrosexual my arse, other woman will say; no black-framed spectacles, no skinny jeans, no neatly-trimmed beard or casually shouldered man-bag makes guys like him any bit less a bastard out to dip as many women as he can. The woman, basically, will humiliate. That’s what it comes down to. I’m not saying this is what I believe, you understand, but this is what those men are scared of. That and the possibility that the things that get said to humiliate them might just actually be true.
Len met Swellen at a weekly dance event they both went to. His connection was that he attended a reading group held every other Thursday in the same venue (the proprietess, an ambitious resident of four years’ experience in SL, was an avid reader of mid twentieth century fiction); hers was a longstanding friendship with one of the DJs playing the five week rotation there. It wasn’t any sort of instant attraction. To begin with, Swellen thought that Len was a condescending idiot, always trying to belittle people through an endless parade of obscure cultural references. Brian Eno this. Stefan Zweig that. Ernő Goldfinger the other. Talk about insecure. And Len took the view that Swellen was one of those people always on the look-out for some sort of moral high-ground to stand upon. If there was a way in which self-righteous indignation could be introduced into a conversation, he decided, she would be the one to find it. They spent about five months subtly winding each other up in public chat like this before their poles got temporarily shifted by a homophobic griefer on the one night that the security guy with all the necessary banning privileges had taken an evening off. It’s always a slightly odd experience when someone you have previously taken an active disliking to becomes a fellow ‘teammate’ in a charged argument with an aggressive opponent; the cognitive dissonance created can be reduced to some degree by a private reappraisal of the other’s positive qualities previously considered insignificant alongside all the annoyances. You appreciate their good side a little bit more. Later, when the threatening force is removed and the situation is over, there then comes that awkward moment when you have to decide whether this means you are now friends. Everything hinges on those first few post-conflict comments. In Len and Swellen’s case, a triumphant, “I guess we showed him” remark from her got a ‘lol’ from him in reply. In the great grand scheme of internet affirmation it was hardly much more than a Facebook ‘like,’ but it was enough that she followed up with an appreciative comment on one of Len’s most witty ripostes earlier, and since Len was feeling himself pretty proud of that remark (it was a masterpiece, he thought privately, of composition, vocabulary and that often overlooked crucial element in any public, text-based conversation: timing) this got a ‘hahaha’ back. And the hahaha led to a twenty minute mutually appreciative battle debrief, including a glowing review from her on his performance for a latecomer who had missed the whole affair. And that led to an hour of slow dancing on a couples dance ball. And that led to two hours of sex back at her place. Everything gets speeded up in the metaverse.