Books and Quotes

“Every day for seventy years.” – Ray Bradbury on how frequently he wrote.

I just finished Fahrenheit 451 today and it amazes me how well it holds up over 50 years after it was initially published. Since returning to Canada and touching down in Toronto I’ve read four slim books, and one free RPG. The only modern book was The Hunger Games which I picked up for the flight from Saigon to Toronto.

There is something to be said for brevity that seems to be lacking from a great many aspects of life. As life gets quicker and quicker and people are nearly run over by cars due to staring at their smart phones, movies are getting longer, people download their favourite shows to watch on the subway, earbuds add another level of obscurity, dangling microphones mean I can’t discern someone having a conversation and someone talking to the voices in their head.
(I saw both today – the older man talking to voices seemed more interesting.)

Between Bradbury and Roger Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber, plus playtesting Soft Horizon with Brad, I feel like my creativity might finally be forcing itself back to the surface of my mind. I won’t lie, I’ve drifted a lot in the past… well… to be honest… decade. Trying to find that niche that fits me. I think the reality and necessity is I should carve that niche.

Life in The Annex illuminates in odd ways. I could be grousing about a bad couple of days but for some reason these series of minor setbacks almost threw off a veil or stuck a spark to motivate me. Now I need to keep that motion going, not necessarily forward but around and in loops and on tangents and with digressions and regressions and obsessions.

I’ve likely never told my brother this, and I possibly never will, I know he’ll never read this. He never was a reader and now with a wife and three kids and being a workaholic his downtime is not about to be spent reading my meandering missives. I admire and idolize and am envious of him, his work ethic shames me. Throughout my life I’ve managed to skate by on intellect and wit and a certain amount of charm. He just worked. And worked. And worked some more.

I adventure, carouse, daydream. He put in more than a honest day’s effort.
Incidentally, he and I are way communism never works in practice; he’d go toil in the fields all day and I’d laze under a tree staring at clouds, at dinner we’d both get the same share. That doesn’t quite seem fair does it?

As the first five chapters of Nine Princes in Amber expanded the scope of my creative ambition, so too did Bradbury’s frightening insight into the insanity of censorship. When firemen become the book-arsonists and knowledge destroyed in the name of ‘culture’, then the world needs a sharp slap of a wake up call.

The thing that resonated most from the book is how Bradbury wove fire into the pages as an integral character. This clashed heavily with the other book I picked up, based on a game I used to play called BattleTech. A popular series in the 90s, they landed some decent writers (I doubt the works would stand up for me today) but then franchised things out to lesser scribblers. This book reeked of mediocrity. In one paragraph the authour used ‘fire’ four times. FOUR. There are so many great words for fire, to compliment and enhance it.

I hate lazy writing.

I read that, then I read Fahrenheit 451. Guess which one stoked the flames of creativity? Reignited the embers of ambition? Singed off the lingering ashes of complacency?
(See how hard that wasn’t?)

I read a brief free RPG, Cosmic Patrol. It is essentially Fate using standard dice. What I took from it was… I understood the mechanics and looked at it not from a gamer’s point as much as from a designer’s point. I saw the strengths, the influence and the weakness. There are two new mechanics that makes me want to play with with Brad, so we can strip out the good bits and see if they fit on Soft Horizon.

Then, as I sat on a field at the University of Toronto, watching various games of women’s touch football, pick-up soccer and softball, I realized what I need to do to investigate the RPG idea kicking around in my head. It walked in, almost fully formed. I don’t know where it will go, but according to Ray Bradbury, that’s not a bad thing.

“…I just let them speak. I don’t control them; I simply give them a podium and let them talk to me. All my good stories are told to me by the characters. I don’t write my stories. They write me.”

It’s time to throw of the ropes and steer into the wind, catch the current and find out what tales there are to be heard.
(And then repeated.)


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