Did you know that The First Big Adventure of Tommy Twist originally included video games? When I began writing the book I had this crazy idea that kids who were interested in games might start reading more if I catered to their interests. It helped that I was a pretty decent programmer and knew a little about 3D modeling. The idea was that children could read about Tommy’s adventures and “help” him along the way.
That is also what contributed to a real schism in my writing confidence.
After the games and the first draft were mostly complete I began putting them “out there” for others to see. At one particular writers conference some “important people” took an interest in what I had. I was told that “the writing certainly needed work” and that “we needed to determine the best way to package the games with the book.” This led to some testing. Over and over again, I found that, for the most part, the video games were the center of attention. The most common question I was asked was, “how do you solve the first game?” I always replied with, “the answer is right there in the book.”
I quickly discovered that books and computer games don’t mix. Books are (nearly) timeless. You can pick one up that was written a hundred years ago and still read it. Video games are not. Technology was moving so fast that the games quickly outdated and required constant updating to be played on new platforms and operating systems as they came out. It would have taken so much of my ongoing time and attention that writing my next story would have been nothing more than a pipe dream.
So that’s where my fear comes from – that the only thing noteworthy about my writing is that I can make flashy, user-interactive content from it. I’m reminded of a line from The Adventures of Lois and Clark. Lois had finally seen through Clark’s “masterful” disguise and he went on to explain to her that, “Superman is what I can do, Clark is who I am.” I felt the same way. The video games were what I could do, but the writing is who I am. I’m sure Clark often felt overshadowed as well.