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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lack of Creativity

This is Steven Petrick posting.

One of my continuing problems here at Amarillo Design Bureau is that I am in a job that requires some amount of creativity, but (as you readers are no doubt aware) I am not myself a very creative person.

I watch Stephen Cole whip out new ideas on the spur of the moment, creating new things in whole cloth, and how he does it is completely beyond me.

Anything I do is little more than building on what someone else has done. I have my moments when I take some pride in something, but I am quite aware of how ultimately feeble and derivative my efforts are.

A lot of scenario backgrounds I create (and in some cases, the scenario backgrounds others submit that I then "re-imagine") grow from both my own knowledge of history and the game's history. Some of those I am quite pleased with even though they are derivative. It is all, however, just mechanical writing, not "imaginative" like what Stephen Cole does.

Even the "monster" articles I do for Captain's Log are essentially derivative. (I did not create the monster . . . well, I sort of created "The Moray Eel of Space," but you should talk to Stephen Cole about how difficult it was for him to drag that monster out of me.) I am taking a monster created by someone else, and trying to add more to its background consistent with what has already been published to come up with something "new and interesting." I try very hard to keep some difference between them as to why they are not hunted down and killed.

Not being creative, I am often amazed by the creativity of some of our players, who send us interesting submissions and ideas for things. Sometimes the real problem is to try to control their creativity (creative people, I have been told, tend to be more chaotic than disciplined, but there are exceptions to that rule).

So if you see something I have written, please accept that if it was not simply editing (like most of the battle group articles), that it was very, very hard for me to do (like creating a background for a ship in a shipyard report in Captain's Log). It can take me hours to create a a few ship backgrounds, and in the same space Stephen Cole can have written a short story.

And that is one of the reasons I am always so impressed with anyone who takes the chance to write fiction, because it is so far outside of my own capability. I think I can come up with plots that might be of interest to people, but it is utterly beyond me to create characters and breathe a life into them that will come across the page.