I haven’t written any cooperative stories in a while now. Back when I was still on Improbable Island, I was writing there as often as I could manage. Which turned out to be almost every day. As I’ve mentioned before, it was a transformative experience.
Let me wax poetic a bit about it.
I wasn’t your typical Island denizen. Most folks are there for the community and some lighthearted fun. Some are there for some hardcore weirdness I won’t even attempt to explain. I was there to write stories. And I mean real ones, ones that made a difference. Left an impression.
I developed a reputation for it. Certain folks would steer clear of me because they just wanted some fun, not to have their heartstrings shredded.
And that’s really what I felt was the pinnacle of what I was doing. If I could make the person on the other end of the keyboard feel something from what we were writing, I considered it a high compliment. Hell, I made myself cry many times. Good shit, dude.
Of course, my reputation dwindled. People didn’t want what I was selling, so to speak. Fewer and fewer folks there wanted to write with me. I simply wasn’t able to do goofy fun things or sex things or whatever else they were interested in. I was in high drama mode and couldn’t find a way out of it. Nor did I want to, if I’m honest. The aphorism is true: I write what I know. And what I know is trauma, brutal and savage and occasionally beautiful.
There are a handful of stories that I participated in that I remember as being particularly poignant. I regard those as the pinnacle of what I wrote on the Island. I have them saved and I reread them and give a satisfied and sardonic smile to them. Good shit, dude.
I mention all of this because I’ve recently been expanding my audiobook collection. What’s the connection, you may ask. Well. Thanks to the trauma, I have long been unable to watch fiction on television or in the movies. I can’t take it. Something about the immersive nature of film and the tropes and devices that go with good storytelling (yes, the same stuff as I just mentioned as loving to write above) is unbearable to me. I see a new movie maybe once every three years. I have whole runs of TV shows on DVD that I simply cannot watch because they trigger me.
But it’s starting to bleed over into the audiobooks, now, too. A well-performed audiobook – even one I’ve read the print version of – can do to me what I used to do to the poor suckers on the Island. As someone once told me about my own writing: I’m getting all the feels. Quite often to the point where I have to stop listening to whatever it was that triggered me and go listen to something low-impact.
I can see why people stopped wanting to write with me. Tables turned, indeed.