The Hammer and Anvil of Creation

Think back to the last time you created something new.  How long ago was it?  Perhaps it was this morning when you made breakfast.  Perhaps you are lucky enough to have a job that requires creativity.  Or maybe you have not created anything of significance in a good long while.  The act of creation can be thrilling or terrifying.  On one hand, turning our ideas into reality feels good.  On the other hand, creation comes with the social risks of criticism and failure.

For many people, life is centered around the daily grind.  Repetitive, predictable, safe, the daily grind has its place in getting things done with a minimum of mental anguish.  When the grind gets too monotonous, we daydream, which kindles creativity and relieves our boredom.

I am a maker.  I seek the satisfaction of creating something with my own thoughts and fingers despite the risk of criticism.  In fact, I frame criticism as an essential element of feedback, which is simply information about what you have created.  Using feedback, you can decide if things are good enough or need to change in some respect.  Feedback is the hammer and anvil of creation.

For inspiration, I like to think big, and mythology offers a rich supply of big ideas.  Take Hephaestus, the Greek god of fire and volcanoes.  Taking a quick look at the pictures in this article, you will notice that the primary tools of this god are the hammer and anvil.  Together they induce feedback on some item of heated metal until it becomes something useful.

While looking for pictures of Hephaestus, I learned a few things.  This god was ugly.  His face was unshaven and dark with soot.  His chest and arms were huge, but his legs were weak and his foot crippled.  This is not the typical image of a god, yet his power was in his ability to create.  While he made many items for himself, he was also generous with his creations, giving them to the gods as well as to mortals.

Likewise, the act of creation is ugly.  Early results are lacking.  Feedback is required to know what to improve.  Once enough feedback is applied, the results can be enjoyed by many.

Since launching StoryTime, a dozen people have played The Mission.  A handful have given feedback, and I have read every word.  Thank you for sharing your thoughts.  Those are ideas I need to shape my plans.

Obviously, this is early days for the game, and things are still quite ugly.  For one, there are no pictures, aside from my mugshot on the Library page.  For another, the game is still a bit rough, without enough detail to ensure that most understand what is going on.  (Hmm, what are the Golden Bars, by the way?)  Also, the game is quite short, and there’s only one to play.

So why would I release a product that still needs so much work?  Since you have read this far, you already know the answer.  Releasing gave me a chance to collect feedback.  Now, not only do I have a sample of opinions about the game, I also have information about the paths people chose through the game, and how long people spent playing.  Also the most critical feedback was whether anyone would bother to play at all.  So far so good.

Here’s a bit of fun to look forward to.  In the coming months, I will be adding a Writing Desk that will allow people to create and contribute their own choose-your-destiny stories.  I am also working on ways to add pictures.

Do you enjoy creative writing?  Are you an illustrator?  Leave a comment, or sign up for the Insiders Newsletter.  I will be looking for beta testers soon, and you will want to be in the loop.

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