Harvest Moon: A Writer’s Life

Got my coffee ready. Maybe the blog needs a theme song too. Anyway, today I return to a subject near and dear to my lazy heart: comparing videogames to the life of a writer.

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From LOL Cats

Oh, yes I did. Hey, some people dissect Proust; I talk about Pokémon and Harvest Moon. But don’t worry. This is the last post of this ilk. Had to get it out of my system. If you clean your room and eat all your vegetables, there may be time for a little Proust quote at the end. Not promising anything, y’understand.

First, a little housekeeping. The previous post began a great discussion on process with the fabulous Laura Sibson. Some of you (Will in particular) have asked whether or not there will be more posts where a writer discusses his or her process. The answer is yes, so please stay tuned! I have a nice lineup of writers eager to talk about writing and their path to publication. Perhaps you’ll share your process as well.

On with the show. Let me start by saying this: I don’t have children. Probably more than you wanted to know about me. But there are children in my life—nieces, nephews, children of friends who are like family, kids in Sunday school who demand Goldfish crackers, because they caaaaaaaaaan’t maaaaaaaaaake it until lunch. So when kids offer book or game suggestions to me, I take them seriously, because they’re . . . well . . . kids, and I write for kids. Knowing what they like is a good thing. Sure, their frontal lobes are still developing, and some think SHRIEKING IS THE ONLY WAY TO BE HEARD. But I listen to them.

Several told me about the Harvest Moon series of games by Natsume for the Nintendo DS. I started with Harvest Moon Cute, where your avatar is a girl, but you can play the original game as a boy.

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If you’ve never played one of these games, the basic premise involves planting crops, raising animals (cows, chickens, sheep) and then finding that significant someone to raise a family. Trust me, the conversations I’ve had with kids (“I’m going to have a baby in a week, but I’ve still got crops to harvest. How ’bout you?”) only sound weird if you’re not playing the game.

There are variations, depending on the game. Some include finding harvest sprites, raising sunken islands, and mining for gold and other precious metals in order to raise money to buy more animals or seeds for crops. You also need money, because to win over that certain someone, you have to keep giving him things to make him like you. And the crop of eligible bachelors (or bachelorettes) include a thief (the silver-haired Skye below), somewhat hostile loners (looking at you, Marlin), and others who are Just. Not. That. Into. You. Sounds like a page out of my life.

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2215536Hey, Skye! You’ve already robbed a house. What’re you gonna do next??

So comparing a writer’s world to the world of Harvest Moon seems a given. Planting crops—draft phase. You take the seed of your idea, water it with words, and continue to cultivate. (For a great post on gardening and the writer, go here.) Mining for gold—revision phase, where you search for what’s precious and toss out the dross. Thankfully, in real life, you aren’t subject to attack by dark creatures (wild-eyed chickens and aggressive sheep and cows) like those lurking in the mines. Wait. You are. The dark creatures are discouragement and fear. (And for great posts on fear, check here and here.)

But what about the other aspects that crowd your day in the game? That’s easy. They represent all of the balls a writer has to juggle daily—deadlines, relationships, housework, day jobs, world domination. The game’s ticking clock is a constant reminder of the “gotta get this done” drumbeat in our heads.

The ones you want to woo? Well, they’re your inner editor, beta readers, agents, publishers, and, ultimately, readers of your published work—those whose hearts you must win. So what do you give them? Everything you’ve got.

Well, you’ve been good, so here’s a bit of Proust to end this:

Only through art can we get outside of ourselves and know another’s view of the universe. Marcel Proust

Happy now?

Harvest Moon images from Polyvore.com and Nintendoblast.com