Lunchtime Poll #6: The Great American Novel

I had lunch with Narrative Guy (whom some of you may remember from a previous Lunchtime Poll) a few days ago, and he posed the question “Why are people who are role-playing for the creativity of it not writing novels instead?” Good question, I thought.

There are two major reasons, I think.

First, gaming is an inherently social activity, while writing a novel is usually a solitary one. Yes, a writer can be in a crit group or collaborate with another writer, but most of the time it’s just one person sitting at a keyboard typing.

Second, writing a novel is hard work. Really hard. My best friend for the past several years is a literary agent, and thanks to her I’ve learned a lot about writing (and publishing) and met plenty of writers. This has given me more insight into the whole process, and a heck of a lot of respect for those people who can sit down and write an entire book (and one that isn’t a piece of crap). It’s a demanding calling that requires a whole host of different skills to do right, and those writers who are actually good have dedicated countless hours to honing their craft. In my opinion, asking someone who likes RPGs for the creativity involved why they aren’t just writing novels is akin to asking someone who enjoys riding their bike down to the corner store why they don’t just join the Tour de France.