"I succeeded in completing NaNoWriMo and I have no doubt whatsoever that it was due to the possibility of being immersed in SL!"
Lizzie Gudkov: The first avatar I created was back in 2007. In 2008, I created Lizzie who is now my main avatar and my Second Life (SL) identity.
CR: When did Second Life® become important to your creative writing? (Was it something that happened immediately after starting using this virtual world? Or did you have to wait a few months, maybe even years, before incorporating SL into your writing routine?)
LG: Back in 2009, I took part in a Poetry Quest and I ended up winning it! Participants were instructed to go to the organizer's SIM every day for 30 days and collect a task card. In the notecard, the organizer explained which type of poetry we were expected to write and the SIM we should visit to draw inspiration from. I believe this was the very first time I realized how big an impact SL could have on my stories.
Then life happened! I dropped my writing for about 3 years, but continued to enjoy SL, developing other activities unrelated to writing.
In 2012, I came across Crap Mariner's weekly writing challenge and started taking part I it regularly. It was clear to me though that writing once a week was simply not enough.
The Virtual Writer's Inc. daily prompts then became the perfect opportunity to write more often. I couldn't be in-world at the time of the daily write-ins, but I did write something offline every day for more than a year, mostly very short-fiction.
It was also in 2012 that I opened my blog, a virtual off-world office. However, it was not only a workplace, my blog also made me visible and many people started noticing and enjoying my stories.
In 2013, I was invited to become a resident writer for iRez, a website that deals with matters related to Identity and Virtuality. It was then that I decided to write longer pieces. It was time for a few short-stories.
This year, I was invited to become a guest writer for the Virtual Writers Inc.; I have a monthly column there especially for writers called "A Story Waiting to Happen".
So, as you can see, it was a process that lasted a few years!
CR: Tell us a bit about what you do in Second Life®, as a writer: do you write in-world, attend events, maybe host some of them, do you mentor other writers?
LG: As a writer in SL, I do a bit of all the activities you've mentioned.
Last year during the NaNoWriMo, I hosted a scrimmage on Twitter for the Virtual Writers and attended the write-ins at Milk Wood. I succeeded in completing NaNoWriMo and I have no doubt whatsoever that it was due to the possibility of being immersed in SL!
Now I'm especially fond of the 500 Word Writing Challenge I host Saturdays, noon SLT (8pm Lisbon time), at the Milk Wood SIM, home of the Virtual Writers Inc. group. The aim of this event is to write 500 words in 30 minutes. A prompt is provided if the participants need one to trigger ideas, but using it is not compulsory.
Getting work done on the story we are creating, writing something new, revising, blogging, anything goes. The time limit and word count add a bit of pressure so that we stop procrastinating, something writers are very good at!
I have been a mentor for new residents in SL, officially and now informally, for many years. As a result, one of the most important aspects of hosting a write-in for me is to provide the support and encouragement, the tools and the opportunity for writers to grow in their trade.
I was recently very happy to see the enthusiasm and commitment of a new writer who went from writing drabbles (100 words) to achieving the 500-word mark in half an hour! A word of praise and/or a constructive suggestion in the right moment can do wonders!
CR: Is there any SIM/virtual island/region that you find particularly inspirational, the kind of place every writer should visit?
LG: I found many examples of inspirational SIMs in SL. It's impossible to choose one. For my column "A Story Waiting to Happen", I visit a different SIM every month and drop ideas for writers to use as inspiration for their own stories. So, I invite you to check my suggestions there and visit one of those locations. They are all impressive!
CR: In what ways do you find Second Life® helpful for someone interested in writing?
LG: I think it's particularly helpful to be immersed in a context that might trigger an array of varied options writers can then choose from (ambiance, sounds, colors, objects, movement even).
Before SL, I was collecting clippings from newspapers, magazines, postcards, online sites and old photos of people, anything I could get my hands on. We all still do that. But walking throughout a SIM, sitting somewhere and just "soaking in" everything that surrounds you makes it a lot easier to come up with ideas. Stories become richer and more detailed.
I also find it very interesting that SL has a multitude of different types of destinations (check the Destination Guide). Looking for and finding a specific environment, going there and drawing the visual information you need for your story is fairly easy.
Curiously enough, when I look at my avatar typing away furiously my writing pace increases!
I am a firm believer that writers strongly benefit from what virtual worlds, in this case SL, have to offer. More ideas, detail-rich stories and a faster writing pace are a great plus when you’re a writer!
Bio:Lizzie Gudkov was born in Portugal back in the 60’s, into a family of avid readers who are guilty as charged of her strong passion for reading and writing! She joined Second Life® (SL) in 2007 after a career as a teacher of English and rediscovered her motivation to write when she won SL’s Poetry Quest in 2009. In her blog http://lizziegudkov.blogspot.com she posts fiction, poetry and opinion articles. Her fascination for people’s intricacies and love for words drives her to write stories, stubbornly and often imprudently!
Social Links: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Google+
About.me - http://about.me/lizziegudkov
@ iRez - http://irez.me/category/wonder/stories/
A Story Waiting to Happen - http://virtualwritersworld.virtualwritersinc.com/author/lizzie-gudkov/
Second Life Profile - https://my.secondlife.com/lizzie.gudkov