Friday, August 1, 2014

A Story Waiting to Happen

Milk Wood

... Milk Wood (click here for full text).

This post is part of a series of monthly articles for the Virtual Writers Inc. website about sims in Second Life that could be inspiring for writers. My goal is to trigger ideas for new stories, new characters and new settings. Enjoy!

Note: One of the characteristics of Second Life is the fact that it's constantly and rapidly changing. Sims come and go; others look quite different, as time goes by. Do take that into consideration when using the links provided.

Milk Wood

Six months have gone by since Harri invited me to write this column. It has been an extremely interesting and enriching experience for me. I hope for you as well.

I took you with me on a tour of six sims, Collins Land, Gehena Vampire Clan, Hazardous, Taka no Sakura, The Far Away and Annwn Willows, this last one now gone.

Second Life’s impermanence, especially noticeable throughout the past few years, spawns in me a certain sense of urgency, a need to share as much as I can, as quickly as I can. Yet, this column cannot be written too far ahead of time for obvious reasons and its suggestions might suddenly not be possible to follow after our journey has been posted.

Many sims do have their own Flickr channel or other photo sharing venues that perpetuate the memory of how they looked, as Annwn Willows does. However, it’s never the same to visit a location by looking at a photograph or to actually walk through the place, listening to the sounds and seeing the type of windlight the creator chose.

All these aspects are very important for a writer. They are that extra bit of information that triggers recalling a word we were looking for or writing a sentence that fits just perfectly in a particular portion of the story.

The disappearance of Annwn Willows, after so many years of being one of the most visited and loved locations in Second Life, prompted me to write this month’s column about having roots, about looking for stories close tohome.

Allow me to explain. As writers, we crave for new experiences, new places to visit, and new people to get inspiration from. Many of us yearn to meet other writers, to share the burden of common frustrations, anxieties and the joy of our literary achievements.

Paradoxically, or not, we also crave for quietude, even solitude. So, it becomes important to have our own private corner and it does help when that corner is also where we can have writing events, where we can meet other writers, where we can even find inspiration for new stories!

I tend to park my virtual self at Milk Wood while writing, a beautiful woodland sim with small cabins and a few houses, home to the Virtual Writers, where I host a weekly goal-oriented writing challenge.

Understandably, there are stories waiting to happen at Milk Wood too!

So, have you noticed the drunken sailor by the watermill? He’s grumbling something about a treasure hidden in the island by pirates. Nearby, the blacksmith hammers on, pretending not to eavesdrop on my futile attempts to engage in conversation with the sailor. A treasure is definitely something worth the effort, but my attempts are disastrously unsuccessful.

I move on, walking randomly through the sim, and suddenly come across the chapel where a friar waits nervously. “They are coming, they are coming,” he repeats incessantly. Who is coming is a total mystery. For a second, I think another group of pirates is about to arrive, as boisterous and unruly as only pirates can be, causing the friar to be justifiably concerned. However, he mumbles something about the fisherman and a cave and I can make no sense at all of what he’s saying.

Farther ahead, an old fisherman is hard at work at the small bay, pulling the fishnet from the water. His day is quite unproductive so far and he’s not happy. “No fish,” he says. “She scared them away.” I don’t know who he’s talking about, but considering that all the characters in this story waiting to happen are anything but talkative, I don’t even dare ask.

Slightly up the hill, I notice a hidden entrance into the rock. A grout opens up as I walk inside. Crates and barrels pile up randomly. It does look like sea rovers hid their loot here in a hurry. Did I just stumble upon THE treasure?! I try to peer inside. I try to open the crates. I try to shake the barrels. Argh!

So, I need a tool, some sort of tool, any sort of tool! My kingdom for a tool!

Ok, Lizzie, calm down…!

As I search for anything that will help me crack those crates open, yes, because a treasure does need to breathe, doesn’t it, I come across the most enchanting mermaid swimming to the sound of a melodious harp. She is singing a mournful, somber melody, almost whispering it. I ask her about the treasure, I ask her about the fish, I ask her about…

Next thing I know, I am… Gosh, where am I? Oh, my cabin at Milk Wood! Writing stories, ok!

That mermaid… I was going to look for something, but I cannot seem to remember what… Odd thing…

As we close this journey, inevitably shorter as we didn’t travel far from home, I go back to my initial intention for this month’s post, i.e. to show you that we don’t need to go far to find a story.

As temporary as sims are these days, my challenge for this month is for you to find a story close to where you have your writing roots, your virtual writing home. Why not start at the Virtual Writers sim, where there are so many more hidden details to find, because… there’s a story waiting to happen at Milk Wood!




  1. I've visited a few of your sims Lizzie!! Well done and you certainly have a well of virtually inspired stories to tell ... and how you pull all these fleeting impressions into such a coherent and/or zany weave is a tribute to your creative spirit as well as to the creative sims you visit.

    1. Thank you, Cybele! Your comment means a lot to me. I am always very concerned about being fair towards the places I visit and invite writers to draw inspiration from. That is definitely one of my main concerns. I'm happy that has a positive impact on my columns!