I've been working on a new game. Its about ghosts, and people who hunt for them. I have some solid pages down about the mechanics, and character creation. I think I know what I want to look for when it comes to artwork. I know my source material. I know the genre. I've studied what ghost stories mean to American culture. I understand scary stories.
But what does a ghost represent, and why am I so obsessed about stories about them? And why is it so hard to write about them?
My wife talked to me about what ghosts mean to her. She's really practical. To her, the meaning is really simple: its a person's lack of willingness to let go. A ghost is about our baggage. What haven't you been able to release? That's probably what will manifest.
Its elementary, I suppose. If you're going to write a ghost story, think about the stuff that hasn't been resolved.
I haven't been able to get any further than the mechanics. Every time I try to write about the ghosts themselves, about what they represent and about how people interact with them, I'm stuck. I'm not ready to talk, in a game, about what a ghost means to fictional characters.
Here's a funny story...I needed a palate for my paint. I have this old crystal dish that my mom used as an ashtray. As a matter of fact, I only ever knew it as an ashtray; I don't think it ever had any other purpose when it was in my mom's possession. It took effort, but I used it as a palate. I made a dumb comment about it on Facebook, just to ease the tension, a little something to help rip the bandage from the wound, I guess.
Does that analogy make sense? It has to do with my mom, too.
So, we were talking about ghosts. I've been jotting down notes about what ghosts mean in different cultures...about the angry poltergeist, about the Victorian haunters.
I had this professor in college who told us that we'll know what's real, what's true, when it comes to us in the still, small moments in the night. They're the things that wake us up. I'd forgotten about that. He always helped us get over what ever baggage we had when it came to academia. Remember what is real.
Grief is real, sure. But so is the creative process. So is the written word.