Restart Story

I don't really feel like the practice of writing poetry is going anywhere for me. I don't invest the time and effort it would take to get published. Although I'm acquainted with folks in the poetry community, I don't feel a part of it. This is somewhat my fault for not spending the time to go to more readings and talk to more people. \n\nBut poetry is a great space to do radical shit, aesthetically and politically. (This is because no one is making any money off it.) I don't know how to take advantage of that in my work. \n\nI don't think I know how to do feminism with poetry. And I don't think I know how to do feminism with Twine games. But I'd like to figure it out.
Here is an interlude where I talk about my job.\n\nI work at a nonprofit agency that provides supportive housing for women who have experienced homelessness. I write for work a lot. I write about experiences that I can't even imagine having. And I write for audiences with varying levels of awareness about homelessness and poverty.\n\nI'm always looking for a better way to help people understand the structures in place that make it so excruciatingly difficult for people to emerge from poverty. [[The only Twine game I've found about homelessness|]] is kind of bloated and weird; I can't figure out a way through it. Maybe that's partly because it's in the first person? (Most people write Twine games in second-person, Choose Your Own Adventure-style.) Or maybe it's because my attention span is a tiny piece of garbage moved to and fro by the breeze.\n\nAnyway: I think there's an opportunity to use Twine games to make people reconsider preconceptions about homelessness and other big issues: things that seem too complex to understand but are ultimately about people and the resources they have to survive and determine their destinies. Games and stories are also about using resources to determine your destiny.
In the past year or so, I think "empathy" has kind of become a buzzword of the Thinkpiece Factory Internet. This is tiring and breeds cynicism. I don't want to add to that. I do want people to apply more consideration to what [[each other's experiences|work chat interlude]] might be like.
Although I think I'm kind of a weirdo in that I don't get excited about Twine as a way to make games. I don't care very much at all about games. I care about aesthetic experiences and relationships. \n\nI hope that's the most pretentious-sounding sentence I write this year. \n\nI mean it though: I just get really excited when people can relate to each other through the lens of something they've made, something that's compelling because it's beautiful or strange or kinda fucked up. I want more spaces, physical and not, where people are making and sharing and critiquing their beautiful, strange, fucked-up shit together.
So why I brought you here to look at these words is: I want your ideas for how we can get to that ideal state. Even if it looks different than it looks in my head (a building, doing whatever the hell I want all the time, a collective of people managing it, etc), what are the steps we can take that aren't too daunting? How do I get to the cool-ass future where we're all holding each other accountable to make awesome things and challenge oppression? \n\nAnd how can I ask you to help me with this?
Like many things I wind up being proud of, my Twine poem started as a Twitter conversation. And I think that's part of why it got a stronger positive response than a lot of things I write: because I asked my friends for words, and I wrote the passages around the words. So my friends saw themselves there and explored this space where their words were.\n\nI've realized I will probably never get anything done in my creative practice, whatever form that takes, unless I can convince myself that I have a community of people out there holding me [[accountable]] to do it.
This is Twine. I want to use it to do [[poems]] and [[feminism]] in the world. I want to do those things together, and bring people together through them. I want your ideas about how these things can happen.\n\nI'm not actually going to talk about how to use Twine. [[Here is how I learned everything I know about it.|]] You can Google how to make a Twine game, but you can't Google your way into a supportive community of creative people.
So what's my ideal state?\n\nWell ideally I'd own a building where I can do whatever the hell I want all the time, and it would include an intentionally feminist, all-ages creative space to hold groups, host readings, show art, make zines, write Twine games, [insert your awesome idea here].\n\nIdeally I'd have a bunch of people who wanted to manage that collectively.\n\nIdeally I would be independently wealthy, well-connected, and extroverted, so I could accomplish these things without an untenable burden on my energy and resources.\n\n(Not that my wealth and my connections aren't valuable for what they are. I love you people! But I get tired and discouraged easily when I try to overcome complex problems. So this [[ideal state]] is far off.)
I don't write stories, though. I write poems. Poems and stories aren't mutually exclusive categories, but there are reasons that I chose one of them.\n\nWhen I say "I write poems," I mean "When I write shit for fun, I privilege sounds, figurative language, and visual form (ie, lines and shit) over narrative or character." Other people mean other things by "poems." And "stories," probably. \n\nIf you write a poem in Twine, the anchors that hold it together are kind of arbitrary, with an idiosyncratic logic that might never reveal itself to the person clicking through it. If you write a story in Twine, it's a little clearer why the reader would follow its paths. They're [[going somewhere]].\n\n(As a side note, [[here's a Twine poem I didn't write|]].)
.passage .title { display: none; }\n}\na.internalLink {\n color:#620;\n background-color:hsla(48, 100%, 50%, 0.5);\n}\na.externalLink {\n color:#636;\n}
Let's Dismantle the Kyriarchy By Making Stuff with Twine
I made [[a poem|]] in Twine once. I made it on a train. It felt like pure [[delight]] and [[adventure]] more than anything else I've written.
Erin Watson
Twine is free software. Anyone can use it on pretty much any computer. As of the latest version, Twine 2, [[you can use it in a browser|]], which means you don't even have to be able to install software to make a Twine game. \n\n[[Many|]] of the [[people|]] who've [[used Twine|]] most [[famously|]] and effectively are marginalized for their gender, socioeconomic status, or just what their brains are like.\n\nTwine tells interactive [[stories]]. Stories and interaction are engines of [[empathy]].
What is it about arranging words in boxes (Twine calls them "passages") that feels more exciting, more complete than putting them in lines in notebooks? It could be the sense that you're playing a [[game|games]]. Passages connect with arrows. You're winning. You're making a path for someone else to win.