I just discovered a horrible game...and it's been suggested it can make me a better writer. Before we get to what that game is, I need to back up and explain a conversation I had with a fellow writer.

How 99% of conversations with other writers usually go


Her: "You seem to write a lot of romances."
Me: "I only wrote one, most of my stories have romance in them, yeah. So what?"
Her: "You're about as romantic as a tax audit."
Me: "....did you just call me and say that so I could tell you to go fuck yourself? I'm not Hallmark card romantic but I've gotten no complaints."
Her : "No, sorry, what I mean is you were never one of those girls dreaming of a wedding when you were a kid."
Me: "No, I used to dream about running a crime syndicate with Big John Stud and Andre the Giant for muscle."
Her : "...okay, what I mean is you're not out there desperately grabbing at love all the time, so why do you write about it?"
Me: "I like sex in my books, but sex without love is pure erotica, and in pure erotica there's no real character development, no growth. I like growth in my characters."
Her : "That's what she said."
Me: "Okay, so why bring it up?"
Her : "Well have you ever noticed how many characters you have that are virgins, or celibate? The ones who are not are swingers."
Me: "And?"
Her : "How realistic is it they don't have exes?"
Me: "...They have enough emotional baggage. Besides, seems like most people have this strong hate for their exes, and I don't get it."
Her : "You're fucking weird."
Me: "You're just realizing that?"
Her : "You know we borrow shit from our own lives. Just give some character one of your exes."
Me: "See, that's a problem. If I kept the basic details, no one would believe it, it'd sound too fake."
Her : "Why?"
Me: "Okay, of the three big serious ones, one was  on Canadian TV for over a year testifying in a big case. The other is the head brewer of a big national brewery, and the other just landed a starring role on a TV show. See? Sounds fake."
Her : "All right, I have an idea. Let's make a list of everyone we ever had 6 or more dates with and what happened, then switch. Use mine for your character, I'll use yours."


My dream street gang, or so I thought when I was 5


All right, yeah, this is how writers talk sometimes. Basically she finally got onto this site and read through my stories posted on here and that one thing bugged her. To be fair last year I did the same thing to her grouching that not a single character of hers could could cook even basic things and were always ordering out. We like to nitpick, but she has a point.Every writer has an Achilles heel, apparently mine is not lamenting romantic pasts of my characters. Who knew?

So from that we made up the game of a short story challenge. We decided that 6 is a good number, so monthly we'll make a list of 6 things from our lives and she'll take mine, I'll take hers and we'll try to write a short story about all 6. It works with the exes since she and I both have 6 people we had 6 or more dates with.

Apparently this is a normal experience for everyone else on Earth but me


So I get to write a story about a woman with the following exes:
1. High school sweetheart, bad breakup, currently a married househusband
2. College sweetheart, breakup due to moving, currently an engaged accountant
3. 20's artist dude, bad breakup, still an artist & small time drug dealer
4. Grad school English professor, bad breakup due to infidelity, currently still a professor screwing grad students
5. Retail coworker, mutual breakup due to apathy, currently back in school
6. 30's bartender, bad breakup due to her bad habits, now polyamorous with 2 girlfriends...and a boyfriend

Well, I think I can work with that. I wish her good luck with mine, just going with where they are now....star on a TV show, lead cellist for a famous symphony, notorious Canadian executive, big time brewer, still listed on the National Registry of Missing Persons, star of a TV show, and owner of 3 clubs in the south about to possibly get his own reality show. I've realized two things: one, I need to stop dating attention whores, and two, I doubt anyone would believe my biography if I wrote it. Still, we're going to try this. In a way we'll be rewriting scenes from each other's life. I think most artists should have a few friends they can play games like this with, collaborate with, and have fun with. 

Odd we live in a world where being emotionally balanced makes you weird, and isn't believable in fiction


We have one month to do this and I'll post the resulting stories if you care to read them. I'm busy enough I don't need any additional writing responsibilities, but every artist has to remember the main reason we began our craft: because it's fucking fun. Having friends who know what you do well enough to see your weak points, and are good enough people to help you work on them...that's something every artist needs.