Encountering Writer’s Block in Second Life

Writer’s Block, April 2021 – click any image for full size

Over the weekend, Lex Machine (Archetype11 Nova) graciously invited me to visit his latest region design utilising his home region of Solveig ahead of him opening it to the public at large; and I say without reservation that it another absolutely stunning build that cannot fail to engage and captivate – one with the most fascinating (for me) titles: Writer’s Block.

Anyone who has ever seriously spent their time writing either for pleasure or for a living will be familiar with the idea of writer’s block – the inability to come up with original ideas, or to productively put pen to paper / fingers to keyboards.

Writer’s Block, April 2021

Contrary to the (sometimes flippant) proclamations of some noted authors that writer’s block doesn’t exist (after all, doctor’s don’t get “doctor’s block”, do they?) writer’s block can take a wide variety of forms, some of them very definitely the result of physical disorders (agraphia). Others can equally be purely psychological and / or self-inflicted.

Ender’s Game author Orson Scott Card, for example, notes that his most frequent form of his writer’s block is the result of knowing, subconsciously or consciously, something he’s written isn’t “right” in some way, be it in terms of character interaction or action, plot narrative or turn, or something else. It prevents him moving forward with a story until he has gone back, located the issue and worked out how to correct it. For others, it can come down to a loss of inspiration, simple distraction or even an over-abundance of ideas.

Writer’s Block, April 2021

Lex’s Writer’s Block offers a personification of much of the latter. As with his previous designs, this is an incredible landscape of vignettes and objects that, whilst offered within a contiguous landscape that brings them together, whilst they also stand as potential individual statements of ideas and narrative; exploring them is very much a tour through the mind of a writer / artist.

Writer’s Block, April 2021

Symbolism is – as with all of Lex’s designs – to be found through this build, and starts at the landing point, where sits an oversized manual typewriter. It is slowly being overcome by winding vines and thus speaks the the longevity that can genuinely occur with writer’s block. Pages rise from it, either blank or repeatedly printed with the image of a flower – both of which speak to two of the most recognised forms of writer’s block: the inability to get started with writing something, or becoming obsessively stuck on a particular aspect / passage / piece of writing to the point – as with Orson Scott Card, above.

Beyond this is a richly diverse landscape, a walk through the mind of a writer. Buildings stand as half-finished stories or unfinished plots that lay crumbling in the wilderness of the imagination; those that are complete, stand with empty rooms, signifying the structure of a narrative that awaits the décor of the plot and the presence of characters.

Figures human and fantastical, stand and sit as the personification of characters; the interactions between some suggest the waltz of possible interactions they might come to have within their tale; the pose of others personifying the sense of loss of creative vision or the weight or anguish of being unable to complete a story.

Writer’s Block, April 2021

Elsewhere, a flight of butterflies passes over the landscape like the flutterings of a half-considered idea, whilst feathers from angel’s wing speaks to the ephemeral nature of such ideas, so easily scattered on the winds of everyday distractions. Meanwhile, the ground offers paths – some obvious, others far less clear.  For the visitor, they offer routes of discovery within the region; symbolically they perhaps reference the ease with the writer’s thoughts can wander in distraction from the task at hand.

Writer’s Block, April 2021

As is the way with Lex’s builds, the symbolism throughout Writer’s Block is stunning – but so too is the sheer artistry and the detail.

Lex has a marvellous talent from mixing ideas of scale, as anyone who has visited his previous designs will know. Here, “life-size” buildings share the space with giant carved figures, their contrasts blended through the use of trees and the rise and fall of the landscape itself.

Meanwhile, the smaller details offer both tales of their own that might be both threaded into the overall theme for the region, and also stand as suggestions of narratives waiting for our own imaginations to unwrap. These are incredibly diverse – from the statue of Freddy Mercury standing within a semi-walled garden or the little cottage that comes with mortars ranged in the front garden and the wrecks of a tank and armoured vehicle that flank it.

Writer’s Block, April 2021

I have said this before  – and will doubtless say it again in the future; Lex Machine is one of the finest creators of region settings in Second Life today; his work never fails to stun and amaze in its breadth and depth. When building regions, we all pour something of ourselves into them – vision, ideas, wishes; but Lex does something more. Each of his designs invite us to witness not only his creativity, but take us on a journey through his imagination and to share in his thoughts – be they on subjects such as the global pandemic, his love for his partner Anastasia or his own psyche and outlook.

Writer’s Block is a continuation of all of this: breathtaking in scope and presentation, it is a must see for anyone familiar with Lex’s work. And if you haven’t visited his designs in the past, it makes for an excellent introduction – just be prepared to become a fan of his work!

Writer’s Block, April 2021

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4 thoughts on “Encountering Writer’s Block in Second Life

    1. Honestly, Lex’s region designs are consistently the most imaginative I’ve witnessed. They combine art, landscaping, storytelling, flights of the imagination, fantasy and really get the stuff between the ears working for those willing to take the time to explore. And they are always fabulously photogenic.

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  1. As always Inara, you catch even the subtle thoughts that were bouncing around in my head when I do the builds. It is truly a blessing to have encountered you in this virtual world and to come across a mind that always looks beyond. The invitation still stands to have you over for a photograph on any of the builds you wish or remember and to hang out and shoot the breeze about whatever. Your words humble me beyond expression. I am very grateful for your presence and your words on the builds. People like you are why this shaved ape pushes so many blocks around.

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    1. Thank you, Lex – those words mean a lot to me. After getting on for fifteen years in Second Life, and almost as long as that in blogging (over a decade on WordPress alone!), I confess that there are times when I feel that “enough is enough”, and it’s time to look to “other” things to do. It is work like yours that actually keeps me coming back (I’d actually say your designs are at the top of the list when it comes to both region design and artistic expression). Hooking-up in word would be excellent as time zones, etc., mesh, and I’ll drop you a further IM for there :).

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