Okay, look. I hate changing gears like this and ending a story on such an abrupt note, though I guess the surrealness of ending on that last line of Ari dialogue is fun. You know what I hate more than doing this? Continuing to write this fucking “story.”
You can skip all this, by the way. Like, if you really want to see my complete reasoning, go ahead, but I personally recommend skipping straight to the words “So here’s what we’re going to do” in bolded text. You’ll find those just before the last paragraph at the bottom. Everything else between here and there is mostly me having out my messy breakup with this story in full view of the public. I’m doing the rest of this for me, understand? Alright. You’ve been warned. I’m going to start bitching now. If you do force yourself to read it, I hope it’s funny or cute or something, you filthy pervert.
Yakyakyakyakyakyakyak, all this talking and philosophizing and angsty psychological depth like Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” but we’re not even experiencing the grim hilarity of watching a man die slowly because he busted his gut while rearranging draperies for his awful wife. Where’s the action, where’s the tension, the character drama? Jamie and Synergy are accurate portrayals of two women broken by the Age of Discourse, meaning they simply must exchange essays in agonizing detail before they make a single decision.
Seven Spirals and Supercharge are even lower in my esteem. I wrote them thinking, “hey, what if maybe there is something to superhero/supervillain stuff?” There’s not. Mashing bland archetypes with one-note power sets against each other makes me want to post actionable threats on social media. I will drag Supercharge into an appropriate moment in some later thing and kill him in a colorful fashion. I’ve thought a real cool way to justify it through his one power that he has, and this moment will be cool enough to justify including him in that one additional thing and only that one additional thing.
And Seven Spirals, particularly? They were just something I made up to get some insecurities out of my system and work through some queer community trauma. They literally only exist so I can puppeteer them around to examine my own psychological hangups. They should never have appeared in an actual published story. God, they make me so bored.
Suffice to say that I’m sick to death of my accuracy. When I started out I was having fun! I thought that maybe writing a story on Earth would be a stimulating challenge. It’s not. It’s fucking exhausting for all the wrong reasons. Nobody’s reading this accursed scrawl and, at this point, I’m just grateful for the excuse to cut my losses.
And yes, I know that with this last chapter I’ve finally set myself up so that Jamie would not, in fact, be discoursing over everything anymore, but at this point the very idea of this continuity has become tainted for me. I declare this a doomed reality. I will not choose to persist within it.
All the wonderment I got from the magical realism of Shudders, making me feel as though a collapse of the divide between worlds was truly possible by anchoring it in hard logic, and concrete details that exist in the world right now? I got all the (as it turns out, very limited) value of that in Chapter One. This should just have been a short story that ended with Jamie mushroomifying a racist, shrugging, and going back to Faerie to flick the fungal bean and cry about how sad she is that she ruined her own life.
I say this with all love and affection. Most of my protagonists start out in a similar place.
Googling street names and city maps, cross-referencing street view with other forms of image search and my own incredibly-unreliable memory… ugh. Stifling! In fantasy or scifi set in non-Earth locations, I just make up whatever cool imagery I want and otherwise I don’t sweat how well I’m reflecting the street-level view of a real city that’s boring because real people live there, and real people are mostly fucking boring. And yeah, I used to live in Grand Rapids, but that was a long time and multiple mind-breaking traumatic episodes ago. It does nothing for me on a personal level to set a story there.
I write to make up weird buildings, and cities with impractical but cool-sounding layouts, and throw a bunch of vibrant, dubiously-moral characters in there to ruin each other’s lives and then patch it all up again. Riven Earth, as a setting, was never actually made for me to write in it. It was only ever supposed to be something I created so other people who wanted to write in my Twin Spirals Mythos had an easier entry point, and fuck me if this entire serial hasn’t demonstrated to me exactly why that’s how things should stay.
Aside: please fuck me regardless. I’m so pent up and full of delicious frustration, I promise you I will give you the ride of your–ahem. You get the point.
I guess I’m okay with having these seven chapters to hack out the general style and details of the setting, and this chapter feels like a high point, but for the most part, I’ve never had less fun with a story than I have with this one.
Like, to be frank, I’m still furious at myself for the sheer hamfistedness of all that philosophical, moralistic vomit back in Chapter Three. And I have all the respect in the world for the passion humans put into their morality even though I, personally, find morals fatiguing. I just don’t think fiction should be anyone’s go-to source for life lessons… unless they’re demon life lessons. Those tend to be pretty entertaining. Good fit. Otherwise, I’m completely and utterly burned out by worrying about writing stories for the kind of asshole who would need me to restate the entirety of my worldview every time I write a piece, just to make them shut up, stop nitpicking the moral failings of my intentionally immoral characters, and enjoy the fucking story.
Sorry. Pretty ranty, and more than a little trauma-dumping into the mix. That blow-up is, I think, strong evidence that I’m making the right choice by ending Shudders here. Forcing myself to slog through stories I hate as much as this has killed my passion for writing before. I’m not doing it again. Now, I have ideas for a lot of fun things I want to do with these characters, but I’ll be frank: I have zero interest in doing them on Earth.
So here’s what we’re going to do.
I’m going to take a step back. I’m going to figure out a skeleton for the ideas I’ve got for the first Arisa chapter–which, I promise, will be genuinely fun, I have so many ideas for things that a shamelessly-evil necromancer and definite self-insert would just do, without needing to justify her reasoning to her friends for multiple godsforsaken days–I’m going to come up with a wafer-thin but enjoyable excuse to do a timeskip, and I will pick Jamie’s story back up in tandem with Arisa’s. At this point it’s as much about the title-change as all the rest. I feel a surge of genuine, visceral disdain when I think of the words And All the Foundation Shudders.
I’m going to do what I should’ve done from minute one and just round out the roster with monster girls. I’m not sure yet if I’ll make this a serial or a book or what, but I already like the feel of it better. So here’s the title I thought of for this quasi-reboot: Burn to Oblivion.
Hits a lot better, doesn’t it?
Thank you for your patience, thank you for reading this far, and I”m sorry this one turned into such a mess.