2 Dec, ’21

baggage

by Cal

One thing I never talked about - and I'm still not really going to talk about - is how my friendship with Lyn included a very large pile of Creative Baggage. The how and the why of it doesn't really matter, just that at the heart of it is my character Leo.

I love Leo. He's one of my favorite characters, and I've written some of my favorite things with him. But despite that, and despite him being wholly my character in every meaningful respect, everything I did with him was deeply tied into my friendship with Lyn. And vice versa. And to faepoc - which, as much as I really enjoyed most of the setting, has two inescapable core facts. One, the entire thing is built on non-con kink, which on a good day I can sort of tolerate and on a bad day makes me feel physically ill. And two, it's not my story.

Ultimately, all of the creative energies I poured into Leo and his stories and narrative were going into someone else's story. Into my friendship with Lyn. And when I was at my lowest, when I had the least creative energy to spare, that's always where it went. Leo, and faepoc, and my friendship with Lyn, and Not My Story, because those were all inextricably tangled up together. On both sides, even.

The entire thing compacted itself into one microcosm of a disaster with a story of mine, Gladiator. I had just recently watched Thor: Ragnarok and was flying with the momentum of creative energy, because that movie was so exactly my kind of thing, because so many bits of Thor's character in it were so very Leo, because I love gratuitous gladiatorial combat and tournaments. And I came up with the perfect book to write, one that had barely any plot, that was 99% made of character development and combat scenes but held together in a solid narrative. And I love it. It's one of the books I've written the most on.

But then another depression came, and all that Creative Baggage came crashing down and I thought, this is nothing. This is still faepoc. This book and this character that I dreamed up all myself and which I love and have poured so much time and energy into are still inextricably linked to people being brainwashed and abused and raped and I can't fix it because it's not my story and I had a small breakdown and swore to never write Leo again.

As a side note, I think that's actually when our friendship really fell apart. But the reasons why don't matter.

What does matter is that... I think I've finally let go. Of Lyn and our friendship.

I wrote before that I wanted to finish Afterward(s), to "finish what we'd started" or something like that, and I've realized today that the driving impulse behind that was a desperate attempt to keep holding on to our friendship, to try to somehow keep it alive and maybe fix things. But I think, this week, today, it's finally sunk in that it's over. The book of that friendship is done. It might not be a satisfying ending, it might not have enough closure, but it's done.

It's not like I'm going to completely abandon everything. I'm still putting the memorial area in Soul Scribes that I have planned and partly built. I might even recover and put up Addergoole: A Ghost Story, because we were both really proud of it and while it's infinitely darker than I like to write, it's a good story. But the friendship itself is over. It's a finished book, put up a shelf where I can revisit it when I want to, but one with no more revisions, no more pages to add.

What made me realize this is that I've finally started making Gladiator really my own. I've been wanting to do that for a long time, but it was so tangled up in all that baggage and my friendship with Lyn and not wanting to hurt her feelings or make her feel rejected by wanting to write my own story that I couldn't bring myself to do it. But that's gone now. All that's left is my own story and my own character and there's nobody whose feelings I can hurt by writing them on my own in my own space. Playing in my own sandbox.

I still feel sad, and sometimes I still feel guilty, and I'm still struggling with creativity-sucking depression, but mostly I feel like a weight I hadn't even known was there has finally lifted.