I Wish I Wasn’t Writing This Story
I’ve started a new story. It’s an even more useless story than most, in terms of publishability, but it felt necessary. And I wish it didn’t.
I’ve been thinking lately about how The Road Is All There Is, the original Kivailo world story, was a way for teenage me to deal with the way the world was when I came to political awareness. Fear in my parents’ voices as they talked about the right-wing FPÖ in our government. (Back then, other EU countries objected to this. Now, they’re all going the same way…) Bush and 9/11 and the war on terror.
And so Shards fits well into that tradition, using the characters of the Kivailo world to cope with the real world.
And I wish I didn’t have to.
Teenage me squeezed some imaginary countries into Central Europe, to avoid either more worldbuilding or more research, so Tokre and Taresh, despite being fictional, are surrounded by the real world. So those Tokrean characters are looking out from their fictional homes at the real world, remembering the racist, sexist, homophobic, radically Christian government they just shook off, and watching America go the same way.
There have been so many times in the last couple of years when I looked at politicians and said to my best friend, who understands the reference, “has this person escaped from Tokre?”
But I’ve also looked at too many things I’ve read about the USA and thought, “Tokre was unrealistic. It wasn’t bad enough.”
And now I’m staying up too late at night, remembering the things I made my characters suffer through, losing most of their loved ones, or being disowned by their families, or being forced to give birth to children they didn’t want. And remembering the way they helped each other and fought for each other and survived.
And I think about the way they feel about hearing about Trump’s election – I think about them waking up or about staying up the entire night, I think about the fear and the disgust and the anger and the sadness. I think about the ways they reach out to friends and to strangers, and the ways they work to make the world better despite this.
I think about Emma and Lionno from Masks, and Mandai who will inevitably write a song. I’ll think about Gregor and Jakob and Frank from First Fridays and Fourteen, and wonder how this factors into their decisions to come out or to stay in the closet. I think about Theresa and Sophie from Goblins, and the people they marched in the streets with, Oak and Hawthorn and Owl, Charlie and Sam, Ostrich and Pine and so many more whose names I don’t remember. I think about Benni and Jessi and Melli from Beside You, which is what I should really be writing instead, learning how hard things were for their siblings, and how they saved each other without knowing. I think about Cora Valerian, who once before almost lost her job as a radio announcer by being more political than she was supposed to be, and who’s doing it again.
They’re sad moments, mostly, but Cora makes me laugh. I imagine this right after some cheerful, shallow song, in this very perky, cheerful voice that barely masks her rage.
“Gooood morning, Tokre! It’s a reasonably nice day in Tokre, but not so good in America, at least if you’re anything but a straight, white Christian man! Cooongratulations, America, you managed to elect an even more awful president than we did in 1999! Hey, Issaksson might be responsible for the murder of thousands of Kivailo, but at least he didn’t brag about sexually assaulting women, and Trump has time to catch up on the murdering! So, my friends, let’s start this day off with an old classic from the Bush days – but I would advise Pink to bring pepper spray if she’s asking Trump to go for a walk with her, unless she wants her you-know-what grabbed!”