So, I suppose we should talk about a lot of stuff covered in this most recent chapter of Consequences, huh? Be warned, there are spoilers below. Read the chapter before reading this.
I completed two commissions on top of my regular chapter this month. That’s over 30,000 words, on top of work. I should have been burnt out when writing Consequences this month, but truth be told, I found it reasonably easy to do, because a lot of the moments of this book have been on repeat in my head for a while, and all I had to do was write what I saw.
In my opinion, if a writer invokes a really heavy topic, like suicide or a school shooting, they can’t pull their punches. They can’t just do it for shock value or make it seem ‘not so bad’ or something. They have a responsibility to make it real and to make it impactful. The stuff is no joke. I’ve been fairly upfront about my own battles with depression in the past, and I think it’s fair to say any reader that has any relationship with these blogs knew when reading chapter seven that those words were some I had thought or said before.
Being More Social ended with a bit of a downer in that Nicole has to live with her depression, but I feel irresponsible leaving it at that if I write a sequel. Part of it is Chekhov’s gun – if I’m introducing her inner demons in one book then throwing it away the next, I’ve cheapened the subject and its inclusion. Part of it is knowing that at least one reader will know, on some level, what Nicole has gone through, and some will not. The most “I’m talking to the reader right now” moment I think I’ve written in Consequences so far was this:
“That’s the difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is guessing what the other person needs and trying to help them. Empathy is knowing how they feel because you’ve been there before.” She started pacing again. “I don’t expect you to be empathetic, and in fact, I hope you never are. Don’t kill yourself. It sucks. Zero stars out of five. But because you aren’t, you can’t know what I need. So if I tell you, I need you to trust me, Adam. Okay?”
I think I could have used that advice at some point in my life. Odds are, we all could have. There was something deeply awful about writing this moment, but let’s be honest: we all saw it coming, right?
A challenge I realized early on was how to write it unmistakably and yet in a way that wasn’t so overt as to genuinely trigger some readers. If it did seriously disturb you, I am sorry. I tried to make sure it danced on the line but didn’t go over the line. For example, in my head, the first way it played out was that Adam saw everything. He described it to himself in his narration. Something about that bothered me. The choice to fixate on the visuals seemed too, “Look at this! Look at how gruesome this is! Isn’t this shocking?” for me, and Nicole didn’t deserve this moment to be reduced to shock value. It had to be real. Plus, to be frank, I’ve had the closed bathroom door discussion. From both ends. It’s awful.
I didn’t want this chapter to just be that moment, and I thought it was super important not only to show Nicole being okay later on, but also to show the transition back to okay. Again, at least one reader likely has or will encounter this moment, and by portraying what happened, and highlighting that boundaries are important as hell in that moment, maybe I can help someone become a little more aware of themselves or sensitive to someone going through a tough time.
If you didn’t enjoy this chapter because you primarily come for the sex, I more than understand. This one was a doozy. If you’re angry, either at my creative choices or for having such awful events befall characters you like, I fully understand. I understand your pain, and I’m sorry to have flared it if you would have preferred to never read this kind of sadness. It can be a lot to bear. It’s fair to say that at least from a few chapters in, I’ve communicated that Consequences is a bit of a tough story to get through (and not just for the mistakes, oops), so if anyone is on the fence about reading a sad story, I’d say you should consider this your final warning.
It can be difficult to relive my own past’s emotions while writing this, so I can’t blame anyone for bowing out while they read it. If anyone did read it and appreciated the story still, I appreciate you too. I hope that you never end up in that situation. If you have before, I’m glad you’re out of it. If you’re there now, I’m so sorry you are, and remember that there are resources to help you. It’ll be a process, but you can make life worth living again. And there are people out there so grateful you’re alive, who would miss you so much if you left, even if they maybe don’t show it well at times. For what it’s worth from a stranger on the internet, I love you, and I’ll talk to you next week.