July 8, 2020
This is going to be a weird post for me.
First, I don’t like posting about myself. It makes me uncomfortable. I like to just exist as a conduit: my creativity flowing through me to the page for your eyes. But I felt, very strongly, that I needed to explain why I am I putting A Fiction Agreed Upon on hiatus.
And because I am me and I will never make a story short if I can make into a epic (sorry, Hemmingway) here is a little bit of backstory.
I came up with the concept for AFAU in 2016, during the summer. It quickly spiraled into the version you see now, with a cast of millions, world building, themes, ect. Then the American election happened, and I ended up changing some things. You see, in the original draft of AFAU, I was going to include far more “problematic” historical figures than the cast I have planned today. For example, I was not just going to have one Adolf Hitler, I was going to have TWO, a young artist and the Furher.
This is because the driving thrust of AFAU has always been about how we (society) evaluate history and the people who make it. Would the Year Three Thousand look on a young Adolf, whose ambition is to paint, with pity? Hate? Fear? And how would it change their interactions with a Hitler who is at the end of his life, the murder of twenty million? How would that in turn affect his relationship with Napoleon and Napoleon with Robespierre and Robespierre with Machiavelli, so on and so forth.
After November 2016, this changed. I knew I could not, would not, ever be comfortable with using Hitler. How could I be when global politics was taking such a turn to the conservative right? How could I interrogate people like Hitler (never mind the actual man), investigate and question without people mistaking my intentions, thinking that I was endorsing that kind of monstrous brutality?
To be absolutely clear: I don’t and never will. Academic curiosity could never justify it in my mind. Hitler should go down as a monster in history.
So I dialed it back. I re-evaluated my ‘cast list’. I made changes in response to real life. I know there are other creative minds out there who will insisted that you should never compromise your art to modern stresses. I don’t always agree with that.
But I didn’t want to lose that angle. So, I didn’t cut all of them, but I tried to strive for balance. If I had Napoleon I needed to have Toussaint L’Ouverture. I wanted to question history and for history to examine itself.
2020 is a bizarre time to live in as a historian. I guess this is how Horace Walpole felt in 1793. You have beliefs about the world around you and then everything gets turned on it’s head and you just aren’t sure about anything anymore.
Season Three of A Fiction Agreed Upon is/was going to dramatically increase the number of Historical Figure running around. Elizabeth the First, Catharine the Great, Lewis, Clark and Sacajawea. I had/have a long subplot about the Founders and Framers of the American Constitution that was going to loop Jerimiah (the alien who met Rain in the Louvre in season one) back into the plot.
But now I don’t think I should. At least not right now.
How can I justify talking about Thomas Jefferson, who knowingly, through his whole life, was willing and eager to prop up racism and slavery?
How can I justify talking about Andrew Jackson whose legislature continued and massively increased the slow rolling genocide of Indigenous Americans?
How can I justify talking about Magpie Jones, a non-binary person, who is going to have to keep explaining their gender identity to nearly everyone they’re risking everything to help?
And the list goes on!
The White Plague, the Second American Civil War, World War Three. Debates on what goes into recorded history and who gets left out and why. The scenes of militaristic oppression and violence on a resisting population who is trying to demand answers from their leadership.
How can I justify writing any of this in 2020, when it is so fucking close to the reality we are living in?
The answer: I can’t.
I won’t. It’s not the right thing to do right now.
The same reason why I would not use Hitler in 2016 is the reason I will not write this in 2020. It’s just not appropriate.
I don’t know when AFAU is going to come back.
I do think it will eventually come back, mostly because it’s a keystone project to the rest of the Extended Universe, but it won’t be the same. I must do a lot of rigorous thinking about my approach.
It is heartbreaking to post this. I’ve put a lot into A Fiction Agreed Upon. It’s important to me. But it’s still not as heartbreaking as what a lot of black, queer, immigrant or indigenous people are suffering today, right now, in 2020.
And this is why AFAU is going on hiatus.
Thank you for understanding.
P.S. This is not to say that I won’t be posting. I’ll post essays, reviews, short stories or flash fiction. Maybe previews of one of the other million projects I’m working on. Just not AFAU. Not for a while.