Hi, I'm EtherBot and I write a blog series here on the wiki called Random Writers Showcase.
Every couple weeks I compile short reviews of a given pasta creators works into a single blog, followed by a brief conclusion where I usually say something about the writer. I've been doing this for almost two years now. My showcases have gotten longer and somehow more succinct and I personally chock that up to being more skilled at conveying my points. Some of them are pretty simple but I'm personally happy with every single one of them, even the first one.
It's been over seven weeks since I uploaded the last showcase. I haven't made a meaningful comment on anyone's post in over a month. Because I'm just tired, you guys.
I love you guys, and I'd hate to see any of you leave or for myself to drift in terms of relevence. I might be overstepping my own significance but I like to believe I actually make some kind of difference on the site, if not a miniscule one. I know for a fact that there are a few users who recognize my profile pic when they see it, or who felt nice or interested when reading some of my showcases. I want to use horror to help people. I want to shine a spotlight on what people need to be afraid of and make them realize how scary it is, or take something they're already afraid of and show them how to overcome it. I don't just want to be scared anymore, I want there to be some reason.
I've been chipping away at two major projects for the past while, one of them is an original novel, and the other one is a remake of NoEnd House. The remake of NoEnd is, at the time of writing, about 50 pages long and in its first draft. And I've hit a snag. I don't know why I'm writing this story. At time of writing, it's not particularly scary and it's not particularly meaningful. How is this an improvement? I want to follow the original plot but I want there to be a point to it all, I want some grander characterization and moving story. I want it to be scary, but not completely pointless, but I also want it to be a remake of another story I find pointless and not scary. How do I incorporate elements like the numbered doors and the pointless gore while still tying it into a plot that's interesting? How do I make the House as an entity more meaningful without making it just 'cool' or 'fun to think about' as opposed to illiciting existential dread? How do I craft a meaningful character arch for the protagonist while still juggling everything else I just mentioned?
When I read horror, I tend to look for something that resonates. Not specifically with me, just something that takes on a life of its own. I usually check out the authors work, and if I can find an interesting throughline, I tend to add that author to the "RANDOM WRITERS SHOWCASE" bookmark tab on my browser and then I move on. Not everyone on the tab gets a showcase -- I read a hell of a lot more than I write -- but if an author impresses me enough that I find myself thinking about them a lot in that nebulous space, or if the first story I read is so interesting that I can't help but write about it then and there, I almost always turn that into a showcase.
As of writing, there are 18 users in my bookmarks folder, a record high.
There are a lot of factors in who gets showcased, and when. I noticed at first I mostly showcased guys so I broadened out and started prioritizing more women to diversify. Ladies get scared too, you know. If somebody's just starting out, with only a few stories, then they also get jumped up a few slots on the totem poll, because part of the motivation for writing showcases is to give exposure to beginning authors.
What is the point of actually writing if not to make some kind of change in a readers life? I doubt if God came to any given author after they died and told them, "I'm sorry, author, but none of your works have ever truthfully effected anybody's life" that they'd be content with that. Lately I find myself reading a hell of a lot more than I write, and the two things I do write are my showcases and the NoEnd House remake.
And it's making me tired, you guys.
Repetition has been creeping it's way into my life, slowly. I always hang out with the same groups of friends, I always talk about the same things, I always read the same types of books, I always tell the same types of jokes, write the same kinds of comics, draw the same kinds of characters. The place I see when I look outside is always the same, and every exciting personal hurdle I overcome seems to be slowly disassembled as soon as I make it.
I put...effort into my work, I try to change as a person, I want to be better. I want to write better! I want to use horror to help people (there I go again in terms of repetition) even if it's some sort of pipe dream -- but I've been doing this for so long and at some point you want some sort of sign that it isn't a pipe dream, you know?
Does anybody read these? Is there actually anybody who recognizes my profile pic when they see it, or who feels nice or interested when reading some of my showcases? Most of my stuff goes under a lot of drafts and I tend to think pretty carefully about it but this blog post was written more or less in one go because I'm not sure I know what the point of it actually is.
It's funny. When I first started out with my showcases, I had this sort of dream that maybe it would really catch on and there'd be more than one person also writing them, and it would be a sort of style of blog seperate from regular blogs that people would see and go "ah a showcase." It might sound weird but I almost hoped that I'd be forgotten, if that makes sense? Like my dream was for showcases as a movement to overshadow me, and I could eventually leave them alone. Like 'this is the specific person who did it first' would be almost a piece of trivia in the community, idk. It's kinda dumb but that's what I hoped for.
Once I select a list of the stories I want to review, I open them each in seperate tabs, along with the users profile page and mine because they all are useful for quick checks and for linking each of the stories, the user, and the previous showcase. I write the showcases in the order the readers reads them, meaning I start with the introduction, review each story in order, and then write the conclusion. Then I re-read the first pass and look for any interesting details I missed the first time around. Over the course of my showcases I've been gradually shortening the conclusions because I've started putting the meatier analysis about the author into the specific stories that best exemplify them. I use the review sections half as actual reviews and half as analysis of the authors style/appeal by using the story as a sort of reference point. That way, in my experience, the general vibe is made more clear and explained more organically than a simple "here's what the author does" section at the end.
At the start of each review I try to get the hook across and then provide at least one buffer sentence before I say anything spoilery. That way the reader has a chance to decide "actually this sounds interesting" if they weren't already just going to click the link before reading a lick of what I wrote. When it comes time to write the conclusion, I tend to keep it brief with a simple call to action telling the reader to read the rest of the writer's work with some light commentary. This is the style I've written most of the showcases under, barring some slight revisions over time.
I think before I started writing all my showcases I spent a lot of time being pretty incoherent, and mean. When I had strong opinions on something it tended to be negative. I couldn't particularly articulate something I felt really passionate about through words so instead I looked for problems even when they weren't there. There's a particularly baffling comment I found on my old Steam comments list thing where I say my biggest problem with Wheatley, from Portal 2, is that he isn't really as funny as much as he is frustrating, considering he doesn't really affect much of the plot aside from turning evil and generally gets in your way even before that.
I didn't remember writing this, and I have no idea what I was doing when I did, because I was lying. I adored Wheatley the first time I played Portal 2. I adored him because he was funny and engaging and genuinely friendly. The lack of synthesization added to his vocals combined with the fluffy improvization from Stephen Merchent gave him a charming edge that made him seem almost invincible. The game sets him up to be your partner in crime in a lot of lovely ways such as forcing the players hand in certain things, (namely making you turn around so he doesn't get embarrassed when hacking doors -- there's no other way to proceed if you don't do this) and making it impossible to catch him when he falls off the management rail. Both of those things do a great deal of characterization for both Wheatley and Chell but keeps it feeling fluid and not artificial.
I felt all of this when I wrote that baffling comment a few years back, but I couldn't articulate it. So instead I made up another opinion that I didn't even have in order to kick off some sort of discussion. I have no idea why I did that.
Writing the showcase on Emily Carroll, and getting the positive response that I did, caused something to click. I made another one, and another one. The premise of a showcase didn't really account for any negativity because the whole point was to highlight something cool that I liked. Eventually, through long careful iteration, I came up with that formula I explained earlier. And I'm happy that I did! I so glad that I've been able to write this stuff! Some of the comments I've gotten were so nice and so motivating and it felt good that there was even a chance that there was some author out there who could've maybe gotten more exposure or found some new readers because of my dumb blogs. I've found a lot of my favorite authors through the process, people who's work means a lot to me.
But, like, sometimes I feel like with all I've been giving, despite all the energy and effort I put into my art and my process, that I'm never gonna be that person. That ideal person I mentioned a while ago, the type of person who makes it through the trials and actually gets a showcase. Am I anybody's favorite writer? Sometimes I can't tell if, had somebody else been writing the exact same showcases, I would ever get one for me.
And I'm not just talking about my stories, because I don't actually put that much effort into them anymore. My creative fictional work has gone almost exclusively into secret novel thing and the NoEnd House remake. I mean...the showcases, the 'lets talks,' all of it. Does anyone read those? Does anyone know that I had a series called 'Lets Talk?'
Idk if this sounds like a vague cry for attention, "wah wah nobody reads my stuff" or something. It's not supposed to be. I just feel like as much as I try to be a positive force, as much as I strive to make the community better and brighter and nicer nothing seems to happen and I barely make a dent into an impenetrable steel wall. I've been trying for two years, and I love you guys, but I don't know if I have the energy. I don't regret anything I've written, but I've lost my motivation to write any more.
This might be the last blog I write here. If/When I finish the NoEnd House remake I'll link to a pdf on my profile page, but aside from that, idk.