- Start Reading
- Under the Influence
- Take Part
First, apologies to all interested parties for leaving it until so long after the end of the story to post some kind of conclusion here. After BI finished, I took a short holiday from it, which grew unintentionally longer. Since then I’ve been reading and thinking about blog fiction and other things, and frankly getting a little stressed over the idea of coming back to the project to do the big scary academic writing-up. Now I’m looking over some of the insights I jotted down at the time of finishing, and thinking about what I can make of them, and there’s so much I hardly know where to begin.
I really want to thank everybody who read and commented. Special thanks to Fiona, the fifth Bad Influence, who really made the interactive side of the story take off! And thanks also to Shirly, Nat and everybody who commented, discussed, reviewed and otherwise took the time to get involved, whether on Facebook and Twitter, Web Fiction Guide, Epiguide or just by telling friends to have a look.
In preparation for the thesis, I’m going to do a series of posts in the coming weeks around my thoughts on the three main aspects of blog fiction (epistolary, serialisation and interactivity) and what I’ve discovered about them from writing and posting Bad Influences. But before that, I’m going to talk a bit about what happens next.
Firstly, my supervisors expect a draft introduction to my thesis in about three days’ time, which is going to cover definitions and history of blog fiction and go into some of the concepts and theories that I’ll be using, like Jill Walker’s Distributed Narrative (which I’ve mentioned before) and another idea I’ve been thinking about: Relational Poetics. After coming up with this concept as a literary re-framing of Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics, I found that Aukje van Rooden had beaten me to it, but that’s OK because it means somebody else has done the hard work of defining and analysing the concept, and now all I have to do is apply it to blog fiction. To sum up, Relational aesthetics/poetics is a way of looking at art/literature that concentrates less on the artefact or text itself than on the relations that it provokes or plays upon, the relational spaces and human interactions that it prompts, or acts as a catalyst for prompting. This seems particularly apt for a narrative form that seems to get the best responses through immersion in the interactive aspects of the story, encouraging readers to join the story as part of a community rather than simply follow the narrative in isolation. The criticisms that suggest failure to reward a passive, linear reading are also pretty relevant to this analysis.
While I’m working on the thesis, I’m also going to have to put together a print version of the story, because despite the whole project being about a digital form, tradition dictates that a bound copy goes on a shelf in a library to gather dust. Still, the adaptation process itself will no doubt prompt a few insights into which untranslatable features are integral to the story. If I can, I want to keep all the imagery of the original in the print version, including the blog backgrounds and fonts, provided I can afford to print the whole thing in colour. If there are problems with resolution, clarity or cost, I may have to simplify the visuals a bit, but it would be really disappointing to lose them entirely in any version.
Once I have a complete static adaptation in Word, I have half a plan in mind to add a system of hyperlinks to turn it into an ebook, with a superficially blog-like navigation system. I’ve been advised to wait until the viva’s done and dusted before trying to self publish, but I really would eventually like to put this up somewhere as an ebook for download, if only to see if it brings more readers to the original blogs.
As for where the blogs and the characters are going… well, I began the survivors’ forum in the hopes that it would become a place for other writers to share their apocalyptic blogfics, perhaps for the characters to find and comment on them, but instead it began to look like it would simply continue to be a conversation between the remaining Bad Influences and Fiona. While this would be great fun, I was afraid to continue it in great detail in case it started to compromise the ending of the story. Rather than becoming non-committal bit-parts in other people’s stories, as I’d hoped, Ash and Jack looked set to remain staple characters, expected to give regular updates of their own, and that presented me with a dilemma. Their stories were left on the notes they were for a reason, and I’d rather leave them undisturbed. If something in another blogfic prompts them to give a snippet of their progress in relation to somebody else’s, that’s one thing, but I don’t want to end up just continuing their stories indefinitely. There are only really two ways those stories could go, and they would either get very dull and repetitive or be cut depressingly short. They have to cease to be protagonists, and that means they need new protagonists to be a supporting cast to.
As it stands, Jack, like me, has obviously had other things on his mind over Christmas and New Year, and I can only apologise to real Fiona for his rudeness in leaving fictional Fiona hanging. Maybe that’s not what happened. Maybe a server blew in Iceland and the forum went down for a while. I’m sure there’ll be an explanation.
Now, what would be brilliant is if Fiona – or even some new characters who’ve been having their own adventures in the post-pandemic world – decided to use the forum to seek help, advice, friendship or solace while telling their own stories in full on a separate blog of their own. That’s something that may bring two or even more of the Bad Influences out of hiding to comment…