It's been a long time since I had a nuclear apocalypse dream. Years, I think. But one visited me this morning, filled with fire and terror and the shadows left by vaporized bodies. Thank you, Mr. Oppenheimer.
A scattered, but productive, day yesterday. I started off by reading over "Metamorphosis C," which has been retitled "The Boon of Salmacis." It holds together, as a whole, and I made only very minor line edits. I spoke with Geoffrey H. Goodwin (readingthedark) about our artist for issue #35. I went over the chapbook that comes FREE with the limited edition of A is for Alien again, and found one small error. I had sag paneer and nan for lunch. Spooky and I read through Chapter Two of Joey Lafaye, which is far, far better than I recall.
And that led to me seriously reconsidering which novel I will write next. After The Red Tree, I'd decided to shelve Joey Lafaye and write, instead, a sort of loose prequel to Daughter of Hounds. But, then, yesterday, I sort of fell in love with Joey Lafaye all over again. So, over the next couple of months, I'm going to think hard about this. I may go back to Joey Lafaye, after all. I have so missed Iggy and Sweet William and the Barker and Joey and the refugees. I'm thinking that Chapter Two may actually work now as a prologue, and, after that, I can move the story to New England (which is where I'd wanted to set it to start with, back in 2006 when I was first thinking about it). Anyway, yes, I'm not making the final decision for a while yet, but it is once again a strong possibility that Joey Lafaye will be my next novel (well, my next next novel). Regardless, subscribers will be getting Chapter Two in Sirenia Digest #35. Which should go out late this evening. Which means, it's not too late to subcribe NOW, as in today, as in right this second, and get #35. The platypus says you must.
I have an email from a reader, a question I'll try to answer. It's a long email, but I think I can address just this bit here:
So finally I come to my question: what did you say to yourself when you decided to write The Red Tree, and chose not to write a fast paced, commercial thing that might sell like hotcakes? Because I think I've decided to write my dark fae novel, and to hell with the vindication/acclaim/affirmation that getting published and making money would bring. But now I just need to come to terms with that decision. How are you holding up? What do you say when people urge you to change course? I guess in the end there's not much choice to it. You write what comes. But...I don't know. Sometimes it's hard to swim so willfully against the current.
It's always hard to swim against the current. But that's often how we avoid drowning. And it makes us strong. Anyway, this is not an easy question. But you know that already. The last few years, I have very much felt the need for a more profitable career. And I have tried. I have tried hard. My agent tried to guide me in the direction of those easy-to-digest urban fantasy/YA books (but only after I asked her to, mind you). Most of what she pointed me to, as examples of what's hot, what's selling, was atrocious garbage (Stephenie Meyer, for example), and I told her, "You know, I just cannot write this crap. Even if it will make me rich, I don't know how to write this crap. I don't want to know how to write this crap." Originally, Joey Lafaye was to have been a dark novel about Fairie, more "accessible" than my other novels, aimed at a YA audience. But, as I wrote it, as I second-guessed hypothetical potential readers and tried to write it that way, it kept coming out darker and weirder and exactly like it needed to be written. In panic and disgust (deadlines were involved), I shelved it and wrote The Red Tree (which is, itself, a very strange and difficult novel).
I say (and others say differently), we write what we can write. We make the decisions we have to make, and then we have to live with the consequences. You may spend your whole life chasing commercial success, and it will likely always elude you, as it eludes most authors. You can throw away what is genuine and sincere in your voice in hopes of pulling in bigger sales figures and lower return rates, crank out one piece of hackwork after another, and still fall flat on your face. Catering to the apparent tastes of the masses is never a sure route to success. I don't dispense advice on writing. But if I did, I'd say write the book that you want to write, and don't quit your day job. Never expect your writing to support you. If if does, cool. Write what you want to write, whatever it is you have to say. But. That's not advice. That's just the only way I know how to do this thing.
And now...my platypus awaits. Oh, just a second. Three photos I snapped yesterday. They're not good photos, but I think they say something about my yesterday:
In the front parlor, Spooky reading me Chapter Two of Joey Lafaye.
In the front parlor. Yes, I was lying on the floor.
View from my desk, through the west-facing window in my office (there's also a north-facing window).