Another chilly, drizzly day here in Providence. Only 61F at the moment.
I think I wrote three sentences yesterday. This story, "The Alchemist's Daughter," is proving oddly resistant to my efforts to get it started. I know the story, pretty much. I see the characters. I think I've got the setting nailed down (HPL's Ulthar, probably, because I don't feel like writing about any waking world at the moment). But I can't find the voice. The words aren't coming. And I've no more time to waste. There's too much else to be done this month.
Yesterday, I had a talk with my agent, and told her I'm not going to be starting the next novel until September. There are just too many other obligations, and I'd like to actually be able to put some effort into promoting The Red Tree. We talked about it a while, and about book promotion, and the writing of short stories, and so forth. I think it was the longest phone conversation I've had with anyone in months.
Later in the day, I finally retreated from the keyboard. I needed familiar, comforting prose, so I read Angela Carter, "The Bloody Chamber" and "The Courtship of Mr. Lyon." Though "The Tiger's Bride" is my favorite of Carter's retellings of "Beauty and the Beast," I'm extremely fond of "The Bloody Chamber," and the way it weaves hints of that fairy tale together with "Bluebeard." I'd love to write a screenplay for "The Bloody Chamber."
This morning, I found the following, from an entry I made on this date in 2007:
"I have been worrying a lot lately about my writing. It started when I reread Silk and looked through Tales of Pain and Wonder for the first time in ages. Sure, I'm a much, much better writer now, but is what I'm writing inherently better than what I was writing then? More importantly, is it about something more than telling stories? Almost ten years after it's original publication, I see lots of flaws with Silk I couldn't see in 1996 or 1998, and parts of it make me groan, but it has something to say, something it says, and for that I will likely always love it. This is even more true of ToPaW. It's true of The Dreaming. But is the same true of Threshold? Low Red Moon? I think so. And I know it's true of Murder of Angels, but I'm not so sure about Daughter of Hounds, even though I also know it's my best-written novel to date. One may write well — one may write exquisitely, even — and have nothing at all to say. Writing 'The Ape's Wife' last month, this all seemed suddenly very important to me again. I fear that in the rush to meet deadlines and write enough to keep all the bills paid, somewhere along the way, I may have forgotten that it is not enough to tell a good story, or even to create characters who ring true. These are necessary accomplishments, but they are surely not sufficient. Art requires more than mere craft, more even than talent. It requires meaning. There's something I feel I might have drifted away from, and I want...no, I need to get back to it again."
And I think, at least, I've made some substantial progress in this respect over the last year, primarily by writing The Red Tree, but also in a number of the pieces I've done for Sirenia Digest since last June. This is one reason I'm taking longer to begin the next novel, because I need to find a novel-length story that I need to tell, not merely one that I'll be paid to write.
I would appreciate it if you'd pick up a copy of the trade paperback of Alabaster, only $14.95 from Subterranean Press. And now, it's time to write.