In the unlikely event anyone noticed, I’ve been AWOL. The last two months have been one thing after another, including turning 55 and the death of my father. He died only hours after Gore Vidal, in the wee hours of August 1st, and that alone makes you wonder about some sort of cosmic balance– you could not find a man more diametrically opposite to Gore Vidal– a redneck’s redneck, unintellectual, racist, right-wing, mechanical rather than academic, unsubtle, painfully straighter than an arrow (yes, I know, Vidal defined himself as “pan-sexual” rather than gay, but that would have been a distinction lost on my father), and religious to the end. My own relationship to my father was complicated, as it would be for a son who would rather read than hunt or fish or throw a ball, but he was my father, and he has left a big hole.
Aside from that, a myriad of other events have taken my eye off the ball of writing Princess of Shadows– a vacation (on the heels of my father’s funeral, but we had already bought the plane tickets and couldn’t get a refund) that I didn’t enjoy, chaos in my work-space (when people make me look professional, it’s bad), and distractions with other projects, and in the end, the result is that I have, to-date, only made it to 62,000 words on Shadows. I have never had this much trouble with a novel to which I have been emotionally committed to completing.
There may be a few rays of light breaking through the gloom, though. Part of the reason I have struggled with this book has been that, aside from Kathy and Wolfson themselves, I did not know the main characters, nor the world through which Kathy would have to move– despite having created Jauthur years ago, I realized that large parts of it were not colored in. While I struggled with composing Shadows, I have also been taking notes on the Val, their world and the Empire. I also cogitated long and hard on the action of Shadows, particularly how Kathy gets out of a very sticky situation with at least reasonable believability. I am not clever writer, which is one reason I don’t do detective stories– I can never create a storyline with enough clever twists to make it interesting. It took me a long time to think my way through to a solution for Kathy (solutions involving the 101st Airborne or Dr. Who were entertaining, but lacked a certain plausibility), but I think I have finally gotten there.
Along with that thought process came a clearer understanding of the other characters, so I think, finally, I’m poised to make serious progress on Shadows. Ironically, this will mean finally getting around to re-writing long stretches of the story, since the concepts and characters have evolved, and some parts are out-and-out obsolete. I don’t usually re-write as I go, but the act of straightening out the narrative in the light of my new understanding of the characters feels like the right thing to do this time around.
Aside from that, I am looking into setting up my own webpage, which everyone says is essential to any indie writer’s self-marketing strategy. It’s the sort of thing that I have struggled with since starting to publish with Kindle– self-promotion goes against the habits of a lifetime for me. But I want to learn, because I want an audience (or a bigger audience).
I’ll try to post more regularly here in the interim. Those of you who have encouraged me to keep writing Shadows, hang in there with me. I appreciate it.