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Poor for Reasons

The new book I'm writing is different to the last.

I mean, why wouldn't it be? I have come but for a contract close to selling Under the Red Sun, but that doesn't change that it has been a hard push, and one that is not over yet. The responses to it have been odd, too. One agent said it made him want to slash his wrists, while also telling me he was sure it would sell, and that it was entirely professional. Of course it is, but that's because I pride myself on the work being good quality, even as I struggle with the business side. But, it will sell, eventually, and I will spare you the feedback I've heard. My agent has it. She'll sell it. If she doesn't, she doesn't. You have to just wear the outcome at the end of the day and bitching and moaning about it will do exactly jack shit for you. It's a shame, really. I like bitching and moaning when things aren't going my way.

I have to admit, however, that when I sat down to decide what to write next (because you must always be writing to sell things you have written), the experience of Under the Red Sun had left its mark. It was a difficult thing to shake, to be honest, and I spent some time doing it. I felt that the global financial crisis has impacted on me, and I felt down on my luck as an author, burnt out from previous experiences, public fallouts and other things that were exciting to watch, I'm sure. But as I sat down to keep writing, I had two plans. The first was to write my end of the world novel, which incorporated every narrative of the world ending that there is, and welded it into one storyline. The second was to write a fantasy novel in which all the gods are dead, and whereas other books talked about gods, and had them influence characters, I was going to write something that explored the absence of it, and the need for faith in people. In the end, I settled on the latter.

Maybe it'll prove to be a bad choice. You write what you want, you do your best, you try and sell it, you go and promote it. A part of you might tell you to step back from one project, another might say to go ahead. Either way, you do what you do.

But you know something?

I cut a lot of things I like out of this new book because the scenes don't pan out right. It's real sad. I don't think I've ever wholesale cut as much as I have while writing this. Take a look at this--I worked for ages on this:

One hundred and thirty two years ago, the gallows of Ille were built by two men, a father and a son. The father, an old and white haired man, had made his living for forty one years building gallows, guillotines and breaking wheels, a designer of execution and torture. For the gallows of Ille, he organised the pale timber from the Yeala Forest to be used. With the Lord's money, he paid the cost of ferrying the lumber across the ocean and having it carried across the dusty roads by wagon and bull. His son, a young and dark haired man slowly inheriting his father's business, was responsible for the design of the gallows. It was he who ensured that multiple trap doors and an open, wide deck crossed by one beam like the arm of a God, were realised. It was not, either men knew, an ambitious design. It would not hold forty five bodies as the infamous gallows of Tinalan did; nor would it be as cruel as the nine bladed guillotine of Faer. But it was a solid design, built with expertise and on expensive material and as the sun rose and fell on the day the lumber arrived, the father measured and cut, the son sank bolts sank bolts and the pair laid floorboards and coated the joints with black tar. After five days, they were done.

In the flat sunlight of the current day, the expensive lumber of the gallows showed its age and work. Every year, feet trod upon it, straight bristled brooms and buckets and varnish following, and each had left its mark. Yet, positioned in the centre of Ille, with inns, bars, butchers, grocers, blacksmiths, and dozens of other business spreading down streets flowing from it like paved veins, the gallows drew the city together. It did not matter that for most of the citizens that their gaze was brief, a glance, the briefest acknowledgment of the structures position and importance. They knew its worn, aging appearance would change during the night. That the solid, thick frame would no longer be made from wood once the sun set; no, by then, they knew that it would be made from shadows, that when bonfires were lit beside it, the beam that crossed the gallows and from which men and women hung, would be the strong, unbent arm of the law as the Lord of Ille requested upon its construction, over a hundred years ago.


There was a whole scene about revolution connected to that, which I also cut.

Ah well.

If you don't write, you don't publish, and if you don't write and you don't publish, you're just poor for no good reason.

Comments

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catsparx
Apr. 5th, 2011 06:50 am (UTC)
seems like a bit of a shame to leave that bit out
benpeek
Apr. 5th, 2011 06:52 am (UTC)
yeah, but you know, it just doesn't fit. still. i liked it, as you do a pair of paragraphs.
catsparx
Apr. 5th, 2011 06:54 am (UTC)
Maybe you can recycle it into a short story -- that's what I did with a slab or wordage I had to cut from a novel. In the end, the rest of the novel got ditched too, but a pretty solid short story survives.
exp_err
Apr. 5th, 2011 06:56 am (UTC)
I'll second that suggestion. It's a good passage. Strange to think of the human beings who make a living out of execution.
benpeek
Apr. 5th, 2011 06:58 am (UTC)
that was all they had, those two. but i liked the idea of people who made things to kill others.
ataxi
Apr. 5th, 2011 11:50 am (UTC)
Gene Wolfe did that bit though.
exp_err
Apr. 5th, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC)
I've never been able to get into Gene Wolfe. Love his turn of phrase, but I find (from what I have read) his characters and plots dull.
ataxi
Apr. 5th, 2011 11:48 pm (UTC)
I'm a fan, but I appreciate the point that his books aren't page-turners.

He's a genuinely weird writer. I recommend his recent novel An Evil Guest: a hybrid Lovecraft/noir romance.
benpeek
Apr. 5th, 2011 06:57 am (UTC)
it's possible, but i tend to recycle very little. after i write it, i'm kinda done with it, and if it doesn't work right then, then i do something else. it's quite wasteful, i guess.
catsparx
Apr. 5th, 2011 06:57 am (UTC)
yes it is.
ataxi
Apr. 5th, 2011 11:51 am (UTC)
That's a nice bit of writing - not sure whether you should regard that as a good thing or a bad thing under the circumstances.

I hope that, given that you cut this passage, you included a kinetic action sequence involving the Nine-Bladed Guillotine of Faer!
benpeek
Apr. 5th, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC)
the thing is, none of that stuff appeared in the book. it was just in those two paragraphs, and didn't really do anything or go anywhere.

but, some good has come out of it, for i have an idea for a story called the man who made death, which has come out of those little paragraphs and the discussion here, which, hey, sweet.
ataxi
Apr. 5th, 2011 11:49 pm (UTC)
So long as it includes my nine-bladed guillotine.
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