The last few months, I’ve been busting my butt to re-release two books I got the rights back to: Phoenix and The Flamboyant Flamingo. Both needed new editing, start to finish, and new covers. At the same time, I finished Half Moon House and got it out there. The Weatherboy sequel is still only half-finished and looks to remain incomplete for a while yet because I’ve decided to take a break.
The reasons for this are many. First, I have multiple edits coming up the next several weeks, several of which will overlap. This means I’m going to be working long, hard hours, and I won’t have time to be creative. I didn’t plan it this way, but sometimes it’s how things fall out.
Second, I started work on the next book, an SF/fantasy centered around a transgender teen, and hit a wall during plotting. No matter how hard I came at it, or from what direction, I couldn’t break through. So I put it aside and tried something else that equally excited me–for a few days. Then I simply stopped.
Third, sales of my books this year have been less than stellar. In fact, things have been so disappointing, I’ve thought of quitting altogether–yeah, yeah, I know. This is nothing new. Many authors go through this, not just me, and after a few days of gnashing their teeth or feeling sorry for themselves, they’re right back at it. Up until now, that’s how I reacted too.
But it’s been a couple weeks, and I haven’t started writing again. Plots and characters still teem in my mind, but I don’t feel the urge to write.
Instead, I’ve been re-reading the Merlin/Arthur books by Mary Stewart. The first one was published in 1970, and there are five books in the series, one of which I didn’t know existed until recently. I immediately went in search of it on Amazon, and a few days ago, it arrived from Switzerland. Yeah, that’s where I got it, and for $6 US. I’ve read one thousand pages in the last four days, and last night, I jumped into #3, The Last Enchantment.
Mary Stewart lived in England (she died not too long ago). She wrote a string of woman-in-peril romance books that were standouts in the genre due to strong descriptions, beautiful writing, and female main characters who were not wimps. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Disney made a movie based on one of them–The Moonspinners–that sucked compared to the book; in creating a vehicle for then very popular teen Hayley Mills, they turned an incredible piece of writing into pap for the masses.
It was Ms Stewart who made me want to be a writer. Her stories are so vivid, the locations so wonderfully detailed, reading any book of hers took me away from real life, which, when I was young, was often unhappy and stressful.
The crowning achievement of her career are the Merlin books. If you have not read them, you must. Her interpretation of the timeless legends are spot-on and gorgeous.
Are there flaws? *sigh* As an editor, I can’t help seeing them, but there are fewer than expected, and the story and characters are so solid, so soaring, for want of a better word, I literally cannot put the books down. I’d forgotten how good they are. I read late into the night, hardcovers propped on a pillow on my lap, both bedside lamps on because there is no Kindle backlight in a paper book. 😉 The rich language and emotion it evokes during specific scenes often brings tears to my eyes.
Merlin’s first vision in the crystal cave; Merlin meeting his father, Ambrosius, after being a bastard at court for years; the remaking of the Giants’ Dance, known to us as Stonehenge. “… and while the King lies there under the stone, the Kingdom shall not fall. For as long and longer than it has stood before, the Dance shall stand again, with the light striking it from the living heaven. And I shall bring back the great stone to lay upon the grave-place, and this shall be the heart of Britain, and from this time on all the kings shall be one King and all the gods one God. And you shall live again in Britain forever, for we will make between us a King whose name will stand as long as the Dance stands, and who will be more than a symbol; he will be a shield and a living sword.” Merlin was prophesying the coming of Arthur.
And after Merlin sees Ambrosius buried at Stonehenge: In the east night slackened, drew back like a veil, and the sun came up. Straight as a thrown torch or an arrow of fire, light pierced through the grey air and laid a line clear from the horizon to the king-stone at our feet. For perhaps twenty heartbeats the huge sentinel trilithon before us stood black and stark, framing the winter blaze.
It gives me chills. And wait until you read about Arthur and the famous sword and how he becomes the High King of England in #2. It’s stupefyingly beautiful. There is writing, and there is WRITING. Only a very few authors working today have the ability to write with this kind of weight and presence and sheer beauty of language. I’ll name one: Edmond Manning. His King books are amazing. He uses language differently, but there is the same weight and beauty as can be found in Stewart’s Merlin books.
So yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing this week, and I’m not sorry. 🙂 There are several books I want to re-read before the edits pour in and I don’t have time for it.
So I’m on break until further notice. I may or may not post here, as usual. I may or may not write flash fics. I’m planning nothing at all for a while.
I’ll be online though. See you there!