armes prydein

Armes Prydein: 2/3 complete

Long time, no write. But here’s some very, very good news.

Following on early 2021’s rough draft completion for Armes Prydein‘s chronologically-first narrative “Pair Dadeni,” I am ecstatic to announce that with my co-writer Alex now on board (as revealed earlier this year), we have now finished this massive novel’s second narrative, “Cŵn Annwn.” In contrast with its counterpart’s historical Arthurian fantasy that spans decades of events, “Cŵn Annwn” covers a much shorter time range and is situated genre-wise at a nexus of alt-history, magical realism, sociopolitical thriller, and erotic romance. However, despite the more unique niche, this narrative is like a conceptual nesting doll for its predecessor; and its rough draft has clocked in at a stunning count of 414,653 words. Expect that number to drop during revisions — but also expect “Pair Dadeni” to get longer as the right pacing balance is found.

With that, I expect to spend the next several weeks doing some worldbuilding housekeeping and tweaking some plot plans. But then: it’s cyberpunk time. At some point in 2023, Armes Prydein will be drafted in full.


Armes Prydein: now a co-authored novel

I’ve waited a little while to share this decision until various pieces fell more into place, but at long last, I’m beyond elated to announce that Armes Prydein, my novel in progress for the last several years, has officially become “our” novel: my husband Alexander Stewart is working on it with me as a co-author! It’s a labor of love in more ways than one.

One point of potential confusion that may arise from this news is whether the sheer length and scope of the rough draft has anything to do with this decision. This manuscript still covers three distinct timelines that each have required massive worldbuilding, and even after revisions it’s very unlikely that the final product will fall far below 1 million words. And although I’m a notably verbose person and quick writer when I have the time, this project is thus an order of magnitude larger than my first novel. Plenty of writers have sought ghostwriters or official co-authors for shorter books than this. However, while I doubt I’ll ever write something this long again on my own, either, sharing the writing credit on Armes Prydein is more about content needs than structural ones.

From the very beginning, Armes Prydein’s triple-threaded concept has relied on:

1) the Arthurian saga, “Pair Dadeni” – completely my own creation; rough draft already complete and preliminary revisions in progress

2) an alt-Cold War, magical realist, romantic political thriller, “Cŵn Annwn” – adapted from portions of unpublished collaborative fiction Alex and I wrote between 2012 and 2014; rough draft in progress

3) an apocalyptic cyberpunk story, “Cad Camlan” – originally my own concept but increasingly relying on ideas from Alex, especially once the rough draft gets underway

Despite the disparate nature of these narratives when described reductively, they’re all latently intertwined with their themes and pacing, as well as more directly connected by certain plot points, recurring characters, and all events taking place on the island of Britain. To fully understand each narrative, you’ll need to read the others; there may even be the option for you to choose between reading them as three sequentially separated parts, or reading them as totally interlaced chapters. But most importantly for drafting purposes, in planning ahead I eventually determined that it would not be possible for me to do justice to certain characters in “Cŵn Annwn” whom Alex had written in the past, nor would it be fair to adapt various pieces of prose without Alex’s name attached. And likewise, many of Alex’s character portrayals, worldbuilding contributions, and plot ideas have also proven invaluable for making “Cad Camlan” a reality later.

I want to thank Alex from the bottom of my heart for joining me in this literary journey. The acknowledgments section for Armes Prydein will be enormous on several fronts; but Alex has assumed a particularly unique role, and I’m incredibly proud of what he’s brought to the project so far. At this point I expect not I, but we, shall have finished drafting the entire beast in another 12 to 24 months, putting us officially behind my initial timetable; however, I promise the extra time will be worth it. I am so excited for the public — one way or another — to eventually see what beauties, wonders, and horrors my talented husband can write, and what dreams and nightmares shimmer within our shared imagination.


Armes Prydein: 1/3 complete

This is both a small update and a very big one.

As of yesterday, I’ve successfully drafted one out of the three narratives in Armes Prydein (which, if I’ve never mentioned before, means “The Prophecy of Britain” in Welsh). This 207,000-word storyline is currently known as “Pair Dadeni,” or “The Cauldron of Rebirth.” Chronologically, it’s first out of the three, and follows both the childhood and adulthood of a plausibly historical reconstruction of King Arthur, at least as he’s typically called.

This Arthur is not actually a king, while the overwhelming majority of characters and events are derived purely from Welsh legend and an academic understanding of what 5th-6th century Britain was like, researched continuously on my part since 2016. You will find a mythic tone here, and plenty of magic as well, but no French-named knights, no Holy Grail; this Arthur is decolonized, or so I’ve tried to make him. Most of my necessary artistic liberties are still grounded as much as possible in real archaeology, real Brittonic kingdoms and their rulers, and more. Meanwhile, however, “Pair Dadeni” should also distinguish itself from typical historical fiction by centering queer love and foraying wildly into some rather postmodern prose.

I’ve wanted to write Arthur since I was nine years old. It’s very important for me to have finally done so. But all that aside, this is still just one strand of a long, long braid. I’ll probably break ground on the second narrative today — in a few days at the latest.


Into the hard winter

By some reckonings, winter is still a few weeks away. By other reckonings, winter just began the other day. By other reckonings, winter started just over a month ago.

Well, whatever the season, it’s overquoted but the fact remains winter is coming, even as the thing we really ought to fear nowadays is summer.

As I start to hibernate and hunker down, entering the darkest and broodingest times, on the one hand I feel the urge to use these months for relaxing, but on the other hand I feel the call of ordeal. I’m making progress with addressing some deep-seated sources of anxiety and pain, and I want to try even harder. There are also various current stressors I can’t just push aside; I have to face them, deal with them daily.

And then there is Armes Prydein, which has now surpassed 137,000 words. Between now and the end of January, my goal is to reach the 1/3 complete mark. I think it’s possible, but that’s some more hard work to start.

There is a lot of work ahead. A lot.


Sweeping winds

This day is when I mark a new year. Not by the calendar, but by the wheeling of the sun.

Wind sweeps away summer, brings the reckoning, brings the great death.

A little over three weeks ago, one of our cats died. He wasn’t “my” cat — more like a stepson — but there was pain. He was in pain. Now he’s not in pain. This was my first time participating in that kind of stewardship. In this age, the price for being a human is a steward’s duties.

I miss that cat very much. This is the annual day of mourning for what is lost. I make space in my heart today to mourn him again and again and again.

Armes Prydein has surpassed twelve chapters and 50,000 words. I’m not pausing the work; I cannot pause it, it’s entered the realm of compulsion. But I’m proud of having managed this in the cycle of only two moons, and the time feels right to start something new in the background.

Starting today, I will write poetry again. I will write one poem every day for the next 365 days. I won’t publish every one that I write, but if I do publish anything, it will go here.

It’s time to watch the withering. It’s time to gather apples. It’s time to weep, and to kiss the dark.


Truly new beginnings

After a few hours of work, I’m pleased to report that this blog’s top pages are now up to date and a lot of old posts are hidden. I’m going to start using my blog in a slightly different way; see the About page.

Progress reports on writing projects will still be included here—actually included. For example, after starting post-research, genuine drafting work on this second novel, Armes Prydein is now underway at more than 18,000 words and nearly five full chapters.

Llywelyn Jones

Armes Prydein update: September 2019

So, how has work been going on this current eternal-seeming Arthurian project, Armes Prydein?

Well, there has been substantially more research & planning than I had originally counted on, if not in volume than certainly in time spent getting through it. The pitfalls, naturally, of having only an average of 8-10 hours a week to freely spend on such things. Travel, other commitments, and stress have also provided interruptions. However, I’m pleased with how things are going, and I think I’m not very far behind schedule.

Things are going well because rarely has a week gone by without some progress made; I can always tick off one tiny box after the next, and the boxes are adding up. The end of that research & planning now feels genuinely, meaningfully near. I think I’ve plotted out a course for wrapping up most research within the first full week of October, and I’ll be aiming to finalize preparatory documentation by the end of November. Even though this will mean that I won’t continue to actually write the novel until December, more than two and a half years after I anticipated finishing the novel in five years… I cannot overemphasize how much time I know my front-loaded prep work is going to save me.

Finishing the rough draft in May 2022 could still very much happen. Of course, I’d love to finish it even sooner, but this is what remains a realistic estimate. If I’ve done my work right, I’ll face a shorter stretch of revisions after that primary deadline, and maybe I could be pitching by the end of that year.

Now I just need to think of another story or two that I could write and publish on the side while all of this is going on, without slowing anything down. That’s a hilarious concept. Even being on track, I need more time. I need so much more time.

Llywelyn Jones

All lakes lead to Avallach…

I haven’t provided an update about my writing activity since the winter, I realized, so here is some overdue news. Well, not news— I have no scheduled publications at the moment— but at least some information, because developments have occurred. I’m very gratified that my reasons for not posting much on this blog are largely that I’ve been hard at work. If you’ve been wondering about my next big project, today I’m lifting back the veil just a shade.

First, with regard to finished work, unfortunately, the situation with Frankenstein has reached a standstill. I had really hoped to manage a public reading and a full production in 2018, the 200-year anniversary of the original novel’s first edition, but the prospective director had to back out (which I say with no animosity, as she’s a lovely person). By the time that I decided to try pitching the script to local theatre companies on my own, the most obvious choices were no longer taking submissions for their next season. I should have known better, but there’s not much I can do about it now. Therefore, given that I also have other projects, I think Frankenstein must sadly sit on the back burner for at least another six months until I can submit it somewhere again.

Likewise, “O Fortuna” has retained “???” status, but I have my fingers crossed for some good news on that front. And while all of that makes it sound like nothing’s happened, something big (for me) has very much happened.

That is to say: last month I officially broke ground on my next novel, Armes Prydein. I may only keep that as the working title, but it’s rather likely to stick. The language will be English; the words in the title are Welsh, however, and a quick Wikipedia search will tell you what I’m referencing.

I’m going to try and post semi-regular updates about my progress without giving away too much immediately, but so far, here is what I shall say about this future beast of a book. Starting this past autumn, I spent approximately six months eating, drinking, breathing, and dreaming research about the island of Britain from the 5th to 6th century CE. Now I cannot call myself an academic expert on the subject, but I finally had a grounding to create a full cast of characters, rough plotline, and setting details for 1/3 of this novel’s content. I might still require the next 6-8 weeks to finish planning the whole thing as thoroughly as I’d like to before I truly dive in; however, before the end of April I had successfully written the opening paragraphs.

Now, as for why I say 1/3 of this novel’s content and not all of it, Armes Prydein is what can only be called an Arthur tale— it will be “my” Arthuriad— but as has become my way, there will be several stories connected to each other. I am classifying one story as mythic-historical fiction, another as alternate-history sociopolitical drama, and another as dystopian cyberpunk. A few characters will exist between all of them, but mostly the connections are thematic and structural. I toyed with the idea telling each story as its own novel and making a trilogy, but ultimately chose to keep things interlaced the way I know they need to be. Potentially a publisher could split the novel into three parts if that made a gargantuan, multi-genre, literary chimera more palatable, but if so I will create potential split points within each story’s plot.

We will see what happens. Ultimately, I would be shocked if I didn’t spend at least five years on this, and it will exponentially surpass the length of Tiresias. Particularly given that this will be only my second novel, I know it’s very ambitious. I decided to go ahead because if it’s going to take me so long to do it, I’d rather start it while I’m young; and of all the projects on my plate, this is the one I have been hoping to write for the longest time. It’s extraordinarily important to me as a Welsh person, an occult practitioner, a linguist, a leftist, and a mythologist. It is, if you will, the novel that I will not be satisfied until I complete before my death. Everything else I accomplish should prove the frosting on the proverbial cake.

I know it would be a wise plan to produce some shorter writing here and there while I labor on Armes Prydein, and I will attempt it periodically, especially if I need to rest my brain from some segments that I expect to find emotionally challenging. However, I would like the estimated five years to not double to ten, so the novel will remain my priority.

Onward; this is what I’ve been living for.

D. Llywelyn Jones