o fortuna

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 a) if it’s going to take me so long to do it, I’d rather start it while I’m young; b) I am going to receive some collaborative assistance from my secret-talent husband, though he has not yet told me whether he would like a co-credit or ghostwriter status; and c) 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

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To be prolific

Some people find it challenging to be prolific as a writer. I don’t, per se, but on a schedule where I have to make ends meet by non-writing employment, let alone a schedule where I have to do that and also give myself some time for my husband, socializing, homemaking, and random interruptions of all kinds— it’s easy to write many throwaway items, and not so easy to write polished work.

This challenge extends to more than just publishable fiction. When I say “throwaway items” I mean things like tweets or (preferably) self-contained, collaboratively written scenes. I try to put thought into literally anything that I write to/with other people, but in terms of nonfiction I’m not going to expend as much effort on a thing it takes 0.05 seconds to read, while in terms of fiction I’m not going to worry about getting things just right when it’s a project I regard mostly as practice. Consequently, it’s not much trouble to spend time on these things most days of the week. But anything else—

Publishable fiction eats up time. Querying it takes time. Full-blown essays take time. General blogging takes time. Even spending effort on writing stuff that promotes myself and tries to convince people to spend money on my work as a whole… that takes time and a certain je ne sais quoi. I didn’t think I could really make the Patreon take off, and so far it hasn’t done anything.

Frankly, I am not complaining about this problem, or at least I would like these reflections not to be interpreted as complaining about anything besides facts like 24 hour days, 8 hour sleep phases, and full-time income generation. I can’t change much about those facts, and I think that with or without any sponsorship, I’ll need to take some steps to push my writing life along.

To that end, here are a few developments/decisions:

  1. I have renewed my lapsed search for a Frankenstein producer. There is no taker yet, but I’m having conversations that need to be had, rather than having conversations about those conversations, if you know what I mean.
  2. My new story “O Fortuna” is still being queried, but I’m starting to think I should try to churn out a shorter piece after that comparable novella, so that I can be querying more than one thing at a time. That’s more effort, but it doesn’t feel too productive to wait for literal months to back from each magazine at a time about a single story. I really hope inspiration strikes soon for a tiny tale.
  3. I am neck-deep in research for my next novel(s), and I don’t expect to be at a point where I can really put that research to work until spring has arrived. But it’s been a very stimulating and rewarding process so far.
  4. Right now, above all I’m envious of writers who can crank out a blog post a day like it isn’t an undertaking. Of course, I don’t find it an undertaking in terms of my ability to produce several paragraphs in less than an hour— I can do that— but I find myself stymied by:
    • Difficulty choosing a dedicated blogging schedule
    • Uncertainty about what method I can use to assure that I really stick to that schedule apart from genuinely not having any time that day
    • Wariness about treating a public blog as a diary; even if I don’t include anything I’d rather keep private, who really cares about the minutiæ of my day-to-day?
    • Wariness about using this blog as a constant flow of commentary on politics, news items, or media; it seems much more natural than a diary, and I have no lack of opinions, but it means taking a deep breath and plunging out into some very treacherous waters.
  5. Consequently, if any of you have any short story premises that you’d be curious to see me handle, or any preference about how I could use this blog more frequently, I would truly welcome your feedback.

I think that’s everything worth saying for today. I am not committing to more regular updates right now, but I would very much like to motivate myself to increase my output in ways that do seem realistic.

D. Llywelyn Jones

A play, and a story

I feel somewhat stupid for not doing a proper blog announcement about this at some point: earlier this year, my adaptation of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus achieved what I will call its performance-ready form. I think I shied away from formally declaring anything because in my opinion (and in others’) the script would benefit from a public staged reading before a full production. I also have been dithering on whom to approach as a potential local producer, although an interested director does exist. Nonetheless, I do think of the play as “done”— ready for action. Immense thanks are due to my beta readers, as well as to Lucas Commons-Miller, J. Deschene, and Ally Matteodo of the Boston theatre scene for serving in a multiplicity of roles during last December’s private reading. When I figure out how to really move forward, I will be better about updating here.

Worth noting as well, I suppose: while it is now in beta, I completed my first sci fi short story, “O Fortuna,” earlier this summer. I consider this a personal success because it has been a long time since I truly finished a short story, and while some bodies would classify it more as a novelette, the fact remains that it is not a full novel, and yours truly the master of verbosity managed to tell a concise tale. I also suspect this is the first sci fi story of any kind that I’ve written without just a two-paragraph beginning. When it is out of beta, I’ll be querying magazines, or whatever else seems like a good possibility.

Until next time.

D. Llywelyn Jones

Edit: Oh, right. I also joined Medium. Follow here, if you’re a Medium person. I consider myself fairly useless at Medium so far, but if I figure out something to do with it, I will.