While I would love to say Umberto Eco is my hero, it would not be the entire truth because hero is a poor word to describe his impact upon me. I was introduced to him at university as his book Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language was a set reading. Having no idea who he was I did a bit of research and discovered his fiction. I adored Il nome della rosa (The Name of the Rose) but it was Il pendolo di Foucault (Foucault’s Pendulum) that was my favorite work. The more I read, the more I wanted to know and then one day on television there was documentary about him. It showed his 30,000 volume library and I remember wishing I could break in just to take a look around. It was because of Umberto that I sought knowledge but it was also because of him I did not write for many years. I felt terribly inadequate and no matter how much education I obtained, this fear made me a coward. It took several more years for me to accept that there were always going to be brighter stars and I might as well just get on with it. So I did. Umberto Eco was both my inspiration and my ruin and to change one or the other would take away who I am.
Today was spent on another round of emailing hopeful queries to Agents. I have realised during this quest that I probably should have approached the business of writing as just that, a business. I was so busy researching the genre and my characters that maybe I should have bothered to see how the marketplace responds to fantasy. Especially romantic urban fantasy where the romance stretches over several adventures. As you can imagine, not with great warmth. In fact the reception is down right cold. What I want to tell an Agent, and of course never will unless signed, is that I am not a genre writer. What I mean is, yes I have written this particular tale in this particular genre but I also work in jmany other genres as well. I tell the story the way it wants to be told and while I love fantasy, I am not devoted to it as my sole means of expression. I once told Tom that I will never write a literary novel. Of course in the same breath I told him the outline of a story I had simmering. It was a literary novel because life just loves making a liar out of me. So while I explored the joy of a fantasy trilogy, which has tendrils going out to another set of three–a story must have a resolution— I wish I had considered being trapped by the expectations of others. I might have tried my hand at something different, less complex and easier to sell. My rejections are coming in at about one a day and I have gone from feeling down to feeling the fate of Kafka hovering over me. We were born on the same day which could mean something to someone somewhere. I just hope it’s not history repeating itself.
Steampunk evades me. I love it, always have. Don’t quite understand how to create it but for me it is a fascinating genre. I read it, watch it, crave it, and yet can’t reflect it. So I leave the creation of steampunk to those who do it well. There is enough crap out there to block every toilet in the universe so there is no point adding to it. I think my inability to create it is because while I love watching or reading about science fiction I never had the urge to delve into joining this universe. Fantasy is often lumped in with scifi but though they might be of the same species, these are definitely two different breeds. To explore a fantastical version of the universe inspires creativity in so many industries from books to film to fashion. So maybe one day I can try my hand at something that intrigues and eludes me at the same time.
I am once again doing another edit, as it is a forever never done task. Sending a query out is only part of the struggle because though some will send back an instant rejection, others can keep you waiting weeks–even months for a reply. So what am I doing in the wait period? I go over the book, over and over again, ferreting out anything that I think can be improved. Now don’t get me wrong this is not a rewrite, those have been done, this is down the odd word or turn of phrase that could be refined even more. There will come a point when I am done and will move onto the editing of the Vampire–maybe I am sticking with the Elf because it is done and the Vampire means the start of another round of endless refinements. After that the Demon Prince has to go through the process. Finishing a book doesn’t mean the end, it is just the start of something else—either queries, polishing or both.
There are people who can whack out a book that barely needs polishing in weeks. I was not blessed with such a mind, I have to work hard at every part of writing. Tom once told me it was because I was trying to create something decent, I liked the compliment so I will stick with that. Being related to the great avant-garde musician Cornelius Cardew has me hoping that I am not dumb as a box of rocks. But that I will leave for my readers to decide. If I ever get any. So back to the editing and waiting for the email that might not a rejection.