Let’s not mince words, we all knew this was coming. Though still in denial over it, I’ve been foreshadowing it for the better part of a month. It’s also something of a pattern for me. How many times now have I said I was giving up on writing, closing the blog, and so on?
I am very protagonist-like in that sole regard; always saying I’m about to quit but never quite able to do it. Well, I’m not going to say that I quit this time. That’s one lesson I’ve learned.
That said, I do feel stuck in the wrong place at the moment, so I do want to pull The Necromancer and the Reaping Spear from publication. Sooner or later, whether it’s in ten days or ten years, I have to rewrite this entire series from the ground up. Its problems are too deeply rooted to fix through the sequels alone. But what’s this–a twist? A fly in the ointment? A tear in the–
–get to the point, Caerllyn–
So, er, though I dislike pushing the mental burden onto all of you, I’ve considered that perhaps instead of making this decision blind I should ask you readers. I promise you I’m not about to pounce on you just for commenting. So please put those typing and/or texting fingers to work and tell me:
Would you rather I leave Reaping Spear published as what amounts to an early access version of itself, or should I do as I would in a vacuum and pull it?
Either way, I am leaving The Necromancer and the Revenant: Resurrected Edition available on the grounds that it’s free. I’m still deeply conflicted about its content, but at a price of nothing its high points might be enough for many of you to forgive its lows. However, I do this with the caveat that it depicts a version of Canno, and in great part many of the main cast members, which is far less developed than the version now held in my mind.
Ideally, this book would feature three “designated” protagonists–namely Gratai, Syla, and Morkui–with it being debatable to what extent other main cast members might be seen as protagonists within their own PoV segments. It’d be close to 500k words just as Reaping Spear‘s current incarnation is.
I’d rewrite large portions of at least one culture, renaming the Ton to the Grast as well as placing much heavier emphasis on mysticism and the occult. I love what I know of Chinese culture, but I’m not Chinese and I don’t know whether I’ll ever be able to afford to hire a sensitivity reader to comb through my entire body of lore for the Ton.
Given the directions I want to take this story, I’ve realized it’s best to use a culture of my own invention either way. This series was never about the societal virtues and vices of any one Chinese culture–only the virtues and vices I designed for a culture whose aesthetics and philosophy borrowed more from wuxia films than anything else. Best to replace those aesthetics and philosophies with my work alone. I don’t want anyone to think I intend these stories as a critique of Chinese culture.
Most basically, I cannot overstate that I don’t want to engage in cultural appropriation in any form. Or… well… keep engaging in it. It wasn’t okay to do in the first place, so… you see what I mean about problems with content. I’m torn between the desire to be open about my past wrongs so I don’t deceive people into supporting me when they’d otherwise hold me to account, and wanting to erase those wrongs to prevent them from hurting anyone else.
It follows that if you choose to read the current version of The Necromancer and the Revenant, you’re reading the version written when I refused to deal with this and other problems of my own creation. I really hate the way I treated Syla in her first appearance when I wrote Revenant. I’d like to rewrite that scene from her perspective, have Gratai not be quite so awful to her, and then also let them resolve their character tension through slow-burn development rather than forcing Syla to be calm about Gratai derailing her life because ghosts.
I can make similar remarks about four or five other major plot points in Revenant, but I’m just here to give you a general idea, not a thesis paper. I’ll leave it up to you whether these sorts of faults are worth pushing through.
There’s also a great deal I want to do with worldbuilding. The first iteration of Canno was chained to a worry on my part that if I wrote anything too outlandish, it would hamper the book’s chances of finding an agent. It’d be nice to go back with the limiters off and throw every absurd lore idea I have into the mix. Arcanatech, monsters, rival adventurers’ groups, supernatural no-mans-lands’ between the conflicting domains of various deities, perhaps one or two little breaches in the fabric of reality… you get the idea.
Anyway, I won’t make any grand proclamations that I’m definitely done writing, not done writing, or about to burn down someone’s office. If we’ve learned one thing, it’s that I am the worst person at predicting what I’ll do next. For now, please let me hear your thoughts in the comments. Any input whatsoever is one more perspective I didn’t have before, and fuck me if more perspective isn’t exactly what I need right now!