Second walk of the day, and a much longer one. I wrote for several hours, and I hope to write again. But the walk was clarifying. Still thrall to that luminous gray, but unlike this morning, no drizzle to curtail me. The house is dim and warm, but outside it is brighter, and I felt more brisk almost at once.
I spent the first half admiring all the orgulous brick edifices studding the “crescents” that scythe off of Alderton. I came home by a different street, forgetting that it is the hour school lets out, or at least some schools, and that the street I needed to take happened to have one of those schools on it. O, the clamorous glee! And thus, some negotiating of noise and buses and bustling parents and enthusiastically liberated younguns and strollers.
Thoughts on walk:
Mike Allen recently reminded me of “Lady of Shades,” a story I wrote–or tried to write–in the wake of too much Hadestown. (How much is too much? Really?) I re-read the latest draft recently and thought both, “DAMN IT’S GOOD” and also “BUT I CAN SEE WHY IT KEEPS GETTING REJECTED.” And I thought, both then and two nights ago talking to Mike, that the story really needs a bigger space to unspool than the <7500 word constraint. It’s maybe not a novel-sized idea, but it could be a novella.
So then, today, as I was walking, and thinking about cities, and about “Dark Chicago” which is the setting for “Lady of Shades”–or was–and all the alternate New Yorks in urban fantasy, I wondered if I might release “Lady of Shades” from the bonds of this world.
On the one hand, it severely curtails my references, and thus an array of amusing metaphors and allusions. On the other hand, it shakes loose the myths we all know and bow to, the same stories we scrawl and scratch out, trying time and again to re-imagine, and in shucking that dust, I have a new leave to, you know, make the beast with two backs with my plot and characters. Flirt with, unfurl, it. If you get what I mean.
In my Dark Breakers novellas, I have this city, Seafall, which is loosely inspired by Newport, RI. It has mention in “How the Milkmaid Struck a Bargain with the Crooked One,” first published by Ann Leckie in GigoNotoSaurus, and then reprinted in my collection Bone Swans.
The world wherein Seafall exists also plays host to many other of my stories, though they do not all take place in the same country, or even continent, much less timeline, and very rarely are the characters aware of or linked to characters in other stories. Seafall and its sister cities have a mythology that is sometimes alike, and sometimes alien, to ours. And there are cities I’ve written I haven’t yet fully explored. Or exploited. (A city can be infinite.) And there are, I hope, cities and towns and whole ranges of this world I haven’t even invented yet!
And I think one of these cities will now host “Lady of Shades.” I’ve not yet written a contemporary fantasy in this world. The latest novella “Desdemona and the Deep” (needs one more draft, not yet published) is the third of the Dark Breakers stories, and it loosely maps to our 1900-1910-ish timeline. Sort of Belle Epoch-y. What they call their “Orchid Age.”
Scoot up the timeline a hundred, hundred-fifty years? I do that, and I can really start to play. How will the world I’ve so far made look in its own future. How alike and unlike will it be to this one? And will my characters, whom I love, in “Lady of Shades” be able, finally, to BREATHE there, and become a VIABLE STORY???
One can only hope!
In the meantime, I found my second walk VERY POTENTIATING, to coin a favorite Hernandez phrase.