I feel unbelievably frustrated with my writing right now. It’s strange, as I’m not doing very much of it. I’ve just finished majorly revising my last novel, which I’m certainly happy about, but I somehow don’t feel very satisfied. Maybe that’s because I don’t feel the story is complete. THE SOPHISTRY OF ALCHEMY is only part of a very long and large story, and the only reason why I split it into three separate books to begin with is because I know I could never get an agent to represent my work as a single unit in today’s economy.
Sometimes, with my stories, I can come to terms with omitting certain parts, with turning my back on sections of the story, but with Isolda’s story, I can’t. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten too close to the story. Isolda is more than a fictional character to me; she’s an alter ego of sorts. And Buckingham exists. He’s not just a name in a history book, a memory of personalities long gone. He’s real, as real as my husband or my dog, as real as my parents and my brother. I’ve long since finished the novel in which he lives, yet he still haunts the recesses of my mind. I still dream about him, I still imagine the sound of his voice, his smell, the touch of his hands.
I’ve come to a rather fascinating realization about myself and my writing – my books are never about the women. My books are always about the men. The women may be the vessels I use to tell the story, but ultimately it is the men who drive the stories forward. It makes sense. My first book, self-published ACERBUS ERUS, had as its main character a gypsy named Vitenka who is bent on revenge and succeeds in self-destruction. I loved Vitenka. Truly loved him. He began as the antagonist of a novel I wrote when I was thirteen, but I became so enthralled with this antagonist that I made him the focal point of my first epic trilogy. I have fond memories of Vitenka. I treat my memories of him like memories of a long-ago lover. But Buckingham is different.
I have a new book I’m writing, a retelling of a classic medieval tale called The Romance of Flamenca. I am also weaving in the story of The Romance of the Dame de Fayal, another well-known medieval tale, and at its center is the hero of Flamenca, a knight named Guilhem. The entire story is told through the eyes of a thirteen-year-old girl named Alix. I like Guilhem. He is, though young, troubled and restless; he is the knight who sold the world.
And yet, despite the fact that I am enjoying the process of character building and plot developing, and I am excited to delve into Guilhem’s world, I cannot shake the overwhelming presence of Buckingham. I feel as if he’s constantly hovering over my shoulder, just to make sure that I never quite forget him. The jealous ex-lover, the stalker who stares into my windows and follows my every move, Buckingham is a man no restraining order can save me from.
I think that’s why I’m frustrated. Isolda’s story is not done yet, and Buckingham knows that. He won’t let me forget it. But I wonder if I’ll ever be able to shake off Buckingham’s influence. It wasn’t like this with Vitenka. When I finished the book, Vitenka let me move on. He wasn’t jealous or vengeful. But Buckingham is another matter. And how will Guilhem, never a man moved much to aggression, stand against a beast like Buckingham?
These men are going to kill me someday.