Sunday 1 September 2013

Historical novelist's dilemma (or: Permission to Fail)

Found this and it made me chuckle and roll my eyes and then chuckle a bit more. And yep, while the Fall/Rape of Nanking is probably much worse than anything I'll ever dare touch in my WWII books, this sound exceedingly familiar, only that one of those historians is heavily internalised and gets in the way of the writing.

The historical novelist's dilemma.

In other news, I'm giving serious consideration to spinning out one or maybe two additional pseudonyms - if anything, as a matter of "branding". The Muse demands I shall write a number of literary historical books. Still queer characters, but with romance as a sub-plot and a different weighting to all the elements. (Are there "hot" literary novels? I always got the sense it was somehow dirty to turn a reader on in literary fiction and it was certainly frowned upon in the circles of the literati... because those procreate through parthenogenesis.)

I'm tempted by a new pen name to get rid of expectations and for more freedom, overall. Several of the things I want to write won't sell. They're straight-up historicals with literary pretensions. For me, they'll be about growth, about flexing muscles that I know can grow stronger, though they'll never carry me financially.

They are all follies, indulgences, and they are likely to crash and burn, just like pretty much all literary novels out there (many literary novels sell no more than 500-2,500 copies, and I expect those books to be at the lower end of that - if that much).

By acknowledging that, I give myself permission to fail.

Which I think is exactly what I need right now to find my joy again: do my jolly best to fail spectacularly, burning myself up like a comet pulled to earth. No fear. Death is inevitable.


  1. For what it's worth, as a reader I'm all in favour of authors using pseudonyms for different types of book. It helps fans of one type identify the ones they want to read and avoid buying ones they don't want by mistake.

    I think that way L.A. Witt does it is a good system - as you know she separates her m/m from her f/m, but it's transparent in that the websites are linked. That way, anyone who is flexible in their reading and likes her as an author can easily discover more books by her, and at the same time make an informed decision and read the type of book they feel like reading that day.

    Go and fly close to the sun!!

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