Here, there are only choices lingering upon a festering past, redolent upon those rightly reviled promises of the kinder virtues to which we all of us originally aspire, yet inevitably fall short.
Do I seem bitter? That would be the easy charge, but no, what you hear is rather the pomp of those less temperate horsemen, of ire and rage and the alienation and envy that are now both my own necessity and inevitable imperative.
– Wraith 2017
Without the weight of external factors, narratives unwind in their own time and for their own reasons.
Sometime in the early part of my college years, after a respectable amount of both introspection and consideration, I made the conscious decision to not pursue a career in writing fiction.
I was, mind you, pretty sure I could pull off the commercial thing if I chose to, but there were (and are) a lot of things competing for my time, and in the end I decided the upsides of that path were just less important to me than the ability to, unfettered, wield writing solely as a tool of expression and personal catharsis.
In 2001, I published Wight.
Dictionary.com has this to say about the word:
1. a human being.
2. Obsolete. a supernatural being, as a witch or sprite. any living being; a creature.
The title was, of course, a deliberate play on all of the above meanings; as a first person work of dark fantasy, it featured a narrator able to raise the dead. As goes the inevitable cliche of an author’s first (well, close enough) narrative work, it was also a coming of age novel.
Totally an accident, I swear. I really didn’t mean it that way.
Someone once asked me if it was allegorically autobiographical, to which I could only say, “Meh.” The narrator definitely isn’t me, he is bolder than I was at that age, but also dumber. The events do not parallel anything in my own life for the most part.
While Wight was not autobiographical (even allegorically), it was an accurate representation of the emotional scaffolding and conceptual context that was the self of the me of that time and place.
That’s not insignificant; in fact, I could argue that that is far more important than any literal accounting of facts and dates and tedious timelines.
Of course – as it had to – it ended on a cliffhanger. I hate cliffhangers.
Fast forward to twenty years later.
I started putting together the framework of a sequel that would (surprise) take place twenty years later after that rather rude cliffhanger ending I had dropped so rudely on my (probably) five readers in 2001.
Instead of being an acceptable, albeit somewhat maudlin coming-of-age narrative, Wraith would be about the emotional scaffolding and conceptual context of my life at this period in my life, therefore a meditation of sorts on the falling apart of things, of how one reconciles with one’s own past, of how one tries to find new paths in the debris that is the inevitable consequence of the cataclysm of personal history.
That, like its younger sibling, has taken a few years to mature (no editorial deadlines, remember?) which in some ways has proven to be a good thing, as the passing of years has matured the thoughts and introduced new bitter flavors to the soil of that story.
This story, this “Third Book of the Dead”, is outlined and significant chunks are written, and it feels like it is close to its time to emerge into the world.
Like all children, however, it will emerge when it chooses to and not a moment earlier or later.
(Unless one chooses a Cesarean birth, but that seems overly harsh in the absence of a financial editorial requirement, right?)
There’s even a third one lurking somewhere in there, chronologically in between the two works that would be called Wer, but whether that is ever written will depend on certain things happening and certain other things not happening.
That history, dear reader, must therefore bide, at least a while.