100k Words, and Why Fantasy Bites

If you don’t write HP fanfic or sexy vampires sucking blood and kicking tail, chances are you’re struggling to get published in the fantasy genre.

I’m one of those writers that doesn’t write to be published. I mean, I do. Obviously. But, like Stephen King says (in his prologue to the Dark Tower, heh), all writers fall into one of two groups: those who write to disperse information and those who write to gather. I’m one who gathers my information before trying to get it published.

That’s probably why I’m not published. I could easily write the latest vampire/werewolf romantic sexfest. I don’t care to. It’s been done. As with Tolkien’s publication of LOTR came a handful of successful mimics (Terry Brooks, for one), HP/Twilight is bringing about a handful of successful mimics (and about a thousand and one unsuccessful mimics, of course). But that genre’s saturated.

And it’s boring.

I’ve written my Dresden Files-esque Urban Fantasy (to no avail). In fact, I’ve written two books in the series before I petered out sending the stuff out and trying to get it rewritten/fixed up.

I’ve written my Lovecraft-esque fiction (definitely to no avail). Form letters all the way, if I got a reply at all, and THAT work is about two years earlier than my Urban Fantasy.

Now, I’m 100k words up on a story that I find most accessible to the general audience. Fiancee and brother both believe it’s a YA novel, albeit a little graphic at times. It’s my take on the HP craze: 13 year old boy goes to summer camp at a school of magic. He has issues. Hilarity ensues.

Yet I don’t believe I’m looking at this writing thing correctly. It’s not the genre that isn’t getting me published. It’s not the content within that genre. I think it’s the complication of the writing. David and His Shade is a relatively simple text: no florid prose, no overly complicated symbolism/metaphors, no gratuitous dream sequences that warp or mutate the story (they’re more punctuation marks to the story instead of their own stories…).

I think it’s still too complicated. My fiancee was eyeballs deep in world religions when she returned from India and Korea. She had lived the magic, and knew the magic, and in turn taught me about it. Chi, chakras, totems, Astral Projections, OBE, all that was commonplace in her study, in her life. It permeates my writing. In fact, instead of the stylized British magic incorporated in the HP universe, my writing uses complex systems that are already in place: Christian magic, Pagan magic, Hindu magic, Earth magic, Faeries and elves and demons and vetala and angels and Genius loci, and a thousand things in-between. Werewolves, and vampires, too.

I wonder if that’s a turnoff for anyone in the publishing industry: specific embracing of all religions, and positing character viewpoints that disagree with major religions (such as an anti-Christian mentality in a teacher, for instance).

It’s a touchy subject, but I don’t feel like anything, in any genre, should be censored for the sake of political correctness.

If anyone knows the overall viewpoint of the Fantasy publishing industry on this whole thing, I’d love to know.

I’m (at most) 20k off from finishing this beast. I have a lot to cut. Next chapter is the climax. I’ll be finished with a rough draft by Sunday.

Can’t wait to start getting more rejection letters. ~x

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