Friday, October 23, 2015

Yes, But Why??

The big question still looms unanswered: Why?

Why did the Greeks pack up all their most able, powerful young men and attack Troy and its territory? A woman snitched? Oh please. Their history of sniping each other? Yes, in part, but what was the origin of that sniping? Another woman saved from a sea monster? Oh please. No single incident involving a woman could ever logically justify these mass movements of disrupted men and the dogged, single-minded violence they perpetrated.

The campaign makes me think of the Crusades, initiated in greatest part in order to get the mass of landless, war-trained young men out of a Europe that no longer needed them and feared the trouble they were beginning to make, now that the local wars were settled. It was also at the front of my mind while reading Adam Gopnik's article "Blood and Soil" in the September 21 New Yorker. At one point he writes, "Frightened soldiers in foreign lands murder the locals without mercy or purpose. One wishes that this happened rarely. In truth, it happens all the time." As it did more than once in Ilium... Ilium that never came to Greece as far as we know, yet suffered ferocious Greek incursions again and again. There was a set of reasons for those incursions, but no one knows or has ever, apparently, tried to figure out what they are.

It is not myth or legend that will solve this puzzle; that glib, oversexed silliness. These weren't fairy-tale characters, but actual people who reasoned their way out of their own complex lives, away from those who depended on them, across a sea to war and slaughter. The reasoning can't lie in snippy interpersonal relationships. The purpose had to have been as immediate and logical as - just one example - the US's reasons for going to Vietnam. But, again, no one has ever addressed it from a grown-up POV.

This is why I'm stopped again, and hunting information on the political, geological and economic events of the old Levant, especially Anatolia. Much work has been done and is being done; for my purpose, I don't need to know it all, but certainly need to be able to provide a few sound, logical reasons for what happened. And Helen simply doesn't work.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Agents and Edits

My agent told another client (not me directly, of course) that she can't sell 'Peryton' because it's 'too smart.' It appears that I have been fired without actually being told so.

What does that even mean, anyway? It requires the reader to remember things from one page to the next? It poses questions and doesn't answer them immediately? It uses the occasional four-syllable word? The characters are not dreamy, sulky, moody, weepy teenagers? A dear, rightfully successful friend wrote that "...because you're transcending sub genres and writing for all adults with just half a brain didn't stop the book from being such a page turner that I literally still dream scenes from it."

At the same time I found a smart, attentive reader whom I can trust to read 'Warrior' and note every spot she finds a hiccup, or has a question that should be answered right there. Three steps forward, only two steps back?