PerGoSeeMo Psalm 31

PerGoSeeMo Psalm 31. PerGoSeeMo Psalms 1-30

            In the beginning, a single thought

A challenge to offer what most I prize:

My time – the hours that would have been Story’s,

For you had another tale in store for me.

A tale that began in the chapters of John,

And continued in spite of my clamoring mind;

You led me to quiet and up to the sky,

And drew me into your invisible arms.

            You showed your name’s power, of which I’d been told,

And guided my steps to the bridge where you waited

To prove that you’re more than my heart ever heard,

Even though you were speaking wherever I turned.

We traded fairytales blended with truth,

Spoke author to Author, and sung songs anew;

Reflected on plans and desires, and watched me

Fall into patterns of disciples of old.

            But more than words only, you gave me your peace,

And assurance that we’ve only just now begun –

This month the nativity of the days onward

For Father and daughter and Spirit and Son.

            Amen.

“Sequel 2”

From the blogger who brought you “Name”… “Read”… and the blockbusting masterpiece “Homeschool… comes a continuation of the commentary on continuation itself. “Sequel” is back – and this time… it’s a sequel.

            Clearly, the end of my last blog piece on this topic didn’t feel like The End. There was another aspect of this “story” that I felt merited discussion – namely, the experience of writing a sequel versus its original.

            As of this piece’s typing up, I am in the middle (or, well, maybe in the first third) of drafting a sequel to the novel that demands near-future publication, “The Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale”. I wrote “Ballad” as my project for my first-ever National Novel Writing Month. For someone who typically took a couple of months to craft a twenty-five- to forty-thousand word novel, cranking out 50K in thirty days or less proved an appealing and only slightly daunting challenge. “Ballad”s production was a wild ride, my untried characters and I flying along together by the seats of our pants and hosen, with naught but a lengthily drawn-up plot outline to keep us careening down a fairly straight course. It was great fun, and I immensely enjoyed collaborating with my Merry Men for what I expected would probably remain a standalone book.

            Then, in the following months, I, the Men, my writing buddy Tirzah, as well as a growing number of various other characters of hers and mine, took to chillin’ out in an immaterial Sherwood Forest together. The place turned out to be kind of a hotspot for character growth (much to my bullheaded chagrin… and Tailor and Tirzah’s delight). Allyn-a-Dale, in particular, underwent some remarkable evolution, and I had occasion to delve deeper into the psyche certain other members of the outlaw band, also. It eventually got to the point where to not write a second book and share some of this stuff with “Ballad”s future fans would be a literary sin (and that’s not authorial arrogance speaking, that’s Tirzah shouting), so here I am today, trying to make a sequel happen.

            Is writing a sequel easier than writing the original? Some aspects of it can be. Certainly, characterization may come more easily, since I’ve already got some time with most of the cast under my belt. And if I haven’t spent too much time away from the preceding work, then getting back into the rhythm and tone of it for another round will tend to be less problematic than the often rocky start of a completely new project. But on the flipside, I’ve got the additional pressure of wanting to make the sequel good. Bare minimum, on par with its predecessor; ideally, even better. The challenge set before me is to make this second installment feel both agreeably familiar and delightfully new.

            And as I embark on the creation of what I’ve codenamed “Ballad 2”, that’s exactly what it feels like.

            It feels great to hang around Avalon Faire again (and beyond?… You better believe it!). It’s a joy to listen to Allyn think and speak in graceful poetry, and to get high off of Will Scarlet’s incurable enthusiasm. It’s exciting, knowing the curveballs I’m planning to throw at the Sherwood gang, and having no idea what sort of curveballs they’ll end up winging right back at me! Hey for the writing process! (…I cheer, tossing my immaterial cap in the air.)

            Now that I’ve gotten myself good and wound up, I’m going to call this blog piece a wrap and get back to where I left a pair of my outlaws about to get into some misguided monkeyshines. Until next time, readers!

            To be continued?…

“Sequel”

It’s kind of hard to be at all aware of popular culture and not know what this noun’s second definition is: “A literary, dramatic, or cinematic work whose narrative continues that of a preexisting work.”

            Hollywood thrives on sequels. (Or, some critics might argue, sequels are killing the industry.) In fact, some of my favorite movies are sequels – “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”, “The Swan Princess: The Mystery of the Enchanted Kingdom” (okay, urgent disclaimer, that last one is a former favorite; way, way, way, former)… The reason that I was eager to watch these three movies, which all happen to be the third in their respective series, is that I had seen and enjoyed the movies that preceded them. That right there is the big draw of the sequel: Somebody liked that aforementioned preexisting work enough that they wanted more of it.

            It is a dismal truth, however, that sequels do not always live up to their predecessors. Many books and movies are milked well past the point of quality’s demise. Stories are stretched to ridiculous proportions, or shamelessly recycled, or (sometimes, it seems) barely bothered with, all for the sake of spending a little more time with these characters or in that world (or in the hopes of pulling in a few more dollars).

            As an author, I am faced at every book’s completion with a choice: Do I crank out Part Two/Three/Four…, or do I end it here?

            I could make an illustration of “The Wilderhark Tales”, but that’s been getting more than its fair share of shout-outs on this blog. I’ll use a different example: My “World of the Dream” saga. I wrote the first book without any ambitions for a follow-up. Bruno battles evil in his sleep – action, adventure, witty quips and unicorns, the end. I would have been happy to leave it at that… except that I was soon afterward inspired to do more. I saw a storyline that could be taken farther, deeper, darker, and more urgent than before. I ran with it, and it ended on a note that loudly demanded a third installment. With the trilogy concluded, I would have been willing to swear that that was that.

            That wasn’t that. For all kinds of reasons that I could go into, but then I’d have to kill you (spoilers, don’t you know), there needed to be a Book Four, which I wrote. And frankly, I would love a Book Five. But I don’t think there’s going to be one. Some sort of prequel, doubtful-but-possibly, or another related short story or novella (one has been written already). But not a Book Five. The fourth book’s final chapter felt as truly final as any ending I’ve ever typed.

            I know I said I’d leave “Wilderhark Tales” alone for this one (but it turns out I can’t, because I’m obsessed), but it was really the same way. Once I’d hit the fourth book, I was planning for seven, just because I thought the number suited the series. But by the time I was deep into Book Six, I could feel it: This was the end. Never mind the suitability of seven. Never mind that I could give my tailor seventy times seven books and still find more to say. (And I honestly can’t decide if that’s an exaggeration or not.) That narrative was over, and to try to force another book would have been pathetic overkill. An artist with a heart for quality has to know when to say, “Enough.”

            Whether or not Hollywood will ever adopt that attitude remains to be seen.