For those not in the know, since the summer of 2007 I've been pursuing a series of wuxia stories, trying desperately to write them down. Wuxia is a genre of fantasy martial arts. If you've ever seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon then you're already acquainted with wuxia.
In the summer of '07 my cohort Jason Ho was in dire need of something to draw for his blog (http://bootlegsketch.blogspot.com/). I had had an idea in my head for a while of a character that was a wise koi fish that could speak, imparting wisdom to other characters in his world. I told Jason to draw a 'mystic fish'. I immediately began writing the background to the character... and Xiao-tep was born.
Xiao-tep is a mystic koi fish that can fly, speak and fight. He's quite adept at fighting with his famous Spear of Sorrows. From the very beginning I wanted him to live in a world that's alive. I've done pretty well in that respect, in my humble opinion. The daytime sky in this world is a mythic giant swan named Etain whose wings stretch beyond each horizon. She is being chased by her unwanted suitor, a giant black swan named Kalavata. He is the nighttime sky. And beneath Kalavata flies Zingtai the Birdwing Butterfly. She is mostly black with jewels embedded in her wings that sparkle, creating the stars of the night sky. She follows Kalavata, in love with him and happy to be near him.
As 2009 draws to a close, I've been looking back on the year and evaluating my progress. I'm not entirely happy where I'm at professionally right now. My work could and should be in every media out there. Xiao-tep is an example of this. I think his wuxia world lends itself to comics, anime, video games and printed text as well as merchandise like apparel and toys.
In other respects, however, I've also continued to grow somewhat insofar as fanbase is concerned. Not exponentially, but I've still seen growth. I hold onto that dearly.
Of all the things I'd set out to accomplish this year, the one thing I did not do was finish the latest Xiao-tep novel. Originally calling it "A Band of Dark Hearts" and now calling it "Broken Sorrows", it is the third installment of Xiao-tep's story and his last. The first installment was a 145-page novella called "Escape from the Cottonwood Chamber" (originally "The Children of Gods"). That's quite a background story!
The second installment was "The Theft of Heaven", a 450-page novel I wrote over the course of the summer of 2008.
This summer I meant to start and finish "Broken Sorrows". Alas, I've been down on my writing. I've not pursued Xiao-tep the way I should and I've allowed myself to question my skills. I've doubted myself a lot this year and I don't like it. It's the first time in my entire career this has happened.
Before writing this, I slapped what I have of "Broken Sorrows" together into a single-spaced, yet-to-be-formatted-for-publishers file. I'm 147 pages in... and still introducing characters! I won't be surprised if this novel pushes 600 pages.
On a bright note, I've finally started writing "Moyete" (originally titled "Hush Little Baby"). It's perhaps the most ambitious work I've tackled... yes, even moreso than a potential 600-page anthropomorphic wuxia novel. To help illustrate: I've even developed part of a language for this absurdist sci fi action-adventure. And I'm brushing up on my Baudelaire and Rimbaud, my Taoism and Mongol Empire and Native American knowledge for this novel.
I hope to continue writing them both.
I just needed to get some of this out.
Thanks for reading. The attic isn't clean, but it's cleared out a bit now.