How my new novel "Shunga-Satori" took form as "the underworld surrealism of a dark fairy tale."
In Part One of this series, I talked about how Shunga-Satori started as a project about an artist trying to make sense of another artist's legacy, and how the failure of that project to coalesce led me to think more about how to make a story out of one of its components.
How my new novel "Shunga-Satori" started as the story of a dreamspace.
Of all the books I've written so far, Shunga-Satori arguably has the most roundabout and tortured path from origin to destination. In fact, I'm not even sure at this point what exactly counts as the "origin" of this project, but I'll do my best to parse the fossil record.
But if this project started anywhere at all, it was with the title.
I'm almost done with editing the proof copy of Shunga-Satori, and I found ... well, a fair number of things that somehow managed to elude me in previous drafts.
Briefly: I'm almost done with editing the proof copy of Shunga-Satori, and I found ... well, a fair number of things that somehow managed to elude me in previous drafts. This is not a show-stopper, merely a show-delayer. I might have to write a few things, and do some close checking for a few things, but the book is 99.5% there as far as I can tell.
Editing with the proof copy is a radically different feeling than editing even on regular paper. It feels a lot more like being handed someone else's work and asked to weigh in on it without reservations. I found myself raising questions I'd completely missed before — not normative ones that would have forced a full rewrite, but ones still big enough they deserved close attention before the book went into other hands.
I am not an absolute perfectionist, although I'm close enough to one sometimes to play one on TV. There's some things about the book I've gone back and forth about — certain aspects of tone or voice, for instance — but at the end of the day I've decided those things are the way they are for a reason. If they turn out to be a bad idea, then I'll just have to keep that in mind next time around.
I've crossed some kind of personal Rubicon in terms of how I come up with ideas and treat them.
For reasons I've mentioned in these pages before, and some I've not, 2022 was a deeply stressful and difficult year. My wife and I put our house on the market — right when the market popped, too — bought a new one, moved, pruned down, rethought. I started Shunga-Satori and mostly finished it (it's now just about finished). And on top of all of that, I came up with more new ideas, more viable new ideas, for stories than in many of the previous years put together. I don't even know if I'll be able to get to all of them, but the sheer explosion of riches in my hands deserves some thought. What happened?
I do feel like I've crossed some kind of personal Rubicon in terms of how I come up with ideas and treat them. Once I adopted a certain new way of looking at the ideas that come into my head, I couldn't look at them any other way. It was the implications of an idea — and not just any old implications, but the way the idea's implications create or transform a worldview. Also, the people who are embodiments of that worldview. I'll try to explain what I mean.
It's here! It's here!
After a couple of delays, my proof copy for Shunga-Satori is finally in my hands!
What I learned while writing my latest (and strangest) novel.
Well, it's almost done. As of earlier today I put in an order for the proof copy for Shunga-Satori, with what I hope are the just-about-final cover copy and interiors. If all is well, then I'll set up the Kindle edition in the coming week, and we should have my latest, and strangest, novel out into your hands long before the end of the month. (Spend some of that sweet tax refund money on it! It's cheap! You'll be supporting an artisanal creation!)
I haven't yet set up an official splash page for the book — that's still to come in the next couple of days — but once I have that in I won't be able to shut up about it.
Here's a few things I picked up along the way while working on this particular book.