Monday, February 22, 2010

Ye Ecstasy & Agony

I moved in with my ailing Mother two years ago, into the house that my father had built when I was around five years old. It has always felt like home here, and often, during the decades when I had my own apartment or lived with friends in a shared house, I ached to return "home." It has been a mixed blessing. Mother simply does not understand the writer's life, and she has problems comprehending that I have patrons who are supporting me in order to stay home and write books of Lovecraftian horror -- which is, in these times, a very strange and wonderful thing! Often, it is impossible to concentrate because Mother won't leave me alone. "Why are you down there in the dark all the time? Go out and get some fresh air, look at that sunshine. Why don't you go jogging?" My current problems with congestive heart failure rule out jogging, methinks. Mother's health continues to fail, and she has had two episodes of falling this past week-end. This utterly ruins my ability to concentrate on work, and for the past two days I have been able to write but one little line for a prose poem for the new book:

"I breathe into the artificial air, where pseudo-stars blink at me from afar, their false light caught into these tools, my eyes."

(Trying to be "Cosmic," aye....)

So, I'm feeling a bit frustrated -- but happily, when I cannot concentrate on writing fiction, I can come here and write about writing, or I can go to Amazon or Goodreads and review books. But I'd rather be working on me book. I miss, always, my wonderful solitude that was mine when I lived on my own. Perhaps this is one reason why writers are sometimes thought of as selfish -- we need to be left alone. I can go for days not seeing anyone, and my fantasy life at times is to have some hidden place into which I can disappear for weeks at a time and do nothing but read and write. Such a life would probably not live up to the fantasy.

Although I am not a social person, there is one event to which I am keenly looking forward, and that is MythosCon, to be held next January in Phoenix, Arizona. Let's see if I can correctly supply a link:

Ah! I figured out how to edit! You see, one can learn new tricks.
Okay, instead of creating a new blog, I shall continue with this one. The idea of MythosCon opens for me a wide spectrum of ideas and questions. I want to use the convention to investigate the Nature of ye Beast, to understand this thing we call the Cthulhu Mythos. I went through a kind-of anti-Mythos phase when I began to edit Tales of Lovecraftian Horror for Bob Price's Cryptic Publications, back in the late 1980s. One of the first tales I accepted was "That Which Devours," by Walter C. DeBill. It seemed such a good story, and I was annoy'd that an editor of a Mythos anthology had rejected it, finding it non-Mythos or not Mythos enough. This made me initiate an editorial rule that my publication would not contain any Mythos tales. I went so far as to deny that I was myself a Mythos writer -- I was an author of Lovecraftian horror. I have since had a huge reversal, and now I proclaim myself "a professional Cthulhu Mythos writer" at every opportunity.

My tutorial concerning the Mythos came from reading Lin Carter's Lovecraft: A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos and August Derleth's Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. Carter tried to explain the rules:

"Now, what exactly does it mean to say a short story belongs to the Cthulhu Mythos? In order to so qualify, obviously a given tale must do more than just mention one of the Lovecraftian gods, such as Nyarlathotep (otherwise The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath qualifies; Nyarlathotep is one of the characters who appears therein), or one of the Lovecraftian place-names (otherwise The Picture in the House, set in Arkham, qualifies). The tale must, I think, present us with a significant item of information about the background lore of the Mythos, thus contributing important information to a common body of lore."

This is nonsense, unless one wants to pen tales about the Mythos, as Carter and Derleth did. If I were to write a completely non-Lovecraftian tale, in which I suddenly have a quote from the Necronomicon in which is revealed a new revelation concerning the nature of Shub-Niggurath, does that make my story suddenly and automatically a Mythos tale? Certainly not. One can write a story with the Mythos in the background, in which no stunning new revelation is pronounced, and that story can still be a Mythos story.

When I began writing Weird Inhabitants of Sesqua Valley, Mythos Books published S. T.'s The Rise and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos -- and that book so entranced me that I was determined that my new book would be a total Mythos-to-ye-core collection. In this I failed, and I failed because the Mythos and its relationship to "pure" Lovecraftian horror is still something I have not completely comprehended. I was certain, when I was writing "Into the Depths of Dreams and Madness," that I was writing a Cthulhu Mythos story -- but reading over the story now I find no Mythos "elements" at all. It is a tale of Lovecraftian horror. "An Eidolon of Nothing" is tainted absolutely by The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and uses a summoning of the power of Yog-Sothoth -- but that is its only Mythos element, if such it can be called.

This all fascinates me, and I look forward to gathering with other Mythos writers at MythosCon to debate and contemplate the nature of this beast we call the Cthulhu Mythos. The two newest anthologies of Lovecraftian tales that I have read, Lovecraft Unbound and Black Wings, cannot be called anthologies of Mythos fiction; indeed, Ellen forbade the inclusion of cliched Mythos elements, as she wrote in her introduction:

"I asked for stories inspired--thematically and possibly--by plot points in Lovecraft's mythos. What I wanted was variety: in tone, setting, point of view, time. In fact, I'd prefer not to have any direct reference in the story to Lovecraft or his works. No use of the words 'eldritch' or 'ichor,' and no mentions of Cthulhu or his minions. And especially, no tentacles."

This is very near to what I was striving to do with Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, but it is even more extreme. I allow'd mention of shoggoths and such. Anyway, I hope to see many of you at MythosCon next year, where we can discuss these things, and celebrate the wonder that is H. P. Lovecraft.

1 comment:

  1. Now I cannot figure out how to return to that blog and edit/continue. Anyway, the link ain't working, in that it doesn't allow ye to click onit. I'm so clueless at this computer hoodoo. Let's try this:

    and see if that works. MythosCon is simply going to be the coolest gathering of Cthulhu Mythos freaks ever. So many wonderful writers and artists that I've been longing to meet are on the members list. I think we are still exploring aspects of the Cthulhu Mythos, what it is, how it is different from Lovecraftian horror. I think I shall discuss this properly in another blog.