I finally started what I am calling ye Prelude to my new story, the one set in Arkham and inspired by a story idea that H. P. Lovecraft never got around to writing. But fiction writing is suddenly very difficult, mostly because of this strange and intense weariness that I cannot understand, it seems more mental than physical. It is during such times, to keep a sense of activity, that I usually go to Amazon and write book reviews. I spent a great part of last night finally reviewing Black Wings II. S. T. has now completely edited the third book in the series, for which Jessica Amanda Salmonson and I have written an extremely perverse wee thing called "Underneath an Arkham Moon." I continue to be absolutely mesmerized by Lovecraft's Arkham and its fictive possibilities. Happily, I have been able to find my misplaced copy of the Chaosium Call of Cthulhu roleplaying manual, The Compact Arkham Unveiled.
My own work, unlike Lovecraft's, is audaciously supernatural. Here is the opening paragraph of my new thing:
The uncouth creature loped toward the pale willow tree and knelt to the place where grass did not grow. How curious, that such a canine countenance could look so sly, so cunning. It raised its green eyes to the full moon and uttered a sound of low baying, and those who heard the sound while sleeping found themselves plunged into the depths of strange nightmare that is unique to Arkham. Now, in modern time, people have mostly forgotten the special relationship that moonlight has with Arkham; but it was remembered on this night, in this haunted place, by the beast that wrapped its talons around pallid willow vines. The blasphemous thing breathed heavily, and clouds of fetid vapor issued fromits large mouth; and as it blinked its jade-green eyes to dead moonlight it grinned again to think, with what remained of its once-human brain, of its relationship with the lifeless globe of dust in the sky. And then it scanned the silt on which it hunkered, unwinding one monstrous hand from the willow vines so as to etch a sigil in the earth. Its hand formed into a fist, with which it pounded the ground; and from shadowed places inthe graveyard there came the echo of other fists that beat the earth, fists that belonged to creatures pent in darkness, fiends with wide mouths and jeweled jade-green eyes.
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One of the stories on which I will model my own novelette is "The Dreams in the Witch House." I have always been extremely frustrated with the unimaginative way in which Lovecraft used Nyarlathotep in that clumsy tale. I am, as you know, utterly entranced by this Outer God, and my book that celebrates him, The Strange Dark One, will be publish'd this month. Lovecraft's tale has aspects of wondrous originality, but they are combined with boring cliches, the worst of which is his turning this awesome icon, Nyarlathotep, into an unimaginative emblem of Satanism. No! Thus I want to bring in the strange dark god, and the island in the river wherein he dwells, into my own novelette and make these plot elements intriguing and utterly macabre.
I have not yet jot down one word of my novel, this thing that I am calling my own version of The Lurker at the Threshold -- but I know beyond doubt that I am going to write the book. Something wonderful has happened to me as a writer, some new abilities have blossomed. I can sense the thing I need to write, and then, suddenly, I am able to write it. This has never happened to me until the last couple of years, where I have known absolutely that I have what it takes to write the thing I ache to create. It makes me feel so grown up and professional. I told myself that I would spend this past summer writing a new collection of Sesqua Valley novelettes, and I did. When Pierre invited me to write a work of 11.000 words for a new issue of Fungi, I easily and joyously wrote my own version of Lovecraft's "The Lurking Fear" -- and it came to 11,300 words. I knew, deep down, that I could do it. I love this new ability. And thus I know that, before next year is over, I will have written my first novel, a short novel certainly, no more than 70,000 words, and that it will be my own version of Derleth's The Lurker at the Threshold, set in Sesqua Valley. I just don't know when I'll have the inner-strength to begin writing it. But I'll find it, so I will.