About half an hour ago, before I jumped in the shower, I listened to some Black Sabbath.
I’m not actually a big fan of theirs – I saw them live in 1974 – I like a handful of songs. But as sometimes happens, I thought of Ozzie whining “Killing yourself to liiiiiiive…” and thought “Haven’t heard that one for a while…” So I fired it up, listened, then took a shower.
In the shower, I was thinking about Black Sabbath. I know that they’re still together, more or less, and apparently working on a new album. But why?
In my less-than humble opinion (imltho, for those of you who like abbreviations…), Sabbath was a band of the first half of the ’70s. They had a distinctive sound and they cemented their place in history as one of the early proponents of what was to become heavy metal and later just plain metal. And after about 1975, they really didn’t have a whole lot more to give.
Not because of the revolving-door nature of the band, with people leaving and coming back and leaving and coming back over the next forty years, but because everything they did in those years was pretty much irrelevant. They sold albums, they even had some minor hits. But it was same-same, no matter who was singing. You could listen to a new song, and point back at the “classic” Sabbath song it was like…
This isn’t a problem endemic only to music. The pointless sequels, prequels and reboots that flood movie theaters show that there’s a school of thought that says “If you have something good, you need the same thing again…and again…ad infinitum”. Or books. You stake out your own plot in the literary landscape, and you start writing. If people like it, if it works, you stay there. And when the plot starts to become barren from over farming, you sometimes start recycling. Different characters, different situation, same story. Some don’t even wait for the field to become barren.
I intend to end the Night and Day series before I run out of “different” ideas. Before my creative landscape is dry and used up. Before I decide that maybe I can do a book “like” Bleeding Sky but instead of the German ambassador it’s somebody else, and Welles once again has to protect him or her. Or maybe I’ll mix it up and make it somebody Welles has to get to, kill or whatever – that would also tie it in with Bandit’s Moon. People who liked those books would certainly like that story idea, right?
Maybe. But who cares… I publish the Night and Day books for people to read and hopefully enjoy. I write the books for me. Because I have a story that I want to tell, that I want to “harvest” from my creative landscape and get on paper. Or at least a screen of some sort.
The Night and Day series will end at some point. That point will be when I run out of what I consider to be original ideas, original scenarios. A point before I start looking back at earlier books and consider changing things up to grind out another one. Because that would truly be a grind. Even if you enjoyed reading it, I wouldn’t enjoy writing it. I’d find it truly repellent, even if it was well-received.
I’m not at that point now. I have three books in the can, another being written, and at least three more planned. After Blood for Blood, I may start something else (standalone or series, as I’ve talked about in the past), do a couple of those, then come back and do a Night and Day book or two. Perhaps doing something else will give me a new perspective on Night and Day, and water that overused-metaphor of a field, throw a little fertilizer on it, change the crop from corn to potatoes. Or not.
But I will stop the series before I become Black Sabbath.