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Things have been busy for me lately, which is one of the reasons why I haven’t posted anything in so long.

As to writing news, I have received my first 1099 form regarding my book, Medousa. I appear to have earned US$176.00 in 2016, for books and e-books, including several e-books I purchased for acquaintances as gifts. According to Amazon.com’s Author site, I sold about eight books last year. Rather dismal, rather disappointing. However, I did at least garner a new review on Amazon’s UK website, shared also on GoodReads:

Trust me… this is the best novel I have read on Medusa. I thoroughly enjoyed the poor girls story of slave to demigod. I laughed, I cried, and have a whole new perspective on Medusa, This book I rate five stars for all round it fitted, it was fresh and New and if you’re a fan of Greek history this tome packs a punch to satisfy your desires.

This certainly pleased my vanity.

But, having read, and re-read some of the critiques I’ve received, particularly those critiques that kept demanding to know why Athena was so cruel to Medousa, I decided that a bit of a re-write was in order. Why now? Shouldn’t the story elements jhave been ironed out when I first wrote the book, and put it through its several edits?

As I noted, after I had published the first edition, one of the criticisms I read in my revues was that Athena’s motivation for punishing Medousa was unclear. I thought that I had in fact written a scene in which Athena’s attitude is made clear. however, perhaps it wasn’t enough. Indeed, perhaps it is a measure of how much more advanced we are today that, for any reason, we cannot understand why the victim of such a crime as Medousa was, should be punished.

Of course, as I pointed out in the Afterword of my previous, self published edition, we do still see this attitude today, in today’s ‘rape culture.’ However, I thought that maybe the story could be improved by making the quarrel between Athena and Poseidon more explicit.

One of the fiercest rivalries on Olympus was that between Poseidon and Athena:

Poseidon had brought forth, and tamed, the horse. But it was Athena who invented the chariot, the harness, the saddle, and all the accoutrements mankind needed to bring the horse under his mastery.

Poseidon was born of the Titans, and Athena was but his niece. yet Athena could also boast being born of the Titan Metis, though indeed sired by Zeus, who was in fact Poseidon’s elder brother.

When Kronos devoured Poseidon and his siblings, he had to wait to be rescued by Zeus. But when Zeus swallowed Metis, when she was pregnant with Athena, the Goddess burst forth from Zeus’ head herself.

Poseidon was lord of the sea, and yet, even the seas fled back from Athena when she arrayed herself in her battle armor.

And during the Titanomachy, it was Athena, alongside Apollo, Artemis, and their father Zeus, who flung the Titans down into Tartarus. Not Poseidon.

You see how it was.

In my revisions, it occurred to me to mirror the Book of Job, to highlight this rivalry going on in the background of Medousa’s life. One of the criticisms I appreciated was “My only problem with the book is basically that I think that it was good but it could have been great. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, but I felt that it lacked a certain element of narrative tension. I’ve been trying to put my finger on exactly what that was, and the best I can do is that we know that Medousa is a tragic figure and that she is inevitably hurtling towards her (unjust) destruction, but in the book this is portrayed as being, to a certain extent, bad luck. Which is entirely realistic–people like Medousa are generally the victims of bad luck–but with the echoes of Greek tragedy reverberating in the background, it was slightly unsatisfying for me. Because we see everything from Medousa’s point of view, we never really get to know why Athena wanted to punish her, which left the story a little bit flat in my opinion.”

But, being less familiar with the tropes of Greek tragedy than with the poetic forms of my own culture’s literature, I decided to pattern this tragedy after the ancient treatise on tragedy that is the Book of Job.

In my treatment of the subject, however, Medousa– unlike Job– is convinced that she did offend against the Goddess, however unjust that might be. Medousa is crushed, rather than, as Job, steadfast against her accusers. For the most part.

Another major change I made was to remove Medousa’s romance with Scylla. I felt it was rather contrived, and it took away from the impact of Medousa’s relationship with Cynisca. Although in real life, people often do move on from old loves and failed relationships, I felt that narratively, it would work better that Medousa should have had only one great love in her life.. And besides– I’m not very good at writing romances. And it reduced the books word count by at least ten thousand!

I only hope I am not doing to my novel what Walt Whitman did with Leaves of Grass; I am determined to make this edition of Medousa final.

And with such drastic changes to my novel, I have decided to try once more to find an agent and/or publisher. I have been researching online agents and publishing houses which will take on previously self-published work. because, let’s face it; however well-written a few reviewers might consider Medousa, I know nothing of marketing and promotion, and nor do I have the time to engage in such activities even if I did. Since I already have self published a version of my book, I will not feel particularly rushed to find an agent. Although I had racked up one hundred rejections the last time I tried, I shall try again. I have also been studying how better to pitch my novel and how to more effectively reach out to agents.

One regret I do have is not being able to commission illustrations. I had hoped to work with the superlatively talented Ulorin Vex; alas, I was unable to scrape up the US$5,000 I wanted to pay her. We had been corresponding via email to discuss the project, but I haven’t heard from her since I told her that I could not get all the funds together at once. I hope she doesn’t hate me; it was certainly not my intention to have strung her along. I was very anxious for this project to get off the ground, myself.

Maybe if I find a publisher, and if I get a small advance, I can use that to pay Ms. Vex.

More news later as it happens– I’ll try to keep everyone posted.

 

About Michael Butchin

I was born, according to the official records, in the Year of the Ram, under the Element of Fire, when Johnson ruled the land with a heavy heart; in the Cradle of Liberty, to a family of bohemians. I studied Chinese language and literature at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. I spent some years in Taiwan teaching kindergarten during the day, and ESOL during the evenings. I currently work as a faceless drone in a corporate call center, and am an unlikely martial artist. I have spent much of my life amongst actors, singers, movie stars, beautiful cultists, Taoist immortals, renegade monks, and at least one martial arts tzaddik. I currently reside in my dead grandparents’ house, alone, with an impressive collection of martial arts weapons, where I practice and train daily. I am not currently on any medications.
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