So there it is, 62 chapters, 350,000 words, or roughly 750 printed pages. (If you haven’t begun The Song of Deirdre yet, you can start here.)
When I began this project two years ago, I had several questions (spoiler warning!):
- Could I get fictional characters moving about and speaking in a convincing manner?
- Could I make the world of a video game come to life on the page?
- Could I make it equally entertaining both for those who had played Skyrim and for those had never played video games at all?
- Could I write a convincing female character (whatever the hell that means)?
- Could I avoid making her what Anita Sarkeesian calls a “Ms. Male Character” (essentially a male character with a few superficial feminine markers)?
- Could I write the whole thing as a first-person memoir and sustain reader interest?
- Could I wrestle the random quest lines of Skyrim into a coherent plot with enough narrative tension to keep readers clicking “next chapter”?
- Could I manage four main narrative arcs and a couple of smaller ones?
- Could I rise above the inherent heterosexism of a straight man writing a lesbian character if I focused hard enough on developing her relationship and did so in what I think of as a feminist and LGBTQ+ -friendly way?
On the first two questions, I’d give myself a provisional “yes,” so I believe I’ll continue writing fiction and maybe even try to make some money at it. On the rest of the questions, I don’t really have a clue. If you feel I failed at the last one (but then you’re probably not reading this, are you?), I’d say just go read Hild: A Novel by Nicola Griffith, which I can’t recommend highly enough. One of the best books I’ve ever read.
As for what’s next, that depends. Astute readers have noticed hints in the novel that there’s something left to come after the ending of this book. And of course there’s the whole issue of what will happen next with the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion. I have ideas for another two books in which those questions would be answered, making it the inevitable trilogy. But I really can’t justify putting in that much effort for free.
[UPDATE 7/13/15: I hope you’ll check out the beginning of my new novel. It’s an adventure/romance (mostly romance) set in Georgian England, and inspired by Alfred Noyes’ poem, “The Highwayman.” Not to give too much away, but if you liked Deirdre and Lydia’s relationship, you’ll probably like this. But don’t expect the same level of action as Deirdre; it’s inspired more by Jane Austen than Tolkien/Martin/Skyrim. I’ll just be posting several chapters as teasers, and hope to get it published at some point (with some sort of deal for early readers). The novel is complete, and if you’d like to be a beta reader, drop a comment below, or shoot me an email at Lahogue AT gmail DOT com.]
Also, I’ll definitely continue with the guide to Mid-Michigan cycling I’ve been working on. (A recent post in that category was the most popular so far on this blog, so that gives me encouragement.) Either way, the Deirdre story will have to go on the back burner, if I ever get back to it all. Unless…
I could make it a “Pulled to Publish” work, as E.L. James did with her Twilight fanfiction. But Deirdre would have to get way more popular to make that feasible. And the thought of the work involved in ripping it all out of the Elder Scrolls universe makes my head ache.
I’ve tried contacting Bethesda Softworks to see about getting some sort of license to publish The Song of Deirdre (or for all writers of Elder Scrolls fanfiction to be allowed to publish on the Kindle Worlds program), but so far with no success. Meanwhile, one writer is selling her Skyrim fanfics on Amazon and getting away with it, a fact that really steams me. I never expected to earn anything on this project, but to find out that someone else is doing so under the table – yeesh! I’ve tried alerting Bethesda to this fact, again with no response. So maybe Bethesda will eventually get back to me with a definite yes or no, or, if I hear nothing from them, maybe I’ll also try to sell this on Amazon (although I live in dread of Bethesda’s warrior-scribes and their Dual-Wielded Writs of Cease and Desist). [UPDATE: As of around July 1, that link to Amazon no longer works because Amazon has taken down the offending works. So, success on that score at least.]
So what can you do if you want to read the next installments in The Song of Deirdre? Spread the word. Put links to Chapter 1 (or the version over at fanfiction.net) on any social media platform you can think of. If you’re a “troper,” add it to this list on TVTropes.org. Tell your friends. Write a letter to Bethesda (firstname.lastname@example.org) asking them to license the Elder Scrolls to the Kindle Worlds platform, and I’d love it if you mentioned The Song of Deirdre as a work that deserves publication.
UPDATE on 6/20/14: Just received this from Bethesda’s customer support people:
Greetings Larry,I would like to thank you for taking the time to bring this [Skyrim fanfiction being sold on Amazon] to our attention. I will go ahead and pass all these details along to the teams that are responsible with dealing with copyright infringement.Bethesda Softworks appreciates our fans and generally does not discourage posting of non-commercial fan created tributes. Any use of our intellectual property for commercial purposes, however, including The Elder Scrolls® or Skyrim® names, logos, branding elements, artwork, etc., is strictly forbidden without a written license agreement. We regret that we are unable to grant licenses for the commercialization of fan fiction.We also cannot accept unsolicited manuscripts or other material. Please do not send us any submissions.Please be advised that any commercial use or exploitation of our intellectual property rights is not permitted. Bethesda Softworks will strictly enforce its rights.Kind Regards,Bethesda Softworks