This is for the IWSG. I'm in an ongoing process of trying to get my old novel 'the Glass' to a standard where it's publishable, and one question I've been asking myself is if that is ever going to happen. No, that's not right. Not 'is it going to be publishable' but 'is it going to be as brilliant as I want it to be'.
Those are two very different standards, because I think it's very easy to settle, when writing. I know, because I believe I do it quite easily. I think 'it's good enough. It's funny. It's not meant to be the greatest piece of fiction someone has ever read. It's just meant to be a good read.'
Yet is that standard a high enough one to hold writing to? Maybe it's just because I've been reading some of the more literary end of fantasy recently (like Mary Gentle's Black Opera), and I've been thinking that actually, yes, writing should be more than a few hours of fun for the reader. It should move them. It should change something for them. It should do all the things that poetry does, as well as all the things that prose does. I have, in isolated moments, done bits of that, which is what makes it so awkward. Should we push to do more of that kind of thing as writers, or is it okay to just put out a perfectly enjoyable book that will probably sell okay and then repeat a couple of months down the line?