Tuesday, 3 September 2013


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?


L.G. Smith said...

I have this argument in my head all the time. I just want to write an entertaining story, and then when I'm writing I start getting all...BUT WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

I think as long as we feel at the end of the process we've done the best we're capable of then it's all good. Move on to the next story and make that one as good as you're capable of too. And so on. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Tough questions - especially as I write those 'fun and enjoyable read' kind of books. I think it depends on how an author wants to be remembered. I'll never write anything deep and lasting, and I'm all right with that. I'd rather be remembered for the person I was than the words I wrote anyway.

Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

First of all, you produce the kind of book you are happy with at the time- and it won't be the same every time.

We will sit down sometimes and produce enjoyable reads, and there is nothing wrong with that. Other times we will be moved to go further, dig deeper. It all comes out of the wash the way it was meant to be.

Second, readers range the gamut from people who just want a satisfying read to those looking for some spiritual depth. So sometimes a piece of writing turns out to be... Well, exactly what it was meant to be. The good news is, you will make someone's day. Good luck.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Repeat a couple of months down the line? I can't put out a book I'd be comfortable enough with in that short a time period. I think I could handle one book a year. The initial writing goes very quickly--that's why I love NaNo. But then the editing is when my real writing happens.

And our writing matures the more we do. Was my debut novel perfect? Nope. Would it be better if I wrote it in 10 years? I sure hope so. But I have to have written and then moved on to new projects, etc., etc. in order to mature enough for the projects I hope to be writing in 10 years. My growth in the last 3 has already been huge.

John Wiswell said...

While financially irresponsible, I have to endorse making great and chewy fiction that affects and does more than just titillate. It's hard, and it's less likely to sell, and it takes longer. But it also shouldn't take all of your life to produce. Have you considered hiring an editor to figure out the depths and directions of your work?

Cherie Reich said...

This is a hard question to answer. I think the best reads are the ones that are enjoyable but then you realize there is more to them at the end. Those books that leave you thinking when you weren't expecting it. So I guess I like a bit of both. ;)

Denise Covey said...

Exactly what I was thinking about this morning, Stu. The books I love have taken the authors years of hard slog. Writing a great book is not easy. Writing a mediocre book isn't easy either. Hmmmmmmm