stillsostrange has a ghoulishly good story up at Strange Horizons this week
Some reviews out of the blogosphere:
alfvaen cordially loathed Hammered much, but was more enamored of Touched By Venom and really liked Scott Bakker's books.
Scott, by the way, is ONE MILE TALL. Just saying.
Anna at slithytoves liked the Jenny books okay, but thinks I have some annoying auctorial tics. Fair enough. It happens. *g* Repeated phrases, I suspect, are every writer's bugaboo. (See, told you there was worse stuff in those books than what I got Thogged for.)
I can't really argue with any of her other critiques, either. Although I will note that Elspeth, for the record, couldn't do Jeremy's job because she's a psychologist, not a linguist or symbologist of any stripe. In life as it is not in Star Trek, alas. And nothing romantic happened between Leslie and Jaime, not that they told me about anyway, though sometimes the characters don't tell me when they get up to stuff and I only catch on when I find them blushing and scuffing the floors later. [Maybe it was my own terrible crush on Leslie shining through? He's the one of that lot I'd want to take home in my pocket.]
Charlie's got a deadly crush on Jaime, though, and Jeremy has a long-term unrequited passion for Leslie, but Jaime and Leslie are both Pretending They Don't Know About That. Like you do.
Also, it’s always interesting to see an outside perspective on characters one knows from the inside: Anna sees Ellie as a mommy figure, and I see her as a shameless manipulator. It's For Your Own Good. Really.
callunav liked Hammered, despite some issues with it. Apparently, the end of Scardown worked okay for her, though.
Good to know they're out there keeping me humble.
From the perspective of Five Years Later, there's so much wrong with those books. But I do still love Jenny.
On the other hand, I wonder if that's why later books are so much harder to write than earlier ones: because you have the experience to know, as you are writing them, how desperately flawed they are, so you don't get the infatuation phase where it's all shiny and brilliant and this is the perfect book, finally. You just get the long slog of the relationship where you're in counseling and trying to work something out that doesn't involve alternate weekends and joint custody and an ugly lawsuit.
The bad news is, the acceptance that every book is broken can be a vicious cycle. You ever wonder why so many writers start to suck after the third or fourth novel?
Some of it is pressure to produce on a schedule. (One reason I've taken the day job is so that I don't starve to death while waiting for books to ripen. The SF novels, I am learning, take longer than nine months to cook. The series fantasy, since it has all the worldbuilding done, is faster-growing. That, and health insurance. And no, I don't feel like a failure asa writer because I'm not writing full-time (actually, I am writing full-time; about 45 hours a week. I'm just also doing another job full-time.) I feel like I am taking steps to ensure my continued success as a writer through the metric of Not Sucking.)
But some of it is the realization that you will never get the book perfect, so why the hell are you trying? and that is a problem. Because if we get slapdash, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.
Pursuant to this, Justine Larbalestier quotes Sean Williams quoting Charles Brown: "Writing is the only job that gets harder the longer you do it."
She also says:
I worried that my experience of writing each book would show on the pages, and so asked my writer friends if they’d noticed a correlation between their experience of writing a book and its reception out in the world. The unanimous response was a resounding “Nope, none.”
This is Truth. We can't judge our own work. We can only try to perform it as best we can. The stories I love most are inevitably the ones I can't sell on a bet, and the ones I feel meh about are often the ones that get reprinted in best-of anthologies.
My opinion is not the one that matters. Every book is a flawed book. Life goes on.