January 17th, 2008


[process] When is "good" actually "good enough"?

In my recent post on marketing difficult fiction, green_knight challenged my assertion that:
There isn't an editor or agent out there who would leave good work on the table simply because it didn't fit this year's expectations.

In part, they said:
Maybe 'good' above should read 'exceptional'? For a truly exceptional book there will probably always room in the market, but 'good enough to be published on a topic the editor is buying at the moment' isn't 'good enough to be bought when the topic/style are unpopular.'

Which is an excellent clarification. "Good" in this context isn't an absolute or objective value, because marketability is part of good. And marketability isn't just a function of what's popular. The topic is far more complex than that, and frankly, beyond my competence. When it comes to publishing theory, I am in the cheap seats of the peanut gallery. Even from my distant perch, I see issues which include:
  • Prose quality
  • Story quality
  • Theme
  • Length
  • Auctorial career phase/path
  • Genre/subgenre/lack of identifiable genre

I can't even tell you what I'm missing from the list. The underlying point is that "good", or more to the point, "good enough", is a moving target which very much depends on the instincts, experience and passion of both the editor and publisher.

[links] Link salad for a Thursday

Fantasy is running online fiction from their upcoming recent anthology — Right now the_flea_king's story "The Yeti Behind You" is being featured.

The Day the Internet Stood Still — (Thanks to my Dad.)

The Future of Coitus — Oh good. I was worried that it might be going out of style. (Thanks to GS.)

3D design for the masses

Bearded Men of the 21st Century — A 1939 item from Paleofuture. The guy looks like Jesus as a Jetsons character.

Earthquakes may hold clues for treatment of epilepsy — As above, so below, as Herpes Tricyclist said.

Why people believe weird things about money — Evolution and finance. Who knew?

Remember those Iranian speedboats?Gulf of Tonkin incident all over again. Hey, it worked before!

Republicans ponder deadlocked convention — Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating.

GOP funk slows turnout, money — Having lived through more than two decades of GOP triumphalism, I have to say, gee, too bad.

[process] Counting words

As many of you know, I track word counts pretty carefully. This more of a work diary and productivity management thing than a creative process thing, but obviously the two areas have a very high degree of intersection. As discussed previously here and elsewhere, accounting for revisions is a challenge for me. This in turn causes some of my basic productivity metrics to hiccup. Obviously I could go to a time accounting of hands-on-keyboard, but given the highly variable nature of my personal life and my writing conditions, this seems ultimately less reflective of productivity.

I've made an essentially arbitrary decision that for productivity tracking purposes, I'm going to count words as follows:
  • Light line editing, minor or single-scene revisions: Credit as 25% of total word count
  • Moderate line editing or multi-scene revisions: Credit as 50% of total word count
  • Word-by-word editing of whole manuscript or wholesale revisions: Credit as 75% of total word count

Arbitrary? Yes. Unsatisfactory? Yes. But less unsatisfactory than doing no tracking at all, which is my current situation. Trying not to let perfect get in the way of good here.

Your thoughts? Your system?

[links] Link salad afternoon update

johncwright calls for a new literary movement in speculative fiction

Your delivery might be a bit late — My this is nice. I'll even ignore what I know about airframes in order to appreciate it fully.

devonmonk on the fine art of the in-person novel pitch — She is Wise.

Tiny wires growing from your skin — The ghost of Philip K. Dick is haunting our culture.

lasirenadolce with Rustycon photos

khaybee with Rustycon photos

[writing] In the grip of post-novel ennui...

In the grip of post-novel ennui (pace matociquala), I have revised two short pieces and sent them out, written a new short piece of 5,400 words, executed quite a number of writing-related program activities, and blogged nigh hypergraphially. Tomorrow I dive back into "America, Such as She Is."

And this is a week I was taking off from writing.

Meanwhile, sleep beckons.