This whole week, I’ve been caught up in a storm of bad Twitter karma, none of which is related to me. But I’ve been trying to follow a lot of troubling stories while still keeping on top of my own creative efforts. It’s been a challenge to say the least, but despite the bad news, bad weather, my mood swings and space attacks, and sore wrists, I have cranked out episodes of the serial and written more scenes for Sandy Morrison’s second book.
People expecting me to get into more of the romance angle with Trisha and Kyle will be disappointed, as both are relegated to bit character status in book two. Sandy’s books aren’t meant to be romance titles so much as adventure stories for weird girls. Some romance will happen along the way, but this is supposed to be more about Sandy’s adventures and misadventures, rather than an examination of her love life. Which is not to say it won’t be briefly glimpsed…tastefully, and in a way that I hope doesn’t require me wearing a flame protection suit.
But speaking about a book that I was going the opposite route with intentional bad writing, Bran of Greenwood and the Scary Fairy Princess has had two sales. Which, as I said on Twitter, is precisely two more than I expected to sell. Last night, the second buyer also became the first reviewer, and they loved the characters. They were not so thrilled with the writing, and I totally gave them permission to trash it, while at the same time pointing out, “Sorry, but that was a feature, and I was writing badly on purpose.” So the thing is, even where the reader said, “I didn’t like the lack of description,” I was pleased because they noticed it and needed to say, “Hey, something is missing here.” So this is one of the few times when I’d respond to “You’ve done a great job of writing badly” with “Thanks for noticing!”
Some writers are of the opinion that they should only show you their finest and best work, and only after the most polished version is possible with help from others. I was one of those people, until I went to Amsterdam and went to a number of art museums. And you know what? They’ve got rough drafts hanging in there. There’s some damned ugly old art in still being viewed, some of it even exposing that the great master of one technique was not necessarily a master of all techniques. Visual artists of ages past are allowed to show their fuck ups, and it’s still art.
Well, why is writing different? Because the investment of time in the study of bad text art takes longer? I’m not sure I buy that. Take for example really, really bad writers, whose stories are passed around because they’re just so bad, people can’t believe anyone would attempt to write them. People love to study the badness of those writers, marveling at their lack of skill as much as they might marvel over a master of the craft. But one dud gets reverence, and the other just gets a kind of muted pity. Or perhaps stunned shock that such a thing exists.
I was not trying to aim for that low a level of bad with Bran and Lana’s book. In fact, I was aiming for something closer to “publishable crap,” in theory. This is not to say I would inflict this on any publishers. (You’re welcome.) But, in the end of writing it, I found that the characters weren’t terrible, and in all other ways, I’d accomplished my mission. So, I figure that so long as I warn people upfront that my goal was to write bad, there’s no harm in putting it out on the market. Hey, people have to have good examples of how not to write, right? And anyway, one person loved it, even though they hated it. And for a book that I didn’t expect to sell any copies of, that’s not bad. =^D