On writing

Ego is important in writing

Got comprehensively trounced in Miss Snark’s Crapometer #3 when we put a Potion query and first page into the list.

The query was re-written specifically for the Crapometer. Apart from the fact it is appallingly written, and that there are typos (it was late, and I was in a hurry—always a bad move) it is funny that the one line that came from the original query was the only one Miss Snark really approved of.

The general consensus on the actual story, though, was that the manuscript should stay under the bed. That we should put it aside and concentrate on writing the next book.

Ego is an important thing in writing. You have to believe in yourself, you have to believe in your product.

We believe in Potion.

It has a slow start. Story beginnings are not a strong point. We continually rewrite them, even as we ship them out in the mail.

It’s a first novel, and suffers from that. (I have always said that if our first novel is as good as Anne McCaffrey’s Restoree we should always be proud of it. Restoree has aged, and it is obviously a first novel, but it’s still good for what it was.)

How many years can you polish and repolish the same story before you move on to other writing? We’ve done Potion. We’ve moved on, but we still believe in it enough to think it saleable.

Is it really good enough?

We don’t know.

When talking about our own fiction we say that Rainbow is probably the first novel we will get published. Why? It has a great premise, tied to a unique world, with interesting, likeable characters who have a lot at stake. By the time we re-write Rainbow we’ll also have a lot of novel writing experience under our belt. Assuming we have learned from what we have written prior, that is.

So should we give up on Potion and wait until Rainbow is done before we start sending out more query letters?


It is almost impossible for a writer to look dispassionately at their work. They always want it to be better than it is, or think it will never be as good as other people’s. Their first attempts at writing are pretty awful, particularly the first drafts. Not only that, they can’t see the flaws in the work (it’s still hard for us, sometimes impossible), even when they are pointed out.

But there comes a time when a writer has to be able to stand back and look at their work, and say, “You know, this isn’t too bad. This is better than some of the books I’ve read lately.”

It’s then that you have to believe in your book. Have faith in it, no matter how bad a hammering it gets. Whether you are right or wrong is irrelevant.

Will Potion ever get published? I don’t know. But meantime we’ll keep polishing it, and sending it out, until there is no-one left to send it to. When Shared Memories is complete (it has at least two major drafts to go), we’ll do the same for that one as well.

p.s. Sherylyn never liked the start. She has now convinced me to ditch the first four pages. All we have to do now is negotiate on the next four, which she doesn’t like either.

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