This is partly a reply to Felix, because the indentation got out of hand, but also some general musing about the post-publishing state.
So Felix wrote in a comment to this post: “I just hope you don’t count me among the clueless reviewers.”
Clueless? No, not very. Only I should perhaps have realised that people who come to it thinking “Oh! Fantasy” will have expectations I didn’t foresee and read semsin as a “magic system” and the Guilds as “wizards’ guilds”. I totally didn’t mean to write it like that! What people do with their minds is not “magic” as such, no spells, no potions, no wand-waving, only perceiving and influencing the world with their non-physical being as well as with their physical one. And none of it is actually secret, which is what I’d expect of a wizards’ guild: if you don’t have the gift you won’t be able to do anything, but it’s generally available knowledge. I like to compare it to music: there’s nothing to keep a tone-deaf person from studying music theory, or otherwise informing themself about music. (My tone-deaf father liked going to concerts, and watching music broadcasts on TV, but not recorded music, because he needed the visual cues as well.)
That I didn’t explain this up front is partly because I hate (hate to read, too) books in which too much is explained, and partly because I see those things as features of the world, which get only in-world treatment. If I notice that more people get off on that particular wrong foot, I’ll write a FAQ.
That my style is spare (which I suppose you (Felix) mean by “deficient in style”) is also deliberate. You should have seen my first draft! Come to think of it, you would probably have liked it better, before I gave it a depurpling wash. It’s not that I’m incapable of high flowery style, but I dislike it, and if I find myself writing it I groan and delete. There was one reader of an early draft (post-depurpling, but with lots of useless subplots and wandering digressions) who called it “delicate watercolour”, which made me boggle. He also found a whole list of “foreignisms”, every one of which turned out, on inspection, to be either British usage or typos. Except one misplaced verb because of over-editing.
And then there was the paragraph that I was so foolish as to post on Usenet, so Patricia Wrede rewrote it, and it’s never been the same. I had to take it out because it really didn’t fit any more. Not my version, not her version, none of the several versions I tried to write to her specifications. Hers was probably ten times better than I could ever have written (because she was a ten times better writer than me at the time; I hope I’ve been learning), but it didn’t belong. There’s still a ghost of it that I can see, and two people who know me very well have seen, but I don’t think it shows to the general reader.
Someone who read the book just before publication said to someone else in my hearing “it’s amazing that Irina wrote that!” I know her well enough to be sure that she meant “this is actually a real book and it’s by a friend of mine!” rather than “I didn’t think she had what it takes to do this”.
On the whole I feel very, very strange. Which of the things I did to procrastinate with will I do now there’s no reason to procrastinate? The almost-finished Frozen North thing is with my beta reader, so I can tinker with that a little but only half-heartedly. The thing about Vegelin the Great, with the BEST BATTLE I EVER WROTE (okay, the only battle I ever wrote. But it’s really good.) has a serious problem: I don’t know where it ends. I may have written past the ending –already chopped off three chapters because I was sure that I’d written past the ending– but I can’t find the actual spot. It’s in three parts, two longish and one short, and I can polish the first part and make an epub of that to see if it can stand on its own, and then do the same with the second part, but I don’t know if there will be anything left because the second part doesn’t really have an ending either. Unless I go right into the thing that’s sort of a sequel, which I don’t seem to be able to finish, and make it Part III. And eventually Part IV, because I know what happens after the about ten thousand words I’ve already got (which do have an ending of sorts) but that’s the part I can’t write.
Grrr. I called this post “book blues” because I imagine it’s like baby blues (which I never had, thank God; I only had several babies). This thing that was growing all the time is now off my hands. I feel uncomfortable doing promotion, it’s a part of “being a writer” that I’m no good at, but as I don’t aim to make money (though donations are nice) it’s not a priority. Anyway, writing is what I want to do. In theory. As I’ve said before, I want to move to Theory because everything is easy there.
I did promise someone (hi Chloé!) to finish the space opera story because she wants to read and perhaps illustrate it. Well. At least that’s something.