94 Polishing your Shmoo with Tex Thompson


You may not be aware that my best buddy Arianne “Tex” Thompson has published her second book, Medicine for the Dead. We’re using it as an example how authors improve from one work to another. Now bear with me. The shmoo part is going to make sense.

One Night in Sixes (the first book)

My wish for you is that you’ll always look back on your earlier work and think it sucks.

Don’t be like Vegeta

Reviews of Medicine for the Dead and Kingdoms of Evil. Which are worse??

Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia

I finally whip out the shmoos?

K strategy and R strategy

Selection bias

I recently wrote a novella

Wonderful, Awful Ideas every Friday!

Dare I dream of a second alternate history fan?

A. Lee Martinez and Daryl Gregory

I don’t suppose I need to link to Terry Pratchett, do I?

Or Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosiverse? (Including Ethan of Athos! Come for the man-love, stay for the telepathy!)

The Paralysis of Freedom

Are you tuned in to the rustling of the sea urchins?

Dan Koboldt! (he knows about archery)

Bokken in the back seat

So what do you think? What’s your balance between polishing your shmoo and filling the water column with your planktonic larvae? How long should you hold onto a project before sending it out into the world?

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  • The schmoo made this the best podcast ever.

    • Thanks! Ain’t no podcast like an echinoderm podcast!

  • Abby

    Great points about the balance between enjoying what you write vs. catering to what your audience prefers, and gauging their interest. I haven’t run into this problem yet, but only because I don’t have enough readers! So far, what they want and what I enjoy writing seem to be in harmony. We’ll see how long that lasts.

    I am definitely a schmoo polisher. For better or for worse.

    • Whether and how much someone can change from shmoo- to plankton-strategy would be another interesting discussion. I decided when I was getting into writing seriously that I wanted to spread the risk around (i.e. spew plankton), but my current historical fantasy has turned out to be a shmoo. Which strategy will turn out better is a question only time will answer 🙂

      Everyone I’ve talked to said that starting authors like me should focus on writing what we love, and not try to predict what other people will like. But when I like two ideas equally, I’m willing to be pushed onto one or the other based on which one seems like it would be more popular.

      • Abby

        The plankton strategy makes more rational sense, to me. And it’s the strategy I hear advised most often, aimed at indie authors. They say: “Throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks!” “Write as much as you can!” “You’ll only get noticed if you have a big catalog!”

        And I also hear a few people who say, “Write what you love and ignore trends.” Uhhh ….

        The way I see it, there are two types of writers. Those who prefer the craft of writing over telling their own stories, and those who are more passionate about telling their own stories than the craft of writing.

        I’m in the latter group. I chose to write novels because I have specific stories that I don’t see being told by anyone else. If I rehash old stories that were popular, or cater to what seems popular, that defeats the whole purpose of why I write.

        So, although the plankton strategy strikes me as much wiser, I just can’t bring myself to do it.

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