Time for a writing progress report — or rather, an editing progress report.
Final (4th draft) edits on Welcome to the Fold are around 30-40% complete. I had been hoping to get the whole thing done by the end of the month, but some real life complications slowed me down, so I'm looking at mid-September. Then comes both starting the next book, The Palace of the Red Desert, and getting Fold out the door to be looked at by prospective publishers.
I have, in all honesty, very little hope that Fold will ever find an audience apart from the one I round up for it through this blog or by my own word of mouth. Then again, I say that about most everything I produce, in big part because it's impossible for anyone to really know what their work is going to feel like to another reader. Fold has already divided the few people I've shown it to — two loved it, but one disliked by it and bailed after a third of the way in or so.
Examining my own reactions was instructive. When someone says "I couldn't get into it" about someone's worth, whether it's mine or someone else's, it's a reminder that a reader brings a veritable 767 cargo hold full of baggage with them when they open a book. There is no way to guarantee a reader's reaction to anything — at least not in the sense of the level of guarantee we expect from, say, a car part. There are ways to not make trivial and obvious mistakes, but when you get to the point of Trying To Say Something — let's quote KMFDM here — the rules, the rules do not apply!
One thing that always arises from this sort of thinking is: What am I missing out on by not shooting for something "popular"? This is inevitably followed by remembering how one's ideas of what can be popular don't always map to what actually becomes popular. People want something new, but not so new that it has no connection with what they're already surrounded by, and not so familiar that they just gloss over it. Engineering something to hit that sweet spot seems like wasted effort. You might as well just create what you care about, create only what you can create, and get it out there to the people that care about it. Everything else is wishful thinking.