Of all the literary attitudes I’ve had that have changed since I started blogging, I think none is bigger or more important than how I’ve approached ambition. In the past, I’d had this attitude that if the execution was subpar, the ambition wasn’t worth the effort. It was better to aim for something attainable, so the thinking went.
Now, well, I’ve found myself enjoying works of fiction more when they aim/aimed to be highly ambitious, even when their execution is obviously flawed. Part of this is me now knowing how many “51%” books there are, knowing there’s no shortage of competent but middling fiction. From that perspective, something distinct, or even trying to be distinct, can stand out more. If nothing else, it’s a lot more fun and/or interesting to review. Repeatedly saying “this is formulaic but competent”, even if true, isn’t the most fun.
Another part is that it just felt better to write such out-there stuff when I wrote the two Smithtown books. Previously, I’d wondered why authors who had a good amount of creative control sometimes tended to go more out-there into “Arkansas vs. The Blimps” territory as their series’ progressed. Now, I need not wonder.