This rough-and-ready edition, which contains new chapters starting at 0021. Prototype and no rewrites of earlier chapters, is a bit more “rough” than “ready.” I plan to do more like this, in order to keep up the momentum, and to better practice the “release early, release often” mantra. Even with all the tools and workflow that encourage frequent releases, my inner editor still tends to treat each batch of chapters as a book release of its own, rewording and second-guessing myself until the text reaches some kind of zenith or equilibrium in my mind. Depending on how busy my life is, that kind of equilibrium might not happen but once or twice in a year, so as nice as that would be, I’m going to stop using it as my inner guide for when to release. As long as I’m doing lean publishing I might as well wade in with both legs.
I’ve had several helpful conversations with readers on the book’s direction. After my last release’s appeal for books which might be similar to this one, readers sent in (with explanations, reservations and qualifications) to several writings:
- Godly, Righteous, Peevish and Perverse by Raymond Chapman, an anthology of literature and letters about priests, preachers and “holy men,” — good, bad and ugly alike — organized under the headings of the Book of Common Prayer.
- The Joe Ohio series by James Lileks, who took a collection of old matchbooks and used each one as a half-hour writing exercise that turned into a “novel” about a guy in Cleveland in the 1950s.
- Franz Kafka — specifically, The Trial
- Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson
I’m still reading through all of these, any other suggestions are still welcome.
The direction of this book is shaping up in my head as a kind of more literary, subtle kind of “Choose You Own Adventure” book for grown-ups: interactive fiction in book form. I’ve decided I want there to be an overarching narrative involving a definite story or series of stories, and that it/they should be non-linear. I hope to use the numbered headings to implement this — it would be silly not to take advantage of them — perhaps by including suggested browse-to numbers at the end of each chapter, creating multiple possible trails throughout the book. I’m not sure whether it’s possible to begin including these without having finished all the chapters first, however.
In October, Will S. sent me an email:
You say you’ve never seen anything like it, and I agree. But it’s not so exotic. I read it as casually epistolary. A series of sticky notes, attached to various objects that I run into walking around town, written by some unknown narrator I’ve never met. A narrative through which I guide myself unintentionally, tool tips for the abstract.
Perhaps thinking about it in this way might yield something interesting.
That jives. This one thought has helped (or will help) to give me a bit more focus when writing, especially in the case of second-person narrative (see notes to Release #2 below), which, based on reader feedback, seems to have been hit-or-miss from chapter to chapter. An interesting side-note on that: in most cases, the “misses” were chapters I had re-written specifically to inject second-person narrative where it hadn’t originally been written from that perspective.
Finally, you may have noticed that I’ve replaced the book’s cover. I now have a better idea of the book’s tone and subject, and wanted the cover to reflect that in a more compelling way. I floated a quick comp on Twitter and app.net last week: the feedback seemed to match what I was hoping for, so I went with it, borrowing a modest amount on future revenues to purchase rights to a high-quality photo of Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia. I put a good deal of thought into the composition of the new cover, so any additional thoughts on the finished product are welcome. You could look at this as a case of necessary diversion into the business and marketing side of things; a book’s cover is probably the single most important tool for attracting readers.
(To download the latest version of the book, visit the book’s page at LeanPub.)