Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Parenthetical Remark

This week's serialization is full of parentheses. After a relatively sober (if nonetheless "surrealistic") opening chunk, this one is a bit antic.

I hope that readers find all these parentheses, all these digressions, "fun." I hope it feels like Dickens, and not like, say, Derrida. I hope the reaction is "Wheeeeeeee!" (rollercoaster) and not "Ugh."

It is probably a bad sign that I feel the need to justify myself for all these parentheses. But allow me to justify myself anyway.

Firstly, this book adopts a maximalist approach to most things. It's going to be long, and filled with plot twists, and subplots filled with plot twists, and plays within plays, and bizarre situations, and odd characters. So it only makes sense to fill paragraphs with similar twists—to replicate on the micro level what is happening on the macro level.

Secondly, it is being serialized online, where publication is cheap. There are no pieces of paper to expense here. Downloading a 1kb html file versus a 1.3kb html file won't make your day or ruin it. I am working without an editor to tell me to "cut to the chase" or to "show" and not "tell." I am working without the ghosts of Hemingway or Jeremy Bentham looming over my shoulder, bothering me with diagrams of icebergs or efficiency equations (was it really efficient to have your corpse stuffed, Jeremy Bentham, and to have it preside posthumously over important meetings at the LSE?). I do hope that some day this novel will be printed as a book. Perhaps by then an editor will encourage me to drop the parentheses. But perhaps by then the novel will be famous for its parenthetical style, and readers will demand their preservation. Or perhaps by then the parenthetical style will have so completely alienated all readers that there will be no readers left, and so no editors and no publication. We'll just have to see.

Thirdly—and I realize this is another bad sign—one of my favourite writers is Marcel Proust. For Proust, revision meant addition. He was not one of those relentless cutters. "Away with section one! Away with all exposition! Away with the narrator as a personality!" To edit, for Proust, was to lengthen, to enrich, to embellish. So far, revision is going that way for me, too. I do hope Girl School is less initially alienating that Swann's Way, which took me about a hundred attempts to finally enjoy.

Finally, this is how I write, more or less. (More.)

We really will have to see.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Concerning the Serialization of Celestial Fictions

I have decided to serialize Girl School, a novel I have been working on for some time. To be more precise, I have decided to serialize it online, at (with redirects from (NB: is a porn site.)

Why have I made this decision? Because I would like to finish the novel, and I need some motivation. Serializing it online will allow me to see whether this novel is able to reach any kind of audience, and so whether it is worth the effort to continue. It is not because I want to exploit any interactive or multimedia aspects of digital presentation. Indeed, I would like this to be published as a book eventually.

Two sources of inspiration deserve mention here. First, Dash Shaw's amazing BodyWorld, which was originally serialized online, which found an audience, and which then was published in a beautiful print edition by Pantheon. Also the essay "Less Talk, More Rock" by Superbrothers which told me to stop thinking about this novel, and just do it. There is wonderful leeway for sloppiness and roughness in digital publication, anyway.

How will I carry out this serialization? Beginning tomorrow, I will post about one thousand words of the novel each week. The design will grow as the novel grows. It will begin as plain text, and then will slowly gain features, becoming HTML first, and then growing into various CSS touches, and maybe some day incorporating HTML5 things like animation. It will definitely have sound (I'm already working on recording credible versions of Diana's Sex Kitten Overdose songs). I will try to add one new design "feature" each week.

It all begins tomorrow...