In “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” Dentarthurdent says that he never could get the hang of Thursdays. I’m happy to say that I don’t seem to share his weakness; I find Thursday to be an excellent day, partly because it’s almost Friday, and also because it has become my default day for writing these posts for my main blog.
I’d like to begin with some updates, as well as some thoughts. First, I promise you that, yes, I am working steadily on the editing of “I for one welcome our new computer overlords,” and am very close to publishing it. I have, though, as you may recall, intended to make writing new fiction—“Unanimity,” in this case—my top priority, relegating the editing process to the part of the day when the new stuff is done.
This may, unfortunately, not be a workable approach, especially once I finish “Unanimity.” My hope had been that I’d be able to do the rewriting, editing, revising, etc., of “Unanimity,” even as writing my next work becomes and stays my new primary task. Well, that’s not going to be good if the editing and rewriting of “Unanimity,” goes as slowly as does the process for “Ifowonco.” It’s bad enough that it takes as long as it has for a story of twenty-three-thousand words. When you’ve got a two-hundred-thousand-word novel (which should be the rough length of “Unanimity”) to deal with, this rate of editing and rewriting could take a decade.
That’s an exaggeration. But it’s not much of one.
I think I will take a break between finishing “Unanimity” and rewriting it. This was strong advice Stephen King gave in his excellent book “On Writing,” but I haven’t always followed it. However, going back after some time to “Ifowonco”—having edited it initially before putting it here on the blog—I see that there are simple points of style and wording that I failed to fix because I was too close to the original writing of the story. The necessary mental break that The King recommends, to allow a work to ripen, really does seem to be a legitimate phenomenon. I might have been able to guess that would be so; the man does know a thing or two about writing, after all. But I’m a stubborn soul, and it can take a great deal for me to convince myself of something I don’t want to see. I am open to being convinced, though, and honestly seek those practices which help me do things better. So, I’ll have to feel things out and adjust them as I go along; no doubt I’ll keep you informed about the process, whether you care or not.
Now, on to a mostly unrelated subject:
I’ve considered, on and off, the notion of writing—as a joke–reviews of my own works on Amazon. I’ve bought copies of some of my books to give as gifts, and of course, when you buy something from Amazon, they often solicit your opinion on the book you’ve read (or even on the bird food you’ve purchased, it turns out). Obviously, up to this point, I’ve ignored such requests for ratings, let alone for reviews, with respect to my own works. But I have toyed with the notion—again, as a joke—of writing either a particularly glowing, or perhaps thoroughly devastating, review of one or more of my books, but then making it abundantly clear, at the conclusion of the review, that I was the author. I think this might be pretty funny, but I have a peculiar sense of humor, so it’s possible that I would be the only one who would find it funny. Thus, hitherto, I haven’t done it.
It recently occurred to me, though, that I could do something of the sort without it being a joke; instead I could make a review into a sort of “Author’s note,” for the story or stories in question. Again, I’d need to make it abundantly clear, right from the start, that this was my own commentary, but I know that I have always loved reading author’s notes about how a story came about, or what the author might have been thinking that led them to write that book or story, or what they thought about the finished product. That’s one of the reasons I like Stephen King’s short story collections—he often includes such “liner notes” to his stories, and I love them. The King cautions people not to read the notes before they read the stories, but I think even that caution is unwarranted (unless the notes contain spoilers, of course). Reading an author’s notes about his or her story gives a new dimension to the work, and a new perspective from which to see it—perhaps even a greater understanding of the author’s intent (if there is one to speak of), that might lead to a greater appreciation of the story. I’m quite sure that this can backfire, and I don’t think it’s necessary—one might say that, if you need an author’s note to get the author’s intent, then the author didn’t do a very good job with the story—but it might be interesting.
I’d appreciate your feedback on this. Would you find it irritating or offensive if an author—making it clear that he was the one writing—put up a comment on Amazon in the “reviews” section? Or would you be interested in reading such side notes to a story, even before deciding whether or not to buy it?
I recognize one mildly concerning fact: As part of reviewing a book, Amazon asks the reviewer to rate it, and so I would be giving a star-rating to my owns works. I think, though, that I can be pretty fair in my ratings, and even brutal and ruthless, and can remain philosophically pure. Obviously, I’m never going to rate anything that I wrote as one or two stars—and hopefully three would be a rarity—but I don’t think that constitutes a biased reviewing tendency; if I honestly thought a work merited only one or two stars, I’d like to think that I never would have published it.
Anyway, these are my thoughts (which are mine). I would dearly like to read your feedback on the “review/commentary” notion, or on anything else you might care to discuss. That’s why the comments option below is always open, as it is on Facebook and Twitter. In the meantime, “Unanimity,” is proceeding well (obviously, if it’s going to be about 200,000 words by the time it’s done), and “Ifowonco,” will soon be released in Kindle edition…improved, I think, over the form originally published here (which I love, nevertheless). After “Unanimity” is done, I’m probably going to write another short story, then a sort of fable called “Neko/Neneko,” and…well, and whither then, I cannot say.