Yes, a deadline for our creative cooperative–but don’t panic. Like an amateur dramatic society, I’m choosing a date absurdly far away: Monday, January 4th. So take a breath, and read on.
First of all, if you don’t know what I’m talking about read the posts, and comments, here, here, and here. They’re in chronological order.
Okay. Over the holidays I would like everyone who is interested to come up with an idea (or two, or ten–ideas are cheap) on what project, specifically, they would like to see us get behind. It can be as small and tidy or as wild and ambitious as you like. Realism isn’t important at this stage; profligate brainstorming is. So if you want, for example, poetry from Lorca inscribed on the wings of butterflies, say so. If you want short stories by Ursula K. Le Guin illustrated with the nature photography of Friend of AN Jennifer Durham, say so. If you want to republish the thrillers of Helen MacInnes, say so. If you want to publish the crayon drawings of your neighbour’s child…to see your own first collection of stories…to edit an original anthology of erotic ornithology…speak up. Now is your chance. Don’t censor yourself. We won’t know what’s possible until we thrash through it all together.
Get as specific as you can–be as long as you like, or as short–about your idea, and append it to this post as a comment. Feel free to mention only the project itself, or to embroider it with all your marketing/publicity notions. Then we all discuss, here in the comments. Then on the 4th of January, we vote for the number one idea (and #s 2 and 3, just in case). Then, between that Monday and, say, the next, we figure out if we can make the project happen: if it’s Helen MacInnes, can we persuade her estate to give us the rights? If it’s poetry on butterfly wings, can we source the butterflies? That kind of thing.
If we can make it happen, then we begin. If we can’t make it happen, then we discuss #2.
It’s at this stage that I hope all the people who have been sending me private emails will come forth publicly and add their names to the list. We already have an astonishing roster of talent and expertise; let’s make it bigger. Please feel free to recruit people of all stripes (as long as they play by our rules).
Oooh, this could be cool. We could test theories of publishing, distribution, marketing and publicity. We could create a new kind of business model. We could bring a piece of art into the world that might never have existed. And, hey, worst case scenario, we just have a blast coming up with wacky ideas.
Start your engines!
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51 thoughts on “next steps, and a deadline”
I’m still waiting for my first cup of tea, but I want to say the word “deadline,” even if it’s used in the amateur-group context, gets me fired up. And we’re already 4 posts into this! We’re seriously going to play. Oh, the joy. >>Now, ideas… The “poetry on butterfly” opens up the spectrum. I’d been thinking about more of the same, so I’ll have to go into the wacky corner wearing my velcro outfit and hope something weird and wonderful sticks to me. >>Still tealess:>>– Some six years ago, there was a project going around called <>The Traveling Drawings,<> where children around Mexico received some other kid’s drawings and wrote a story or poem on it. I love the book that came out of that. >>– <>The Suitcase<> went around from the hands of one video artist to another, all across the world. The suitcase contained a series of props and clothing, and a VHS tape with the story so far. Each artist added 1-5 minutes to the story, where the suitcase had to play a major role, and the props and clothing had to be used. An < HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exquisite_corpse" REL="nofollow">exquisite cadaver.<>>>– One of my CrWr teachers showed us a video his friend made from an unpublished story of his. It was astoundingly simple and yet very effective: just different people telling the same story, all shot over a white background; the editing kept building in speed and unconventionality as the plot built. The end result keeps haunting me; I’ve retold the story orally to at least eight people, using some of the gestures and expressions the people in the film used. The film also made me wonder how the story will look like when it gets published—I probably won’t wait that long, I’ll just ask my teacher to email it to me. There’s something about images and sounds on screen that compel you to watch and listen, and when the story is great, they make you want to read the originating piece. >>– I also like Miranda July’s < HREF="http://www.learningtoloveyoumore.com/" REL="nofollow"><>Learning To Love You More<><> online collaborative project, which also resulted in a printed publication. >>I’m now off to the wacky corner with my cup of tea. I’m looking forward to reading all your ideas and coming up with a few of my own. Cheers!
Also waiting for the kettle to sing…>>Karina, your idea makes me recall there’s more than one way to tell a story. What if several versions of the same story were produced and sold individually or packaged? It could run the gamut from a book to short film to “interviewing the characters” to a web-based video game to podcasts to, heck, maybe even a live performance. It could be a way to draw talent into the collaborative. No idea of a specific project as of yet, though.>>Also, has anyone thought of maybe donating some of the money made (if any!) to charity? Often these sorts of ventures are well-received with a charity attached.
I’m still brainstorming, and sorting ideas, but just wanted to let you know that I’ve posted a blog linking this particular entry, hoping that certain somebodies will come out of the woodwork as well. >>S’very excited!
I’m going to limit myself to my area of expertise, which is book publishing. What I’d suggest would be to start with something that will certainly work, i.e. Nicola’s collection of stories. It’s something I wanted to read (even more so publish) ever since I first read Slow River.>And I’d love to work on a series of Best of collections by different authors. Best of collections are on the rise, Subterranean Press and Night Shade are doing (and have done) several of them lately and they are definitely saleable items. And how about some themed anthologies?>I can do the book design, and I have the possibility to do all the pre-press.>We also have to decide whether we want (in terms of books) a line with similar design, or we won’t limit ourselves to a generic common design.>I’m thinking. If anything interesting comes out of it, I’ll write it here.
I like the idea of a collaborative story, passed from hand to hand, though that might slow things down if one or more are delayed or sidetracked. >>1. I’ll speak from a cartoonist’s viewpoint for ideas. If you could get the rights from the Charles Addams estate, a collection of short stories, each inspired by an Addams cartoon, would be fun, especially if some of the writers are familiar names. >>2. Of course, short stories and cartoons bring to mind Gahan Wilson. How about a collection of his stories, with his illustrations…or borrowing from my first idea, a collection of short stories inspired by Wilson’s cartoons, including a new Wilson story?>>3. A collection of cartoons inspired by Wilson, perhaps edited by Wilson.>>4. Whatever the cartoon project, a Neil Gaiman foreword/introduction would seem ideal.>>5. What if the book were sold like a Scalzi short story. The reader pays what the reader can afford. Some musicians have done this, and done well. The hard copy has a set fee; the online/downloadable edition is variable.>>6. How about a book where artists write the stories, and the writers draw the art?>>7. The idea of leaving books around in odd places, to be discovered, was mentioned. How about doing the same with little thumb drives containing the book/media? I don’t use them, but I’ve heard that very simple ones are relatively cheap. >>8. Catherynne Valente has a project where she writes short short stories that you can read by subscription. They’d make a fine collection.>>9. videos go viral online. I wonder if a book could go viral? Release the chapters on their own through video sites. Assembly required. Invite viewers to take the words and make something out of them, adding art, a movie, new words, music, and passing it on, inviting more collaboration.>>10. A book of stories with each story told in anything but the usual form. A parking ticket. A TV Guide listing. Instructions for assembling something. An electric bill. Sheet music. Pillow tags. Or all of these things could comprise the telling of one story.
Yay! The deadline I’ve been waiting for. I have a list started, and will either turn it in by the deadline, or turn in a book project idea revolving around the best excuses for missing deadlines. Cheers (and thanks for keeping the ball rolling).
Ok, are you trying to butter me up for something? I already said you could count on me. :) >>I’m thinking this needs to be something that will sell well. Not just something we all think is cool and brilliant, etc. Maybe that will work out to be the same thing, but maybe we need to keep marketability in mind?>>Are we just going to start with one thing or two or three simultaneously?>>I’m just going to throw out ideas randomly, and not wait until I put a coherent list together. I think we can play off of each others ideas as they come up.>>I do like the idea of a cross collection of stuff – words and images and illustrations.>>How about Nicola’s “Dozen Daily Delights” for happiness in an illustrated volume? Maybe fleshed out with stories? People eat that happiness shit up. >>You mentioned this before Nicola, but novels sell better than short story collections. >>Maybe there could be a novel with an accompanying photo/poetry or just text book that fleshes out something in the novel. Maybe it’s a novel that has something to do with the environment or the coming apocalypse or I don’t know what.>>Why don’t audio books ever have a soundtrack, like movies do? And now with podcasts, they could have photos or illustrations or cartoons too.
Another thing I’ve had a really vague idea of doing sometime is a kind of a portrait/bio book on women musicians and authors. A range of years – finding the women who started the ‘women’s music’ thing in the 70’s when feminism was more vocal and lesbians were looking for a place/voice, and leading up to what’s happening today. Maybe people could be interested in participating if there was a tie-in with their music/writing.
If we are looking for commercial success as an element added to the fun, I would love to see three short story collections or anthologies:>1. Nicola Griffith>2. Ursula K. LeGuin>3. Michael Moorcock>>For my personal pleasure and indulgence, I would love to see a reprint of two books by John Blofeld. Both have languished out of print for oh so long. One is, in my opinion, the best English language book on Chinese tea, and the other is a collection of Tibetan Mantras. Each would have an introduction, and maybe a foreword–I know a Chinese Tea Master, and also the Shifu who introduced me to Tibetan mantras.>I like introductions and forewords for several reasons. They can make the subject clearer to the reader, and, commercially, the book is now listed under two or three author names, increasing expose.
OK, I’ll start with the disclaimer: I have NO clue what I’m talking about. I have no professional or other real “experience” with this subject (except that I wrote short stories for the German newspaper I worked for back then).>>One thing that came to my mind immediately, and I do believe the “first hunch” is usually the best (or correct – in multiple choice quizzes) answer, therefore I am posting it here.>>Yes, it makes sense to use established names to draw a crowd, but I will go out on a limb and suggest that maybe we can find those established names as, maybe, commentators or something to that extend to help “sell” the product.>>I would like to see a collection of writings of totally unknown and so far unpublished people. I would also like to see each story/poem illustrated by an equally unknown artist either in form of a drawing or photo, sort of alternating written and illustrated art with them being somewhat connected.>>This is my first hunch, I will leave it at that. >>I am volunteering to help with the editing/proofreading if it is anything I can do as a total layperson/outsider. I would love to help!!>>:)
I’m seeing two paths developing–wild and wacky and sturdy and dependable. Anyone see a middle way? Not saying that’s what we need but I’m curious…
Okay, here’s one:>>A collection of well meant letters, that “writers” all over the world could’ve/should’ve sent, but never did.>>It can be titled “Letters I’ve Written, Never Meaning To Send”, in honor of the line from the song “Night’s in White Satin” by awesome band Moody Blues. >>Is that too “wild and wacky”? Or “sturdy and dependable”? Or could it possibly be hitting a middle ground? >>I like the Lorca poetry on the wings of butterflies ideal too though. You could print it on butterfly looking paper, y’know?? :P
I have been mentally toying with the idea of a multi-pov novel written online, with multiple authors (all taking a character), and, yes, with resources that extend the story beyond the text (photos, places, events). To use the simplest example, five people witness an accident…what happens next (which also includes what happened before, what happens during, etc)?
We have the same problem any publisher has. If wer’re publishing to make money, do we publish the avant garde or the tried and true? If I understand our goal, it’s to give oppurtunity to writers and readersd while making at least respectable bucks. Therefore, after agonized thought, I think we should publish a book consisting of two short stories each by Nicola and Kelley. All the rest of us can then line up behind them. The illustrations should be photos by Jennifer Durham.
barbara, for me the goal is a grand experiment in publishing–I want to find out what can happen if people work cooperatively and treat each other like equals, like human beings. Making money would, of course, be awesome–and I think it will follow any sound enterprise, eventually–but that’s not the priority, for me. Big priority: not to lose money. I don’t think anyone here can afford that.>>We may at some point have to ponder whether to test art i.e. create wild and wonderfully new kind of product, or whether to test publishing, with a non-startling product like a novel, just produced and delivered in original ways. But maybe we won’t. I don’t know. Sometime in the next few days I’ll write a list of the many things I’d love to see done–ranging from deliciously impractical to nauseatingly self-involved to mildly boring (I think; I haven’t actually come up with them yet…).>>Meanwhile, keep those ideas coming.
hey – I’m late to the party, but very interested. I’m a writer for love and an editor for money, so I’d love to be involved in any way possible. Actually, I’m a grant writer and editor for a living, so I’d be happy to help scout potential funding sources, approach them, work on proposals, etc. – as well as potentially contribute creatively.
I’ve been exchanging email with Michael Moorcock. He gave me permission to quote him:><>This appeals to my idealism and I’m interested in taking part. I’d like to see a mixture of visual, text and audio and wouldn’t feel that happy unless this was an international operation — feeling it’s time we moved away from Anglo-centric fiction/art.>I also think there has to be one editor, or at least one for each medium, because democracy doesn’t seem to work very well for a project of this kind. My experience has been that dictatorship, even if it’s a form of enlightened self-interest, works best in the arts and that editing by committee hasn’t previously worked too well. You need an editor, a director, a conductor, a curator. A single vision, with a lot of individuals’ input, seems the most effective way of running a project. While I’d be willing to contribute labour, in the form of fiction, say, I think some means of paying on acceptance for work has to be considered. The last online project I was involved with, I had a kitty out of which I paid contributors (or at least those I solicited) because I believe payment, however small, shows that you value work enough to offer something from however small a budget –that you’re not publishing indiscriminately just because you’ve been offered the work. I’m conscious of repeating observations already made; just adding my two pennorth. It’s true that offering free work stimulates sales. It’s long been a truism in the UK that a book serialised in a newspaper, say, and read on the BBC, actually increases a readership. I do think you have to offer something unusual, that an audience wants something it can’t find elsewhere.<>>>I’m hoping to post some further thoughts at the weekend.
I’ve also been exchanging email with Colleen Mondor at < HREF="http://www.chasingray.com/" REL="nofollow">Chasing Ray<>:>><>“As far as creating Guys Lit Wire, we have seen a huge response just through consistency. We’ve only been up since June but as we post pretty much every single Mon-Fri with something new and interesting in the way of book recommendations for teen boys, we get a lot of hits (over a thousand a week) just through word of mouth. We’ve become dependable and that has resulted in a lot of quick success…> >[…]> > I’d love to see some way to get creative books like that [ANWAGTHAP] out there more – especially combining books and playlists, or research notes, inspirational postcards or whatever that could connect the author to the reader in a more intimate way.”<>>>More soon.
How about a story collection that riffs off an established story, but in this way: every story has a few incidental characters, like a clerk, a waiter, a lawyer, doctor, mechanic, et al., moving the plot along. They do their bit and disappear. What if writers took one of these characters and wrote a story about him/her, a story that has absolutely nothing to do with the first story. The idea is that we’re all the protagonists of our personal stories, even if few people realize it. Secondary idea: we all play important parts in other people’s lives, even if we don’t know it at the time. >>If Mike Moorcock is willing to provide a lead story, it would be perfect for riffing, a variation on his multiple universes/realities: the suggestion that a single universe behaves like a multiple one, since its seen through so many eyes.
cartoonist, one of the anthology notions I’ve had for a while is something I think of as mix/remix. More on that tomorrow.
I’ve just written a < HREF="http://asknicola.blogspot.com/2008/12/publishing-permaculture-vs-slash-and.html" REL="nofollow">new blog post<>, but here’s the bit relevant to this post:>>It’s not fashionable to admit this (oh, well) but for me, a novel–published in letterpress limited edition, spat out by POD, or snatched from the air by Whispernet–is Art. A novel is art when it is beautiful, appealing, of more than ordinary substance and cultural longevity, when it speaks to us across time. Perhaps it helps shape or at least articulate our culture. A novel, to me, is not disposable. It is lasting. The notion of disposable fiction, disposable in the what-it-means-to-us sense, of instant books, is foolish, dangerous, and unsustainable. Instant agriculture leads to bankruptcy of the soil; instant books leads to bankruptcy of culture.>>Now that I’ve finally worked that out (these things take me a while but I can, as they say, see through a brick wall in time), I have some notions about our creative co-op.>>It seems fairly clear that most co-opites want a book from the hand of more than one author, a collaborative effort–some have suggested a collection, or anthology of some kind. On the other hand, I don’t think many of us would argue that novels sell better than short stories. It seems like an impasse. But what happens if we look at the notion of ‘novel’ and try to figure out what it is about that kind of book that sells. I think it’s the long, coherent story arc with sympathetic characters, a world to get lost in, told in chapters. I don’t think the chapters have to necessarily be created by the same hand, or even in the same medium.>>So what if we took a time-honoured story, a magnificient tale, like the < HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iliad" REL="nofollow"><>Iliad<><> (which itself was probably created by several people) and remade it? Someone would have to be the director of the project. S/he would lay out the story arc and divide into a number of chapters. (TBD–perhaps 24, the customary number of Books in the original.) Each chapter would then be assigned to a novelist, or screenwriter, or cartoonist, or photographer, or poet, or short story writer, or lyricist, who would then write her or his chunk of the tale in his or her preferred format. Each chapter could be illustrated further by paintings and/or photography and/or short poems in the margins. We could have further chapters set in the Iliad metaverse available on the web: music, animated short film, Twitter feeds, whatever. Every month we could release a chapter free on the web and ask readers/listeners/viewers to guess who wrote/draw/composed it. We would get a dozen viewpoints on an integrated, proven, thrilling story. And because so many others have tried their hand at this tale before (I love Christopher Logue’s < HREF="http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoem.do?poemId=1531" REL="nofollow"><>All Day Permanent Red<><>; I delighted in Brad Pitt epitomising the rage of Achilles in < HREF="http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/troy/trailer/medium.html" REL="nofollow"><>Troy<><>; my guess is there’s a ton of musical retellings out there, too), the opportunities for mashup vids would be almost endless.
I’m not as fluent as some of the people here, not with ideas, but I’d love to see A Midsummer Night’s dream as an urban fantasy in graphic novel form>>my 2 cents>>Julie
michael moorcock and nicola griffith and a couple other writers, writing a collaborative novel… with artists illustrating it (another artist for each author)… and book trailers and video clips inspired by it or related to it… distributed over the net as teasers… and a soundtrack.. i can see that as a viable merchandise :)
I’m reposting a comment here from Malinda Lo:>> <>I’ve been following this discussion with interest, and I have to admit that with your Iliad told by multiple authors, you’ve hooked me. This is definitely something I would not only be interested in buying, but in participating in. To me, it sounds a bit like TV writing (albeit with a twist): a group of writers, together (preferably in a room), storyboarding out the entire arc of the story (or TV season), and then each episode/chapter assigned to an individual writer who goes off to his/her own writing room, and writes it.>> There must be an editor in charge (a “showrunner,” in TV speak). But everyone puts their individual imprint on their own episode. There are tons of things to consider in retelling the Iliad (or any retelling): time, place, who the main characters are, who’s going to be gay :), etc. It sounds like wonderful fun.>> It also sounds like it’s doable. Coming from my experience as an editor of a rather large and unwieldy website (AfterEllen), this sounds like it could be done. AND, I might add, it sounds like it could be promoted.<>
… i guess the iliad it will be :) it kind of grew on me too, since yesterday. how about a series of linked novellas, like tv episodes, coming out about a month or two weeks apart, and published as handsome small illustrated hardcovers?
bear, julie, kate, malinda, mike, kassia, welcome to the party.>>hnu, oh, nothing is even half-jelled yet, never mind decided. I’m still hoping for more ideas. But I think we can publish this puppy any way–every way–we want. Technology and fertile minds = unstoppable combination.>>everyone, let’s keep playing.
So I know at least people who have commented here will be at < HREF="http://www.toccon.com/toc2009" REL="nofollow">TOC<> in February. Perhaps several of you are going. What would be cool is if you could meet up for a drink or something while you’re there and/or talk up the publishing coop to others. As well as reporting back, of course. Oh, I think this one is going to be spectacular…
I’m going to TOC. I agree it would be great to meet up with other members of the gang who are also attending. >>Will report back, too, Boss. :-)
there is a contingent of us attending toc (some, ahem, presenting). if you’re on twitter, @katmeyer is organizing a get-together. if not on twitter, find me or email through booksquare for details.
kat, karina, kassia (works hard at not making very bad triple-k joke), I hope you get to share tea/chocolate/wine/conversation/ideas at TOC. Oh, I am *jealous*. Take lots of notes!
Most of these ideas sound fantastic to me. My brain-storming juices haven’t been flowing as quickly as I’d like, but I’d love to take part in this co-op.>>I’ve never published anything before, but this feels like a great way to get involved in my first adventure. :)
Maybe the 4th seemed absurdly far behind back in December, but now it seems to have suddenly arrived. So I checked on here, and your post actually says, ‘Monday, jan 4th’. Monday, is actually Jan. 5th. So does that mean we have one more day?
Oh, oops, yes, I meant <>Monday the 5th<>. I’ve had another couple of ideas that I’ll post here soon. I hope others have more to say, too.
This is a copy of a comment left on another post, which I’m pasting here so we have everything in one place:>> <>karina<> said>> So the absurdly-far-away deadline is here, and I'm still thinking.>> I'm not sure the world is in desperate need for another re-visioning of the Iliad, but I can see the fun in working with that. Authors, in particular, seem to find the Iliad idea appealing because of the sense of collective ownership, which would be harder to achieve if we were to work on spinoffs of the Aud books. Is there another set of myths that haven't been revisited as often as the Iliad and the Odyssey and that we'd like to work with? I love Gaiman's Sandman universe because it draws from a variety of cosmogonies—from the ancient gods of Greece, Ireland, Egypt, etc. to our Super Heroes to the cult of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe—and brings them all together into our present. I've got nothing against historical stuff, but if we're jumping off the cliff here, we may as well go all the way and reflect our current times, dreams, fears with more immediacy. But then we risk losing focus… *sigh*>> I've been following a few discussions on the future of books and news in the years to come. The biggest worry among big players can be summed up as, “how do we keep the audience engaged?” I'm wondering what our audience is for this project… I guess it'll come to us as we go along. But still, I wonder, too, how do we engage our audience? How do we make them participate in ways that involve reading, but not only reading? How do we encourage them to take story and run with it. I like Placebo's video for their “Running Up That Hill” cover. They asked the fans to videotape themselves singing the song, then edited clips with this result. The video for Richard Van Camp's story I mentioned earlier had a similar feel: many dreamers telling the same story. I'd like to do something along those lines—multiple readers reading for the camera, virtual book tours, audio clips, etc.—with whatever we come up. I'm not sure how, yet, but we'll figure it out along the way.>> I walked around a few bookstores and felt overwhelmed by the number of publications. I was saddened to find some sections have disappeared, mainly the Culture Studies shelf, and the Queer Lit corner. Erotica, Poetry, Drama, Art Studies have shrunk and are on their way to extinction as well. The display for Fiction is basically one huge melting pot. Children's and YA Lit have expanded quite a bit, along with Graphic Novels. Non-fiction remains sectioned into its various Self-Helps, Health&Fitness, Gardening, Travel Guides, Biography. I'm still trying to sort my thoughts on this…>> I know not everyone here identifies as queer or whatever… so I'm not sure if I should follow this thread in my mind. I'll lay it down, at least. It is a reality that as the economy goes down, repression and discrimination go up. I want to make a stand against the shrinking of certain sections in bookstores, make room for those stories that won't be getting published anymore because there's no budget for 'different.' Which is another reason why I like working with Aud, particularly younger versions of Aud. Let's say, < HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/dec/27/tomboys-girls-family" REL="nofollow">“Hurrah for tomboys!”<> I get so many heartbreaking news about young people in Mexico and other Latin American places, young people in India, and—yes—in the US, people struggling against discrimination, fighting for their right to breathe and love and learn and grow old. Can this co-op do something to ensure our youth will continue to find the stories that will save their lives? Sure, many are crafting their own across all social media—YouTube, blogs, blah-blah—but there’s still need for role models that can teach a 14-year-old boy that he is beautiful, and a 14-year-old girl that she is powerful. We’re not here for charity, I know, but we are certainly here for hope.
karina, yes, for me this experiment is all about, well, experimenting. About expanding–expanding the way publishing works, the way we see it, use it; expanding ourselves and others.>>And I think you may be right about there being way too many varieties of <>The Iliad<> out there. It’s a fabulous story but it’s been done–most recently by Ursula Le Guin (<>Lavinia<>)and Jo Graham (<>The Black Ships<>). I think we could do it better, but I definitely open to other ideas. I *want* other ideas. Where are they? We have until tomorrow to throw down a few more. I hope someone gives it a go.
What if the book is a book, as nice as something put out by Small Beer, et al. But the difference will be in the promotion. Gaiman read a chapter of his graveyard book at different venues. If you looked for and collected the videos, you had a nice product that cost nothing. the book could be offered in the same way. maybe not the same narrator, but still a video series that tells the story. >>Or what about those games that are played in the real world, deciphering clues that lead to the next clue and so on, all leading to the solution of a puzzle. You could have chapters of the book appear in odd places, if readers follow the clues provided at the main website. You could have scheduled readings of book chapters, on street corners, in a laundromat, but you need to puzzle out clues to find the where and when. Tuck clues or chapters into helium balloons and let them drift, pop, or settle, for someone to find. leave clues behind in coffee shops, supermarkets, the dentist’s waiting room. >>I know these suggestions have nothing to do with the book’s topic. But whatever it is, I think the key will be in the novelty that surrounds it, the use of Web 2.0, flicker, youtube, twitter, anything that spreads information.>>What if the same essential story is written several times, but each one is a different tone: a romantic comedy, horror, spy thriller…>>Did you see the mashup for the Shining trailer, that turned the movie into a romantic comedy? I thought that was brilliant. >>What if a book is assembled, and then a series of abridged versions are released, turning a novel into a short story, and the story into a vignette, and that into a blog post, and that into a twitter post, are available…>>how about several youtube videos. One might be a narrator, reading the story. Another might be a musician or band, accompanying the story. You’d need to open two tabs or windows to run each youtube at the same time. Another video would be an artist’s interpretation. That’s three videos. Another could be dancers. The idea is that each video stands on its own, but if you play them together, they form a whole with layers.>>And if none of this works, we can write Elvis-inspired haiku on butterfly wings.
nicola, what about your sword-swangin’ fantasy? Would you be willing to set it out as a metaplot? I got hooked and could sense the richness of that world just from the < HREF="http://asknicola.blogspot.com/2008/12/friday-audio-sword-swangin-fantasy.html" REL="nofollow">two prologues you read<>. I’ve been thinking about the <>Dragonlance<> series, <>Resident Evil<>, <>Silent Hill,<> etc. Okay, all of them were spun from a game, probably because the basic elements of setting, characters, and an over-arching plot invited people to imagine and contribute along those lines. Can we create and sustain such a metaverse here? I want to try!
Hm… I guess I just asked you to give your gestating baby up for experimentation.
I think that altho this is clearly an experiment, it still needs to have the goal of making money. Yes, money will be a by-product of a successful experiment, but I think it needs to be more of an end kept in mind when starting out. Because well, we all need to make money to live on. Artists (of any type) need to be paid for their time in order to keep producing work. The tricky part comes in sometimes when one gets tempted to change the work around in order to make it profitable work.>>But, I think that if we are looking to develop new/different publishing models, part of that is that they have to be profitable in order to be successful, to be self-sustaining. And if that is not part of the goal at the outset, we are less likely to find ourselves there later.>>I don’t have any great ideas. I do really like the collaborative idea with the Iliad, although I can’t really speak to the story. I confess that I don’t think I’ve ever read the original. I did order a copy, but I haven’t cracked it open yet.>>We all seem to agree that novels sell better than collections. I wonder if people aren’t suggesting collections — not because they like that idea best — but because they don’t have a novel sitting around that they want to contribute. >>What about starting out with 2 or 3 things. One a novel, two Nicola’s Iliad idea, and maybe a third wacky multi-media thing? Where to get the novel? How about some kind of contest where the winner gets to be the first novel published by the coop?>>It seems to me that the important thing for this experiment is to give heavy weight to new marketing/distribution/production concepts for publishing as opposed to developing a new form of art to be published – using all the multi-media, online, traditional, free stuff — whatever we can come up with.>>Oh, and I think that after this we have to have a better way to communicate than via comments to this blog post. Maybe we need a google or yahoo group email thing, and progress to the web conference thingys later?
Jennifer, I hear you. We need to aim at sustainability. But we don’t know yet if we’re developing a product from scratch (Iliad thing), or distributing/marketing an existing one.>>Products that are ready to go: Nicola’s short story collection, novels people are willing to submit for consideration. I like the contest idea. It takes care of publicity, in a way, by letting people know we’re here, that we’re doing this. >>I don’t have any novels ready. :-( But I guess I could offer (since I asked Nicola for her sword-swangin’ fantasy darling) my own gestating spawns for metaplot experimentation. But I’m not sure people would be interested in them. They’re pretty raw and at an early stage, which I guess is good in the sense that collective ownership will develop along the way. Also, I’m a nobody wannabe writer with a “do as you please with my spawns” attitude right now.>>One of the worlds is set in a planet with a geography similar to Earth circa the Precambrian time (mainly the late Archea and early Proterozoic Eons), when only 2%-3% of the planet’s surface was dry land. Humans are basically organized into two countries, one with more advanced technology than the other. Not a lot of biodiversity. There’s a high content of iron in the tectonic plaques which resulted in wacky electromagnetic field activity that upsets machines in certain places. The main feature of the fantasy is that people who live in one of the two land masses have collective nightmares. There is a procedure that can be performed to “remove dreams” before children turn twelve; it has become mandatory. And stuff. I could upload the first 100 pages of this, if anyone is interested in turning it into a collaborative thing.>>The other spawn is basically Drama On Spaceship fun. It’s set as a series of linked stories featuring a character named Shade, who is a mercenary. I’ve got three very raw stories so far. There are a number of other constant characters floating around the Known Universe, such as the Demiurge, the Supreme Empress, the gullible Chancellor, etc. All very cartoonish. I could write up their backstories. I still don’t have a clear idea of the variety of intelligent life forms and such, except for the inhabitants of the Clepsid system, who are amphibian, and the humans, of course. So, again, I could upload the three extremely raw stories so you can turn this into a collective metaplot.
We’re not voting yet, but I’m leaning toward a collection of Nicola’s short stories to kick-start the publishing experiment. While the devoted readers, product development and marketing teams get down with the publishing and distributing, the artists can work on the Iliad-type thing or the Aud spin-offs (say, “Hurray for Aud!”), which will take some time to write, illustrate, photograph, record, shoot, etc. and get polished to a publishable stage.
Here's a comment from Kat Meyer:>>First idea: select author & let them cast & direct the audiobook version of the title of an original work (or one they have audiorights to). This idea spurred by convo on Twitter with Tayari Jones, who said she'd grown to dislike audiobooks due to stereotyped readings of characters in audio versions of her work.>>Second idea: Marketing and publicity campaigns for any idea that ends up being put into the works — as this is my area of interest/expertise, I'd like to suggest a book marketing lab of sorts for whatever project is taken on. I can and will expound if/when it comes up, but oh do i have some ideas I'd love to try out with a willing subject.
I’ll say something soon, really. Just gotta write this Hild scene before I can stop and collect my thoughts.
One more group idea before we get down to discussing and voting.>>When I was a baby beginner writer (mumbleteen years ago), I had an idea for a novel. It was about the end of the world. It would be written in eighty short chapters (80 was a number I pulled from the air; I just liked the look of it) of four or five pages, each written from the POV of a different character: old, young, male, female, human, animal, Chinese, English, Indonesian, tanker engineer in the Gulf, potato farmer’s teen in Idaho, kindergarten teacher in France, etc. etc. It would be their final moments on earth: well, the sea just rose up… Or, my god, the ship that came out of the sky was *huge*… Or, I was teaching Suzy how to colour inside the lines when the crayon began to melt… Or, Whoa, dude, just about to like touch her breast, her totally naked breast, when she looked up and said, What’s the fuck is that…?>>I just like the notion of Earth: The End. I loved the idea of small moments mixed with apocalypse. I never wrote it because, well, it’s the kind of idea that everyone gets at some point, and before I could get around to it, it no longer fit.>>The world, of course, could be this one, or another, in the future or the past. The end could be alien invasion, gradual civilisation collapse, a plague of locusts, anything. (The sky’s the limit. Except, oh wait, there are no limits.) And the small individual stories could easily fit a myriad writing/graphic/musical styles.>>More soon.>>Meanwhile, I’d love to hear some more opinions on which paradigm/s we’re trying to change: art and/or publishing.
<>Earth: The End.<> Love it! >>And we can ride the latest apocalyptic hype of the Mayan calendar’s 2012. >>Aren’t we all obsessed with The End? From religion to entertainment, people preparing for the end or trying to avoid it. >>There’s a number of movies for mashups, too. < HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Night_(film)" REL="nofollow">Don McKellar’s <>Last Night<><>, for example. I’m not even going to get started with the loooong list.>>Okay, I may be willing to give up my Aud-cheering in exchange for apocalyptic vignettes. >>Hurrah for The End!
But I’ve also been thinking about commercial appeal, and Jennifer’s succinct comment to the effect that ‘that happiness shit sells’. And I saw < HREF="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_4qwVLqt9Q" REL="nofollow">this book trailer<> and thought, Huh. I’d love to be able to come up with the Happiness Collaboration Project. Some way to build a story about people helping each other and having lots of joy and, well, all that happiness shit :) Any ideas?
I’ve also set up a Google group for us to use because this comment-on-a-blog-post thing is fine for now but won’t do for the real work. More on that in a separate blog post tomorrow.
It can be the HAP (Happy Apocalypse Project). ;-) Look at the < HREF="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCJeR0UebR8" REL="nofollow"><>Armageddon<><> scenes of hope and togetherness. And, again, < HREF="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvKutnSPNPg" REL="nofollow"><>Last Night<><>. Sure, some people will opt for mayhem and murder when facing The End, but there are many who will stand for love and joy and beauty.
And < HREF="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03CTpRexb2o" REL="nofollow"><>Love Actually<><>.>>“When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love.”>>Yay for The End, which inspires people to live fully, to embrace love and happiness.
karina, I think you have a point–but the point of Armageddon was that it wasn’t, in the end. And Love, Actually ends happily. And after 9/11 the vast majority of people on the planet kept living. How do you convince punters that a whole book about the end of the world is full of joy?
Well, we make a trailer of all the teary, happy, lovy-dovy moments before the world ends. >>Hm, let’s see… I think the key to your <>Earth: The End<> idea is that we don’t really get to find out if the entire human race is actually wiped out or if anything even happens. We are focusing on what people were doing when the countdown reached zero, or whatever. >>Post-apocalyptic fiction is depressing because people survive in horrible conditions, there’s death and loss and destruction all around. But pre-apocalyptic stuff has room for hope. <>Last Night<> just ends with a big bright light. The stories of each of the characters fade to white. We don’t know what happens after that. Maybe life goes one. Maybe it was all a big charade, an experiment. Maybe not. The thing is that the audience is satisfied with the ambiguity of the ending because they have accompanied those characters while they lived to their fullest (for better or worse) during one day. >>There was this thing on TV, I don’t remember which series (one of those sappy things my mom likes to watch), about a guy who got misdiagnosed. The doctor told him he had three months to live, so the guy quit his miserable job and began to live exactly the way he had always wanted. When the doctor realized his mistake, he let the guy know. So ex-terminally ill sued the Dr. because he had taken away his happiness by telling him he probably had many many more decades to live. >>Knowing that the world is going to end allows people to walk away from crap lives and get real. Wow, I really want my apocalyptic stories, don’t I?
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