Stories and Books and You and I
With yesterday’s chapter six finally out, we’re drawing near the conclusion of my first book. The book presently prints on my machine at one-hundred and eighty pages. I have about seventy more and I’m done. And you’ll have intimately followed the writing of the book over the space of a year and a half. I’m sure you know its weaknesses and its strengths. Humanity.
One of my next books will be a novel along the lines of the “Incidents” I write on my site (for example, No. 22: Wristwatches) along with sparse code and art. This time, though, I’d like to increase the reader’s involvement in the book.
First, each chapter would be released to a mailing list of persons who wanted to offer their proofreading and editing skills. Then, the chapter would be released by an RSS feed. Readers could then contribute back art and annotations. The key to this is that the main character of the book would be consciously narrating to an active readership that was given license to expand on his stories. And, likewise, reacting to the folks contributing.
For example, a reader could address an angry letter to the main character Archen. Archen could choose to reference elements from the letter and let the letter’s content detrimentally affect his mood, thereby leading him to accidentally tear off an elephant’s head.
Another reader could write a detailed history of one of the owls in the book. So then Nyen, the girl who collects owls, could debunk the essay without question!
Do you see where I’m going with this? I’m not just toying with self-referential stuff here. Please. The idea is to write a book which functions smoothly and cooperatively in context with the web. The self-referential character is just a gimmick to help the reader feel at home conversing with the book.
I don’t know how I would publish such a monster. I don’t think I’d want to publish it! It would loose all its beauty removed from the participatory environment. I don’t care AT ALL about publishing it. I want to play with the medium! I want to have a lush and intrepid experience writing novels and playing story games with those of you that can get into it. I want to write dangerously, inking the words right into your palms, sans billing system, out where no one else dares to hang their most hard-earned words. Maybe a small part of me wants to change writing forever, but I’m also okay with being imprisoned and tortured and killed for being deliberately obtuse. Now that’s a writing career!
Anyway, do you have any ideas for the open editing and annotating that I’m referring to? I know books have been placed on Wikis before (err, I know of Free Culture) but this would require active contribution while the book is being released.