Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Somewhat terrifying discovery.

Have been writing lots of posts and putting them in the drafts folder. Something to do with lack of belief in what is called serious fiction. I guess. Anyway, you know interviewers always ask: What is your writing routine? Wake up at 5, start writing a 'post' (can these be genuine posts if they always end up in the drafts folder?), keep writing. All day. Go to bed at midnight or so. Wake up and repeat.

The feeling is, of course, that I'm not writing. 'How's the writing going?' 'I can't write. I can't write. I can't write. I'm completely paralysed. I may never write again.' Tragic case of writer's block. The kind of writer's block you get when you're writing 6000 words a day. And putting them in the drafts folder. Am I alone in being reminded of Perec's La Vie: Mode d'emploi?

How does it work? Why does it work?

Well, we always hear about writers whose unfinished work was published against their wishes after their death. How does this work? A rational explanation would be something like this: It's hard for a writer to destroy work on paper, because there's always the possibility, however remote, that it might be finished. But I don't think that really is how it works. I think there is a desire for the work to exist, even if it is not in a state to be seen. It is possible to have hundreds of posts in a drafts folder, under password protection. If one dies, they will go on existing, but they will not be seen: the password dies with the author.

Hackers will undoubtedly sneer. I'm not talking about the actual security of these posts, though, but about the feeling that they can exist, survive the author, not be seen.

Cormac McCarthy says you have to trust where it comes from. Something like that. Shakespeare never bothered to see his plays into print; Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece were the things he thought of real literary value. I think you can't interrogate yourself too much. You can't tear your hair because literary prestige attaches to a published novel rather than to a series of posts in the drafts folder. If something wants to write 19 hours a day and put the results in the drafts folder, you have to trust where it comes from.


bernardomoraes said...

Let's say you published a book and the publisher printed 800 copies. If you sell/ give all 800 copies, you'll have 800 readers. Let's say that you have a blog and that blog gets 100 visitors a day – they might not read all your posts, but then, the ones with your book might not read all of it either. With 100 visitors a day, you'll get in a little more than a week more readers then your book got with 800 copies. You're not getting any money, but someone is reading your texts. Are we in it for the money or for the readers? Or just for the pleasure to write? But then, it wouldn't hurt to get some money from it, would it?

Anonymous said...

Once a week, randomly choose a draft and randomly post it at a random time of day. The probability of a draft (d) appearing at a time of day (t) is equal to the sum of the square hippopotamus sandwich sitting in the fridge for infinity minus one.