Infinimata Press: Projects: You'll Ruin It For Everyone Dept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2014-01-02 10:00:00-05:00 No comments

One thing I've noticed about myself vs. other writers with a Web / social network presence is how much more explicit and candid many of them are about their work while it's still being produced. E.g., Twitter updates about word counts or editing status, or even posting the whole thing to their blog incrementally (my friend Scott Delahunt has been doing this with his Lethal Ladies and Subject 13 projects). I don't think these approaches are bad or wrong, just that I've found that they're not the approaches I prefer to take.

When I work on something, I like to have a fairly high degree of control over the amount of feedback that can be submitted, or maybe better to say the kind of exposure the work gets to the outside world as it's unfolding. I find that it's a little too easy for me to take what some people say to heart ("I think this chapter should have really started here, because ... "), and the best way to keep such things under strict control is to reduce the number of circumstances where I can succumb to such temptations.

There's been a lot of talk about the way our wild, wired world encourages all manner of creative collaboration, and I'm curious to see where it goes. But I also believe there needs to be a space where people can do their own things, start to finish, and then let the world respond to them in toto¹, rather than piecemeal. I also feel this encourages a sort of behavior on the part of the audience that I'm not fond of: the urge to criticize, dissect, feed back as the work is already unfolding, instead of letting it do its work first and then responding to it. A too-tightly-closed feedback loop can just as often turn into a noose around the creator's neck, where you started in one very specific place and ended up in what amounted to a creation-by-committee. (The whole point of having a singular creator for something is to avoid diffusion of the kind of responsibility that needs to be assumed in a singular way.)

Yet another reason I find I do this is rooted in thie whole problem of promising more than one can deliver. Back when I worked on Flight of the Vajra I had to fight exceptionally hard to keep from blathering to all and sundry about what the book was about, because even something of that size and scope was still undergoing quite the mutation as I wrote it. I didn't want to tell people it was one thing and then have them read another; I wanted it to be exactly what it was promised. And the best way to do that was ... well, not to promise too much. The only time I started talking about what it was, was when I had already committed to the book to such a degree that it would have been impossible for me to change anything anyway.

Likewise with Welcome to the Fold. I know there will be these specific things in it (cult mindsets! New York City!), and that the story will have a certain flavor to it, but it's hard to promise any of that in the specific without having finished it and taken a good, long look at it first. Even at this stage I can tell some things are just not going to make it into the final draft: most of the business about digital cash, for instance, is being axed because it simply doesn't fit anywhere in this story. Maybe somewhere else, but not here.

So me being tight-lipped about the details isn't me saying that those who are more loose-lipped are doing themselves, or their work, a disservice. It's me saying I've figured out by now that's a bad road for me to travel, because I often end up popping a tire.

¹ Except that inside of a dog it's too dark to read.

Tags: Flight of the Vajra Welcome to the Fold criticism editing feedback writers writing