On Writing in Public

This is my first time writing a novel. Thus, it’s also my first time blogging about writing a novel. Both terrify me. I have this idea that you’re supposed to build up to a full-on book with short stories, or at least a novella. But I also know it makes no sense to write fiction about social networking in general, and Facebook in particular, all by myself.

So I turned to Robin Sloan, a brilliant media inventor and author based in San Francisco. First of all, his fiction: it’s just so good. Compulsively readable, well-crafted, smart. Start with Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store and then just keep going. Second, he’s a really nice guy. (I’m still surprised when talent and kindness coexist in the same person. Boarding school will mess you up that way.)

When I first contacted him about Dead SULs he was so enthusiastic, which meant a lot to me as I was starting out. He’s also been generous with his encouragement in subsequent emails, and I hope he doesn’t mind if I share this one little section:

Hurrah for telling stories in public – and not in a one-size-fits-all way, either, but in a way that fits each of us just right, & lets us be our best selves & do our best work.

This past Tuesday I put up a bad first draft. A sleep-deprived, parenthetical-remark-filled mess of a manuscript. And since then I’ve been resisting the urge to delete it. Letting my undigested ideas hang out online is only slightly less uncomfortable than the thought of being onset for Charlie Sheen’s first day back from rehab. Needless to say I’ve been rewriting ever since.

In the spirit of Robin’s words, then, I’ve found a compromise that feels like it fits right. If you insist, you can still see the original draft over on Scribd, and also read the rambling blog post that accompanied it.  (These masochistic tendencies suggest you’re a fellow boarding-school survivor. We should talk.) But I’ve replaced the draft on the exerpts page with a new and improved release, let’s call it version 1.01.

If you’re actually following along I appreciate your bearing with me as I learn how to write in public. (Is this thing on?!) And thanks, Robin, for sharing some rules from the road.

p.s. In case you’re worried I’m a total solipsist, I realize the entire world was watching Egypt this week… Wow, right?!

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email is never shared.Required fields are marked *