Global Voices pointed me to a Russian author by the name of Evgeny Popov who’s doing a very similar project to mine. In Russian! He’s writing a book chapter by chapter and when one is done, he publishes it online (on his LiveJournal) and asks his readers questions that they answer in the comments.
I’m excited to see this sort of generative experimentation in story-telling is global! I just wish I could read Russian so I knew more about the story.
Sidenote: This is part of a Global Voices project called RuNet Echo which is trying to bring more of the Russian-speaking web to English-speaking audiences. Hell yes.
Also: If you haven’t signed up for the English-language version of Popov’s experiment (i.e. My project) this is the last weekend before I start writing. Get in on the first story in Andrew vs. The Collective!
Wow. I launched Andrew vs. The Collective last night and it already has 32 backers! Lots of friends, surely. But plenty of strangers too (or new friends. Welcome!). Financially, the project is nearly 100% backed (83% in 24 hours!), though admittedly that number is arbitrary. The finances of the project are meant to expand to fit how many people want books. Nonetheless, nearly $1000 in 24 hours: my hat is off to you, Kickstarter team.
[Update: Just in the last hour, the project crossed the 100% mark! Wow.]
On those lines, I’ve been surprised by the wide range of pledged amounts. I expected nearly all of the pledges to come in at the “Adversary” and “Foe” levels, but there have been quite a lot of pledges at higher levels. More than I expected – and certainly for the first day. There have even been two pledges at the very highest level (“Evil Doppleganger”) and neither of them are my mother! Much to my chagrin, one of those backers has already sent me his input for the first story. He writes: “I’ll take that challenge. Soseki Natsume’s “I Am a Cat” meets Neuromancer by way of Kundera’s Immortality. With elves. Go.” Eep.
I have a feeling this is going to be quite the challenge.
With the great reaction today I’m tempted to move the whole thing up a week and start writing this weekend. (Honestly, I just can’t wait to start hammering out these stories.) But, I’ll abstain. I’ll use the weekend to try to bring more backers into the project and make it even..more…challenging. I do think I’ll start formally asking for contributions a little early though – probably Monday of next week. So get out your Oxford English Dictionaries and your Bartlett’s Quotations and start earmarking pages.
I’ve been recommending this book like crazy for the last couple of weeks. It helps when you’re lugging around a big eye-catching doorstep from home to train to work and back again. I finally finished the book this weekend and let me just say again, I highly recommend you read this book.
I know, I know, it’s a big thick bastard and you’ve heard that at some point in the middle it gets gruesome. It’s true, all of these things are true. Also, the book is incredible. It succeeds at two very difficult book tasks: Being an exceptional work of literature and being a brain-altering suck-you-in page turner.
And I’ve got good news. The same folks that brought you Infinite Summer (which I took part in and thoroughly enjoyed) are doing the same for 2666. I give you Las Obras de Roberto Bolano. And it starts this week!
(I didn’t wait for this event because I didn’t want the reading to compete with my <PLUG> Kickstarter project Andrew vs. The Collective </PLUG>.)
Go check it out! Sign up!
I’m writing a story every week based on your contributions. Seriously, I want you to try and stump me. Then, after you try and stump me, I’ll mail you a copy of The Collective.
I just want to take a quick second to gush about how much I love Pictory. The latest photo set “Life Before Your Eyes” is just one of the most sincere, heart-wrenching, joy-inducing, tear-welling things I’ve ever seen on the internet. Additionally, on a professional level, I love Pictory because its an online magazine built out of user submissions.
Laura Brunow Miner, the mistress of magic behind the site, is speaking on it tonight in San Francisco. Come check her out.
(PS – I’m very purposefully not including a photo from the set in this post because I want you to go experience the whole thing!)
UPDATE MAY 2010: You can actually buy this book online now!
So this past year I wrote a book. Sure it was a weird year and whole lot of crazy things happened and if you had to ask me to rate the year in total I’d probably only give it a 3 or a 4, but yes, I wrote a book. Well, actually I finished editing the book. Before that, in November of 2008, after twenty-seven years of starting novels (okay maybe twenty-two years) and never finishing them, I undertook National Novel Writing Month. On November 1 I sat down and mapped out a simple outline for a book called “Squad”. Then for the rest of that month, I wrote and wrote and wrote. The goal was 50,000 words and it turns out that’s a hell of a lot of words. Four weeks later, hunched over my laptop on the kitchen table at my girlfriend’s parent’s house, I hammered out the last chapter.
Turns out what felt like a herculean effort was only the beginning, the fun part if you will. In 2009 I embarked on an ambitious plan to edit the book, give it a small group of readers, incorporate their notes and finish the whole thing by…June I think it was. Definitely in the summer. Twelve mind-melting months later, at the end of November 2009, I sent off to Lulu.com for a proof copy of the book. It had changed immensely over the year, particularly the back half (which was basically thrown away and rewritten, with a delicate sentence by sentence surgical procedure to append it to the front half), and it also took a name “The Collective”. This is what the proof copy looks like.
I mean holy shit, right? That’s a whole book. That I wrote! It’s 232 pages long!
All right great, so what am I going to do with the book? Well, I don’t think of it as my masterwork. I’m not Junot Diaz over here sitting on a pile of National Book Award. This is how I describe it:
It’s sort of lite sci fi. Set in a world very much like our own – not very far in the future – with the addition of one technology: Squad glasses. Like the smartphone of the future, on the backs of your lenses. All the data you’d ever need and it’s put there by outsourced labor in developed countries. And then…THERE’S A MURDER!
It’s a NaNoWriMo book after all, I had to come up with the story in like a day. But there are a lot of good ideas in there, many of my best go-to themes, and largely, I think it’s a fun book to read.
So that said, how am I going to share this book with the world? I don’t really want to throw myself at the knees of publishers in humble supplication just for the opportunity for my friends and friends of friends to read it in book format. And I just spent a damned year on it so I’m not going to lock it in the proverbial drawer. I’ve got a different idea.
I’m going to do a Kickstarter project to get the book out there!
It’s going to be called “Andrew vs. The Collective”. Details to come, but I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.