I’d recommend reading that before continuing.
Now: can this apply to the novelist? Could a novelist release unfinished chapters out into the world, or perhaps even snippets of ideas, or perhaps books with entire sections condensed to a small note (“chase scene here”) with the “chase scene” sent out at some later date. Or how about this: a novel that is written publicly every day. Revised, too. Added onto. Like this blog. Perhaps I will start doing that.
The question becomes: how important is it to a reader that an author hands them a set-in-stone offering, a static and final thing? Is that some of the appeal of reading an author in the first place?
I’m thinking of two divergent strains of music-making. On the one hand, you have the album model, in which a band or an artist or a team of songwriters coops up in a studio for however long, records the album, mixes it, and then presents it to the world. In pop records, the album is expected to be as polished as possible. When you listen to a well-produced album, there is something to it.
Now think about Soundcloud rappers. They might not even have mixtapes. I have followed Spark Master Tape for years. At one point, I really wanted to write a book about him. (I contacted someone on Twitter who seemed to be affiliated, in that he had “insider info” on Spark, and the man himself often retweeted him. I wasn’t interested in outing the guy, I just wanted a sitdown so I could pitch my book idea. That person ended up using their account to sell THC vape pens. Bamboozled again! Anyhow, I digress.) Spark hasn’t put out a proper mixtape since 2017. But he has steadily released songs in that time. About 16 by my count. And when you add them all to a playlist…it’s not cohesive in the way an album should be, but you still have the content there.
So is that just as good as an album? Is the schizophrenic nature of the various tracks, recorded separately and over time, enough to rule them out from being a proper body of work? Could we compare this to a short story collection? Maybe, maybe not.
What would this mean for a novel in progress? What is it about having the novel fully finished that separates that mode of production from that of a TV show, or one of these Soundcloud pages? It’s an ongoing, fresh development of content. A TV show doesn’t even have the whole thing written out, usually.
Anyhow, I’m going to experiment with writing a novel in this way. I’ve talked to Kelby about it recently, and I think it’s an exciting, slightly different way of presenting material to people, and one that is much more functional with regards to my own style of writing.