Fact, Not Fiction, for the First Time in Years

I promised myself that, upon my return from San Francisco, I would throw even more of my heart and my soul into my side projects, which means blogging here every day, reviving Too Shy to Stop (we already have three new articles scheduled for publication!), and tackling the revision process for “The Prescribed Burn”, my fiction manuscript.

The first person who can guess the song lyric reference in the post title gets a free hug (no Googling allowed!).

I promised myself that, upon my return from San Francisco, I would throw even more of my heart and my soul into my side projects, which means blogging here every day, reviving Too Shy to Stop (we already have three new articles scheduled for publication!), and tackling the revision process for “The Prescribed Burn”, my fiction manuscript.

The last thing on this list is probably the most difficult for me, but I am going help myself by taking advantage of two things I already do well: blogging and sharing via social media.

After some thought (not too much), I decided to make use of two domain names that I already own: LaryssaWrites.com and ThePrescribedBurn.com. I set both URLs to point to a WordPress blog where I am going to post revisions/additions of my manuscript, which is currently approx. 60,000 words in length.

Yeah.

I need to get serious about revising this thing. I have already gone through the whole manuscript twice: once because I had to make it decent enough to submit as my grad school thesis and again because I changed the perspective from third to first person. I have also added a lot of content since May 2009, when I graduated.

Though I feel the story is in the right place, I don’t really like the writing. The language and artfulness of the manuscript is not up to my personal standards; this was not a priority during my first few revisions because I wanted to get the structure right before I focused on the details.

On my new blog, which you can follow most weekdays (new content at 10 AM, just like with Comma ‘n Sentence), I will post very small chunks of the manuscript, revised with close attention to detail, language, and syntax.

In grad school, I would write “harder” because I knew that someone was always holding me accountable. Without that extra push, I have difficulty focusing on what I know I need to do. Dear readers, won’t you be my extra push?

I am completely aware that sharing my work in this way may change the way my completed manuscript will be received in the future, but I’m willing to take a risk; I feel the payoff will be much greater in the long run.

In an essay (read it – it’s good!) from The New York Review of Books about the future of book publishing, author Jason Epstein writes:

The difficult, solitary work of literary creation, however, demands rare individual talent and in fiction is almost never collaborative. Social networking may expose readers to this or that book but violates the solitude required to create artificial worlds with real people in them.

I don’t know where this experiment will lead me, and I may terminate it if I feel that the results are detrimental to my creative process. For now, I remain positive and hope you will follow me on my journey to create a work of art. As always, your feedback and constructive criticism is more than welcome. Love.

We’re All Closeted Unreliable Narrators

Last week, I wrote a post about the web and unreliable narrators. The web lets us be unreliable narrators for a certain amount of time, but if we are disconnected for a moment, the real world will find out our true identities. Which aspects of your personality do you like to present using social media and/or your blog?

On November 4th, I wrote a post titled “Social Media and the Unreliable Narrator“. Basically, I tried to make a case for the ways that the Internet allows us to be characters in a virtual novel; by taking on new identities, we could potentially deceive one another.

I received a lot of really great feedback on this post, and I would love to share some of it with you. Much of what I write here is a call for other people to comment and respond. Sure, I have a lot of ideas, but my ideas are pretty empty without feedback and dialogue!

My friend Dan, a law school student in Florida, wrote me a very thoughtful e-mail:

In law school, someone may be in a class unprepared (like me). Suddenly, the professor asks the poor student about a case, something like, “Well, what did Clark v. Dodge say about closely held corporations in which the directors unanimously agree to control salaries of company officers through voting trusts?”

The student pretends to scroll through a non-existent outline while really pulling up the case outline on LexisNexis. Then, the student just begins to bullshit.

I’m sure this situation happens in a variety of contexts; undergraduate and graduate students, employees, and other people try to show off knowledge that they don’t actually possess. Ultimately, the student/employee is hurting him/herself. What happens during a final exam or a crucial moment when the Internet is not available?

The web lets us be unreliable narrators for a certain amount of time, but if we are disconnected for a moment, the real world will find out our true identities and capabilities.

My friend Shanna, a blogger living in Austin, TX, wrote:

My real life is edited out and I sprinkle hyperbole where appropriate to thrust something into importance or to get a cheap punchline. By deleting my trials, backspacing my feelings, and running a search through the everyday mundane, I try to extract whatever might have a bit of entertainment value…By doing this I leave an image of myself that’s void of anything I’d rather you not be privileged to, while still making sure you think you know me like a best friend. I’ve never straight up lied on my blog, but I do “story tell”.

Personal blogs do start to read like novels, if the writer is good at sustaining a narrative. I love that Shanna admits to using hyperbole. Of course, people use hyperbole in daily conversation, but this device is much easier to use when no one can see the big smirk on your face!

On Comma ‘n Sentence, I try to blog about issues relating to new and social media, creative lifestyle, and writing. However, I leave out other things I like: fitness, music, reading, etc. When you read my blog, you only get a small slice of my life. Which aspects of your personality do you like to present using social media and/or your blog?

(Photo by Kevan)