I said in a previous post that I had “complete unfamiliarity” with the subject of fiction on the internet — then I promptly launched into a high-level analysis of blog fiction in the same post. Since that seems a bit incongruous even to me, I thought I’d get a few things into the record before relating any more of my fiction hunting escapades.
Prior to launching this site I had a lot of questions about the state of storytelling in the digital age, but I didn’t do much (meaning any) research or scouting ahead of time.
1) I didn’t want to spoil any of the surprises I might find along the way. If there are great stories out there on the web, or there are growling literary factions at war over virtual turf, I wanted to experience it all with this blog at the ready. (I’ve already deployed all the sticky notes my desk can handle.)
2) I didn’t want to discourage myself if it turns out the revolution is already over. Or maybe there are fifty people doing what I’m doing, only doing it better, with more video clips and breathless sound bytes and witty tweets than I’ll ever post. Now, even if I’m late to the party, at least I got this site up and running…
3) Speaking of which, I also didn’t do a lot of research because I didn’t want to give myself an easy excuse for not fighting the FTP gods or exhaustively tweaking my CSS. (Although tweaking CSS is endlessly tempting, like formatting font styles and type size in a document.) The time for hacking was then; the time for surfing is now.
4) I didn’t want to try to pin down what I thought must be a rapidly-evolving movement, only to have to revisit everything at a later date to become current again. Because I waited I get to start with a clean slate and no preconceptions, with the promise of no technological interruptions as I take it all in. (I don’t know about you, but I think that rationale is genuinely compelling. Feel free to use it at work or school — and in this instance I’ll even waive the moral obligation to cite your source.)
5) Finally, I wanted to grind through my own deliberative process before turning to the current practitioners and established voices. I know how stories are told, and I wanted time to consider how this new literary form might necessarily be shaped by the inherent demands of storytelling. And I think I’ve been able to reach a few useful conclusions as a result.
Thankfully that’s all behind me now, though, and it’s time to sit back and be amazed. Or at least intrigued. Or at least worn down by what seems to be the inherently fatiguing process of reading stories on a display. About which I’ll have more to say tomorrow.
— Mark Barrett