hypertext novels, multiple personalities, writing programs, and a queen in pads

I've read some very interesting articles this week:

  1. From Salon: "Why the book’s future never happened" – This is interesting to me, since I've thought a lot about hypertext writing. I talked about it here. The rap on hypertext writing has always been that only hypertext writers read hypertext fiction. We discussed that over at T.S. Bazelli's blog when I read her non-linear story "Between Conscious." We read each other's work with great interest, but of course we're both hypertext writers (though what we've done in that genre has been very different). I am tempted to try more in this area, but it is as lot of work. On the other hand, maybe it would just take one really good story to have to have this catch on with the general public. Or maybe not.
  2. From The Guardian: "Kim Noble: The woman with 100 personalities" – This was interesting, since I don't often run into articles that treat multiple personalities as anything other than a disorder that needs to be cured. I'm no expert in this area, but I do know that some people with multiple personalities consider it a perfectly valid way to be, and that not all people in this situation need or want to be "cured." They draw parallels with being gay, or having Asperger's. The really chilling part of the story, though, was the ending: "One Of Many, an exhibition of Kim Noble's artwork, opens at the Bethlem Gallery, Bethlem Royal Hospital, Beckenham, Kent on 9 November." Chilling because of the history of that particular institution, once more familiarly known as "Bedlam," where people used to go and pay a penny for the entertainment of watching the "lunatics" act out.
  3. From Slate: "Nice Try: Why the Poets & Writers MFA rankings are a sham" – I am very aware that different people want different things from writing, and conventional publication is only one of many possible goals, but it does seem silly to ignore that goal when so many people have it (and some do actually achieve it). The tone of the piece is feverish and overwrought, but the point seems to be valid.
  4. From the New York Times: "The Kicking Queen" – Cool.
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4 Responses to hypertext novels, multiple personalities, writing programs, and a queen in pads

  1. sonje says:

    I agree with your assessment of point #3. I think the guy was feverish and overwrought, but, I’m frankly stunned that P&W (which I don’t think I’ve ever read) could rank MFA (writing) programs without considering publication success. True, all writers might not want that. But, um, the vast majority of us do.

    • The funny thing that came to me while I was reading the article was that I have a friend who got her MFA at Iowa, then a doctorate, and she teaches writing at a college. I’m not sure how much she’s ever had published. It’s possible that more people have read my stuff than have ever read hers. On the other hand, I have a friend who’s been writing professionally since 1972 and I don’t believe he ever finished college. I’m not sure he ever went to college at all.

      The point being, I guess, that there are a lot of different roads and a lot of different goals. But, as you say, publication is still the #1 goal of most people who consider themselves writers.

  2. tsbazelli says:

    I read that Salon article, and I think the author did a good job of describing why it’s so difficult. Trying to manage that much information non-linearly, and keeping track of multiple paths gets out of hand very quickly.

    Like you, I’m not sure if/when I’ll tackle a project like that again, but maybe 😉

    • I think the only way I would use it again would be if I had a story that couldn’t be told as well without it. One of my mystery stories was going to be 3D (The Rock Band Mystery), but then it turned out it worked just as well by flipping back and forth in time between sections (evening, morning, evening, morning). So I dropped the hypertext aspect.

      If I do something in this area again, it will be short. Definitely not a novel. Too hard to write and too hard to read.

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