October 24, 2011

Write one book twenty times

The game of telephone.
In a previous post, I suggested the idea of a writer who edited his novel forever, always posting each new version to Amazon and overwriting the previous edition. A really compulsive writer could have fun with this. As a result of this habit on the author's part, people would buy distinctly different versions of the novel. Okay, that's the background for this post. Here's a new variation.

What brought this to mind is that I visited a site for writers the other day. One of the posters there said he lost his entire novel in a computer crash (!) and it wasn't backed up (!!!). This is the ultimate writer's nightmare. I ran from the page screaming.

Later, I wondered about something. I have this notion that if a writer sat down to write his novel all over again from scratch, never looking at the previous version, he might actually write a better book. I figured this guy could give that a try.

Then I wondered what would happen if a writer did this for decades, churning out 20 totally fresh versions of a book while never reading or looking at a previous version. Would this be like the game of telephone, where you whisper in someone's ear and they whisper the words they thought they heard into the ears of another -- and on and on until the message morphs to a point where it's no longer related to the original?

Would the book change so much that it becomes very different from the original? I'll bet it would. As I conduct my seemingly endless edits of Xmas Carol, I see the book differently on each pass. My understanding of the story now is not the same as when I first wrote it.

It might be interesting for an audience to read the first and last versions. And then someone could pontificate about the author's demonstrated maturity in the NY Times.


Artichoke Annie said...

I will read Xmas Carol again, IF and WHEN you ever decide you can part with it. But the concept of publishing edited versions of a novel over and over again sounds a little bit too OCD to me.

I can't think of a 'finished' novel that I really ever wanted to reread, there are just too many books out there waiting to be read for the first time.

writenow said...

Really! I'm surprised to hear you say this. There are novels I've read at least ten times. Enjoyed them every time. I've probably reread a hundred novels. Just sorta happens when (in the pre-internet days) you wanted something to read and didn't have a new book. Just grab something off the shelf. My sister's like you. She can't imagine rereading a book. I don't get it. They're fun to reread.

Artichoke Annie said...

Well.... there are books I might like to reread, but I can't of one book I have ever actually reread. I always have a stack of new books to read.

Now maybe if I were on a desert island with no other connection to the world I might re-read. Which poses a good question, if I were being trundled off to a far away spot in the universe.....what ten books would I take with me?

Later............I am thinking.

writenow said...

Let's see . . . the Bible . . . the Torah . . . the Quran . . . Mwahahahahaha!

Artichoke Annie said...

#1 - Best book I have ever read and would reread....

Count of Monte Cristo/Dumas