samuel x. brase likes to write

Why Not a Second Job

Posted in third project by Sam X. on 10 November 2010

Nearing the halfway point on novel #2 right now, somewhere in the 40-42,000 word neighborhood. Target is 90k words, as per usual. Perhaps a little over that because of eventual editing.

Of course, as I try to buckle down and crank this thing out, new ideas appear on the horizon and grip me.

I’ve been trying to sort out my feelings toward indie / self / epublishing. I’ve long figured that indie published short stories were fine–nay, a legitimate way to start a career–but once you were thinking novel, it should be legit or nothing. I recently began juxtaposing this with some other views I hold: that self-released rock albums are awesome, and that independent movies are also awesome.

So why are independent published novels any different?

There’s something in the form that perhaps requires more perfection; improv in a movie can be fun, a flubbed note on a record can be charming. A typo in a book is usually met with horror.

I was discussing all these thoughts with my girlfriend this past weekend, expressing my doubt that indie novels would ever be taken seriously, and she pointed out that early punk bands, who circumvented the traditional record-release process, almost assuredly doubted their success or value as well. Yet they pushed through, and I consider a lot of that output to be some of the best music ever made.

But when you’re bucking the industry, there’s no assurance of success. I’ve also thought a lot about Francois Truffaut, who trumpeted the experimental French New Wave and spent dead tree space hammering mainstream film. He and the rest of Cahiers du Cinema gave the burgeoning movement critical import; they reasoned out why experimenting with lenses and angle and so on was important and what such experimentation could provide the medium. Punk never did anything quite so academic, but music’s always been more emotional than cinema.

Point being: if independent book publishing has at least a second-removed relation to punk music, if it can be understood as rebellion against artistic establishment, what has taken me so long to wake up and smell the coffee? I’m all about rebellion. Well, OK, I’m not “all about it,” but I do recognize it as a most interesting trait of human society; the need to tear down the old. And I do believe it to be one of of the most important acts that we as a people can do. Society (traditions/institutions/mores) is our creation; so we can alter it.

Why do I spend all this time worrying about fitting into the industry machine? So I can be accepted by the same terms that other writers have been accepted? I suppose that’s the case. But the machine is breaking; the machine is broken. Time to come out from under its shadow.

And so: I am working to start a new project. One in which I critically review indie / self / epublished science fiction novels and short stories. One in which I am open about my current manuscript, invite people to discuss it. This new manuscript (separate from novel #2) will be a serial, given away for free as an ebook or sold for a pittance in a DIY physical form.

I’m challenging myself to be experimental, beyond my prose. To open up to the new model; to allow for free digital distribution of my work. I am not a perfect writer (is anyone?) and at the young age of 26, I have a lot more growing to do. For the duration of this project, my growth will be a transparent process. Free. Critical. Punk.

Notes

  • Writing the new manuscript will not begin until drafting novel #2 is finished.
  • This “new project” will likely be on a separate wordpress blog.
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