This is My Favourite Chapter

Posted on 18/01/2012 by


Over the holidays I spent possible an unreasonable amount of time reading something in the internet. Okay, many things. The internet is fun to play with when you can’t sleep and you can’t go for a run. But one thing in particular. A story that someone wrote last year, posting chapter by chapter as she wrote it.

The story itself is pretty good and of a reasonable length, but the reason I spent about five days (around the usual holiday mania) reading it was due to the running commentary that accompanied it.

This was a story that was conceived as a theoretical idea in the comment discussion of an entirely unrelated post on a blog that didn’t even belong to the author and developed into a near novel length story, egged on, encouraged, and affectionately heckled by an avid and growing group of commenters. Commenters who suggested plot ideas (which were sometimes accepted), speculated on the motives of characters (and were rewarded with sidebars by the author explicating the truth), wrote their own fanfic, drew art, and threatened the author by writing snippets that put the author herself into the story until she caved and posted the next update. This comment thread is so awesome it even has a clip from Fry and Laurie in it.

Me: Okay, now there’s a sideline discussed amongst themselves whether it was hot or not that she doesn’t put out.
Arkem: (Gives me a rather disturbed look.)
Me: Fictionally.
Arkem: (Expression does not become less disturbed.)
Me: You think I’m having too much fun with this
Arkem: (With a sorrowful shaking of his head) Yes.
Me: Okay, now the author is laughing at the commenters. I mean, not symbolically, actually laughing. That’s mean. I do that. But it’s mean.
Arkem: (Facepalm.)

There’s just something utterly charming about the whole thing. Part of it is the intelligence and good humour of the commenters, but a lot of it is in the way the author chose to respond. If she’d just said, Thank you, thank you and otherwise ignored the commenters the story never would have become this. But she lets the readers in on the writing process. Enters into their angst regarding the story. Asks them whether she’s being convincing. Distracts them with tiny snatches of what the story is never going to do. It’s very rare that you get such a thoroughly open inside view of creation.

Author: Am I actually cockblocking myself in my own story? Yes. I think the answer is yes. That’s fucked up.

I like hearing other writer’s talk about their writing process. It makes me feel perfectly normal. And this isn’t just an analytical process analysis, this is… Hemingway says, There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. And this… this is like being able to watch the author bleed.

It’s really enormously reassuring to know that there are other people out there stumbling around in the dark bumping into the furniture.

Commenter: Re:This is not an update it is a picspam of possible suits that [character X] may be wearing. This is my favourite chapter.
Author: The comforting glow of this compliment on my writing skills will surely keep me warm tonight.


Posted in: Kandace, Research