Monday, June 11, 2012

Opinion — Some Updates, Some News And, No Doubt, Some Foolishness

Whenever I’m asked for a brief bio for book jackets or as background when I appear on a panel, I always end it with: "Tierney lives in San Francisco where he is working on several fiction projects.”  Fiction projects.  Those two words allow me a certain freedom, while giving these "projects" an air of vague importance.  

The thing is:  it is actually true (not the importance perhaps) But I have been working on some shorter mystery pieces — 20,000 to 30,000 words.  The novella is a form that seems more natural for me. And finally, after all these years, the form has become more desirable.  Traditional publishing, unless it is a “literary” work, has frowned on books under 80,000 words. This wasn't always the case when pulp fiction had a market share.  But since?  People wanted blockbusters.  In defense of e-book publishing, its proliferation has opened a few more doors. That includes shorter novels.  Fortunately a major publisher agrees. We’re ironing out the details of what is most likely an August release of a new mystery novella.  When dates, cover, and availability are nailed down, I’ll probably make a big deal about it right here.

I’m also experimenting with what is for me an entirely new approach, again thanks to the dramatic change in publishing technology.  Though I suspect, many have already done this or a version of it, I’m using the blog format to create a living memoir.  That is to say, by using a blog, I can update, revise, rewrite, add pictures (or delete them) and link information to other sources at any time during the process, which may be, if I choose, the rest of my life. When I die or become unable or unwilling to write, the memoir is done. Up to the minute. Meanwhile, the reader may read it as he or she chooses, starting from the top or bottom or middle, sampling only a bit here and there, returning to see how what they’ve read has changed or, of course, finding the whole thing a pain in the butt and moving on to the next blog.

I’ve just begun, so there are only a few posts and I’m going through photographs now.  This is not just a time-consuming task, but as you might imagine, a sometimes rich and sometimes painful experience.  If you want a sneak peek at the blog in its earliest stages, click on Albion and New Augusta — A Memoir in Transit.  It is not a mystery, but rather stories of my family. Realizing that I am not particularly famous, nor is my story any more or less extraordinary than a majority of people on the planet, I can only say that the merit here, if there is any, is in the form it takes.  The blog format enables me (and you) a freedom that normal publishing does not — going backward and forward in time. 

One other thing, which is relatively new to me, is I am not writing about fictional characters in fictional places doing fictional things. I deal only in the challenge of reporting, biased reporting no doubt, but reporting nonetheless.  The stories focus on my parents and my understanding of their history and the lives I knew. I observe from my perspective their existence from birth to death not in the way an organized memoir does, but in the way our minds work — out of order, or seemingly random selections of past events. One memory leads to the next, but often not in linear fashion.  I want to capture that.  I want to be able to revise my memories as I think about them again and again, and link them to letters and photographs.  As I said, it’s an experiment in form.  

No comments: