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Literary and media history are full of examples. Compare Keats' revision of La Belle Dame sans Merci, or Coleridge's addition of explanatory gloss to his Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Robert Heinlein totally revamped Stranger in a Strange Land for republication. Charles Dickens changed the ending of Great Expectations. Alfred Hitchcock remade The Man Who Knew Too Much from scratch. Kate Bush re-recorded the vocal to Wuthering Heights. Stephen King greatly revised and expanded The Stand. George Lucas won't stop tinkering with Star Wars. And of course the 'rebooting' craze in film and tv has hit every franchise from Star Trek to Spiderman. Self-revision is an integral part of the artistic process. -- A.
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That cringing you're talking about is called 'critical distance,' and it's a natural, even necessary, part of the development of a writing persona. Each term, I encourage my composition students to go dig out something they wrote back in high school, and their reactions are pretty much universally as you describe here: an admixture of pride in what one tried to do as a writer and embarassment at how far short one always falls of those aspirations. The Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley used to burn his manuscripts in despair at his inability to find the proper words to convey his thoughts. Give yourself some slack, and credit for growth. The very fact that you can see space for improvement in earlier writing means you're still committed to crafting that writing voice. Consider how insufferable one might be who thought he was beyond improvement. -- A.
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Interesting reading, and I think it's important to caution new writers about the amount of legwork involved in self-promotion. A view from the other side of the fence: after finishing my first novel, I sent it off to dozens of publishers and agents, and eventually placed it with a middling-small press which specialized in science fiction and seemed a good fit for a novel about future gaming. After the electronic edition came out, I was surprised to find that they subcontract their print publication to The problem with using a middleman between me and LuLu (and between me and Amazon, and between me and B&N, etc.) is that I have no control over pricing or format. I won an award and tried to update the book's LuLu page, but could not because I'm not the publisher, just the author, and thus have no control over the website. I actually asked my publisher to significantly reduce the price of the book to a more reasonable price point for e-book sales, and was entirely ignored. So, next book I'll probably go for self-publishing in some fashion.
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Wil, Politically and aesthetically, I'm generally inclined to agree with you...but in this case, I have to take a little exception here. After some tenacious debate over on BGG (also blacked-out yesterday), I've been convinced SOPA is a badly worded law. Sure, scrap it until we can come up with wording that more specifically targets the real pirate hubs which illegally distribute protected IP. But your comment on "freetards" echoes the calls I've heard which want to put all the onus for change on the IP producers - including you - to accomodate the real thieves out there. Business models should change because they're in the interests of IP producers, not because some degree of piracy is now an acceptable price of doing business. By all means, reject bad laws. But the call for a "free and open" internet (which doesn't exist and never has) sounds a little too much like the bawls of those who really do want to erase the IP provisions which make creative work possible.
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Jan 19, 2012