Monday, April 14, 2014

Replacing Work

I find myself at odds.

This last weekend I spent most of my available time re-writing the 10,000 word How to Play a Character post ... realizing, naturally, that the post on the blog is sort of in the ball park but is in fact an awful lot of shit posing as advice.  An awful lot.  But this is how writing is.  In retrospect, all the works of genius that we think we've written turn out to be just so much crap (if it doesn't, then I don't want to ever read anything you've written), so we rework it, rewrite it, clarify the bumpy parts and do a better job.  Good work is sometimes done off the cuff ... but good writing is a lot of good work done over and over again.

The question is, in reworking the How to Play post for the essay book, should I:  a) delete the original post from the blog; b) leave the blog as is; or c) update the blog to reflect the book version.

Sorry, I should explain about the essay book, for those who don't know.  In the interest of raising additional money for printing costs, I'm taking up Tim Brannan's suggestion of putting together some of the good blog posts from the past into an essay book, obviously updating and improving the writing.  This I am doing.

I don't think option (c) above would hurt my sales.  I know that many of you out there plan to buy the book just to support me, while many of the people I would be selling the book to have never heard of the blog.  It has the beauty of hiding my errors and making me look like a better writer.

(b), however, has the beauty of exposing my errors and proving that not only am I not perfect, no one has to be in order to be a better DM, or a better writer.  Plus it offers the opportunity to be genuine.  Which I like. Still, people could read the original and think, "Wow, the essay book must be awful," a fair assessment from how bad I think that original blog post is, now that I've looked closely at it.

(a), deleting it completely, is the really cheap option.  The business model option, to be honest, the option that Monsanto would do because corporations think along the lines of, if you take it away people are more likely to pay for it.  I don't like option (a).  At all.  I include it because someone is going to suggest it, and because I want to express my awareness that the option exists.  I frankly don't think the option is a good one.

The same three options exist, of course, for any other former blog post I'm going to work on.  I've identified six I plan to include; I need two more, which I haven't quite decided upon.  The Steamy Sex post, though very popular, will not be one of them.  I did consider it.

I'll have to decide upon some precedent for all of them.


Lukas said...

I recommend at least putting a note on the post.

If you rework the whole thing, put a note noting the reworking. If you don't and have a new blog post, I would put a note at the beginning of the old one that you have 'revised the doc to be less shit'

I am not an advocate for deleting the content. I don't think there's any meaningful benefit to that. Proof that you can change your mind seems pretty worthwhile.

Alexis Smolensk said...

This is why I like to source these things. The idea of putting a note is obvious, but frankly it hadn't occurred to me. So that is excellent, Lukas.

I should use exactly that phrase - "Revised to be less shit" speaks to honesty as well.

Giordanisti said...

I support attaching a note to the original blog post as well. I think it will be very interesting to see how an author's presentation of ideas changes over time, and i think the comparison will act as a highlighter of the important bits. Also, the visceral value of the pamphlet increases when it is distinct from its free alternative, regardless of whether sales are affected.

Giordanisti said...

I should clarify, since i think i misinterpreted Lucas's comment: i think the original post should be left as is, with a note explaining that the pamphlet has a revised edition. I like having the revision process exposed.

jbeltman said...

How about (d), Post a new entry with the new content, call it something like "How to Play a Character, take 2", and have a link on both the original and the new post pointing to each other, along with a short explanation of why it was done?

This has benefits of; giving you content to post on your blog now, thereby freeing you up for more book writing; leaving the original on the blog unchanged; making it easy to compare the two content-wise to show your changed thinking; making it easy to compare the two writing-wise so we know what quality we will be getting in your books.


Maxwell Joslyn said...

I agree with some of the others: leave it up with a note saying it's been revised and can be found in the essay book. I don't see any reason why you should put the new version of the essay up here. You're doing new work, after all: why not charge for it?

kimbo said...

Keep the old one, lable it, refer to the improved version in your published work. I & presumably others would be interested in how the ideas develop and change.

However I'll take issue re the old post's shitness. . It was written for the blog and represents your thoughts and flow consciousness at the time. You are now looking at it for inclusion in the book- explicitly of different tone, format and intent....Chalk and cheese old chap.

Unless ofcourse you intend to change your blog subheading to
"awful lot of shit posing as advice"