Monday, April 5


Posted by Shelly Holder

I had a conversation with The Maternal Figure the other day about the books I read as a child, when I read such and such series, when I moved on to such and such author, when I fell in love with such and such book. It rather saddens me that I have no clue when I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time, or when it officially became my favorite book. I have no need for dates like that-- there's no real world applications other than having interesting tidbits to whip out at cocktail parties or on a blog. However, I've always had a fascination for what I will call The Chronology of a Writer. When I was younger (no exact date, but maybe 9/10/11/12?) I thought the coolest thing that I could do in my life would be to invent a software program that tracked the changes an author made to a manuscript.
          I had it all planned out. The device would be similar to a tablet or PDA, with a touch screen and a stylus. I would approach various famous authors, and ask them to use this program for a loan period of 2 months or so. Anything they write would be theirs, of course, but I would get permission to print the chronology of the work in a magazine, much like an interview. And it would show the progression from the blank page to the fully finished book/poem/short story.
      Later, in high school, I was discover that Norton Anthologies had similar sections in their appendixes, and that library kept early copies of famous works. Still, the idea of being to visually track the changes-- like a slow-mo version of the video game demos, where Mario jumps the mushrooms and grabs the coins, over and over and over again on endless repeat-- was enticing. Not *just* a static comparison where many mental changes have resulted in a few written ones, but the actual progression of the author's mind. How many second between writing words, how many times each word is crossed out, the pressure of the stylus on the screen, the flipping back and forth between words that ends up with the original one anyways. That sort of over-detailed analysis fascinates me.

Which is one of the reasons that I think I love Goodreads so much. I can add not only what books I read, but WHEN I started them, when I finished then, and what I thought along the way.  I may not be able to remember when I switched from picture books to chapter books, or when I moved from the kid's section to general fiction, but at least now I know a few more things about my reading habits.

It also explains my extraordinary Excel submissions tracking worksheet. I have date created, date finished, date modified, date submitted, and date accepted/rejected/modified/re-submitted.

I have a thing for details.  

Maybe someday I will become friends with a computer programmer, and we can make my software fascination a reality.

Right Now:
What I'm listening to: Nothing. Headache.
What I want most: More books. Bad Shelly! Read what you have first.


LeMeesh said...

I might suggest The Long Suffering One?