With the front door to big name publishing houses shrinking with each passing year, and the ease of self-publication through Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s e-reader stores growing in appeal to many unpublished authors, it seems like the inevitable transition to entirely digital publishing will be complete any year now. One group of writers is taking it a step further, aiming to circumvent the traditional publishing process entirely by creating a fictional serial blog in place of the paperback novel.
The blog, titled Ungrateful Bliss, is constructed of four different narratives, written by “a group of friends” mixing elements of fiction and non-fiction The blog touts itself as a new format that eliminates the book entirely by getting straight to the narrative, focusing on themes of love, grief, unfaithfulness, motherhood, and illness. The narrative blog embraces its tech roots, featuring stylistic iPad drawings of each of the four main characters, and even provides readers with Pinterest pinboard collages of what the main character, Odette, is wearing in various scenes.
The anonymous creator(s) admit to being inspired by both Twilight and the wildly popular fan fiction turned erotic trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey. According to the website, further literary inspiration comes from writers like Kevin Canty and the hauntingly bleak Cormac McCarthy.
Let’s check out a quick excerpt and see what the innovative blog narrative is working with:
I was looking at the trees. They were glinting with a golden light from the sun setting behind them and I was thinking about my sister, Meliah. She used to pull back her soft, dark blonde curls in a low ponytail. She was getting a few wrinkles around her mouth and laugh lines by her hazel eyes… We brought her dog, Lika on our walk, and now as I pictured her laughing and grumping about her work, tugging Lika back on her hot pink leash, I was aching for her. I looked carefully at the golden trees, wondering if she was somehow a part of them, then I heard a dog bark.
Okay, so the writing isn’t fantastic, but the concept itself is, at the very least, an interesting narrative experiment. At some point in the future, could we be seeing literary narratives manifesting themselves as personal blogs, in the same way that physical diaries and correspondence brought about many forms of epistolary novels?
Honestly, until I hear a blogger delivering on the promise of Cormac McCarthy-esque lines (“the mountains on the sudden skyline stark and black and livid like a land of some other order whose true geology was not stone but fear”), I may have to stick to the more traditional narrative formats, at least for now. But with all the opportunities to create innovative literary experiences online, especially with unique social networking integration, it can never hurt to keep an ear to the ground to hear what’s coming down the road.