Bigger than Obama? We need ninjas, and lots of 'em
Hello! New backers: welcome! Folks who have been here from the start: Wow, can you believe this is update fifteen?
Exciting times, with five days to go! The agenda: First, a note on the new phase I'm unveiling this week. Second, a writing update.
SO, I JUST NOTICED SOMETHING. On the list of the most popular Kickstarter projects of all time—ranked by number of backers—this project is number two! The only crew bigger than ours is Designing Obama. That's... pretty amazing. (Again, that's in terms of number of backers, not number of dollars—but if you ask me, that's the metric to care about.)
Now listen. I don't know if it's possible to beat that project. We're talking about, on one hand, Barack Obama, the most famous person in the entire world; and on the other, Annabel Scheme, a fictional character that approximately no one has ever heard of.
And yet. We're not that far away, you know?
So here's what I'm going to do. The DIGITAL PACK is now obsolete, and the new pledge in town is the ULTIMATE NINJA ALLY PACK. It's getting a new price: $1.
My goal, for the next five days, is to get as many backers into the tent as I can, and if they're all ULTIMATE NINJA ALLIES, that's awesome. It's just a dollar to get a slick digital copy of a brand new book in your inbox—and, way more importantly, only a dollar to signal that you think this is a cool way to do things.
Only a dollar to... be bigger than... Obama?
(If you're an existing DIGITAL PACK backer, good news: you just got a free upgrade to PHYSICAL PACK. No reward dilution here.)
If you've ever considered blogging about this, posting a Facebook update about this, emailing a friend about this: now's the time, with just five days remaining. Besides the personal benefit of getting a book, digitally or physically—a significant benefit, I assure you—I think there's a collective benefit to all saying together: "There is a different way to do this. And it's the real deal, not a novelty. Just look at us here." It sets a precedent and creates a case-study for other writers, and other communities, who want to work this way.
On to business! Let's talk about writing and real-time feedback.
I FINISHED THE MANUSCRIPT ON FRIDAY. This doesn't mean it's 100% done. What it means is that, for the first time, I had a coherent draft, start to finish, with no gaps. I burned through an inkjet cartridge and delivered copies in gold envelopes to my friends (and trusted first readers) Aaron, Andrew, Kiyash, and Matt. It looked like this:
My favorite kind of feedback, especially for writing like this, is what I call "real-time feedback." At Poynter they say it like this: "Make me a movie of your reading." The idea is to pay close attention to your reaction in the moment: Are you getting bored? Or are you in the flow, words running together, almost disappearing on the page? Where are the speed bumps? Where do you smile or laugh out loud? Where does your suspension of disbelief come crashing down?
You take note of this right there on the manuscript itself, as you're reading; it's easier to do it with pen and paper than on a computer. It's like the flight data recorder in the cockpit; it shows the inspector (me) where there was turbulence, where you went off course, where you (gulp) crashed.
These real-time reactions—the fruits of first encounter—are impossible to recreate or simulate after a story has become familiar. And I think they're the most important reactions. It's one thing if you finish my story and think to yourself, "hmm, the structure of the middle part was a little wonky" or "that character was kinda flat." It's another if you don't finish my story at all. I put real priority on the real-time experience of reading. Everything else is a bonus level.
So, my first readers have already started to deliver some of this feedback, and I have to say: Wow. I've never doubted the value of other eyes and other minds, but this is a stronger reaffirmation than I expected. Their notes are like a drug—no exaggeration. My brain feels suddenly capable of new things. I don't think that's an illusion.
So the next five days of editing and reengineering are going to be, if possible, even more insane than the many days of writing and raw imagining so far. There is a lot I want to do—a lot to improve. And I'm meeting with Andrew and Kiyash tonight, so I'm bracing myself for another dose of this drug, this real-time feedback crack.
One more quick meta note: I do plan to talk a lot more about the writing process—about things I didn't expect, things I learned, especially re: writing something of this length—but I'm going to save that for after October 31. It will take time and words to do it right, and all of my time and words are allocated, at this moment, to Annabel Scheme.
Next update: a peek at the manuscript; a dramatic reading (really this time); more news on the CC remix catalyst; argh too much to write about!