When I began this website in 2015, it was to be in two equal but very different formats. The blog called A Writing Life was mostly to be in the form of mini-essays, and the blog called Serial was to be a place to showcase my writing. Both halves worked out very well until recently when the well ran dry for Serial.
Here is part of what I said in the first Serial post, August 29, 2015.
Introduction to Serial
Starting September first, this space will be home to serial fiction.
Serial fiction has a long history. Going back at least to Dickens, it has been used to serve the needs of the publisher. How long each serial installment was, how many installments there were, and how long a time fell between each installment was calculated to fill issues of periodicals and bring readers back. For science fiction novelists, serialization has always been a way build an audience before a book is published, and earn a few extra dollars at the same time.
So what’s in it for you?
Free reads, for one thing.
When I first began to consider serial publication in this website, I had a particular kind of reader in mind. I envisioned a train or bus commuter, or a bored backseater in a car pool, surrounded by distractions. (Not a driver. If you’re driving right now, turn off your damned smart phone!) I thought that kind of a reader would appreciate a short presentation, half a satisfying read and half a tease for tomorrow’s installment.
As it turned out, I don’t think very many commuters ever read Serial. From feedback, I think it was read mostly by other bloggers.
Running two blogs on one site renders the results of the stats provided by WordPress pretty questionable, but as nearly as I can judge about the same number of readers have enjoyed Serial as they have A Writing Life.
When I began to sort each story into episodes, it became apparent that each has a natural rhythm which has to be honored. Some stories have larger blocks of text between natural breaks, and this rhythm varies within each story as well. One size episode does not fit all, but there will still be five episodes each week, of somewhat varying length.
The process of serializing is a complex one, which I will talk about next Monday.
Shortly after each story concludes, it will be permanently archived on the Backfile page. If you prefer to read a story all at once, just wait. That is, if you can avert your eyes from the daily presentation.
Once again, according to stats which don’t seem too reliable, the Backfile page remained largely unread. Too bad, there is a treasure trove of stories there.
Over the years, Serial has allowed me to provide a variety of types of fiction and non-fiction, and some that was a little of both. Jandrax was reprinted there, but not simply as a serialized novel. It was annotated, so that you could look over my shoulder as I told about the writing of it, and admitted to the things that now make me cringe. The novel fragment Voices in the Walls told the story of its writing, explained how it came to remain uncompleted, and gave an outline of what might have been.
To Go Not Gently was the cover story of the a 1978 issue of Galaxy. It was also the original novella form of A Fond Farewell to Dying. The Serial blog rescued it from oblivion.
All good things must end, or at least pause. In September of 2018 I put Serial on hiatus because I had run out of suitable materials. I revived it briefly during Christmas, and may do so again in the future. Stay tuned.