April 22, 2005
A thought by James Berardinelli

I was a writer long before I began penning reviews, and I was a perfectionist long before I started writing. Perfectionism is good in science and engineering, but it's a terrible burden for a writer. Nothing is ever good enough. Re-writing becomes a way of life. With reviews, I eventually overcame my perfectionist tendencies by setting a firm "one-edit" rule that I have religiously followed since 1995. Alas, the same is not true of my non-review scribblings.

Over the years, I have written countless short stories and more than a half-dozen novels, many in the fantasy and mystery genres. Of my book-length tales, perhaps two or three are of publishable quality. I submitted one to my agent, and he thought it looked good (a little rough, but nothing that couldn't be fixed). Yet I never pursued publication. Why? It's not because I think the book is unworthy, but that I feel it needs a re-write. And, for me, re-writes turn into major projects. It's easier to start anew with a different plot and fresh characters (which is what I'm doing). Eventually, my writing will be where I want it to be, but it's not there yet.

The book in question, called The Price of the Crown, creates a dilemma for me. I want people to read it - I think it has enough high points that it deserves to see the light of day. One possibility is to hold it on the back burner until I get something else published, then dust it off. But the problem still remains - I'll have an unstoppable urge not just to edit, but to re-write whole sections. The book was written about 14 years ago. Since then, it has undergone at least three revisions. It's in pretty good shape - just not good enough for a perfectionist.

I know its strengths and weaknesses. I'm probably my own harshest critic. Yet the question of what to do with it remains. Somehow, moving it from one hard drive to the next as I upgrade my computer seems to be a waste. So I broach the subject of possibly serializing it on this website. (For free, of course - no fees, no ads.) It would be interesting to see how many people would check out Chapter One, and how many would stick with it. ReelThoughts is read by a small subset of the site's overall readership. (ReelThoughts gets about 1200-1500 readers per day; ReelViews has around 70,000.) Presumably, the readership for a serialized novel would be a percentage of the ReelThoughts readers. But how large (or small) a percentage?

How would I handle a serial? Probably by posting one chapter per day for 36 conecutive days. No days off - something new every day. The only changes I would make to the existing text would be to convert it to html. (The temptation to tinker is strong, but I can resist.) I'll probably wait until early June to start, after I return for an eight-day vacation (during which the site will not be updated). That is, of course, if there's enough interest. It's always dangerous to ask for e-mails, because I sometimes get flooded, but if you think this might be something you might want to read, you can send me a quick note. (I probably will not reply.) I did this sort of thing 16 months ago when trying to determine whether or not to add pictures to my reviews, and the result was satisfying.