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      CommentAuthorJoe Paoli
    • CommentTimeFeb 3rd 2008 edited
     (826.1)
    So Robert Jordan dying with not only his major series incomplete, but the things he wanted to work on afterwards undone as well has led me to wonder.

    Let's say that you're a writer (or wannabe) and any time you come up with something you like, you dump it into an idea file. Maybe you keep it up to date, eliminating concepts, dialog, characters, plots, and what-have-you as you use them, maybe you don't. What would you want to happen to it if it wasn't empty when you died?

    Should your ideas die with you? Would you designate an heir for your unfinished brainstorms and hope they could create something from them? Or would you rather avoid the inevitable incongruity with your vision because it's not you executing your ideas? Or some other option? Why?
  1.  (826.2)
    That's a fine question. Generally, I'd say it should die with you and I'd back that up by pointing to the Dune series. Frank Herbert's son teamed up with Kevin Anderson and started cranking out sequels and prequels and side stories to the Dune universe obstensibly from the father's intentioned story arc. Going so far as to say that the last two books of the initial Dune cycle came from some notebooks of the old man tucked away somewhere and unearthed.

    The problem is that the books are just godawful. I don't want to bring snark, but these are really just plain bad books. Herbert's son is a meddling writer and Kevin Anderson's work is fairly bland. You get the playing with the Dune characters and it's like watching kids act out their favorite episodes of Doctor Who with the action figures. Frank Herbert's work wasn't perfect by a long shot, but his voice was his own, and these things are just copies. I'd rather an incomplete work in the author's voice than something patchwork.

    One of my favorite books, Gormenghast, died with Mervyn Peak. But even if someone quite versed in that kind of fiction, like Neil Gaiman or Susannah Clarke, picked up the torch I'd still prefer the author's original voice.
  2.  (826.3)
    Personally, I'd prefer my work died with me. I'd want my ideafile burned (along with most of my stuff), or otherwise permanently gotten rid of. There's a post here about nabokov's Last Novel and the question of what should be done with it since his death.

    I think that if the author has said his or her stuff should be destroyed, it should be. But when they haven't stated so, it gets iffy; I'm much more okay with secondary authors picking series up if they start while the original author was alive, and under his or her guidance.
    • CommentAuthorsacredchao
    • CommentTimeFeb 4th 2008 edited
     (826.4)
    If Max Brod had agreed with you, we wouldn't have most of Kafka's writings. Obviously that's a pretty exceptional anecdote, but I think it holds some merit.
    Same is true of John Kennedy Toole's mother. He posthumously won the Pullitzer because she sent A Confederacy of Dunces to a literary agent.
    • CommentAuthorDracko
    • CommentTimeFeb 4th 2008
     (826.5)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    Quit sitting on <em>The Original of Laura</em>, Dmitri Nabokov! :(
  3.  (826.6)
    The way I heard it, Harlan Ellison has it in his will that any and all unfinished work is to be burned the day of his death - I mentioned this on another forum once a while ago, and sparked a big nattering about how Ellison was wrong in his wishes, that his unfinished work was part of his literary legacy, etc, while one of Ellison's primary concerns was having his work co-opted to the nth degree, citing Herbert and Howard as examples.

    I am of the opinion that the artist has the final word over unfinished work, no matter what merit others may see in it. Besides, I'd be more concerned over who gets what out of my library after my death....
  4.  (826.7)
    The way I heard it, Harlan Ellison has it in his will that any and all unfinished work is to be burned the day of his death

    I just pictured Ellison having a full on viking funeral, longboat loaded for bear with manuscripts, burning off the California coast.


    With someone as prolific as Ellison you've gotta wonder what's in his vaults. With the sheer volume of work he has out there doesn't seem like he'd have had time to pen a secret novel or six.
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      CommentAuthorScribe
    • CommentTimeFeb 5th 2008
     (826.8)
    It's funny that you bring this question up. I just recently updated my will for this very reason. I had a meeting with the board of directors from the university I graduated from. Several years ago one of them expressed an interest to me about leaving my works to the school when I die. They will be receiving my personal journals, manuscripts, original works, and unfinished work.
  5.  (826.9)
    @orwellseyes - Destined for the pyre are all the notes for his Earth-Kyba War epic (of which Demon with a Glass Hand is supposedly a part), and the sequel to A Boy and His Dog - unfortunately, Last Dangerous Visions will end up in the same boat as Nabokov's last book, I think....
  6.  (826.10)
    I just pictured Ellison having a full on viking funeral, longboat loaded for bear with manuscripts, burning off the California coast.

    -HAH
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      CommentAuthorJehrot
    • CommentTimeFeb 5th 2008
     (826.11)
    I do like the idea of releasing any unfinished works for public consumption, but untouched. No tweaks, pokes or general distortion.
    Think Jeff Buckley's 'Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk' or Douglas Adam's 'Salmon of Doubt'.
    • CommentAuthoromer333
    • CommentTimeFeb 5th 2008
     (826.12)
    if it were me, i'd like for my ideas to be used by someone or a group that i'd picked myself, trusting that/those person(s) not to screw up the ideas in the first place.
  7.  (826.13)
    I'd like to hear Warren's ideas on this subject.
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      CommentAuthorhowyadoin
    • CommentTimeFeb 5th 2008 edited
     (826.14)
    Interesting question. I like the idea of leaving the stuff to the right person, but otherwise... well, orwellseyes makes some valid points about the systematic shitting-on of Frank Herbert's works.
    • CommentAuthorvg
    • CommentTimeFeb 5th 2008 edited
     (826.15)
    Interesting question. I like the idea of leaving the stuff to the right person


    Seconded. (Although...if the person you think is the right person turns out not to be the right person, then there's a problem.)

    True, some works have only ever reached the public eye through outside interference by family members or relatives of writers --- Dickinson and Bradstreet are the main ones that come to mind for me, although not the latter so much as the former. Still, if a writer --- or any person, for that matter --- expresses such a wish in a will, well, it should probably be followed, regardless of the opinions of others.
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      CommentAuthorScribe
    • CommentTimeFeb 5th 2008
     (826.16)
    Seconded. (Although...if the person you think is the right person turns out not to be the right person, then there's a problem.)


    This is why I like the idea of leaving it to my almamador. It's also important that you put forward guidelines of how you wish your work to be handled, what reasons do you have for leaving your work to any person or group, and what purpose do you wish your work to serve.

    I had an advantage of meeting with the board and coming to an agreement of what shall happen to my work, and how it shall be treated. My personal wish is that none of my work may be expanded upon, sold to a third party, but it can be printed and distributed for academic purposes.

    I like the idea that some day some 20 something kid will read something that I never finished and be inspired to create something of their own. It might be wishful thinking, and is definitely egotistical, but it's also a bit of a motivator to produce better works.
  8.  (826.17)
    I have a seventeen year old sister who draws those large-eyed, gothy waifs you expect from the notebooks of cynical teenage girls. Not really applicable to anything on my burners, but she has a ways to go, so I'd leave her a file. My only concern is burdening others with what might be a non-transferable passion.

    I think it's easier to trust the outcome with family. I saw a special on Mel Blanc shortly before he died, and he said the only person who could imitate him to his satisfaction was his son.

    Apologies to the awesome Billy West.
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      CommentAuthorbranjo
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2008
     (826.18)
    ...sometimes i feel like only after i've shuffled off will people be the least bit intrigued by my work - let alone my ideas.

    That said, i'm happy with the thought (like Scribe) that some kid somewhere and -when will run across an mp3 on the giant super internet data brain and be inspired to cover a song with both a gospel choir AND a marching band... infinite number of monkeys crossing infinite number of fingers...
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeFeb 7th 2008
     (826.19)
    I vaguely remember that there's a fairly famous Chopin piece that was made public posthumously against his own stated wishes. Buggered if I can remember which one.
  9.  (826.20)
    Yeah, I would. fuck-it I'm dead so it's not like I'm gonna care.

    But then I license my stuff so that anyone can mess around with it for non-commercial reasons anyway, so it's not a huge stretch.

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