We spend a lot of time working on our novels. It’s more than just the writing, which, in my opinion, is actually just ten percent of the work. There’s the planning, the developing, the rewriting and rewriting and rewriting, the editing, the revising, and the waiting on readers to get back to you so you can rewrite, edit, and revise. I’ve personally spent years of my life developing Martyrs, even though each consecutive rewrite probably only takes me a few months, at the most, to finish.
It’s not something to take lightly, and completing a novel (especially completing a novel that you’ve rewritten, revised, and edited), is a huge accomplishment.
So… How would you feel writing a book that literally no one would be able to read for over one-hundred years?
That’s exactly what Margaret Atwood is doing. Atwood is an extremely accomplished author, publishing everything from poetry to nonfiction, audio works to fictional novels, since the 1960s. She’s won several awards, too. I could give you a list of her achievements, but that’s exactly why I have a Wikipedia resource. You can go read all about how successful she’s been here.
Anyway, so Margaret Atwood is pretty familiar with this whole “writing” and “publishing” business. I guess it’s hardly a surprise that she’d jump on the opportunity to be the first writer to take part in the The Future Library project.
The Future Library project is super, crazy interesting. Here’s a good quote from an article by The Guardian that sums the project up pretty well:
”The Future Library project, conceived by the award-winning young Scottish artist Katie Paterson, began, quietly, this summer, with the planting of a forest of 1,000 trees in Nordmarka, just outside Oslo. It will slowly unfold over the next century. Every year until 2114, one writer will be invited to contribute a new text to the collection, and in 2114, the trees will be cut down to provide the paper for the texts to be printed – and, finally, read.”
That’s right. At seventy-four years old, it’s safe to say that Atwood will never get to see what readers think of this new work (unless we get a whole lot better at cryogenically freezing people–or uploading our consciousnesses to computers). And, in fact, most of the authors invited will probably be massively outlived by the project except for the final few, whose books will be written just barely before the trees are cut down, the books printed, and the library is released to the public.
On the one hand, this is a phenomenal idea. This project will enable future generations to read works of fiction from the greats of the past like they’re brand new instead of reading them as “classics” in English class (and let’s face it–so many students don’t give a shit about the classics just because they had to read them for a grade).
On the other hand, as a younger author, I can’t imagine having to wait to see what people think of my work–and I especially can’t imagine being dead before anyone but me gets to lay eyes on it.
Regardless, I’m really excited to see how The Future Library project plays out. It will be awesome to see which authors are chosen for the project in the following years. Too bad I probably won’t be around to see the library released!
(Again, of course, depending on that whole freezing or uploading thing.)