For the uninitiated, #testcut began with several dozen nearly abstract Tweets @dshulenberger and jumped to a more coherent grouping of Tweets (creating scenes of strangely truncated pathos) @4Hflute. So as not to be lost in the Twitterverse, all Tweets are collected in reverse-order groupings on Facebook. (In other words, gentle reader, just like the Facebook page to catch up).
Jumping platforms through a connecting hashtag, Testcut is short form haiku that will evolve into longform prose. It is loose accumulations of sentences that will cohere into paragraphs and finally paragraph groupings, chapters. It will continue to multiply until a longform narrative emerges on another hashtag-connected part of the cloud, probably my own website.
Before discussing ambition & other nuts and bolts, I should point out that Testcut is related to my other writing projects and it isn't. Created in real time, with no conscious planning, it shares no characters with any other pieces. I don't know who the characters are yet or how many there will be. "He" and "she" are purely arbitrary place holders, as are settings and names. (Savvy readers may have surmised that, by its very construct, Testcut is the ultimate mystery novel.)
On another level, Testcut is an exploration of the process I used in creating Arisugawa Park. The reason why agents and fellow literature lovers had a hard time wrapping their heads around the manuscript in the beginning (quite aside from its setting and impossible name) was that I used an unusual method of construction. I fused Western and Eastern ways of looking at things, forging a path pioneered by the likes of Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, John Steinbeck, Haruki Murakami. But following my own idiosyncratic source code.
Testcut demonstrates in real time the multifarious process of creation of a complex narrative. Moreover, it is the kind of literature-meets-pulp fiction work that I have always, in my heart, aspired to write.
The plan is simple: as it grows, Testcut will organically attract readers by the quality of writing and soundness of concept. The process of creating the book will become both a map of the writer's mind and an intricate puzzle. When all the component pieces are set out in a complete evolution of Tweets and posts, it will come out the other side as a finished, marketable novel.
As conceived, Testcut should have a creative footprint that extends for years. It will be a puzzle that readers can follow when they have exhausted the rest of my writing. With a treasure trove of detritus for future scholars to puzzle through, viewing the book as a literary mind map.** A fully dimensional reconstruction of the neural pathways toward a complex narrative. Enabled by the cloud and its unique ability to store, sort, recreate.***
Testcut may also become a template for writers who want to build an organic audience for a work-in-progress and ensure fair compensation on the other end. The hashtag novel will build an audience over the years, resulting in a traditional novel. Powered by the new "social media meets gallery" platform Earth Fabric.****
* This Facebook post says it all about my current mental state in Tulum: "20th day in a row of lentils, tomatoes, chaya, onions, garlic, tomatoes, habanero sauce, tomatillos, cooked up in a great giant pot. The Camping Chavez bootcamp diet + beach jogging & yoga really works. Total cost, including accommodations, ingredients, yoga, and a coffee or beer each day (to mellow the edges and charge computer) of this new fitness craze = $10. What the heck are we doing, world?"
** I got the Testcut idea partially from an evolving, recorded David Hockney iPad piece I viewed at the 2014 De Young Museum "Big Exhibit" in San Francisco. Also from pondering the evolution of Shakespeare's seemingly perfect prose. I finally came to the conclusion that the bard could only have crafted works like Romeo & Juliet and Othello through nightly observations of performers at the Globe during the initial production run. A thespian himself, was Shakespeare persuasive enough to convince fellow actors to play with lyric speech on the fly? In other words, did Shakespeare lead an improv troupe within a formal theater setting and create, recreate throughout performances?
*** The protagonist in Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum" has nothing on this.
**** The platform, organized into social groupings called fabrics, will disrupt the recent notion that online content should be either extremely cheap or free. It will ensure that creatives are fairly paid while elevating the quality and originality of online content.
Life without a net, consuming, consumed
Ok, here is the latest test cut CUT (grouping of Tweets) for reference:
L-1 He found her on the street, her eye sockets rivers, an avalanche flowing into gutters.
L-2 Streaks of tears still brushed a face that had been fractured in a thousand patterns, could never be put together again.
L-3 The lipstick lay at her feet, pushed out, unused. It would never be used.
L-4 The force surrounding her was invisible, impossible to surmount. Turned inside and out, emanating outward.
L-5 He took her hand and felt the sensation of one who has withdrawn into a place far from the physical.
L-6 Anger flared: they had gotten to him through her. Maya lunatic. Her eyes empty, spittle forming on the lips.
L-7 The dog brushed by, observant, and crossed the road.
L-8 Sirens neared, somebody had called the police. He turned to her and gave one last squeeze of the hand. No response.
L-9 He turned down the alleyway he knew emptied into a major thoroughfare. Eyes etched into a fast forming plan for revenge.