Entry of John II of France and Joan I of Auvergne into Paris after their coronation at Reims in 1350,
later manuscript illumination by Jean Fouquet

"Notice how I'm not promising a glowing experience or to potentially change your life …"

Today's the day! I find myself suddenly NowHere after a couple of years' preparation, ready to more publicly display my creation in an act of Publickity, by which I mean not an act of publicity intended to gin up notoriety, but a slightly broader sharing. Few have seen my most recent works, though I have more than a dozen in various stages of final completion. A book goes through many completions, an initial one followed by several subsequent ones, each accompanied by its own sense of doneness, all but the final one ultimately false but nonetheless rewarding. There's always one more pass needed: editing, sequencing, re-editing, fine-tuning, the list extends well into a small infinity. Even the final, final, final, final version carries considerable uncertainty, it still being unproven in broader contexts.

I've combined the pieces I individually posted two summers ago under the hashtag #CluelessSummer into a book-length form sporting a new title, Cluelessness.
As I outlined yesterday in my SelfExamination post, it proved to be a confusingly curious work requiring a little conditioning before reading, let alone publishing. It seemed to matter what expectations I carried into each of my multiple editing/reworking passes. A critical eye produced a different experience than did an inquiring eye, for instance, and I have little control over how any individual reader might approach it. I could not tell whether anyone just picking it up might even find the darned thing readable or a useful expenditure of their time, since I have no access to anyone else's judgement. I could have, as in the past, consequently just filed away the manuscript, assuming that its pieces had already seen their light of day and that therefore the assembled work didn't warrant further display, a poisonously introverted presumption. Or, I could rather shamelessly release it more publicly in hopes of learning something perhaps critically important. Or I could attempt to do something else, and produce a bit of Publickity instead.

I need a little help. I need a self-selected few to read through the "completed" manuscript of Cluelessness, not for editing purposes and not for critical review, but to determine what you experience when reading it. Did it move you? Did it confuse you? Was the exercise helpful in any way? I can't help but consider each unpublished work an act of vanity intended to please the author, since nobody else has gained access to it yet. The transformation from vanity to Publickity seems a necessary move, but too heavy of a lift for anyone, especially the author, to accomplish alone, so a small parade following the formal coronation seems essential. I'm asking if you'd like to be part of that parade and agree to read through this manuscript.

I steadfastly refuse to conscript anyone. I need a voluntary force, one motivated by their own selfish interests, because each firmly believes that the experience might yield them something for them self. As I said above, I do not want critical reviews or any conventional editing passes, just a few self-selected individuals willing to share with me their experience of reading the compiled "final draft." I hope to learn from these subsequent conversations what I could not hope to learn from publicly displaying its individual pieces. I've tried to read through the whole danged thing as a first time reader might, but utterly failed to convincingly divorce myself from authorship. I had to drag myself through every column inch of it, catching myself reviewing and editing every line along the way. I conclude that I'm just not the guy capable of reading through it, so I need some help.

If you'd like to be involved in this experiment, please contact me. I'll send you a link to a GoogleDoc version of the "finished" work. As the price of admission to this laboratory, I ask only that you agree to have a conversation with me about your experience when reading this might-be book. I will not ask you to write a review or go through any otherwise inconveniencing effort. Just a conversation, timed to about the time you complete the effort. Notice how I'm not promising a glowing experience or to potentially change your life, for those are not my intentions. Not yet. Not now. For now, I simply want to know about my readers' experiences. I have no clue what I might then do with those insights, for I apparently embody Cluelessness, even here. Thank you for considering my offer.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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