THE NEARLY WRITINGS

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Things we nearly do are as important as what we’ve actually done. In the digital age we can take one path but follow others virtually; with self-publishing and social media, there is no clear division between the published and unpublished. I want to explore through fiction the implications of all this ‘nearlyness’ for our sense of self as writers, readers and human beings.

NEARLYOLOGY – What Didn’t Quite will be a novel-length comic narrative about eccentric outsider artist and nearlyologist Gregory Carraday; Freya Seward, an entrepreneurial digital consultant with a tendency to exaggerate, and her estranged husband Jamie, redundant and almost impotent, who regenerates himself through writing ‘Nearly Songs’ which he puts on sites such as Soundcloud, becoming a nearly songwriter.

Carraday ‘nearly’ lives in Australia and has developed his own strange British version of aboriginal art, making paintings and sculptures which he buries or burns before anybody sees.

The characters Freya and Jamie were political activists in the 1980s, using community arts to try to change the world. Freya now works as a digital consultant promoting the benefits of virtual ‘nearliness’ and has entrepreneurial plans to build a brand around Carraday’s nearly philosophy

I’m composing this fictional work in episodes rendered in a variety of formats including e-booklets, webpages, newspaper, animations and recordings which will be produced in beta form over the period of this research.

I’ll work with other artists and writers on performances and collaborative writing projects related to the concept of Nearlyology and the activities of characters in the fiction.

The finished work will consist of a package of analogue and digital elements including the episodes, an album of songs, animations, documentation of live performances and workshops run to gather content and test out ideas for the piece.

I’m currently doing a practice-based PhD in Digital Writing at Bath Spa University exploring these questions:

 How can a transmedia literary fiction convey the texture of everyday life and the inner lives of its characters while giving space to reader-generated responses and live collaboration?

While scholarly writing on transmedia narrative and other related fields examines the potential for telling stories across different platforms and genres, how does the transmedia literary writer approach the production and publication of a multimodal text within the context of a complex publishing ecology?

Draft essays have been published as blogposts here over the past three years, inviting comment and discussion which has helped to shape the final outcome of the practice and the commentary.  I included a bibliography and literature review with each essay asking for thoughts and ideas for further reading – so please do continue to leave any comments and suggestions here or email me at chris@ifbook.co.uk.

–  Chris Overleaf