boiling water with the lid off

I just finished William Gibson's latest novel, Spook Country. As always, Gibson describes big chunks of the times we live in better than anyone (in fact, I can't help thinking that he is literally the only author I've read who looks at some of the things he looks at) and its worth reading for those observations, as well as a well-plotted, easy read. The funny thing is, I recognized huge chunks of the plot from my internet reading. I kept thinking "oh yeah, that's that thing, and that's that news story run through a blender and cut up with this other story over here", etc.

Today, as I was googling my way across the blogosphere per usual, I happened to stumble across a link - in Jill's blog, though now I've lost the post itself - to a post on Gibson's blog just when he started blogging again after a lengthy hiatus. This was in October 2004, in the run-up to the re-election of the Dauphin. I recognised the story he told from the novel. Then I looked at the October archive and realised that I got all those stories and ideas mostly from links Gibson blogged. So I can tell you now that Spook Country came together for Gibson in October 2004. That month is a record of all the little shocks and perceptions and historical forces and traumas - in seriously minute detail - that at some point stewed together in Gibson's brain into what became Spook Country.

According to the early plot outline which Amazon.com has up on the book's page (quoting the blog), he started writing his novel in June 05. That's the boiling time for the novel, I guess. Gibson has several times called writing a novel at the same time as the blog "boiling water with the lid off", meaning it's something he has to stop doing in order to generate enough energy to write the novel. Looking at these links, I'm not so sure. I think instead the blog has become a record of, and an integral part of, the idea-generating stage of writing his novels. Maybe he couldn't write the book itself, but the ideas certainly came about at these exact times.

I can't help but think that blogs are just huge assets for the biographical writers of the future. Also, the blog is a lot of fun to read. I remember the following paragraph vividly. And as always, Gibson was right on the money:

One actually has to be something of a specialist, today, to even begin to grasp quite how fantastically, how baroquely and at once brutally fucked the situation of the United States has since been made to be.

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Blogger suttonhoo said...

great detective work -- I was thinking about something like this the other day -- how the Internet will/has changed the way we track writers' ephemera and breadcrumb their idea trails through time and space.

used to be we didn't get a peek at this stuff until they turned over their letters to the libraries. ;)

November 12, 2007 4:07 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gibson var visst litt redd for at leserne skulle begynne å google informasjonen i bøkene hans og så finne ut hvor han hadde stjåle det fra...

November 13, 2007 9:52 pm  
Blogger mrtn said...

Jeg tror han var litt ironisk når han sa det. Nå oppmuntrer han det iallefall i en viss grad. Han sier at boken får en metatekst ute på verdsveven, og det gjør at den blir mer som sentrum i noe større, og det liker han.

November 14, 2007 1:27 pm  
Blogger mrtn said...

Han skriver om det her.

November 14, 2007 1:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ja, det var vel med litt glimt i øget som det heter.syns forresten pattern rec. og all tomorrows parties begynner knallbra, men så blir de liksom ... litt kjedelige etterhvert?

November 15, 2007 7:43 pm  

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