Underground / Overground (Again): Taking the Rage Off the Road

I’ve spent most of the last three years purpsefully avoiding publication. It may seem perverse, but there you have it: the idea behind the Rage Monologues was to work on an open-ended project which was about immediacy.

The pieces were penned to be performed in public, and not really to be read in private. The nature of the material and the performance fed into one another synergetically: I wanted to create visceral, raw material to be performed in the most uncompromising, uncomfortable style: each performance was different, with edits being made before each show, meaning the monologues were not fixed, but in constant development, and performed in a fashion which would have an impact. I wasn’t concerned about that impact being positive, and over time, I’ve lost any anxiety about being poorly received: I would rather people walk out in disgust than be impartial or disinterested,  or simply find myself amongst the infinite spoken worders whom audiences would likely consider adequate but forgettable.

Not publishing and keeping the monologues as something which existed only in the moment and in the ether was a deliberate act of rebellion: going offline and making the work available to only a limited audience was  intended to be subversive, a middle finger to globalisation, and ‘the process’: write, publish, tour, or similar. The fact the pieces weren’t published meant the only means by which they were aailable was at performances. A sense of exclusivity so often builds anticipation and can the the key to a cult reputation, and I took the monologues to some substantial audiences at respected – and packed – spoken word nights, wth some major highlights being in Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester.

The rock concert analogy is a fitting one: band shift more merchandise after a strong show: the punters have usually consumed booze and are ‘in the moment’. But ending a set and shuffling off with nothing to sell proved problematic, especially given that as an individual (and , as a writer, a relative unknown) with a full-time job and a young family, my touring actities were – and remain – limited to spoken word night slots in places I could reach, and return from, by train on an evening – and a sale or two afte a performance can go some way to mitigating travel costs, not being a writer who commands ‘guest speaker’ or ‘headline’ slots (and I like it that way, and find ‘guerilla’ appearancs to unsupectin crowds are generally more effective than spouting to a crowd already familiar with my work, which is no way for an author to grow a readership).

And so, while the primary objective of the project remains unchanged, I’m aware that making my work unvailable to practically the entire world is self-defeating. While I would love to perform at evety spkoen word night in every city around the globe, it’s not going to happen. And while going underground as an artistic statement is fine, and keeping things clandestine is cool, rendering one’s work inaccssible and unavilabe can be, to an extent, self-defeating. So this happened: a proper book and e-book, published by Clinicality Press – available at spoken word performances and globally for those who can’t attend live events in the north of England (click on the image to purchase).

Rage Book Cover copy

And if you’d like me to bring the rage to a spoken word night near you, then of course do get in touch…

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‘Celebrated Author’ Christopher Nosnibor Edits New Book: Launch Event Details

I’ve been keeping busy. Too busy to blog, in fact. Editing the new Clinical, Brutal anthology has been a big job. The quality of the submissions has been astounding, and the burden of responsibility of doing justice to the incredible pieces by the incredible contributing authors was immense. I like to think we’ve done it.

The first print run, which consists of 50 copies has arrived at the Clinicality office, and Stuart and I are in the process of numbering each one individually ahead of the launch and, of course, getting copies to the contributors.

We’re inordinately proud not just of the book, but the fact we’ve managed to secure The Woolpack in York for the launch even on Monday, September 8th. Initially, we’d been anticipating a late September launch, but The Woolpack will sadly cease to operate as a venue early in September. This means we were lucky, and decided to bring the launch forward in order to be able to get our first-choice venue.

For those who don’t know, The Woolpack is a small pub venue that over the last year or so has been a great supporter of the music and spoken word scenes in the city of York, drawing bands and readers from far afield. The vibe is exceptional, intimate, accommodating and quite simply something special. The beer is also superb. But as e know, artistic merit and commercial success are rarely synonymous, and while many events have drawn substantial crowds, financial viability is the bottom line. People need to turn profit in order to pay bills and eat.

The Woolpack’s Spokes night (which grew out of the Mark Wynn-hosted blahathon) has, over the last year or thereabouts, given exposure and opportunity to many excellent performers, the likes of whom are unlikely to get slots, let alone much of a reception at other spoken word nights. I count myself amongst these (although I still derive satisfaction from having driven people from the venue during the first paragraph of my performance the first time I read ‘The Drill’ at Spokes).

This means that the Clinical, Brutal book launch is also effectively the last Spokes night The Woolpack will host (although I’m pleased to be able to say it has found a new home at The Golden Ball from October). As such, it will be a celebration not only of the book,l but the venue and its achievements and the evening’s lineup, which includes Mark Wynn (whose ‘Culture Cock’ multimedia frenzy is the centrepiece of the anthology) and Dai Parsons (Spokes co-ordinator and mainstay performer) reflects this.

Entry will be free, and limited numbered copies of Clinical, Brutal 2 will be available at the special discounted price of £6.00 on the night, along with a selection of Clinicality Press titles from the back catalogue.

Below is the event poster. It’d be great to see as many people there as possible, to give the book and The Woolpack the best possible send-off.

 

Clinical Launch Poster copy

 

Meanwhile, I’m off to celebrate myself…

 

If you’re not online you don’t exist: Christopher Nosnibor ceases to be… thanks to Microsoft

Five years is a long time in the ephemeral zone that is the virtual world. Although I’ve been an Internet user since around 1997, it took me a while to make the transition from consumer to creator of content, but I’ve maintained a fairly strong on-line presence since 2007 – and it’s no coincidence that my first book, the short story collection Bad Houses was published that year.

The received wisdom is that if you want to succeed, you need to be on-line, and if you don’t have a website then you pretty much don’t exist. After all, without a website, how will anyone find you? It’s a fair enough question, and because my output is wildly disparate and flung to the infinite corners of the virtual world, it made particular sense for me to have my own domain as a means of providing a hub that linked to all of my various appearances in small press magazines and so on.

Not being much my way of an expert when it comes to the practical aspects of building a website, I went with Miscrosoft Office Live, which provided useful templates, customised domain names and email, was piss-easy to use and, best of all, it was cheap. In short, it suited my needs and my abilities.

And, by arrangement with Clinicality Press, I was able to set up a store through which to flog my work in print. In addition to the main titles, I put out a handful of limited-run pamphlets (many of which I have to admit are still sitting in a box in my office. Ah well. Serves me right for being so prolific and antagonistic toward all literary and publishing conventions).

However, while the website has its definite uses, I’m a strong believer that ubiquity is the key to global domination. As such, my quest has driven me to myriad social networking outlets and to try other means of getting my name – if not my face – known. My blogs and articles posted elsewhere have always received more hits than my website, which I would say validates my approach. What’s more pretty much all of my book sales are made through Clinicality or Amazon, and since most of my titles were published in Kindle, Kindle sales have accounted for around 95% of my sales. I’m cool with that, but it does mean that the website is simply one aspect of my broader on-line presence, and is by no means something that’s making me rich by its existence.

So when Microsoft announced they were discontinuing Office Live and ‘upgrading’ it to Office Live 365 I was less than enthused, not least of all because the ‘migration’ of existing websites entailed the users rebuilding them, from scratch. Custom domains – or ‘vanity domains’ as they began calling them – needed the owner to switch all of the registry information themselves, and reconfigure any ‘vanity’ email addresses (the term hardly makes it sound appealing, but then it’s still more appealing than having your name or business’ name with a Microsoft suffix by way of a domain name).

Still, for continuity’s sake, I ‘migrated’ christophernosnibor.co.uk to the new platform, taking advantage of the three month free trial on offer, and using the opportunity to redesign the site a little. I soon discovered that Windows Live 365 was nowhere near as user-friendly as its predecessor, and lacked some of the essential functionality. Particularly frustrating was the fact there were no reports, meaning it was no longer possible to determine the number of hits or the search terms used to bring traffic to the site. Then of course there was the pricing.

Whereas Office Live had been around a tenner a year, the new supposedly improved but actually inferior service costs that a month – with an additional charge of three quid per email address.

The plan had been to find a suitable alternative during the three month trial and shift everything over before the time was up, but in the event, being a writer – and a writer who also happens to have a full-time job and a life as well – it didn’t happen. So, in concentrating my efforts on producing content, which is ultimately what I’m about, and what the website’s purpose is to promote, I find myself with six days of my free trial left. The simplest thing to do would be to pay up and forget about it. It’s hardly a king’s ransom, after all. Besides, chuntering about the price won’t achieve anything. But because the revenue it generates is nowhere near the cost of the hosting, it makes no sense to cough up for the sake of maintaining the presence, especially when it costs more for less (which seems to be the way everything’s going these days, and that’s capitalism for ya, but that’s a whole other blog).

At some point, I shall convert the blog, hosted by WordPress, to christophernosnibor.com and redesign it so it not only has the content that was on the website, but so that it looks like a website. When that will be, I wouldn’t like to say. So from now on, if you’re loving my work, there’ll be more of the same (only different) here.

 

Microsoft

Microsoft Office 365: a load of crap and more than ten times the price of Office Live

So the Plan is Now in Place… and it’s Fucking Stupid

So the plan is now in place, and if it seems utterly cranky, then so much the better. While Clinicality Press will be publishing This Book is Fucking Stupid as a paperback later in the year, it will appear first on two different e-publishing platforms. The reasons for this are numerous, and not least of all financial. E-publishing is free and Clinicality have zero funds; any cash raised from the e-book editions will go directly into the production and marketing of the paperback. So far, so savvy. But here’s the rub: each edition will be different. This Book is Fucking Stupid is an incomplete project, and is designed as such, to be revised, expanded and reworked in order to exist beyond the prescribed confines of a ‘published novel’, wrapped up and clipped by the limitations of authorial and editorial constraints.

Bypassing the conventional process of republication by route of the first edition, revised edition, annotated edition, anniversary edition, scholarly edition, restored text, This Book is a continually evolving piece, it’s first e-publication intentionally abridged, with critical passages withheld for inclusion in the second, to be again expanded and subject to further supplements in the form of introductions, prefaces and a comprehensive index in the first print edition, which will also include further insertions that represent the critical and academic reception. These will all necessarily be engineered by the ‘author’, although each revision will represent a diminishment of the original author’s role and input, as his ‘own’ words and the story itself become diluted, accounting for a reducing proportion of the book’s total contents. The purpose of this exercise is to play out the way in which a text (d)evolves and changes complexion with each revision, translation, annotation, commentary. Even simple republications problematise the materiality of the text, with alternative pagination, typefaces, cover art, all contributing to a different reading experience between editions, a situation not resolved but in fact heightened by digital editions such as those designed for the Kindle, whereby the end user determines the format, the font size and thus the reading experience to a certain extent. Consciously or otherwise, readers respond to the physicality of a print edition of a text, ranging from the luxurious yet cumbersome large-format first edition hardback to the pocket-sized budget edition paperback on low-grade paper with the text in a small font, the lines packed tightly together. There’s a sense of the personal in a print edition, also, and it’s undeniable that one tends to feel and respond differently to a pristine first edition and a well-thumbed and rather battered trade paperback. These responses transcend the impositions of value and of commodity, yet these peripheral tangibles definitely colour the way readers engage with a text. Context is another extraneous factor; again, a scarce edition or clandestine publication provokes a different response from a mass-market edition that’s sold in the millions. The idea of a ‘restored’ edition or an ‘expanded’ edition connotes a sense of incompletion or correction, suggesting that previous editions were somehow ‘wrong’, that previous editors or publishers interfered with the writer’s work, either for the same of marketability, for social or political reasons, or simply because they had no respect, an overinflated ego or lacked any sense of competence.

Of course, history is full of revisions and ‘corrections’ – or perhaps more accurately, realignments, reconfigurations and reinterpretations, and this applies to not only literary history. The process of totalization, by which linear narrative and a continuum based on a sequence of events connected by cause and effect, is the very basis of the conception of history. Yet this almost universally accepted narrativisation is complete artifice, and linear sequentiality fails to account for simultaneity and disconnection. Nietszche was right: everything you believe to be true is a lie. To the point, there’s nothing that’s immutable, fixed, and to anchor a belief system on anything is simply an act of misguided (self)deception.  The revised edition, the expanded edition, the annotated edition, these are all examples not of an enhanced reader experience, but of exploitation, and usually created without the author’s consent and, more often than not, following the author’s death. This Book is different. It may still be exploitative, but at least it’s open and honest about the fact, and all of the insertions, amendments, deletions, are made with the author’s knowledge. It also exists to highlight the cynical nature of the conventional process, the life of the book. This Book collapses all of that, trashes it, burns it, razes it to the ground.

TBIFS Cover 2 copy

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

It’s good to talk…

With a new book forthcoming, a little bit of promotion goes a long way. Stuart, who runs Clinicality Press, suggested we have a chat about From Destinations Set. With the prospect of a couple of free drinks and some free promotional coverage, I wasn’t going to turn the offer down.

The resulting piece, which covers the writing process and the aims of the book, as well as a whole heap of other literary topics and writers who have inspired and influenced Destinations, is an edited, expanded and manipulated historical record of the event. Don’t believe everything you read here.

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk.

Spin on this! When the Machines Take Over

So things are starting to happen where the publication of the paperback edition of my novel, From Destinations Set is concerned. The publisher have the first batch in hand – I’ve seen one, and they look great – and are starting to mail out review copies. They’re circulating press releases, too, and from what I can tell, these are beginning to generate traffic already.

Stuart at Clinicality Press has penned some very nice press releases and made use of the rather tidy synopsis / blurb he did for the book. I was amused, then, to find a version of the press release that didn’t remotely resemble those Clinicality have issued, not least of all because one of the threads of James Well’s book, Hack, that Clinicaliy will be putting out later in the year, is concerned with word-spinning.

Unsure of precisely what this entailed, I conducted a spot of research, to learn the following:

Article spinning is a search engine optimization technique by which blog or website owners attempt to manipulate their rank on Google and other search engines. It works by rewriting existing articles, or parts of articles, and replacing elements to avoid being penalized in the Search Engine Results pages (SERP) for using duplicate content. The original articles are often plagiarized from other websites and can often also be copyright infringements if the original article was used without the copyright owner’s permission.

Website owners may pay writers to perform spinning manually, rewriting all or parts of articles. Writers also spin their own articles, manually or automatically, allowing them to sell the same articles with slight variations to a number of clients or to use the article for multiple purposes, for example as content and also for article marketing. There are a number of software applications which will automatically replace words or phrases in articles. Automatic rewriting can change the meaning of a sentence through the use of words with similar but subtly different meaning to the original. For example, the word “picture” could be replaced by the word “image” or “photo”. Thousands of word-for-word combinations are stored in either a text file or database thesaurus to draw from. This ensures that a large percentage of words are different from the original article.

The spun version of Stuart’s press release is a brilliant example of automated article-spinning 9and why it doesn’t work). The words substituted so inappropriately that much of the initial meaning is lost. Nevertheless, it’s highly amusing, and while it’s great to see my work continually cropping up in unusual and unexpected places, I very much doubt that this piece will do much for the sales of From Destinations Set. Ah well….  http://42.cm/clinicality-press-push-the-boundaries-with-a-book-of-two-halves-coming-march-28th/