Would you Write a Book That you Knew Would not be Read for 100 Years?

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Photo Credit: Tales From an Open Book

Margaret Atwood will. As part of a new project called Katie Paterson’s Future Library, author Margaret Atwood has become the first author to submit a work into the project not to be unveiled to the public until 2114. 2114!

Here’s how the project will work. Every year for the next century one book will be accepted into the the project not to be released or published until 2114. So technically Atwood’s is the only book that will go the full hundred years, but still. This means that most of the first 30 or even 40 authors will not live to see their book released. They will have no idea how well it is reviewed or how well it sells or anything at all. Isn’t that a little scary? Think of writing a book. You work maybe three months to get a draft done. Then we’ll say a few more to reach its final draft. Then you print it and put it in a sealed box that won’t see the light of day in your lifetime. I know there are plenty of books that become classics long after the death of the author, but this is different. It’s one thing for people to come to appreciate a work long after it’s been written, but it’s something else completely for no one at all to know anything about a book for so many years.

Not that anyone is knocking on my door for me to submit a book to be included in the project, but I don’t know if I’d be okay with this. Writing a book is difficult, no matter how many an author has written. And this project is taking out all the satisfaction that comes with publishing. That isn’t to say that I think it’s a bad idea. I think it’s pretty great, I’d just have reservations is all I’m saying.

So tell me, if someone asked you to write a book that wouldn’t be released to the public for a full century, what would you say? Would you have reservations? Would you immediately jump at the chance to be included in such a unique project? Would you wonder if your work would find an audience? What would go through your head?

Here is an article written about the project.

Access Katie Paterson’s website here.

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28 thoughts on “Would you Write a Book That you Knew Would not be Read for 100 Years?

  1. I don’t think I could do it. I don’t think I’m a short-sighted person, but when it comes to my writing, I want to see it published. My husband is constantly reminding me of authors who didn’t become famous until long after they died, and the idea always makes me throw up in my mouth a little. To willingly put myself through that? I just don’t think I could.

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  2. This is a very interesting idea. Honestly, I would not hesitate to say no. I’ve only published one small book, or novella, but it was very personal. When I was finished, I published. It was therapeutic, and while other authors would jump at this unique project, I’d decline. Not because of missing accolades, but I’d want to see my work published. Like you said, writing is a lot of work.

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  3. Maybe if I was Atwood and already had people claiming I was one of the best writers of a generation. But just as me, as I am now, unpublished? Noooooo.

    It is an interesting project though, and it’s too bad that I won’t be alive to read what comes out of it.

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  4. Are they paying me for it? I feel the same way the others do, but a six figure check could change my mind.

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  5. Like others have stated, as an unpublished writer who wants to be published, I would decline because its nice to know how my work would be received and I wouldn’t be around to see that. However, if I am an established published writer who has found success in my works, I wouldn’t mind participating in the 2114 project.

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  6. I think I could do it, depending on if they wanted something specific written or if I got to choose the topic. As long as I can still read it over and over to myself, I’ll still have (a minor bit of) satisfaction that it was completed.
    However, I also can agree with and understand the above opinions because, as artists, we want to see our work appreciated and valued. Especially while we live.
    I’d have to think about it if ever asked something like this, but I think it’d be cool to take part in it, even if I never know the outcome.

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    • I have no idea how they’re doing it, but I THINK it’s whatever the selected author chooses. I don’t think you can tell someone like Margaret Atwood to write what you want her to.

      I actually don’t know if the author keeps any of it. Like the manuscript saved somewhere. Cause what if an author maybe isn’t selling any books later on and just wants to get something else out there? Then they could just say to hell with the project, I have a finished book here collecting dust. It’d defeat the purpose of the project if the author keeps a copy.

      I still think it’s really cool. I just want to see which authors contribute. I feel like JK Rowling is a no brainer at some point.

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      • I see your point about not keeping a copy, but they’d have to have a very LONG and complicated contract for this whole project. Because how can you tell a writer not to keep a copy of their own work. Even digitally?

        I agree about J.K. I also think Neil Gaiman is a shoe-in, and maybe George R.R. Martin. Can’t think of anybody else.

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  7. I wouldn’t do this unless offered a huge sum of cash. Of, if they’d accept any piece of crap I write, I’d give them a turd just to have my name in the press as marketing for books to be sold within my lifetime.

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  8. It is certainly an interesting idea, but I’m not sure I could do it. But then again, it’s one way to make sure you’re still being read 100 years from now. And I feel like there would be a lot of pressure to write something amazing since you’d want future people to fall in love with your work. It would take a lot of consideration.

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  9. Um, I am pretty sure that anything existing centred around me beyond my current life would be a DIRE breach of human rights. I am currently fighting tooth and nail to be able to live in the greater community at this moment anyway, every day is a minor battle won πŸ˜€

    BTW – I wanted to write this comment yesterday but your blog had mysteriously blocked me from commenting, I tried not to take it personally, but the fact that I have retained this “masterpiece feedback” in my small pea sized brain for the past 24 hours is a testament to your specialness πŸ™‚ Plus, I forgot some pertinent information with a client of mine and have now had to deal with an abusive phone call just to make space for this comment, so that’s on you Mr John Guillen πŸ˜‰

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  10. I could never wait that long. For starters I am already un-happy about waiting a measely 3 years for something of mine to be published. To wait a hundred years, would literally kill me, and or eventually kill me.
    Okay, maybe if I was famous, then perhaps I would do it. People are suckers for celebrities.

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    • Actually, you wouldn’t be waiting. You’d know from the start that you won’t even be alive by the time anyone reads it. I suppose that the second half of the authors who are included have an okay chance of seeing their work released.

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  11. I’d do it. I think it’s a really cool idea. My grandkids would get to read it first.

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  12. Pingback: Since When is it Acceptable to Criticize Someone’s Reading Ability? | Write me a book, John!

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