The Point of Paralysis: Moving Forward With a Creative Project When There Are Too Many Options

Sometimes the hardest thing is when all of your options are appealing and you have no simple way of choosing from among them.

My podiobook is ready for launch. I’ve recorded five chapters, a promo, and have cover art. I’ve actually recorded the five chapters three times over. I have a spoken word version, a spoken word version with me playing guitar, and a musical ep version with me speaking, singing, playing guitar, and just getting crazy with the material.

When I started the project, my favorite was the very avant garde mix of singing, storytelling, guitar playing, and noisemaking that created a piece that relied more on the sound than the words to tell the story of Bridan and Terry as they battle the evil of the Horde.

I’ve received some really great feedback for this encouraging the mixing of the podcast novel with the musical EP to create something new. However some people have found it hard to follow the plot since they want to hear the words more clearly and others have wanted more focus on songcraft.

I recorded just me reading it and this relies solely on the strength of the writing and my ability to do character voices. I enjoyed doing this version and it was very simple to create thanks to various tools recommended by my podcasting peers.

I am finalizing a version with me playing guitar and reading. I like the read more than the straight read through though it often sounds weak at the parts where I felt the music version sounded strongest.

To me, the moments of greatest impact are when the music and the singing and the reading synchronizes to create a sonic experience reflecting Terry’s state of mind as he relates his story- focusing the emotional lens on the denial and love and frustration that truly is the antagonist in the Horde.

I recently reread some of Kubrick’s interviews about the film 2001, in which he discusses how ultimately he decided to jettison many of the conventions of the film genre at the time including narration, explanation, and even clarity of plot in favor of making an experience.

I won’t claim his level of genius, however with the musical version of the Horde, that is what I am shooting for- a reimagining of the podcast novel that steps back from the literal relating of events to create a primarily sonic experience that makes use of but is not solely portrayed by the words.

I feel this is what separates the musical version of the Horde from a traditional audiobook. I love the format of audiobooks, I just see potential in the podiobook medium to create something that mixes what I love about serial audio fiction with what I love about indie lo-fi rock albums.

Those who say they prefer the version where the words are much easier to understand, the spoken word version, are not wrong. It is easier to understand on the plot level without the singing.

This reminds me of many of the criticisms of 2001, that it is too hard to get into, to understand, that it demands the viewer to accept not understanding. Clarke’s version of 2001, which more clearly tells much of the story, is available and the two co-creators have been quoted as saying they are two different imaginings of the same story.

My novel will be available in print or ebook eventually. Self publishing means that I can pretty much guarantee this. In this form, it will be what it is: a novel.

However, as I gear up for finalizing the files and sending the last of the materials to podiobooks for the release, I am torn as to whether move forward with the musical project, the spoken word project, or do both. Every option has its conflicting merits: artist integrity vs comprehension, envelope pushing vs accessibility.

That decision is really the only stumbling block, the only major next step standing between me and the release of the book. Has anyone else found themselves with such a decision? I now what Kubrick and Clarke did, but I wonder what us mere mortals do.



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