On Sertin’s Terms

Last night at The Crippled Bee, Jean-Pierre Sertin and I, after a drink or five, got down to the business of discussing search terms. I say ‘got down to the business’: this sounds as though our discussion was pre-ordained. It wasn’t, of course. Sertin’s mind, and mine, move along uncertain channels of wind. Our thoughts flutter like flakes of late winter snow. Down the weird stream of fancy we flow. Through the tides of…

Anyhow. Where was I? Yes: search terms. This is the subject to which we turned, apres much meandering. Sertin had, I fancy, read this post and it had, as well it might, turned on a switch in his creative mind. He was, as ever, full of ideas. And one idea bobbed to the surface more than all the others. And it was this:

To create a work of fiction directed solely by search terms. One starts – on a blog, perhaps – with a story. In time, restless web-adventurers find themselves paddling in the sea of your story. The search term that has brought them there offers for you, the writer, a new departure. You leave by the route by which people came to you. The reader directs the writer, but without knowing it.

There are all sorts of implications, no doubt, though one (i.e. ‘I’) would need to see how such a thing worked out in practice before offering full judgement. Which brings us, I guess, to the tricky part. Sertin is already notorious for working on twenty or so projects at once. His creative pockets are overflowing. He has more ideas than he knows what to do with. Will he, can he follow this particular one up?

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