Amy Beach and Me is an electronic book that began in 2009 as the thesis for my graduate writing program at Antioch University. Readers will find some buttons that lead to deeper content, others that show a “coming soon” message, and some that are blank; these buttons will eventually house the subject matter listed on their titles – more “chapters” about the lives, music, art, society and artistic peers of composer Amy Beach – and me. There are also references within the text to information and media that will be forthcoming as I continue to develop the book: music to be added, “chapters” to be added or completed, and art and other references to be included.

Although I began writing Amy Beach and Me with a content outline, as evidenced by the main button labels on the front/home page of the book, that outline has been fluid as the book has developed and evolved. For instance, the labels on some of those home page buttons have already changed. That fluidity is one of the powers of new media writing I discovered as I began to create this book: as I make new discoveries and have new insights, I am free to alter course; I am also able to correct, add to, eliminate or edit previous writing. A new media writer never has to say “complete.”

I did not know what the final form of the book would be when I began, a printed book with accompanying CD or DVD, a book with accompanying website, a CD/DVD only, or something else. The final form is still up in the air. Currently it is this online book. I am also toying with the idea of letting go of the idea of creating a finished book as I had originally imagined. I am making this form / genre up as I go, so I think I have the privilege to change rules whenever I see fit! I now like the idea that this is a “living” book. That I can keep adding to it, editing it, rearranging it for as long as I can sit at a computer. Amy Beach and Me is no longer a story about the finite life of a woman who lived one hundred years ago; it is a dynamic, growing, changing exploration of her life, my life, and the lives of all women in relation to music and art. It is about art and feminism and traditions in the arts that have been established over centuries about which I want to take a fresh look. It is a story that will evolve as long as I live. So, I see no reason now for it to end in my lifetime. That is one of the beauties of electronic writing: it does not have to. Perhaps its closing will simply come when I can write no more. There seems beauty in that idea, too.

Perhaps Amy Beach and Me will follow a similar trajectory to the first new media book I wrote. Light 1.0 is a multimedia book I began to publish in 2005.