My upcoming book of short short stories, Shake Away These Constant Days, originated as a project called Our Band Could Be Your Lit, in which I wrote a story under 1000 words every week. To generate this much content, I based the stories on songs suggested my musicians and writers from around the world. The original idea was 100 songs, 100 stories: find the creative common ground between two mediums and cultivating the virtue found therein.
Until September 25th, I'll be doing a blog post a day about the stories in the book. After that, it's all up to you.
Originally OBCBYL #19. My friend Alice has to remind me periodically that old men are not heroes, but I think Hank in this story might be. He’s actually middle-aged, but he seems older. He keeps going to live-band karaoke and amateur fight nights. He’s spiritually willing but physically unable. He’s as big as he’s always been, which is why it was so fun to peel him back and show his weaknesses.
This is another boxing story, somewhat, though it was actually before the other, more traditional story. In fact, there’s even less fighting in this one than there is in “The King.” There’s nothing wrong with a dramatic play-by-play, but I like it when sports stories have all the action displaced, when something has already happened or is about to happen. There’s a different sort of emotional resonance in the moment as opposed to the anticipation of the moment.
I started to experiment with really short sections sometime around this time. The story’s about 700 words split up into five sections, the last of which makes up over a third of the story. This is why I want to say I was cribbing Amy Hempel, but something like Bass's novella “Where the Sea Used to Be” makes me think it was actually Bass. (Plus all the turns of phrase, especially at the end of the sections, are totally Bass.)
The song itself is good, but I found it hard to incorporate much aside from having the live karaoke represent rock & roll. Finally, with the last image, I think I nailed it. It took the whole story, but that's what endings are for. Why go on longer than 700 words if I don't have to?
Also, another thing that points to this being a Bass story is the name "Jim Mikinez" showing up in the text. I must have been reading one of Bass's books on wolves at the time, because "Mike Jimenez" is the name of the wolf expert Bass frequently consulted and went on excursions with. It's all making sense now and goddamn I love Rick Bass.
Tomorrow: A story named "It's Been Far Too Long Since You Woke Up In Someone Else's Shoes" that is based on the song "Misunderstood" by Wilco.
SATCD on Goodreads
Pre-order the book so I can maybe afford a fog machine someday.