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.
(This story will be appearing soon in issue #4 of Fractured West.)
Exclusive to SATCD. It doesn’t make much sense to dissect a story in which the majority of the story is a dissection of the story. I was wrapped up in Amy Hempel—again. It’s my only excuse.
The song is part of a loose concept album called Oceanic. It deals with love, incest, suicide, and large bodies of untamable water. I covered most of that except the incest, which wasn’t really necessary. (I’m not sure how it plays into Oceanic, either, except as a point of confusion and shame.)
I wrote the first section—the “story” section where a man meets a woman and they marry and then he kills himself by jumping off a boat—and couldn’t figure out what to do next. I considered leaving it as is, a little 100-word prose-poem with some good sentences, but instead just wrote down what the story had done so far. I was trying to do a literary analysis on what should be there and wasn’t, and through that, I hoped to e able to finish the story.
What I came up with ended up being better than any story I was going to write. I was really prolific at the time in hopes of putting together an OBCBYL book and wanting to have extra, exclusive material to draw from. I had lots of ideas about stories—what drives them, what makes them work. For the first time in awhile, I was actively considering what must be twisted and what must be pure.
That isn’t to say I’ll ever dedicate myself to meta-fiction or any other sort of writing about writing. I’ve got a nice size stack of books about all sorts of styles of writing, most of them covered in highlighter and worn ragged. The majority of my blatant studying—I like to think I study by proxy now, just reading and writing as much as I can—happened independently in college. Those few years of obsession over craft were necessary in making sure that they eventually became unnecessary.
As for the title, I don’t know how it’s pronounced. I don’t even know what it means. I like to think of it as a blank clock, a commentary on time. But it could be a comparison, a variation on an analogy. It could be a topic and a list. I’m not sure. All I know is that when I put it at the top of the page, it made sense. That’s not something you can learn in a book—on purpose, at least.
Tomorrow: A story named "Haunt" that is based on the song "Ghosts of the Garden City" by Caspian. Suggested by musician Philip Jamieson of Caspian.
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