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.
Exclusive to SATCD. That first line--“Back in high school you had a girl and a band and you thought both of them would last forever”—is something I used to say about myself in college. It's possible that this one is more autobiographical than the others—a guy at a party playing with his old band for all of his old friends while trying to beat all of his old habits—but I can't even really tell. Once rock & roll gets mixed up in things, it all just sort of blurs together. I can't separate what I've experienced from what I've only heard about or seen.
I try to write in the second person sparingly. It almost always works, but the gimmick of it all too often usurps the story. I think I fell into a lot of the traps of second person writing, lapsing into a tone where it sounds like I'm giving stage directions and motivations. (“You do this and then that. You feel this way and then someone comes in. They say this. It makes no sense and you wonder whatever." Etc.) Second person is like Taco Bell in the sense that it's the same five ingredients turned into well-designed garbage that people feel the need to enjoy only in shameful privacy.
The story itself wasn't too much trouble. “Misunderstood” has always been, despite me usually feeling pretty well understood, one of my favorite songs. The narrative was essentially one of many variations on the “I used to be in a band” story. It's like a choose your own adventure book. “To bang your old girlfriend, go to page 32. To drink more and keeping talking about Aerosmith with those smelly dudes, turn to page 8.”
The ending is lovingly cribbed, as so many endings have been, from Raymond Carver.
Tomorrow: A story named "Monsters: A Series of Non-Chronological Vignettes" that is based on the song "Snow & Lights" by Explosions In the Sky.
SATCD on Goodreads
Pre-order the book so I have a reason to leave my basement.