It must have been a year ago, or maybe two, I posted about how I write compulsively but can’t seem to write fiction.
What followed from that was a fun little experiment gamely proposed by Lisa Parrish wherein we wrote and exchanged very short fiction. I ended up with two little stories that were not especially good but they were certainly fiction and they weren’t the worst thing anyone ever wrote.
Then I did nothing else ever again.
But here I am in this very strange part of my life with nothing to do, and no resources to distract myself in any particularly interesting way, and I may give it another shot. So here’s what I’ve decided to do, and it’s so dumb I can’t help gleefully sharing it.
I’m going to write covers of other people’s stories. Right now, I’m making sort of an outline or anyway a numbered list of the things that strike me as discrete chunks of story in Deborah Eisenberg’s “Flotsam” and then I’m going to outline another story (probably Lorrie Moore’s “Willing”) so as to get the actual text of “Flotsam” out of my head, and then I’m going to go back and write a story with the same mythemes* as “Flotsam” but my own sentences and see what it looks like.
It’s hard to say how much will be original. As I make this outline, I become newly aware of the unmarked border between plot and character/setting/etc. I suppose the point is more to understand how narrative moves, a thing I have never really had a grasp of. Where does plot come from? How is babby formed!
Is this the daftest idea ever? It’s possible I’ve just thrown cold water on it by talking about it. But unless someone descends from the sky and offers me a fulfilling, high-paying job, by which I mean “any job at all”, it beats the hell out of what I’m doing with most of my days.
*definitely not a word. made it up just now.**
**actually a word. thanks, internet, for crushing my dreams of originality.