Covers Album

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.

7 responses to “Covers Album”

  1. T-Mo says:

    Great idea! I request you to post the results. Also, it reminds me of this, but is not quite the same.

  2. LP says:

    Do it! And yes, please post results. No pressure or anything, but, you know. I’m curious.

  3. Bryan says:

    I like this idea a lot. And it’s less daunting than, say, Kenneth Goldsmith’s project of rewriting the entirety of Benjamin’s Arcades Project!

    I do hope you post the results here.

  4. Mister Smearcase says:

    Thanks, ladies. (What, it’s just as good a generic as fellas.) If it is non-terrible, I will post. (I will probably not post.) More practically, I do recommend Eisenberg’s Transactions in a Foreign Currency in which “Flotsam” is located. “Rafe’s Coat” is a weird portrait of upper class mating rituals and “Days” is a rather harrowing account of depression.

  5. Josh K-sky says:

    I like this idea a lot. I once rewrote a TV pilot as a cover of the pilot of The O.C. It was instructive! Then all my dreams came to naught I’m looking forward to getting back to work on my pilot ideas.

  6. Josh K-sky says:

    Hmm, my HTML failure made what was supposed to be a sad-clown strikethrough joke look even more abject than intended.

  7. ssw says:

    whatever keeps you writing! you definitely have a very special gift.