I’ve gushed like a mad thing about Iain Rowan’s superb short fiction elsewhere on this blog – if he’s new to you find the reviews and then buy the books, you won’t regret it. His new project is just genius – of the masochistic variety – 52 Songs, 52 Stories…well I’ll let him tell you…
For me, listening to music and reading fiction have always been different aspects of the same thing. Each have their own form of narrative (and I don’t mean that in an obvious way, like Seasons In The Sun or Camoflage woah-oh-oh-oh Camoflage). But they also evoke mood and emotion. Shut my eyes, see a picture, feel something, miss something, want something.
Some songs make me want to write. Some songs make me want to give up writing, especially short stories, because they say it better than I could. Some songs make me want to write particular kinds of stories, take a tone, find a particular voice.
I’ve been casting around a little while for a writing/blogging project which would be fun, a bit demanding, and entirely down to me. At the back-end of last year I really enjoyed reading a blog called A Month In Music. It was a neat idea, had a really good hook, was defined and limited (one month, every day, then that’s yer lot), and was really well executed. At about the same time, a project that I’d contributed to came to publication. Luca Veste had the great idea to put together a charity anthology in aid of children’s literacy, and the even greater determination needed to actually make it real. Luca decided to theme the anthology, and so each of the stories in Off The Record is inspired by a famous song. If you’ve not got it, go here and treat yourself.
These two ideas came and hid somewhere down in my murky subconscious, liked each other, got each other’s numbers, stopped round for ‘coffee’ one night and that’s how my project 52 Songs, 52 Stories was born.
Every week throughout 2012 I’m going to pick a song, write a short story inspired by it, and publish it on the 52 Songs blog.
It’s a simple idea, and it’s fun, and it requires some of the discipline that I really need to work on around writing. I’ve got a few other writing projects going on at the moment: editing my Debut Dagger shortlisted novel for publication as an e-book, writing some dark/weird fiction short stories for the first time in ages (and I’m loving it), and not least pulling my weight as a member of the Abominable Gentlemen. If I’m going to write a short story a week for 52Songs, even a short-short, then I’m not going to have the luxury of sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike and the muse to whisper in my idea. Sit down. Pick song. Think. Think harder. Write. Quick edit. Format. Publish. Done.
Sometimes it might be a literal interpretation, or a theme that borrows from title or a snatch of lyrics. Other times readers might struggle to see a connection at all, but somewhere, somehow the song will have set off something in the mysterious process of creativity, or at least as it operates in what passes for my mind. I find it interesting that to a large extent this is a part of myself that is unknown, and maybe unknowable. If I think about some of my stories that have proved most popular over the years, I can genuinely say that I don’t have a clue where the ideas for those actually came from. They just emerge, last thing at night, out walking, when I’m at the shops or when I’m in the bath or just sitting around staring at nothing in particular. A character, a place, a voice, a mood, or even a fully formed core of the plot. One moment it’s not there. The next moment it is. Music helps those moments be more often. Who knows, maybe one of the short stories I’m doing for 52 Songs (very short stories – this week’s is a 1000 words, most will be shorter, sometimes much shorter) will end up turning into something bigger.
I’m picking the songs mostly at random, but will occasionally write to a requested song. I’ve got three of those lined up at the moment: ‘Sabotage’ by the Beasties (half-tempted to get my Heroes of Telemark 1970s Sunday afternoon stiff-upper lip war film thing on for that one), ‘Love Songs On The Radio’ by Mojave 3 (thanks for not going for a song from ( ), James), and…’Sexyback’. By Justin Timberlake. Thanks for that request Eva. No really, thanks.
The magnificently nasty anti-love song ‘Why Don’t You Kill Yourself’ by The Only Ones was the first week’s inspiration. We’re now into the second week of the year, so I’ve posted the second story, inspired by the Violent Femme’s unhinged ‘Never Tell‘.
Enjoy, get alerts to new stories by following 52Songs on Twitter, spread the word, and come back and visit next week when I will be bringing Sexy Back.
I know, again.