some fall in love. i shatter.

The 69 Love Stories Project

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2011 at 2:50 am

The 69 Love Stories Project is part homage, part literary experiment A, part literary experiment B, part new beginning.

In 1999, the Magnetic Fields released 69 Love Songs, a three-cd set that would stand as their most ambitious undertaking. 69 Love Songs is an experiment in and about love songs – 69 songs that stretch across the genres of pop music, inflating some and stripping others, playing with what a type of song can be about and sound like. Popular music is rife with experimentation – it’s precisely what begets the popular music of the future. But this was different – this was an experiment that was also a tribute, forward thinking and backwards looking. Stephin Merritt and bandmates, standing on the precipice of the new millenium, kept one foot on the solid ground of the past and the other dangling over the pitfall of the future. Listen to the entire collection or just one disc or just a handful of songs and tell me when the recording’s from. You can’t; it’s timeless even as it traffics in genres and styles from years ago.

Something as artistically audacious as 69 Love Songs deserves tribute and inspires further experimentation. For example, How Fucking Romantic is “attempting to illustrate all of the Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs,” taking each song and transforming it into a small cartoon. This pays tribute to the package, the specific songs, and the lyrics more than it does the form (though one could argue that each graphic representation is a different style, a different genre). What I’m hoping to do with 69 Love Stories is to replicate the experiment that the Magnetic Fields engaged in. 69 love stories, each story an exploration of a literary genre, a literary form, pushing the boundaries of what those are. Can an invoice be a story? Can the character listing of a play? Diary entries? The rainbow of genres open themselves and their possibilities to explore the notion of the love story: mystery, sci-fi, literary, romance (obviously), etc. What is a story, what makes a story, what makes it valid – perhaps even more interesting, what doesn’t make a story and what invalidates? This is the literary experiment I hope to explore.

The other experiment is in whether or not there’s a way to earn money from this and foster participation that keeps people interested in what’s going on. Would you pay $1 to name a character? Would you pay $5 to name a story? $10 for a ‘thank you’ in the printed book once it’s finished? $20 to help shape the narrative of one story? $50 for all three and a special post on this blog about how we’re friends (we obviously are if you’re kicking in $50) and why we’re friends (beyond kicking $50 my way) and have me share all manner of wonderful things about you? $100 for a hard-copy of a book once the entire project is finished – printed, signed, and shipped to you? Where does this go? What’s feasible and what isn’t? What feels like an investment and what feels like a cash-grab? What feels like participation and what feels like charity? We can discover these together – only together can we do these things. You and I can become the future of publishing; this is free-form radio; this is indie rock; this is bypassing the mechanics of an industry to try something different and do it in a sustainable way. This is full of potential; this is exciting.

As for the new beginning, well, that’s part of the indie rock. I’ve been editing and pushing my manuscript on agents for some time now and getting nowhere; then I’ve let some time pass and done it all again and gotten to the same point. Me + wall = getting nowhere. Me + getting nowhere = spinning wheels. Me + spinning wheels = frustration. Me + frustration = time for a new plan. So, this is all part of the new plan where we see how this writing goes (I think it goes well, but then again I thought the manuscript did as well). At the same time, maybe this garners some attention and I become a little more palatable to some agent somewhere. Or maybe I’m more palatable to you and you want to buy a manuscript that might be e-published. Or it buys time for another manuscript. A new beginning without a defined path ahead of me, long on possibilities, long on potential.

This is just the introduction – the stories will come soon – and hopefully with some regularity. In the meantime, I need to plot out those stories a bit more, think about that whole money plan, figure out how to do it, etc. Like I said, this is the intro. If you’re interested in staying tuned, subscribe and I’ll be back soon. Or email me and I’ll be back to you even sooner.

And if this all changes… well, that’s life editing itself in front of the whole world, isn’t it?

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