Well, it’s over. Nine handwritten black journals and 251 numbered posts later, the story that I envisioned for Why It Matters has been told.
It’s a mess of a rough draft, and there’s not really enough good stuff here to turn into a marketable manuscript. At least one story arc failed miserably due to compromise, others weren’t terribly interesting, and honestly there’s not much of a market for books about people who nobody knows. On the other hand, there are some nuggets here that can be polished into decent short stories; in fact, some already have been. Prior to getting busy writing for hire, I managed to place a few of these in literary magazines. Perhaps I’ll get back to that exercise this year.
Regardless, writing WIM was a very good exercise for me. Everyone starts with an unpublishable manuscript, so I’m calling this one mine and moving onto the next thing. I think I’m going to tackle a fiction project next. Perhaps I’ll use this space to talk about where I am with that, I don’t know.
Many if not most of the 251 WIM pieces bore titles that served as puzzle clues. To my knowledge, nobody ever bothered to consider these little clues, but I enjoyed it. The hidden game in the title of most WIM stories is this: Google the song lyric, find the song title related to that story’s theme.
Here are some of my favorite uses of lyrics as titles to reinforce a story’s subject:
“School’s Out,” Alice Cooper. I began my little lyric game with my second story, “School’s Out Forever.” The theme was — you guessed it — school. Not the most clever use of a lyric, but here’s where it started.
“Hotel California,” The Eagles. “You Can Check Out Anytime You Like” was the first WIM story that I successfully placed elsewhere. It concerned my childhood hero checking out long before he liked; fortunately, my father was there to save him. Last I heard the protagonist of that story was a practicing attorney somewhere in the Midwest.
“Toys in the Attic,” Aerosmith. “Leaving the Things That You Love Behind” was concerned with putting away childish things — literally putting my toys in the attic and making room for adolescence.
“Garageland,” The Clash. “But I Just Wanna Stay in the Garage All Night” told the tale of the night my roommates and I getting jumped in a parking garage. Cute, huh?
“Ruby Tuesday,” The Rolling Stones. “When You Change With Every New Day” was about Tuesday, a young woman for whom I carried a huge crush during my first year of art school.
“Our House,” Madness. “There’s Always Something Happening and It’s Usually Quite Loud” saw my girlfriend and I move into our own house, a rundown Victorian in one of Savannah’s less pleasant neighborhoods.
“Find Your Way Back,” Jefferson Starship. I quit Record Bar and found my way back to Starship Records in “Since I Packed Up and Left On My Own.”
“Welcome to the Jungle,” Guns N’ Roses. “You Can Taste the Bright Lights (But You Won’t Get Them For Free):” That’s exactly what my first night in Hollywood felt like.
“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” Led Zeppelin. “That’s When It’s Calling Me Back Home” captures the day I realized my first adult relationship was over.
“The End,” The Beatles. “The Love You Take is Equal to the Love You Make” — not only one of the finest lyrics ever written, but a wonderful way to say “the end” without ever actually saying it.
Thank you for hanging in there for 251 tales of liquor, lust, and primer gray Camaros. We’re not saying goodbye, you and I, we’re just moving onto the next thing. See you back here next Monday.
Categories: Deep Cuts