Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Story Junk Binder

This is a guest post from Caleb J Ross, author of the chapbook Charactered Pieces: stories, as part of his ridiculously named Blog Orgy Tour. Visit his website for a full list of blog stops. Charactered Pieces: stories is currently available from OW Press (or Amazon.com). Visit Caleb at http://www.calebjross.com/.

Because Mr. Kane aims for this blog to be a literary junk drawer of sorts, let me help establish the heap with comments about my own writing miscellany, which quite literally, is how much of my writing begins: as accumulated leftovers and aborted remnants of completed pieces.

I keep a binder, scrapbooked with napkins, receipts, notebook pages, and various other cut-and-tapeable oddments, each containing scribbles that may or may not someday amount to a worthy story. The key in this accumulation is to be as uncritical about the collection as possible. Any apparently random idea that elicits even a slight pause during my otherwise monotonous life warrants a place within the binder. Anything, truly:

(head a story with a dedication to a person or thing or group that has relevance to the story – not to my own life)

(a person, after having a documentary made about his accomplishments, he refuses to be anything else for fear of not maintaining the legacy of permanence. Turns out his seclusion creates a cult of fame he never knows about)

When embarking on a new story (or am stuck with a current one), I open the binder and search for a few dissimilar snippets that may be mashed together to form a coherent story. Storytelling is about contrast and conflict. Forcing together two or more seemingly incompatible ideas allowsfor new angles and perceptions that would otherwise never happen. Physical deformity and jewelry becomes “Charactered Pieces” (the title story of my chapbook). An infatuation with documentaries and a dead brother becomes “The Camp.” Architecture and drinking camel blood becomes “The Camel of Morocco.”

My advice: keep a pen in your pocket. You can, and should, write on anything. Even all over the margins of Charactered Pieces.