Exercise: The Ruh-re-remix

by jonnahzkennedy

In our modern era, we’re very fond of remixes. It seems that every popular song in the history of ever has been remixed to death. Rap artists, pop artists, bad artists all remix their songs in a filthy cash grabbing effort to get their song to be broadcasted more on the radio. What’s funny is that, people often times flock to find more remixes or remix the song themselves, making it better, sometimes worse, in an effort to form this communal experience of being a part of this song’s lifeline, keeping it alive as long as they can in order to make sure that it stays fresh, and to create music that they really want to listen to. Also, there really is nothing better than digging your hands into something and getting dirty about it. But now, one wonders why it’s usually only in the music industry that things are remixed? Verses, lyrics, and sounds reordered and revamped in order to create a new song. One could argue that films have this with a directors cut, but this really isn’t what I’m talking about. A directors cut might add something that was taken out, but it dosen’t really change the movie, gives it a different look, for the most part; some director’s cuts do embellish and really make you reanalyze the movie, but those can often times be rare.

But, books usually never do this, and the only book that comes to mind is of course Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters Remix, which has remix in the flipping title. Technically, it’s Palahniuk’s original version of the book, rather than the one that was published before, it’s now written and stylized the way that Palahnkuk always imagined. It’s an interesting thing and I can’t wait to finally read the book after I finish Survivor. Now, I wonder: why don’t more authors do this? Why don’t they tear apart their work, give it a different look, a different sound, embellish a little bit more or totally rework the whole thing, using all the same parts, just in different places. Instead of having the novel open with, “The summer of 1980 was a scorcher,” why don’t they break this apart and bring in the different description of that summer and place it in between, “The summer of 1980 was a scorcher,” or add repetition and more figurative language: play with this novel so that it becomes something different, the message changes this time around. Arguably the reason is because, many novels need that linear format, and for the most part, it would seem like the author was simply trying to add stuff that wasn’t there before, or make more money on this novel by “remixing” it. What I’ve described is probably more akin to a literary director’s cut, but it’s not.

Homework: write a story or take an old story of yours, and then remix it. Take the first line of the story and put it at the end, rewrite a description using all the same words, add a part that wasn’t there before at all, a totally made up part; change the formatting of the story, embellish on something that’s already been embellished to death, restructure the actual syntax of the story and make the page look a little bit morel like eye candy. Add color to color words, find the fonts for logos of signs and brands and insert it into the work itself: immerse yourself in the story and ask how would this sound if I did this or, what would be the connotation if I put this word here instead of there? Remix a story either of your own, or maybe take one of your favorite passages and remix it. This will make you an exploratory writer, a writer who does more with what they have, make an art out of their work, and you will benefit from finding new ways to say old things.

And a dare: I dare you to remix your remix! Take the remix and throw it in the blender again, or cut up the pages and rearrange all the lines, take away the punctuation, add more repetition of this phrase, replace something essential like “the” with “dog”, “it” with “fat”, something abstract that actually has a lot to do with the theme of your story. Add a background vocal too, something that’s “in between” the lines of the original that you might not have caught if it weren’t for this remix.

Double dare: Unmix the remix of the dare, don’t simply revert the changes, simply unpack the story so that it’s coherent again, but still a new thing, yet closer to the original work.

Triple Dog Dare? No, just kidding, I think your story might murder you if you abused it any further.

If you want to share, upload it to your blog and link to it in the comments, have fun!