Remix My Lit: Literature That's Read and Write

This is a cross-posting of a post that originally appeared on Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn website on 9/23/09.

I went to the Remix My Lit masterclass at the Brisbane Writers Festival last week, and came away inspired! It was run by Amy Barker, author of Omega Park and the notes below come from her presentation and ideas.

RemixMyLit.com is a project that took original works by authors licensed under Creative Commons. Then a whole load of new authors remixed them creating new works, also shared under the Creative Commons license.

Some of the best works were published in an anthology, ‘Through the Clock’s Workings‘, that can be downloaded for free here, a Creative Commons work you can remix and share to your heart’s content.

It is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial ShareAlike licence. What that means is you can remix the stories, but only if you acknowledge the author, the remix is not for commercial use, and your new work is available for others to remix”. Remix My Lit.

What is remixing and why is it interesting?

Remixing is a term more commonly used in music, where artists remix each others work, or fans do the same (the project uses the example of Trent Reznor Nine Inch Nails The Slip album).

But it has been used in literature, most commonly with Shakespeare – endlessly remixed into films, stories, plays and other works. Baz Lurhman’s Romeo and Juliet kept the language, but totally remixed the location, scenes and time to create a fantastic version.

Shakespeare and other older works are in the Public Domain, out of copyright and available for anyone to use for any purpose. You can get free digital copies of Public Domain books at Gutenberg.org.

Public domain classics include: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Ulysses by James Joyce, Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, and of course Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, most recently remixed as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance – Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame Smith.

This is a ‘novel as mashup, certainly more recognisable that Bridget Jones Diary (albeit a better looking Mr Darcy!).

Whatever the literati think of these remixes, Seth Grahame Smith has made a lot more money than many, more original authors. He has 2 more books coming out, the next being “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters”. There are also rumours of a movie!

So you can remix/reuse public domain works, certain Creative Commons works and, I presume, other work you have express permission to use.

So why is that interesting?

Remixing is great for writing prompts and jump-starting creativity!

If you need some inspiration for your writing, there is literally a world of ideas just waiting for your brain to create something new! That is pretty exciting.

In the workshop, we did this fun exercise where we took the hard copy of one of the stories, ‘Cherished’ by Emily Maguire. We then proceeded to do a ‘cut-up’ – literally!

We all cut words out of the story and re-pasted them into a remix, some taking the angle to preserve some of the original ideas, and others making something very new with the same words.

You can read the original story in the free eversion here. It is short narrative.

You can see all the remixes of the original stories here.

Here is my offering (and yes, I’ve been reading too much horror!)

‘Cherished’: The Scott Sigler Remix

Behind a smear of pinkish sunless skin

her gums are dried blood

Her ragged bathroom belly

flaunting retro-blue-frosted polished stumps

stiff to the touch

squat reflection on her steel-blue veins

the rest of her remains, a goth-inspired charcoal

disposable beloved,

Emily, Cherished girl.

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The Remix My Lit logo is a derivative work of a CC Attribution 2.0 Flickr image ‘Street Art’ by Kim Laughton, aka ‘olivepixel.’

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