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Tag Archives: fiction

Get To The Point

It’s somewhat shocking to me to see the way I’ve changed as I’ve aged.  One thing that recently struck me is the way I write.  I wandered onto another person’s blog and this person fancied himself a writer.  Every sentence had a level of pomposity that even the word pomposity doesn’t even express.  By that, I mean his writing was excessively flowery.  I thought, geez, I used to write like that.

I have no idea why I used to do it or why I stopped.  I must assume, like with many things as I got older, the question became, “Who am I trying to impress, here?”  The answer most every time was, it doesn’t matter.

But, I could still write like that if I wanted to.  But when I read stuff like that after writing, it sounds overdone.  If you can’t get the point across in normal language, advanced vocabulary isn’t going to help you.  Maybe it’s because I now write much more factual content and less fiction.  Fiction is a place where descriptive, verbose, and picturesque language should be used – to transport the reader.  When you are writing instructions, you don’t want to transport the reader anywhere. You want to get shit done.

Ah, romance.  That fleeting, etheric sensation that compels a man to remove himself from his left-brained, analytical prison and dash madly to the fountain of life.  To drink deeply of the youth and vigor that had previously been tucked away in the recesses of his being, like a book scorned and discarded as too childish and fantastical for the adult he wished to be.  Unhand that child, villain!

That’s how it reads to me.  A bunch of independent words that each strike an emotional note and end up as a cacophonic disaster.  Sure, some people do it better than others, and some even do it worse than that contrived mish-mash I spit up.

And the reason I wrote this is because I found an old archive disk with documents – old documents – on it and I’m deathly afraid to open them.  On the other hand, maybe writing a story parodying that style would be good for me.  The whole, “so bad, it’s good” could be something I excel at.  I mean, what the hell, Fifty Shades of Grey exists, right?


How To Blog For Tumblr

Two simple rules.  Make it all about yourself and make it emotionally exhausting.  For example:

Yesterday, I was out for a drive and I saw a business that I thought looked interesting.  I went inside and browsed around a little bit.  Some of the items they sold were kind of odd, and I just decided it wasn’t the kind of place for me.  So, when I was leaving, the owner asked me if I found everything ok.  I said that it was an interesting store and left it at that.  I didn’t say what I was really thinking.

Instead, you write:

Now, yesterday, I was outside for the first time in what felt like forever, since I’ve been cooped up in this asylum for what feels like forever.  As I drove along, my senses were exhilarated by the fresh, clean air – despite having that slightly opaque quality of horrible pesticide from the nearby farms.  And in those moments, I was caught between my love for life and the despise of my ego-centric human co-habitors who want nothing more than to make a shifty buck.  And speaking of bucks, here’s a new business that looks interesting.  Maybe I will find some of the things that make me go, hmmm.  That is my forte, you know.  Making people go hmmm.  Upon entering the store, I was completely taken aback by the unnerving and overpowering vibe of… weirdness?  Nay, insanity. My eyes wept for the innocence of a million children that would be subjected to such devious depictions of capitalism, and my mind, in its best attempt to shelter me from further despair, became numb to the entire experience.  When my overloaded, overworked, and overstressed senses could not handle the assault any further, I hastened to the door.  Oh sweet freedom from this agony!  You are only steps away!  But before I could savor the fresh, liberating experience of being unshackled from this oppression, the storeowner – a peddler of the most profane wares in the universe – had the audacity to ask me if I found what I was looking for.  In my mind, I cursed him a thousand ways and considered informing him that the only thing I found was offensive offerings with monetary and aesthetic value so low that I would need to be compensated to even consider purchasing one.  Choking back my words of justice, I politely told him his store was interesting and I left him to ponder the ramifications of such a simple answer to his question.  He should think long and hard on it, for there was a message in my tone of voice that words could not convey.  I pray that no one should have to be subjected to what I had to endure this day, yesterday.

You see, I can write like this, but choose not to.  Thank god.

Dream Log

Had a weird dream a few nights ago.  So weird, I had to keep reminding myself about it so I wouldn’t forget it like most dreams.

I was on this trip or tour or excursion with a bunch of people to a massive art project.  It was in a huge, multi-story building and the project was by David Byrne of Talking Heads fame.  The building was probably 12 stories high, but for whatever reason, we were going to start at level 9.  The idea was to work your way down to the bottom while taking in the sights.

The sights, as designed by the artist, were simply rooms presenting a different scene.  These scenes represented the gamut of emotional responses, from boring, to humorous, to shocking, to familiar, and on and on.  Very much something David Byrne would come up with.

The thing about the exhibit is that it was such a massive building, you couldn’t see all the scenes in one visit and that was how it was designed.  You would be on a guided tour and maybe the guide was showing you scenes in a particular order to create the expected emotional responses, not unlike how a song evokes emotions, or in longer form, a concert.  Still, very Byrne-esqe.

One of the ridiculous, obviously-a-dream details is that because there was no defined path through the building and you couldn’t tell your way around from room to room, a path was created with mud that had the consistency of chocolate pudding.  You would just walk through the muddy path, following the guide.

Well, another tourist and I decided that we didn’t want to miss out on any of the rooms in the exhibit, so we were going to break from the pack and see as much as we could.  It was understood that this behavior wasn’t discouraged, so we did it.  After seeing a couple of other rooms, we wondered how we were going to keep track of which rooms we’d seen already.  I had the idea of smearing some of the guide path mud on the door so we could identify which we’d seen already.  It was a good idea and we continued, eventually lagging behind and losing our group.

Now alone, I started to get a little concerned about being in this huge building where the rooms connected without any sense and some looked very similar to others so you couldn’t exactly make your way through it with memory.  Then I noticed that the group’s muddy trail was drying up and disappearing…

As that fear was building in me, I turned to my companion and asked if the desk we were at was the same one we had seen just a little bit ago.  I looked closely at it but couldn’t tell if I had smeared some mud on it or not.  And it this point, I kind of knew we were lost.

I woke up shortly after that.  As I kept reminding myself of some of the details, I started coming up with more things that could have happened, but I think those were probably influenced memories.

Green Hat

I was browsing randomly and ended up on an article about difficult interview questions.  One of the questions caught my attention: “Tell us a story which has a title of Green Hat.”  Oooo.  I like making up stories on the fly.  I spent less than a minute thinking and came up with this idea.  The luxury of time with writing means it’s a little more fleshed out, but I think I would have been able to get my point across verbally.

A man was out walking one day and came upon two old men seated opposing each other at a table.  In front of the the men were some seemingly random items on what looked like a complex map.

One man wore a white hat and the other, a black hat.  They stared intently together at the pieces in front of them.  When the man with the white hat would make a move toward a piece, the black-hatted man would reach towards a different piece.  Then each would pause and withdraw their hands from the map, leaving everything as it remained.

The newcomer approached the old men and asked, “Who are you and what are you doing?”  White hat replied, “I am the spirit of positive progress, the one across from me is the spirit of negative consequence.”  Black hat smirked in acknowledgement.

“What I am trying to do,” White hat explained, “is move the pieces on this map to the best position possible, but whenever I ready myself to move a piece, my counterpart prepares to move a piece in a negative way.”

The newcomer considered this and asked, “So when is the last time you moved a piece?”

“I have not for a very, very long time.  If I do, something bad will happen.”

“But, do you know what will happen?” asked newcomer.

“No. But it will be negative.”

The newcomer reached for a piece and Black hat reached for another piece.  To the positive spirit’s shock, newcomer slid his piece all the way across the map.  In return, the negative spirit moved his piece, although only a fraction of the distance.

The positive spirit was beside himself.  “Look at what you’ve done!”

“Did I not move a piece father forward than your opponent moved his back?”  Queried the newcomer?

“Yes, you did,” said the positive spirit thoughtfully.

“Then that is net progress.  You have not have that in a long time.”

The newcomer then pulled a hat from his pocket and put it on his head.  Both old spirits looked at him, surprised.

The newcomer said simply, “Green means go.” and walked onward.

If I Only Didn’t Have a Day Job

To go along with all my other damn posts about missing out on inspiration because of life,  I found this in my drafts – a beginning to a short story I wanted to write.  It was going to be about how life is sort of a game played by spirits in the afterlife.  Your spirit controls your body and tries to make it live as long as possible.  Real-life Sims, I guess.  Steve meets one of the “monitors”, who supervise “gameplay”…

“And then the ambulance just rolled away with no lights or anything.  Much different than when the person is still alive, huh?”

Although he tried to make it sound humorous, there was little in his voice that indicated it.  There was only a dull monotone that sounded like the shock hasn’t passed yet.

“But Steve, it really wasn’t your fault.  From what you’ve told me, it isn’t.”

And that part was legally true.  No charges from the police.  No insurance hassles.  The woman had pulled out in front of him and he…

“Yup.  I couldn’t do anything.  Couldn’t do anything but kill her.”  Steve wasn’t making himself feel any better by relating his story.  Wasn’t that what was supposed to happen?  “Get it out” and all?

His sounding board, Paul, had no comforting retort for Steve this time.  He could only sit and silently provide support.  Paul had known Steve for many years.  Although they weren’t what you would call best friends, they would get together often enough to keep a friendship strong.

Paul was exactly what Steve needed right now.  Someone who wasn’t too close that would be shaken by his recent accident and the effect it had on him, but also someone close enough that would actually care about him getting over this.

“It’s shit like this that makes me question everything in life, Paul.  Why her, why now, why not me?  You talk to the religious types and they say ‘God has a plan for everyone.’  And you talk to the non-religious and they say ‘That’s life, dude.’  I have to say, there’s gotta be something in the middle.”

Paul looked down at the mug of coffee in front of him.  “Let him talk it out,” he thought.

“I started reading a lot lately.  Looking for some reasoning.  I came across this thing called Theosophy, which is supposed to explain the whole life and death process, without religiousness.  Or at least that’s what I got out of it.  I read other books about after-death communications.  So I have all these ideas about karma and purposes and reincarnation, but even considering all that, it still doesn’t make any sense as to why.”

Paul looked back up at Steve.  “Why what?”

“Just, why.  Why did it happen.  When you think about ‘God’s plan’ or predestiny or even some weird cosmic theory that someone dies so that someone else can learn a lesson.  There’s the big debate about free will in there, too.  It just seems… random.”

A figure in the booth behind Steve spoke up.  “It’s calculated.”

“Excuse me?”  Steve half turned around, not sure whether to be annoyed at the eavesdropping or intrigued at the stranger’s certainty in his declaration.

“It is calculated, or I should say, pre-calculated.  The outcome isn’t really known, but the scenario is a generated one based on known factors,” the stranger explained in a matter-of-fact way.  “The outcome will change a lot of future events, events that were pre-planned, but get adjusted with current data.”


Missing The Creative

It happened again.

Quite a while ago, I wrote about inspiration and timing and how life gets in the way of being creative.  This morning, I got stuck in a traffic jam from an accident and was watching some of the cars jockeying for position and stealing any small space they could get.  It got me thinking of the typical sociological study of humans dealing with scarcity of resources.

A short story started to form in my mind with all the elements I typically rant about: overpopulation, class warfare, unwillingness to work together, entitlement (not of the typically-accused have-nots, but of the have-enough-demand-mores), all set in a dystopian future, which seems closer every year.  But the more I built the elements up in my mind, the more they got crowded out by the things I had to do today at work.

Ah, what if I wasn’t working?  I could get out of the traffic jam, grab a notebook and jot down ideas.  Then when I got home, I could start writing a nice, depressing short story.  I recently read a Stephen King book – I think it was “On Writing.”  King talks about his experience being a writer and some of the ways to be an effective writer.  The biggest thing I got out of the book is the balance between being alone so you can create and getting out and building experience and inspiration to create.

I suppose it could be possible that I could carry this idea for the rest of the day and work on it after work, but I’m in a profession where you have to use your brain pretty heavily throughout the day, so I can’t keep these ideas up in the air like juggling balls.  Back in the old days of pizza delivery, absolutely, I could.  But, life gets in the way.

Losing Again

In my Internet travels, I’ve seen the good and the bad and the tasteless and the strange.  One thing that I saw that struck my fancy was a writing genre I think are called “BAWW Stories.”  These are short stories – either true or not – that exist for the purpose of being heart-wrenching and emotionally hyper-charged.  Usually, the story involves a close friend, family member, or pet in a terrible series of events.  The end result is that you just break down and bawl – “bawwwwww!”  I’ve wanted to try my hand at writing one, so let’s see how well it turns out.  Gratefully, this is total fiction.

…and that’s that.  I’m single now, I guess.  Who am I kidding, I know I’m single.  When you call your girlfriend up and you hear from the background noise that she’s at some party that you had no idea was planned, when you hear a guy asking “Is that him?”, when she stutters and hesitates when you say you’ll see her tomorrow, these are some pretty obvious signs.

It’s not like I didn’t see it coming.  She’s always been more social than me and I could tell I was holding her back.  I’m not going to bother deleting all the emails and texts just yet.  I just want to sit for a bit and think about the good times.  We had, what, maybe a month?  That’s pretty good for me, considering all the first/last dates I’ve been through.

Bub is here beside me.  Bub is my closest friend, even though he’s a cat.  He always knows when something’s up.  I take good care of him and he never fails to show his appreciation for it.  Bub chose me, which is something I could never expect from any human companion.

Bub was a stray that showed up at the house one afternoon.  Who knows why he chose my house.  He was thin but clean and he seemed so happy to see me.  As time went on, Bub became closer and closer to me, like a child.  And he’d seen many of my ups and downs as I stumbled through my failed relationships, so he understood how I was tonight.

I figured I should go for a drive to clear my head.  That’s usually what I did in times like these.  Bub seemed to know what I was up to (as usual) and headed to the door.  That was one of the coolest things about Bub, that he was so dog-like.  He actually enjoyed car rides.  So, I hauled him up and we got in the car together, Bub settling down in my lap after I buckled my seat belt.

As I drove through the back roads, I ran through the last few days in my mind and analyzed how my latest relationship fell apart.  Yeah, she had become distant.  Yeah, I didn’t seem to care about it.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  It was me.  Bub was in my lap, purring.  Bub didn’t care about all that stuff.  If I ignored him, he just hung out with me.  That’s how a relationship should be.  No, no.  I’m being selfish again.

I turned on to the interstate for the drive home.  The back roads are nice, but sometimes you actually want to get somewhere in decent time.  Although Bub liked car rides, the Interstate made him a bit nervous.  I reassured him frequently as we drove on.

Suddenly, Bub tensed up and I looked down at him.  While I looked down, a truck horn blared right beside me.  Bub scrambled off my lap and down onto the floor.  Freaking out myself, I look up and see a wall of stopped cars straight ahead.  I look down again quickly for Bub.  He’s pressed himself down at the front of the floor, under the brake pedal.  All the blood drains from my face when I realize what was going to happen.  I only have seconds to react.

The tears burst from my eyes as the screeching of tires is drowned out by the screaming from the front of the floor of my car.  I’m so sorry.