Flash This

Posted an entry for a flash fiction contest on LitReactor – click through for the premise, the prompt, and to add yours. Meanwhile, here’s mine:

Always A Reason

Max knew there was a reason for everything. He didn’t always see it, didn’t always believe it, but he knew there was a reason for every little thing in this world. There’s a reason the sun comes up in the morning and blinds him through the hole in the third slat of his bedroom blinds. There’s a reason he ran out of gas last week in the middle of nowhere while trying to get somewhere he’d rather not have had to go to anyway. There’s a reason for the pain he felt in his knee back in March when he was helping Meg and Tony move from the downtown loft. There’s a reason why sweet Mrs. McGill fell ill and died from cancer while anti-sweet Mrs. Thomas just kept right on living and breathing and knocking over his flowerpot with her knobby wooden cane every afternoon. There’s a reason why coffee’s bitterness is just as necessary to life as sweet tea’s icy goodness.

And there’s a reason you’re not supposed to push the big red button on the weapons console. Max looked up into his Mini Cooper’s rearview mirror, the fierce flickering hillside ripping through the night as a reminder of that, barely diminishing at 80mph. Yes, there’s always a reason…

steady, part ii

I gather that there were a few different responses to the last post:

  • I have no idea what you’re saying – or
  • I think I know what you mean – well put, maybe – or
  • How did I get here? I was looking for TMZ.com

My pointless point was that if I craft my crafty wiles to craft a crafty piece of crafty prose (wow, that was more awkward typed out than I thought through in my head) – if I puff up a piece to bring about certain emotional responses without letting the story, the thesis, the experience itself evoke that response, then I feel it’s disingenuous and honestly, as a reader, I’d want my money back.

The commercials for Tim Burton’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND are taking on that tone for me right now. They are so full of pretty scenery and effects and magic and Johnny Depp that I’m afraid it’s all a cover-up for a lack of story. And for me, it’s still all about the story, dang it.

I feel that if I can maintain that even sense of writing, that “just the facts, ma’am” take on life, the universe and everything, then I can trust you to do the same. I can read comments full of agreement, argument, discussion, suggestion, critique, and together we can reason something out that is better than the sum of its parts. But if I manipulate the reader in directions that may not be warranted, that belie the truths of the story to fit some other agenda, then how am I going to trust the reader to not do the same?

The reader goes into a post, a novel, a screenplay, an audiobook, a film trusting the author, trusting the storyteller. If the author then misuses that trust, all bets are off and we’re falling down our own rabbit hole – aren’t we?

In short – too late, right? – in short, I’d like the story to evoke the response, quietly and surreptitiously beneath the surface, without the reader knowing it’s happening. I’d like the way words and ideas emerge on the screen to bring about something surprising, some “a-Ha” in the reader that’s real, meaningful and untampered with. I’d like to share a backhanded compliment, an around-the-bush depth with those taking the time to pause and ponder. And I’d like the reader, when finished and closing out, to still have a lingering aftertaste – because you as the Reader have invested as much in reading as I have in writing.

“Come now, let us reason together” implies to me that we are both working, both listening, and both open to being changed by the other. That’s writing for me, and that’s reading for me.

2010 resolved

I posted these on Twitter yesterday for 140-character posterity. Resolutions are not my forte’. But like everyone else, a new calendar is a good time to self-reflect and make some adjustments. I’ve found short lists have a better chance for real change, and that vague goals actually work better than hard numbers (think grace over legalism). So here are my aspirations as 2010 kicks into gear.

2010 Resolution 1) blogging: ~4 posts per week – Twitter has eaten into my writing, want to get to at least one meaty post per week

2010 Resolution 2) read ~25 books – doable, one per 2wks. Not picky on medium – paper, kindle app, even audio. Finishing 25 is the goal. (starting with Last Night In Twisted River, John Irving)

2010 Resolution 3) – serve – volunteer to help someone move, work what’s needed, get involved in a meaningful way. Door’s wide open here.

2010 Resolution 4) – read and savor the New Testament through the year, taking time to get into the Story, letting more of it get into me. (this one was untwittered, but I am already hitting up the YouVersion app on my iPhone for reading plans here)

content

It’s funny how different words can mean different things depending on context. Or in this case, how the same word has seemingly different meanings. One of the phrases bouncing through my head for this workweek has been “content content content” – in regards to blogging or anything communicated online, it’s the same as the real estate “location location location” mantra. Without decent consistent evolving content, no one will read. No one will come back. No one will listen. If a tree falls on an outdated blog in the forest…

But the word “content”, meaning stuff in your whatever, is also “content”, feeling good about whatever, as in, “are you content?” Reading that, I might be my own content somehow (stuff to communicate), but there’s also the question of my own “content”edness. Am I content? Do I feel good about my stuff, my whatever, my life, my universe, my everything?

Am I “content content content”?