Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sign of the Times

I had a nightmare the other morning. It was most horrible as an example of the state of things in the industry it seems. Short is in. I'm dreaming in flash fiction now! Flash fiction, or micro-fiction was the big hot thing for a while. Now, it's not big, or lucrative though it appears to still have some appeal within the writing community itself. One thing it did do and highlighted incredibly well was that the readership has a continually shortening attention span. It was like a death knell to the meaty stay with it a bit short story, the kind I feel the strongest connection to and like to think have a bit of a flair for. The short story is the piece for the short attention needs both as reader and author. Some ideas don't need a novella or a full blown novel. A lot though, to have any modicum of actual story or depth, require more than the ever tightening word lengths publications are looking for. This of course only matters because the entire fiction publishing world is predicated on the highly regarded short story.

For good or ill, despite the number--and hopefully quality--of them that I've written, I have much less regard for the short story, especially as a basis upon which to consider an author of novels. To me it's like asking the person who built a cabinet for you to build your entire house. The cabinet maker might be able to construct a house, but nothing guarantees that. Also, conversely, nothing says the house builder can make you as nice a cabinet as the cabinet maker even if he has the narrower or more specialised skills to try. Another good example is the stand up comic. He or she might be able to wow the audience for five or ten minutes, but nothing says they could stretch that out to an hour or two and still keep the audience engaged. These things are related of course, but not as tightly as seems to be insisted on by the publishing community at large. Worse yet is the marketing. How many book readers read the same material in magazines? I certainly don't. Yet here I am trying to push cabinets so someone will buy the house I built. I'm telling one liners and trying to push a TV series--metaphorically speaking.

Back to the nightmare, despite its shortness, and the immediate untruthfulness of it (I'll get to that in a bit), upon getting up later and remembering it distinctly--a nice gift--I wrote it out on a notepad. Not only did I write it out but I immediately came up with much more of the story it will be apart of when I'm done. The pointless, plotless, flash/micro nightmare immediately fell in together with another idea to form part of a full-fledged story. At this point I do not know what length of story it will be, but it could, and if needs be, has to be something too long for me to sell immediately to some publication then so be it.

Why was it untruthful? Consistently, if not absolutely, all of my nightmares come with what I think of as an emotional track, like a laugh track which is fake laughter played off of a recording, or like a commentary track that is emotions instead of words. The fear of the situation is directed, written into the script, forced in there. Some of the short nightmares are nothing more than startle or jump moments, yet they come with a comparatively enormous fear response entirely out of proportion. It is rather annoying. This particular one I had would have been scary enough on its own, other ones have been nothing yet the feeling supplied, and I can't think of it as anything other than coming from elsewhere, is the same.

In any event it's become a not so strange occurrence for me to have a nightmare and after the fact be between glad to thankful for it. Before I part for another couple days, let me draw one final conclusion, or in this case parallel. The nightmares, with their falsely given fear, match up nicely with the way that I've been dreaming. They are both just like role-playing. Is it any wonder I am firmly entrenched in both worlds?

Mood: Inspired
Music: Love is Like Oxygen by Sweet and Believe Me by Moist


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