Recycled Content Saturday: Some Old Stories

Summary: I wrote some short stories back in 2006, and they are weird enough to share this October 31st. Not Halloween related at all, but I just felt like sharing them with an audience that may not have seen them before. It’s also a look into the way my mind works.

[ang]: My musician friend [Angela][ang] and I were talking about song composition and improvisation the other day, and we somehow got on a tangent about storytelling and writing books. I explained that my story writing technique was pretty much made-up on the fly. By way of example, I took three random words, “eggplant”, “harmonica” and “chocolate chip cookie”, and then in a few seconds made up a story about sad harmonica player sitting on a bench in the park, trying to transpose a song he’d made up in his head about an eggplant he saw lying on the side of the road, the color of it deep and blue, but his song was in an A minor diminished key and the harmonica he had on him was in the key of C, so he had to transpose it somehow. He couldn’t, so he took a bite out of the cookie instead. I explained to Ange that the process was merely finding a starting point (the blue harmonica player) and then incorporating the other elements as the character reacted to things, which is basically me just channeling my own memories and observations into a linear stream of words fit together as they come. Kind of like playing Tetris. Apparently, not everyone does this, but since I’ve always written this way it never seemed very special. It does occur to me now, though, that this is at the root of many of the things I do. The way I plan, for example, is highly detailed and comes easily because essentially it’s a story creation process, and I know how the elements of creating something need to sequence to make sense. I also find nearly everything told to me plausible, because I can weave a story around any holes in a given claim to make it work. And since I tend to like happy endings, this gives me an immense sense of optimism and possibility. I end my stories at the highs, not the lows. That makes all the difference. If you’re at a low, I automatically assume that this is just the part that “builds character” until a new solution presents itself toward an unexpected ending.

Anyway, back in 2006 I was talking to my good friend Senia, who edits the website Positive Psychology News Daily, about the stories she was posting on her personal blog. She had “story Tuesdays”, and I volunteered to write one. She gave me a theme, [a boy who finds something he wasn’t meant to find][, or something like that. The result was a fairly long story, which surprised me. I hadn’t written anything like this since High School, and I was highly encouraged.

A month later, I asked readers of this blog to throw out 10 random ideas that I would then attempt to weave into a story. The result was a story about a Bee named Ulrich in four parts, incorporated the following elements:

  • Bees facing management challenges.
  • Bee dancing and finding new pollen sources in the face of two suns! (sorry I missed that one earlier, Avram!)
  • Einstein & Relativity.
  • An overachieving college student with height issues.
  • A Hamster seeking Lettuce and Bee Companionship.
  • Gojira on the loose.
  • Some kind of “meta-pun”
  • A flower in a field of flower. The coastline of an ocean. Both or either.
  • The French.

I only got the 9 items before being ready to start, and so off we went. Here’s part 1; you can follow the links at the end of each article to read the subsequent three parts.

The writing itself is stiff in places, and it’s not great prose, but looking back at it I’m kind of marveling at the stuff that just fell out of my head. Each part was written in one sitting, with no planning. The Bee Story, in particular, was written without any editing or proofreading afterwards, except to change grammar errors that other people pointed out. I wanted to preserve the raw quality of the writing and be transparent about the process. It still makes me laugh in places, and thus is worthy of being part of Recycled Content Saturday. If you’ve got nothing to do, have a couple of free stories from me :-)