Friday, October 8, 2010

A Product of Silence - This State of Things

Ok, so for many of my newer readers, you are probably not familiar with another recent project I began with this blog: A Product of Silence. To catch you up to speed, here's the long and short of it (I'm not sure what that means, exactly, but it's fun to say. Er, write.):

I am primarily a writer. That is to say, I enjoy writing. (Whee!) However, while I gravitate toward humor, parts of me like to try out other things too.  SO, around once a month, you'll see me do just that: SOMETHING DIFFERENT.  Up top, you'll find a tab that will lead you to my previous Product of Silence Posts for an idea of what I'm talking about.

Another aspect of this project (other than the DIFFERENT STUFF part) is to get my readers in on the fun. SO, as I work out the kinks as to how to best approach this part of the process, my plan is to include a link to the other bloggers who participate along with my post. If you've done a Product of Silence post last month or if you do one this month, please email me with the link so that I can link to you below or include you with my next PoS (heh) post.  Even if you choose to use this one below, but need some time to compose, I'll link you up in a few weeks. (Just email me. I'm spastic, ya hear?) From here on out, I'll try to reveal the prompt I've selected a week ahead of time in case others want to use it and be included realtime.  It be nice to have it all happen on the same day, but I'm struggling with my desire not to restrict the process with any constraints or rules.  On that point, remember that you don't need to use my prompt or follow my schedule. Use anything you find inspiring.  Refer to the tab above for more details on this and email me if you're still confused.  I'll try not to roll my eyes.

With all that blathering, here's my latest.  I've placed it "after the jump" so to speak so that any readers who are all like, UMM, I COME HERE FOR FUNNY GODDAMNIT, WHAT IS THIS SHIT? can just pretend this NEVER EVEN HAPPENED.  The rest of you? Click the link after the van. (And I love you best.)

xo



Prompt: This month, I'm inspired by the postmodern, metafiction short story "Lost in the Funhouse" by John Barth.  Here is a link to the full text of the story.  And here is the first paragraph of that story:

For whom is the funhouse fun? Perhaps for lovers. For Ambrose it is a place of fear and confusion. He has come to the seashore with his family for the holiday, the occasion of their visit is Independence Day, the most important secular holiday of the United States of America. A single straight underline is the manuscript mark for italic type, which in turn is the printed equivalent to oral emphasis of words and phrases as well as the customary type for titles of complete works, not to mention. Italics are also employed, in fiction stories especially, for “outside,” intrusive, or artificial voices, such as radio announcements, the texts of telegrams and newspaper articles, et cetera. They should be used sparingly. If passages originally in roman type are italicized by someone repeating them, it’s customary to acknowledge the fact. Italics mine.
*****

[bold] Post Title, Must be Clever, Ironic, Nonsensical. This is Serious Writing. [Link to Twitter. Shortened URL] [/bold]

The parents followed them through the corn maze, watching small eyes dart up and sideways continually, unsure of the height of this browning nature, this state of things. [That smell, child, is that of rot and mold, but it is to be embraced, children. Keep moving.]  The maze is a metaphor for life, but it is lost on these children, who are terrified. Still, they are assured that this, this maze, this color, is all for fun.  Getting lost, feeling small, watching things die. Keep moving, kids.  Placing the reader directly into the action is a great way to improve clarity and spark intrigue. It will all be explained later. [Is this a double entendre? Etymology. American keyboards. Scant knowledge of academia.]  Keep moving.

A son stops short now, because the maze cuts to the right and dark forms shadow the path.  This boy has brown hair and skin problems. He is big for his age and has trouble getting to the bathroom on time.  The father encourages by widening his eyes and brightening his face with a smile that exposes wrinkles.  Masculine, stoic, ideal. Testosterone levels are high.  Estrogen is present in all males and is necessary for sperm production and a healthy libido.  Now, the young son runs past, oblivious to this exchange, this imagery, this story.  He is pure and naive.  His hair is blonde and his eyes are blue.  [She won't let him cut that hair. Some cultures believe the spirit is kept in the hair follicle. She has made this up, of course, thinking of the Rastafarians. But maybe it's true for someone, for you.] The child disappears, and giggles--not his screams--come from the dark. There are no alligators here, you know.  But she follows closely just to check.  Last night, face aglow from the computer screen: Alligator-related deaths are unlikely, and tally under twenty in the past decade. Twenty names listed: young, old, jaws, blood, water.  Just twenty. But snakes bites, snake bites are ten times as likely. She has done the math.   Now, today, in the maze, she finds only black mold.  Only brown, gray, shells of things next to sparkling lights and shining pumpkins.  She stares down a scarecrow who smiles with painted cheeks and rests on lumpy appendages.  [This is a contrast. This might be ironic. There is meaning to be dissected. Assign as an essay topic, double spaced, size twelve font, MLA required.]  

The young son kicks up the grass and straw beneath his feet and parents are relieved by his simple pleasure.  The mother fumbles for the digital camera, powering it on, and cursing the speed of technology.  She aims and sees dirt on the lens.  "Well, this is a disaster. Things won't stand still, you know."  Her son is walking away now, moving forward. [She is bitter. Motherhood is not so fun, but biology beckons.]  One day, she knows, these children will die.
But this is an extended metaphor, and they must emerge from the maze. A parking lot awaits. They need to pay for those apples. Often,"extended metaphor" is synonymous with "conceit," but this is pedantic. Irony. Dark humor. Minimalist writing. Underdeveloped content. Minus ten points.

Hers is the only voice we can hear now, here in this story, here in this room, here in your head. [Happy or sad ending? Open or closed? It doesn't matter. It's just a story.] But it's all so beautiful, she says as they pull away from the trees, from the grass, from the maze. Their car is blue and clashes with the scenery. 


Check out these other wonderful blogs who participated by writing their own Product of Silence post:


Are you next? Email me! waitinthevan [at] gmail [dot] com

Thanks for reading, guys.
xo


9 comments:

  1. I like the ending beat of this piece the most.
    As usual, I find you and your writing to be awesome.
    We should talk about fiction writing sometime, you and I.

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  2. It's arresting. I think your serious writing is something to stop for. I brake for PoS. Thanks for posting this. Crap. Not the piece! I mean, "Crap! I should give this a try."

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  3. DP: Let's talk.

    Nicole: Thanks :) I'm glad you guys stopped by. The crickets were starting to make me twitchy.

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  4. I'm not sure I understand this piece, even though I read the "Product of Silence" post. Maybe my brain isn't functioning today?

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  5. i am not 100 percent sure i totally get it so i think i will continue to lurk until i do then maybe be brave and risk it one time. thanks for letting me drop in again.

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  6. This is amazing. I love it. I love the story you got your prompt from. Brilliance shines! Makes it even better that my husband doesn't get it :D and he has to admit that there are people in the world more intelligent than him!

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  7. I liked this alot. It sounds like what two very intelligent people's minds would sound like, if we could mind read.

    I liked it.

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  8. 瑜珈教學課程有錄影帶可以嗎?
    隆鼻用玻尿酸是最快速的。
    外籍新娘的社會地位亟待改善與關懷。

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  9. I like the ending beat of this piece the most.
    As usual, I find you and your writing to be awesome.
    We should talk about fiction writing sometime, you and I.

    ReplyDelete