22 September 2011 § Leave a Comment
I like twitter fiction. It’s a good exercise for packing in lots of story in tight spaces (which is important at my job, writing video game dialogue in tiny boxes). Also, arbitrary restrictions are the mother-hubbard of creativity. Give me an infinite vacuum and my eyes dilate, and I float about the room with no purpose. Give me restrictions or complications and my creative problem-solving skills get primed. The itchy-itchy sand grain forms the pearl. Find an irritant, and it will make you write things you might not normally have written. A 120 character coffin to cram in is a nice irritant. Here are some bits of twitter fiction I’ve written, on the theme of fractured fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and the like:
- The clock ate the mouse. Patient is the clock. Waiting is the clock. Churning gore greased gears. Hickory. Dickory. Dock.
- Peter Piper picked a penny to pay to peek upon a pack of pickled punks and promptly puked at the presentation of misspent spunk.
- “I swear my first born to thee.” The goblin trades me the glowing key. I then go to my second errand of the day: a vasectomy.
- Little Dead Wolf-Head Hood walks to grandma’s house, stained axe in hand. Nobody calls her by her old name. Not anymore.
- They gather once a year at the pumpkin patch, pick goblins in embryo, trade grimoire recipes and gourd-hatching tips. Then, fly away.
- “Have to go or I’ll turn to a pumpkin,” she said. We laughed. Made out. Then she cried, rolling down the hill, leaving me alone. Again.
- Wanted a prince. Kissed a frog. Transformation. Consummation. I can feel our thousand young grow under the mucous-slick of my new body.
1 November 2010 § 2 Comments
Welcome, boys and girls! Welcome, you little lambkins, lumplings, and lovelings. Step right up! Cast a brave foot through the portal, bid the mundane goodbye, and gain way into this humble house of oddities.
Have your tickets ready!
Step this way!
I would draw your attention to the rows of skulls in front of you. Note how, without exception, each grins to the marrow. Any Boo or Bygone can tell you the fallacy of the frowning skeleton. “Frowning is a fleshy enterprise,” they’ll whisper. And the skulls sing, “Quiddity! Quiddity! Quiddity!”
Now, if I might direct your third eyes to the rows of pumpkins reposing behind you. Through glowing grins they cry, “Blog! Blog! Blog!” Yes, that four-letter word that sounds like a dirty euphemism shouted back and forth between deep-sea cephalopods.
The skulls and the pumpkins come together, and they form the question: “What is the quiddity of this blog?”
Now this is the point.
I do not know.
By Stingy Jack’s lantern, I do not know.
Nobody panic. This place is small, but has many odd nooks and crannies and some of the closets are bigger on the inside than out. Let’s not any of us get lost. Let’s focus on what we do know. We know the definition of quiddity:
noun ( pl. -ties) chiefly Philosophy
the inherent nature or essence of someone or something.
• a distinctive feature; a peculiarity : his quirks and quiddities.
ORIGIN late Middle English : from medieval Latin quidditas, from Latin quid ‘what.’
We know that QUIDDITY is also an international literary journal and public-radio program published and produced by Benedictine University‘s Springfield campus in partnership with Illinois Public Radio‘s hub-station, NPR member and PRI affiliate WUIS/WIPA. And if you did not know that, you should go and READ and LISTEN to Quiddity. The tour will wait.
I can also tell you that the divinely delightful Joanna Beth Tweedy, founding editor and host of Quiddity, conjured me here as guest blogger. She has sectioned off a playroom, allowing me to entertain myself as I see fit, and she has installed a two-way mirror so that you can watch. Why would you? I cannot say, but I trust in Joanna’s judgment.
So what is this blog to be? Will it deal with weighty literary matters? Do I vanish behind the topics, or do I make this about me, let you walk through my skull? Is that selfish and vein, or do most blogs, in point of fact, fill a sub-genre of Gonzo Journalism—the writer becomes the story, the story becomes the writer? Why the hell are there camels walking across the top?
For guidance, let us turn to the Quiddity radio program, episode #12 of the second season (December 2nd, 2009), featuring an interview with Steven Wilson—singer, songwriter, and guitarist for the British rock band Porcupine Tree. Wilson says (and I paraphrase) that musicians often must take the seemingly self-centered approach of dealing with subject matter that is personal to them, but this is how they connect to the listener. The audience puts a mirror up to the music and, being creatures made of the same emotions, see themselves.
I like that. The selfish means to a selfless end—an act of complete and utter selflishness. I show you something specific to me and you see something specific to you. Let me, dear lovelings, take that as a cue.
I’m Joshua Alan Doetsch (you can tell I mean business because I used all three of my names).
Let me introduce myself by way of a photo. Here I am:
That is the product of me fooling around with the trial addition of Photoshop for a weekend. Some might call the photo altered. Some may even say deceptive. My face doesn’t light up like that (that only happens when all the lights are out).
I contend that this picture gives you a lot of information. Just by looking at it, you may know my favorite holiday and flavor of pie. Maybe you can guess that I grew up in Ray Bradbury’s October Country, geographically and in my head. You may have a more nuanced feel for me, even if you are light on facts. This factually incarcerate photo conveys more truths about me than an unaltered photo might have. It gives you a peek, beneath my face, at a bit of my quiddity.
And that, gentle lumplings, leads to our first literary topic—the relationship between fiction and non-fiction, truths and facts. “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” That is not a fact; that is a truth (not the truth, just a truth). Can a work of fiction show such a truth more deftly than a massive compiling of raw facts and data? Can creative lies be woven to show a truth? Can facts be woven to show a lie? Discuss.
Would you like to introduce yourselves by altering the facts of a photo to convey your quiddity? Send them my way. I would be happy to have a look, and even happier to display a gallery of quiddity portraits.
Back to the question of Jack O’ Lanterns and skulls: I do not know the quiddity of this blog. But that, I think, is the exciting part. Let us find out together, see what organically develops. Send me your positive input. Got negative input? Send me that too. Maybe you can be the irritant that forms a pearl in my mollusc (who says romance is dead?). Just as Joanna invited me to be a guest at Quiddity, I invite you to be a guest here—call it subletting of idea real estate.
I do have a vague notion… If I picture Quiddity as a properly produced concert, this is a raggedy musician plucking strings and improvising between drinks in your living room. If Quiddity is a grand theatre, this is a side-street museum of oddities—shelves full of jars with eyes, limbs, and pickled punks overseen by a wax statue of Vincent Price (which seems to move when at the edge of your vision) and an animatronic, fortune-telling wizard in a box (who, by nearly imperceptible degrees, seems to look more and more like you the longer you stare).
As to the rest, let’s find out together. Pick a camel, mount up, and lets you and me traverse the oneiromantic sands. The fifth camel from the right is already taken. Sorry.
Or mayhaps you require some respite.
Then safe home, dear friends. This way to the egress. Come again. We are always open.