Fear, focus, and the future. Here, C.M. Humphries writes about whatever.
I have this obsession with circles and Russian Roulette. Russian Roulette may be a derogatory term, but at least we're all on the same page here, in the same book even. I could be politically correct or shape-shift my diction, but would just be adding to inefficiency of words. Don't get me wrong, words are cool. But they can serve as the great miscommunicator. Writers word-slinging the wrong way. Hoax and hippopatomus look great next swinging jazz monkeys inside the discoteca. Stories with a what-the-fuck-does-that-mean endings. I'm not here to do that.
And words can make you digress. So shut up and let me talk.
See I hate these circles. You know the ones.
Whatever. Fine. Allow me to elaborate:
Think fair or carnival. Think about that summer fling you once had and how they wanted to play games and win prizes, because somehow a forty-foot, pink rhino reminds them of happy, summer lovin'. The easiest game that guarantees a win: duck pond. Each duck has a neon sticker slapped on its ass, some of those asses are golden.
Anyway, you hand the carny a buck and stare at the ducks as they swirl around the pool in a forced current. Around and around, they go, over and over. Now really look at them. They're just plastic ducks crowded together, swimming in circles. They can't move: the circle. Until you pick them up: Russian Roulette.
Or how about that game with the other ducks--those paper one's that rotate around a belt hidden in a cheap-ass depiction of a mountain. This game is much rarer to find, but fundamentally the same. The whole time you're blastin' small BBs at paper quackers, trying to shoot at least one dead in the heart. The ducks keep rotating, and you keep shooting, until one of them blasts to shreds.
Oh, how about life? Go to sleep much earlier and later than you wanted to. Wake up far too early, next to the one you love, and you have to leave . . . To go to the job you hate. Punch-in, punch-out. Or if you're unemployed (bless you, son): Grab a bite at home or on the way. Fall energyless into your living room. Alone you sip beer or coffee in front of Conan, and then wonder if your significant other is asleep yet. How you want to lie next to them without talking, because these thoughts are repeating on their own already, and you don't want to keep them spinning. And you're too damn afraid you can't pick one out or shoot it.
Or how about real birds and the way they fly in Vs? There's always that routine, that pattern. But then there's always that one bird, broken from the pack, sailing alone but close to everyone else. You know, that one bird you think is a little challenged. Yeah, he just goes with the flow, but does his own thing. I think I've found a third obsession here.
But don't let these words fool you, man. I'm just ramblin' about the future and the one-in-six chance of breaking the cycle.
Tell me what you think in the comments.
The After Effect
By C.M. Humphries
10AM flashes on the face of her cell phone rather quickly, and Missy finds herself frozen in front of the clinic. A bone-chilling drizzle spits from above. For some reason, the rain feels colder than ever. She shivers before she can even take a step, meaning she nearly convulses standing up.
The first step stretches out an eternity like a bad nightmare. Her legs, though the kind of petite most young women desire, feel like they weigh more than her little hybrid car. She meanders towards the vehicle, worried that she has lost her keys. With that in mind, she searches her purse.
Rummaging through make-up kits, assorted pens, and various things she once considered necessary, Missy struggles to locate her car keys. With her free hand, she pats her jeans. They are damp and start clinging to her legs, which is useful for checking pockets. Despite the aid of the rain and her persistence, she fails to locate her keys. Switching her hands, Missy begins to search the purse again. It’s not a knock-off; no one dared to even insist that. Said the purse was classy.
Cling cling. She hears the clatter of keys and panics when she cannot find them—Ah ha! They were in her hands all along. My god, she tells herself.
Key in door, then key in ignition. She is off, but not quickly. She drives hesitantly; well below the speed limit. The clinic falls into a blur of buildings in the distance, but it stands out like a diamond amongst crystals.
Not a minute past 11AM, she arrives home. Rolling up in the driveway, she notices the garage door closing. “Damn,” she mutters.
Turn the key, take it out, lock the door. Swinging her purse over her shoulder first, Missy heads for the front door. Before she can unlock the deadbolt, the door swings wide-open, and standing in front of her is the man she made too many vows to.
“How’s it goin’ honey?” he says with glee in his eyes and true excitement in his voice. It’s pure happiness, uncut like a good drug.
“Well, you seem excited,” Missy mutters as she steps into the house, which is full of towering furniture and exaggerated immaculateness.
“Certainly am. Two years dry, cold turkey. And now . . .” He steps towards Missy and leans over to press his ear to her belly. His eyes narrow and his smile sags.
Missy just stands in the doorway for a few minutes, her eyes filling with hot tears. Her lips quiver.
In one fell swoop, Missy yanks a few slips of paper out of her purse and shoves them into his hands. He takes one look at them while Missy sprints past, up the stairs, and into the master bedroom.
Her husband stares at the pages for a long time. His feels his face growing warmer. His gag reflex teases him. His stomach churns. The slips fall out of his hands and onto the expensive, oak flooring. Missy picked out the flooring. Said it was classy.
Over the last week, I searched for the reason the term "genre fiction" pruned the face of academia. What could be so vastly different between literary and genre fiction that people could be offended by the notion of writing the latter? When I asked some of my peers if they read genre fiction, some of them had to whisper to me that they did, and of course, they couldn't finish their answers without chuckling and adding, "it's a guilty pleasure" or "I don't normally read that kind of stuff."
Originally, I thought the main difference between the two types of fiction had to lie in either content or author background. But as it turns out, many of genre's best writers are just a credible as the elite literary world. Try good ol' Stephen King. Or Dan Brown.
Soon I begin to wonder if the difference was strictly content. But as I discussed in the previous blog, some literary works hold the very same conventions found in genres such as horror, thriller, psychological, suspense, etc. War of the Worlds, for example.
So if not content or author, then what? Here are the ubiquitous opinions of genre fiction--the negative ones, I should say:
1. Genre fiction is poorly written.
2. Genre fiction is highly unoriginal.
3. Genre fiction adds nothing educational standards.
Let's tackle number one. I will agree that some genre fiction is poorly written. Okay, okay. A lot of it is poorly written. But who will deny Stephen King as being a word-slinger. Or how about the double-dipper Edgar Allen Poe?
Continuing on with the example or horror fiction, consider Johnathan Carroll. The hyper-fiction writer has seemingly dismissed any title of literary or genre altogether, even though he could clearly fall into either. Point being: Carroll certainly writes in the realm of horror and paranormal, but can be judged by literary guidelines--that is, what it takes to be considered "well-written." Although there is no one set of literary stands for "good writing", I like to consider these, especially the very first rule of thumb.
The second guideline in the aforementioned link is also something be considered. Tired plots. So genre fiction is unoriginal, eh? There's no need for research here; this is merely opinion. I cannot begin to stress how many literary plots led a book to becoming my pillow. Likewise, there have been atrocious story-lines in genre fiction stories. Bad writing happens (like my blog, for example) and there's nothing anyone can do about it.
If there's anything I can add to the notion of unoriginal works, it is that many genre forms are experimental in nature and often escape the confines of reality. Something writer's and reader's both believe in is realistic fiction is better. It's literary even. Maybe this is just my personal mindset, but when I am through with the day, I'm sick of the real world. The stress, the obligations, the limitations, and the facades. All of it greatly bores me or brings me to tears some days. Can we all agree that sometimes it's nice to leave Planet Earth, or at least some of it's shackles. So what if a story ignores gravity, or ventures into the notion of skeletal arms reaching out of graves during a foggy night in the cemetery? So what if the characters teleport to everywhere, including the commode?
Take the film Citizen Kane, for example: Sure it's great to make social criticism and exercise your noodle in such a pessimistic, critical light, but I can't stand to watch that film every night. Every so often, I'll watch A Nightmare on Elm Street instead.
Whether or not a storyline is good is completely up to the reader. Moving along.
Genre adds nothing to educational standards. Is that so? Then explain this:
*So Stephen King gets removed from school libraries. But so did Sedaris and Hemmingway.*
Sure this blog has been anything but scientific, but at least it opens up the mind of the pretentious reader, one who cringes at the thought of anything "genre". However, most of this titling, is simply that. What's in a title anyway? And, hey, some people don't recognize the separation in fiction.
(Here's another question: Is fiction even worth discussing? Whether genre or literary, we're talking about lying aren't we? Yes, that's me being facetious. But Plato was serious about this.)
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.