Wednesday, September 24, 2003


A certain fiction-writing contest has come to my attention, and I think I'm gonna enter. This is uncharted territory for my X-wing. I think the last time I tried my delicate hand at fiction was back at The Womb, when I had to spit out a short story for a class assignment.

Plot was never my thing. My retired-teacher mother made sure to have a healthy collection of Newbery Award winners lying around, all of which I found highly useful in flattening out my Archie comic books when I left them out in the rain. I was home sick from school fairly often as a young Jedi--sometimes, there was even actual illness involved; when your normal body temperature is 99 degrees, you can wreak all kinds of havoc with the school nurse--and to make sure I was drinking enough fluids, my mother would sit me down in front of an MGM musical with a Sprite and tell me to watch the counter and sip every five minutes.

I loved those old movies. I loved the costumes and the music and the dancing, but somehow certain nuances of the actual story always managed to escape me. I was fourteen before I figured out why Cowboy Will kept telling Ado Annie that their future son "better look a lot like me." The Sound of Music was beyond me once the goatherd song was through. Once that Nazi flag went up at the start of the second disk, I was immediately and hoplessly lost. ("Hey, Remember the '80's?" Moment: We had one of those prehistoric VCR's, a video disk player, a system which, contrary to popular opinion, actually did exist. It was kind of like a record player. The video was on this 78 RPM-sized disk, and it was in this hard plastic sleeve, and halfway through you had to insert the sleeve in the player, pull out the disk, and flip it over. The longer movies were on two disks. The Ten Commandments had about ninety of them. This was truly hi-tech stuff; I have bone spurs from stomping on the floor to keep the picture from skipping. It is important to note that my parents also once invested in a Texas Instruments computer, a BetaMax, Bengals season tickets, and several 8-track players. I do not obtain stock tips from Mom and Dad.) I never understood the part where the VonTrapps were on their way to the singing festival, and they're pushing the car, and all of a sudden those nice Nazis stopped them and started the Captain's car for him. Why weren't they more grateful? It seemed that Julie Andrews was unduly bitchy about the whole thing. I have seen this movie maybe 8.2 zillion times, as a college sophomore I saw that scene one more time and went, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

I'm eager, if you want to know the truth, about diving into this whole fiction business. It dawned on me lately that the best fiction is basically comprised of well-written scenes somehow shaped from the author's own life. It will be freeing, fiction-- you're actually allowed to make stuff up. I think I will write about the immense success of the Newton Palm Pilot.

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