My inner child delights in flipping both fingers and expectations. Said differently, it toasts my socks if the tales I amalgamate lack settings that are: recognizable in the past, found in the present, or plausible in the future. I adore mixing metaphors, too.
See, I deem prose ought to edify. These days, few works do. Given the unrelenting tintinnabulation of the convergent media, that is, of our culture’s indefatigable bells and whistles, it’s increasingly difficult for any single manuscript to get noticed. Gone is the era when writers sacrificed profits for principals. Most of what gets posted or printed now is tripe.
Ironically, gone, too, is the era when writers sacrificed principles for profits. At this point, even when an author plays strumpet on Naked News, declares an eating disorder on LinkedIn, or snuffs baby rabbits on You Tube, no one cares. Most citizens wouldn’t even regale such acts as “performance art.”
Accordingly, writers, who are intent on distributing social medicine, must disguise their linctuses under layers of candy coating, i.e. under layers of wonkiness. Since the public demands that caped wonders become vehicles for sussing out economic disparity, that dead gorillas get pressed into substituting for victims of domestic violence, and that publications shutter away all “heavy” concepts, it happens that asymmetric characters, irregular plot arcs, and wild settings muster authority (“mindfulness,” meanwhile, gets shoved into a recondite cavern brimming with the world’s noteworthy literature, while “purple prose,” contrariwise, sits at the head table next to Presidential aspirants and unrepentant clergy.)
To wit, I form many of my stories as mashups from my idea file. Although some of my efforts spring from my head fully matured, minus the burdens concomitant to classic mythos, the greater portion of my jottings consist of amorphic, nonconforming, or otherwise erratic globules. They, not my reports containing recognizable elements of narrative, are what are most likely to get gobbled up by today’s jaded audiences.
It follows that I cast my big projects in multi-appendaged sacks. If my vessels for plot are palpably furry or are visibly covered in feathers, all the better! Animated objects and personified beasts are embellishments extant readers adore. Plus, any of my descriptive language or dialogue that deciphers events in one-off ways can potentially become trendy with the byte-driven masses.
What’s more, I’m okay with receiving the fiduciary rewards and the celebrity that the publishing industry assigns to writing that fascinates at the same time as it provokes. In short, as long as I am safe from the interference of my pudgy, made-up hedgehogs, I will continue to strive to parachute lots of cockeyed ideas (I need to distance myself from those critters since their so-called “marshmallow fluff,” rather than set me skew-whiff, clogs my quirky thinking.)
To counter those bugs’ cloying force, I rely on “what if” moments. For instance, I’ve wondered, aloud, that is, in print, about: a car with propellers that could lift vehicle and passengers, alike, out of a traffic jam; about my grown children settling for one of the people they are dating instead of slogging through dozens of candidates-I’d love more grandchildren; and about monsters being complex, sensitive beings rather than two-dimensional horrors.
Additionally, I try to write to suit the tastes of the pretend komodo dragons that sprawl on my sunporch. To suit those scaly lads, I play havoc with latent cultural expectations. For example, the majority of my speculative fiction’s spaceship captains are women. Similarly, my heroes, especially those that are presented as persecuted dishtowels, vary among tall, short, fat, and thin persons and are possessed of vexing habits like: biting, nose picking, and forgetting to keep their thighs pressed tightly together when wearing abbreviated bottoms. Be that as it may, those toxic reptiles prefer those tales of mine in which something snacks on bipeds.
Last, but only during alternate Tuesday mornings, I do my utmost to portray that “one-and-done” rots for writers. One book, one award, or one opportunity to serve on an editorial board ought never to be considered as an invitation to create fewer assemblages of words or less significant output. Just as there is no limit to the number of young a tufted Jupiter lobster might produce, there must be no limit to the number of documents a write births.
In short, market trends, consumer wishes, spiky friends, dangerous lizards, and marauding aliens aside, modern writing, to be successful, requires discipline. It also demands imagination, boldness in defying conventions, and intangible muses. Contemporary storytelling functions best when employing a good measure of weirdness.
Do you employ a good measure of weirdness in your writing?