Today we have a special guest. She is a writer, a reader, a ridiculously cool person, and she blogs at Veni Scripsit Vici. The old timers probably remember her from when she guest posted last year. She is about as Englishy as they come, and it's incredibly frustrating to hear her speak because it lowers the IQ of everyone else in the room by about a zillion.* Although she hasn't written her inevitable award-winning novel yet, she did win a Jane Austen award at school for being the smartest, most Englishy person around. More importantly, she is my roommate. A few weeks ago, she and I honored Hemingway's legacy by doing a six word story challenge together, and she's here today to tell you about it. Please welcome Monica!
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* DISCLAIMER: Contrary to Ally's introduction, I do not lower the IQ of the whole street. However, a lack of sleep can certainly do something to the human mind akin to IQ lowering. Observe.
Relaying a story to a friend is an excellent exercise as a writer. It’s a real time opportunity to put all those literary devices to the test. With a dash of irony, a pinch of hyperbole, and the proper diction, you can elicit tears or laughter in minutes. No editing. No rewrites. No take backs. The feedback is instant and the critics always have your best interests at heart. One can learn a lot from real-time story-telling. Oral tradition is, after all, the origin of quite a few famous literary works.
|Homer Reciting His Poems by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1790|
With this in mind, I’d like to take a conversational approach to this blog post. I’m not going to moralize, teach a new skill, or reveal a profound truth. I’m just here to talk, to share a good story. While I can’t see if you’re rolling with laughter or scrolling with boredom, my hope is that the comments section below will make this feel a little like a regular dialogue. So without further ado, pull up a chair, let me pour you something hot -- tea or coffee? -- and tell you a little story about what this post was supposed to be about.
Some time in late June, Ally and I contrived to get together to catch up, eat food (obviously), and work on the blog collaboration which now sits before you. Earlier in the summer, Ally had suggested we take the Hemingway Challenge, and I had proposed we blog about it. (You can watch the video that inspired us here and read about the legend that inspired it here.) We thought we would do the challenge together, write a snappy blog post about it, and publish it on Hemingway’s birthday. Which we did. Just... not in the way we had planned.
After I arrived at Ally’s house with my sister and sleeping bag in tow, Ally and I contemplated when/how we would actually complete the challenge. Should we take pictures of this momentous occasion? Did we want to modify the rules of the game? What kind of tea best accompanies flash fiction? And then, like Frodo and Sam, a strange wizard in the form of Ally’s mother called us on an unexpected journey. We left home behind, and faced the world ahead as we traveled to that place where darkness thrives and fire rages. There is an evil that dwells there that could make even the strongest of men quake with fear. We would face Mt. Doom. We would face...
We did what any aspiring authors would do. We improvised! Why did we have to write our challenge prompts on paper? Why not use some concrete objects, like ridiculously low priced rollback items? And as long as we were about to do something borderline insane, why not vlog the whole event!? If we died in the attempt, at least there would be videographic evidence that we had done it in pursuit of literary greatness. We weren’t just going to write some stories: We were about to make some!
Long story short, I learned quite a few things on that trip. First: I can’t vlog. You would think my devotion to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries would have prepared me to wing it on screen, but the truth is, I sound like an airhead straight out of a 90’s chick flick. I think I’ll practice my narration skills in the mirror next time. Second lesson: Life is too short not to be crazy once in awhile. Sure, Ally and I were mistaken as Wal-Mart employees, stared at while we filmed in front of a Pampers display, and eyed suspiciously while walking around the store with nothing but a piñata and a notebook (I named her Nina -- the piñata, not the notebook), but it was a blast. Our six word stories weren’t too shabby either.
Ally’s greeting card Wal-Mart prompt:
|“Five thousand in bank, or else.” -- Ally|
Moni’s Duck Dynasty beard Wal-Mart prompt:
|“Billowing beard bespeaks big bill bucks.” -- Monica|
The third lesson is likely the most important. Number three: Know your technology. See, Ally and I were having such a blast fooling around with Avengers toys and baby clothes that we didn’t pay mind to our camerawork. Neither of us stopped to relive our most recent embarrassing footage or do any mid-adventure editing. All of our attention was diverted to the Don’t Mind Us, We’re Just Talking to Ourselves in the Outdoors Section component of the vlogging experience. Little did we know that one of us had hit “stop” when we thought we were hitting “record.” Instead of clips of us smiling at the camera and giggling with childish delight, we found several minutes of our feet hitting the floor and one shot of me naming all the goldfish in the pet aisle. Still funny, but not exactly four minutes worth of funny. Hence the lack of footage in this post.
So, Ernest Hemingway, I hope you like our little birthday gift of flash fiction and humiliation. I know you probably expected something a little flashier, like a hysterical vlog or a meaningful tribute to your impact on the world, but inspiration has been tight these days and this was the best I could do.
|“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” -- Ernest Hemingway|
Well, that was it. Your mug looks like it’s almost empty. Would you like some more? I’ll go fetch the sugar, and you go ahead and take to the comments section. I would love to hear your flash fiction, or your own funny stories, or your happy birthday Hemingway message. I’m sure Ally, Athena, and Marlene would love to be in on the conversation too! Thanks for having me, and I hope to be back again soon.