Two weeks of pecking away at a short story that “should” have worked — similar in spirit to other stories that are coming along nicely, but different enough to be a completely new story — and this morning I tossed it. For now, at least. It just wasn’t working. The developments in the story were boring me — and this in a story that was supposed to be humorous. The only completely unforgivable sin in writing, is to not be interesting.
Writing humorously wasn’t working. I needed to tap into some misery instead. But what misery? I looked inward, and two subjects popped into mind pretty quickly: my hometown, and my ex-wife. Now we’re getting somewhere. About 1,400 words since this morning on a new story inspired by them, plus another 600 words of notes on characters and plot developments. Not my largest output for a day, but more progress than I was making on the previous story.
Thank goodness for misery! and ex-spouses!* and desolate and depressing hometowns! What would writers do without such things? (And don’t even get me started on poets.)
*My apologies. I pride myself on being as non-sexist as possible, and the first version of this post (and the email version, if you subscribe) came out as “ex-wives.” I am well aware that spouses of any gender can be miserable human beings, and that opinions can vary as to which partner (if any) in a failed marriage is the ditwad. I was focused on my own particular situation at the time I wrote this. In which situation, I was and remain firmly on my own side.
The 1925 book cover for The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Ftizgerald’s The Great Gatsby:
- Was a surprise success, being made into one of the last silent movies.
- Was based on movie scripts that Fitzgerald had been unable to sell to the studios.
- Was largely forgotten by the time of Fitzgerald’s death in 1940, but became popular again starting in the 1950s.
- Was widely banned in the 1950s as being anti-capitalist and pro-Communist.
- Was the basis for the first Popeye full-length animated film in the 1940s — with Popeye as Gatsby, Wimpy as narrator Nick Carraway, Olive Oyl in the part of Daisy, and Bluto as Tom Buchanan.
For the answer on this one, I am falling back on Wikipedia — although you can find it in a more chatty column at Thought Catalog, “25 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Great Gatsby’.” (Although that column implies Daisy is modeled on Zelda Fitzgerald, when other sources agree the inspiration was Ginevra King, from an earlier romantic relationship doomed by her being richer than Fitzgerald.)
Click photo to see full-sized at “Random Funny Picture”
Tunnels face many negative stereotypes in the popular culture. We can blame that mostly on movies and TV shows. Take the one in this photo (ignore the painted message for now). If you were to enter this tunnel, you would expect to be robbed, sexually assaulted, stabbed, shot, or to hear the terrifying sound of your own voice echoing back the words to a Justin Bieber song you didn’t even realize you knew.
Luckily, some folks are apparently trying to upgrade the image of tunnels. Offering free hugs is just the sort of public relations effort they need.
With Earth Day so fresh in our memories, we can also reflect on the thoughtful use of sustainable principles in this effort. How many times have you had to step around folks getting their free hugs right in the middle of a walkway? By relocating free hugs into the little-used space under roadways and railroad tracks, these innovators could make it possible to build narrower sidewalks that accommodate just as many people. This would allow wider roads, with more room for automobiles — a far more popular means of transportation than walking.
One can only look forward to the next step in the evolution of tunnel marketing. Perhaps next, the fine folks behind this effort can work on friendlier-sounding echoes in tunnels. Or product placement in movies: how about tunnels as a place where only fun things happen?
If you have more ideas, feel free to offer them in the “Leave a Reply” box below. (Comments are moderated — which means I need to see them before they get posted — but I try to check at least once a day).
Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood
To research the book that would become the “non-fiction novel” In Cold Blood, Truman Capote traveled to Kansas before the murderers were even caught. He was accompanied by childhood friend:
- Author and poet Conrad Aiken.
- John Dos Passos, author of the U.S.A. Trilogy.
- Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird.
- Photographer Diane Arbus.
- Film director and producer Alfred Hitchcock.
- Cartoonist Charles Schultz, who later uses some of the In Cold Blood material for a Peanuts episode in which Charlie Brown finally gets even with Lucy for pulling away that football at the last minute. Twenty-seven newspapers refuse to run the comic that week, releasing a joint statement that “such violent murder belongs on the front page, not the comics page. Unless it’s in Dick Tracy.”
See the answer.
Which of the following is NOT a real of example of food or drink in an artistic title? (Click the link below to take the quiz in a pop-up window) Take Our Quiz! Semi-Literary Trivia Question of the Week #3
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