“Yuri Stepanovich Predstav?” asked Ivan matter-of-factly. Across the table, squinting in the bright light, Yuri nodded.And thus begins a story I wrote in 2003 for a creative writing class. Interesting fact, I had the distinction of being interrogated in a United States Diplomatic Security interrogation room earlier this year. They sat me down at a chair bolted to the floor, at a table bolted to the floor, facing a one way window that looked like a mirror from the inside. There was even a spotlight on the ceiling pointed at me (which they were kind enough to leave off).
“You may call me Sergeant Alexandrov,” continued Ivan, rifling through a stack of papers on the metal desk between them. There was a slight pause while he occupied himself thus.
I like stories. There's a thousand stories I relish telling (but I can't think of a favourite). If given a prompt, I will twist it in any way I can. In the above-referenced story we were just supposed to write a sample dialogue, but I went ahead and made a whole story out of it (though I'm not sure anyone got the twist of it, I tend to make things too subtle I think).
I prefer true stories. Entirely true stories, or at least stories about true events. Conversely, I have a special loathing for fictional stories written in first person and passed off as possibly true. Even if its not passed off as true, first person has never sat well with me.1
Noticing Korey focusing on a point somewhere over his left shoulder Nathan discovered there to be a small hole in wall next to the door. It appeared to be merely an empty socket, but somehow Nathan found it unnerving.I like to go against the current though, so its fitting that on a topic where everyone else is writing their favourite true story, I'm going to write about my fictional stories. The abovequoted story was the first of two complete short stories we were to write for that class (ENL5F)(one in the beginning, one at the end). I definitely would like to think I could write it better now, but it is what it is. And what it is, is a satire of the teacher.
It sounded like it was raining outside. “So tell me about yourself,” smiled Korey, her eyes shining like green globes in the darkness.
"Eve Imagine" was ... not the name she was born with obviously. She was an artist. As she reminded us every opportunity she got. After the first day of class it was overwhelmingly clear that it was of paramount importance to her to be seen as an artist. Her self-identity was "an artist", and the first thing anyone needed to know about her was That. So I wrote a story about someone who defined themself as some archetype and had to make sure to tell everyone about it. Teacher loved the story.
“My parents never paid any attention to me,” Jonna was saying. Dave considered how outrageously cliché his present experience was. “Of all the people to be stuck on a desert island with,” Dave thought to himself. As an editor Back Home, he would have laughed at any columnist foolish enough to submit a story similar to his present situation: shipwrecked on a desert island with an exceptionally annoying girl who goes on about how neglected she feels.I love satire. Interesting fact # 2, I attended the same secondary school in Ireland that Jonathan Swift did, (Kilkenny College, founded in 1538!). Satirizing the people's psyhological conditions doesn't end with the teacher. I found that for some reason an overwhelming number of the girls in the class were writing stories about mothers, girlfriends, sisters, daughters, or wives being neglected. The neglected female was seriously the theme of about 90% of the female submitted stories in that class for some reason. In the story quoted above, I think everything Jonna says other than "I like pink" (and maybe that too? I forget) is either a quote or reference to a submitted story about neglect in the class. The prompt had been to write a scene that takes place in one room (so I stretched the definition of room of course). This one was only submitted to the teacher -- I don't think it would have gone over well with several people if it had been circulated. ;)
"When we arrived in Mshasa everyone was already dead. The so-called ‘Allied Democratic Forces’ rebels had shot everyone, including the goats."But like I said in the beginning of this entry, my favourite stories to write are true. I like to write historical fiction, but the background preparation and research one has to do to write hisfic2 is probably at least ten times that if you're writing a story set in contemporary life or a made up world. The morning that Conflicting Opinions was due I was googling around to find a typical Ugandan or Congolese name and found that there had been a new border massacre regarding exactly the kind of event portrayed in the story that very morning. Thats the kind of truth that I think is so much more important to write about then some girl who's boyfriend doesn't pay attention to her, or some magical land where people have little fox ears on their heads.
In 2001 at a Model United Nations conference I acted as a witness before the (model) International Court of Justice regarding this conflict. I testified at length in broken english about how I saw my village massacred, and they killed our goats. Later that day, acting as Radovan Karadzic, I was convicted of war crimes.
Dear Journal,Silly is another favourite staple of mine though, and I love myths and folklore, so the one prompt I couldn't resist not twisting was when we were told to tell a myth, legend, or folktale from the point of view of someone other than the traditional protagonist. After realizing Grendel had so already been done, I chose Humbaba the Demon from the Epic of Gilgamesh. Its short, and tinseltoes said it was her favourite so you should read it. (=
Today I just kind of hung out in the shade among the giant Cedars, and enjoyed the complete silence. There were some really beautiful butterflies. When Gilgamesh & Enkidu get here I am going to shatter their minds with sheer terror. Then maybe I’ll eat them. I’m thinking they’ll taste good with mustard and maybe a little salt. I am Humbaba, I breath and there is death!
"Upon once a time..."Begins the final short story I wrote for that class. When the prompt is simply to write a story building on everything that was taught in a class about how to write a short story, how do you twist that prompt? The answer, you violate all the rules and expectations in an utterly epic manner! I love this story. The very idea of this story makes me want to laugh maniacally. I ought to warn the potential reader that its a bit... experimental. I'd also like to note, however, that only the proper nouns are made up, all the other strange words are just incredibly obscure. (=
And so, this is a story about stories. Its not my favourite story about my favourite stories, but its a story about stories which highlight different elements of my favourite stories. Lacking one favourite story, I will continue to cobble together the appopriate type of saucy on a case by case basis when stories are called for.
The spent shell landed on the table with a small clang. Through the smoke in front of him he could see a bullet hole in the wall beside the metal door.
1 Now wouldn't it be a twist if at the end I revealed this was all a monologue by a fictional character?
2 No you're not behind on the lingo, Hisfic = an abbreviation for Historical Fiction I just made up just now