Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On [insert title]

I want you to think of it as a work of fiction, but one produced by an initially creative mind trained for years to think analytically.
I want you to think of me as the main character in this work of fiction. As such you’ll need to know certain things about me. Had this been a regular work of fiction, I would try to weave it in more “comfortably”, “naturally”, subtly. Perhaps a nice “the main character stares at her own reflection in the mirror before having a flashback to childhood”-scene to start things off. But I won’t be doing that.
First of all, to fit the nature of this text – as mentioned I (and by “I” in this case I mean both main character, narrator and, even, author, even though that is breaking all literary rules) have been trained to think and write analytically. I am a lecturer. I preach to my students to be specific, concrete, clear. “Say exactly what you want to say! Don’t expect the reader to know a thing!” (I also tell them to be genre-aware, which of course contradicts my current point since I am about to use the rules from one genre on a completely different one, but whatever.)
Secondly, you don’t have to know what I look like (but for clarity’s sake: tall, blond, blue eyes, small nose and ears, cheeky grin, freckles for spring, one eyebrow that leaps toward my hairline when I question something [the other one pretty much stays put]). You don’t have to know anything about my childhood (but again: happy, youngest child with two older siblings, a fair amount of precociousness that made me simultaneously cute and terribly annoying). A mirror and flash-back scene, then, would not serve the purpose of this text. Story. Whatever.

There might not be a purpose to this text. Story. Whatever. 

Sorry. Whatever. 

Life is oddly good and bad at the same time for our main character. Let me be specific. I - she - is sitting at a café, enjoying a rare treat (for Norway) of a bottomless coffee pot. In Norway you often pay for your second and third cup as well. [footnote] There is free WiFi at the café, which is less unusual, but not less of a treat to our main character. Her home internet connection died a few weeks ago, and she occasionally suffers from Facebook withdrawal. Not terribly so, though. Other things have been keeping her occupied. Work. Family stuff. The loss of a loved one. The gain of another. (I'd be even more specific, but these details are not strictly necessary for the text. I should cut them, probably. But I am not yet seasoned enough to "kill my darlings". I tell my students to do that. I don't practice what I preach, apparently, Then again, they don't listen [,she says and writes the letter "D" on a piece of paper in front of her. Grading, again.].)

She is smiling. It's been a good morning, even if she's barely started with her work and - boy - does she have work to do. (Grading. As mentioned. Don't use terms like "as previously mentioned" in excess. They derail the reader and make him/her unnecessarily aware of pointless repetitions. Preach. Practice.) She stretches her neck. It's hurting, a little. 

Should she brave another cup of coffee? Better not. Even if it's free. She should get going - physically removing herself from the internet seems the only way of getting anything done. Well, not  from "the internet". From anywhere with internet access. To explain: the internet holds unlimited (insofar as anything can be "unlimited" in a physical universe. Or a metaphysical one. Or any kind of -ysical. Basically, ∞ - 1, then. The internet holds ∞ - 1) possibilities for procrastination. And it just happens that our main character is a world class procrastinator. If there was an Olympic Championship for procrastination she would win - well, not gold, probably, but silver, or bronze. Or maybe the lousy number four. 

Doesn't matter. Does not matter. Try to avoid contractions in formal text. She tends to get stuck in vicious cycles, our friend. "Friend". Main character. Her life distracts her from what she is supposed to do. What she is supposed to do is not something she wants to do, so she lets life distract her even more. 

She is an analyst. Not just by profession, but in life. "What does it signify?" she will ask herself, daily, hourly, minutely. "I need a definition." (But did she want one? She is not sure. Though she is fairly happy with the end result.) [Limit the usage of italics. They distract the reader. Especially when you keep highlighting the same word several times in a row, indicating that it is somehow more important than the rest. And then referring to it afterwards, making it unnecessarily clear that there indeed is some specific significance tied to this word. More people than you are analysts, you know. Plus, "unnecessarily" is spelled with two n's, two s's and only one c. You should know this by now, without the spell check having to tip you off every time. Spell check is written in two words.]

She is fairly happy. And she is running out of battery. Another way of physically removing herself from the internet. Or, to be specific, from an internet connection. 

[insert footnotes later]



Mark Nicholls said...

I detect shades of Lyotard's postmodern theory in this metanarrative (seek footnote for citation) but primarily I see a straining against the authorial limitations as set down in Barthes's Death of the Author where the author becomes scriptor and his/her/their? (or do we erase gender entirely?) presence as God is redundant to the purpose of the story (which doesn't need a purpose except to exist as a thing-in-itself [but this would make for an extremely dull narrative] or clinical artefact). For more on this idea please refer to the aforesaid as previously mentioned citation on page four, line fifteen, paragraph nine(on a napkin I left at the United Bakeries Majorstua covered in sugar and latte drip).

Jan Morrison said...

everything, all of it, and most importantly the spelling of necessary which I think of daily,
how did a tall blonde norwegian with one eyebrow leaping upward simultaneously contain her self-ness as well as a former red-head (now white as the driven you-know-what)aged Canuck (colloquialism for one of Canadian extraction - though I cannot be said to be extracted from Canada while still here - though I wish Nova Scotia would quit Canada as our #1 Arse-hole of a leader has done something so egregious today that it fair takes my breath (and heart) away) without im or ex ploding?

Cruella Collett said...

Mark - I found the napkin. I dolphin that too.

And Jan - leaders have very little to do with the soul of a nation. Stay Canadian and remember why you're proud of it!

Not related at all (though "at all" is not a definite term. I *am* back at the Bakery, y'see) - a stranger across the table totally just played footsies with me. A female stranger. Huh.

Cold As Heaven said...

Fairly happy, in spite of the grading, and the cold weather. Not bad. I hate grading exams, most boring I know; use oral exams, make sure I don't have more than a handful of students. I only had 3 this spring >:)

Cold As Heaven

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