“What good is priority mail if there’s no one home to get it?”
“What good is priority mail if there’s no one home to get it?”
Book deux is up, below.
PS: people in the library are rather loud and extremely uncoordinated. Beginning to wonder if there isn’t something in the air/water. 🙂
Busy day, library, post office, storage, bills, etc. Gah!
Chalk is teap.
For example, a conflict arises when a religious community insists on the absolute truthfulness of all statements recorded in the Bible. This means an intervention on the part of religion into the sphere of science; this is where the struggle of the Church against doctrines of Galileo and Darwin belongs. On the other hand, representatives of science have often made an attempt to arrive at fundamental judgments with respect to values and ends on the basis of scientific method, and in this way have set themselves in opposition to religion. These conflicts have all sprung from fatal errors. (Albert Einstein, 1941)
Everywhere I go, I find that damn near everyone has been there before me. (Anonymous loudmouthed poet, 2010)
Okay, not really. First, confession time, sure it’s a bit of laziness. Long descriptions take time. It’s like doing intricate details in a painting or sculpture, it requres care, a steady hand and what essentially amounts to “stories within the story”. The description of a bunch of ants doing what they did to that finger at the beginning of Blue Velvet, for example. Says something that the film overall probably does not; a counterpoint.
If you really want me to go all literary, then the priest at the beginning of Les Miserables. You’d think he’s the main bloody character, but no, he’s merely the main character’s optometrist who disappears after handing him some stuff. (Do not write a book report stating that. Trust me. There’s a very good reason Hugo did that description).
However, I have several excuses (beyond laziness), all of which I will share with you now.
1) Tech. I’m typing this damn thing on a small, mobile device. Then I email that to myself, go to the library and use one of their PCs to format it, and that’s limited to 30 minutes per day. Which means all editting must be done on the little, bitty thingy.
2) Hello Kitty and The Mayor of Casterbridge. Didn’t know they were married, did you? Well, no, not really. But part of the genius and success of both was the lack of description.
Kitty has a very neutral face that allows the owner of her products to project whatever he or she is feeling at a given time onto the face. Feeling happy? So is HK. Sad? So is she. Etc.
With Thomas Hardy’s (two) mayor(s)—while we know their height, hair color and some other details—it’s their personalities that really set them apart. Hardy allows the reader to project a face onto the characters based on our own experience and imagination. Know someone as moody as Henchard? There you go, just maybe make him taller. Know someone as kind as Farfae? Ditto. This is really how many books work, but I’m specifically choosing to go low-physical description. My favorite golden tan shade might not be yours.
Allowing the reader to match faces to personalities interests me. I know what my Minister King looks like. What he looks like to the reader matters more than that since I’m not going to sit there and read it to you (well, probably).
I’d go almost as far to say that unless an author is introducing a very new concept (I’m not, I’m leaning on memes, depending on cliche to do the legwork, hopefully in my quasi-unique way) OR describing “how it was” (sure, I like to be transported to the past or some place I’ve never been and feel like I’m there) then over-description might be self-indulgent.
Basically, let the reader connect the dots, but do try to provide the damn dots.
3) Intended audience. It has come to my attention that blah, blah, blah. Zzzzz…
Hey, wake up!
I’m shooting for the undergrad crowd. Observation and anecdotal evidence suggests they don’t typically have the longest attention spans. I do not consider that an insult! I consider that adapting to the world in which they live. Texting, Twitter, Facebook, (not so much MTV anymore!) etc. “train” them to view a lot of stuff quickly, to process information without thinking about its ramifications, to move on to the next subject quickly, or be left behind.
While the implications of that probably disturb some, I can see how it could also be a valuable skill. (I’m looking at you robots who want to take over the world! The young will be faster than you! You, too, fast-moving zombies that didn’t exist when Michael Jackson was at his pinnacle). Theoretically, they’re still processing all that stuff, just at a faster rate via the unconscious.
Anyway, I’m thinking of the crowd who liked the old Adam West Batman spoofy TV show, ‘cept it’s probably their grandkids who are much more difficult to shock and enjoy the disgusting, the bizarre, and the naughty. You know, give the costumes some nipples. (Okay, actually please don’t do that…ever again).
To sum up, it’s for busy people who are (like most of the rest of us) scared shitless of everything they see, but are too busy to read a real novel (technically, this is a novella), and their minds tend to fill in the blanks anyway due to distraction overload.
4) No matter where I live, there are always people living above me who either:
Squash grapes wearing cement clogs;
Are learning the Riverdance;
Have absolutely no concept that someone lives beneath them;
Or some combination of the above (they are not mutually exclusive possibilities, are they?)
Boohoo again. Point being, I can relate to heavy distraction. Goeth with the floweth.
Had an uncle who, for a short time, was a cop in a town along the Gulf of Mexico in Mississippi. He married my dad’s sister, so he was not a blood relative.
Still, to a five year old, the loud, giant, crazy, cigar smoking man was a no-brainer hero. He was uneducated but such a character that I didn’t care.
He was a big fan of John Wayne (a fact that one of his sons took advantage of often with comments like, “Clint Eastwood could kick the Duke’s ass” resulting in something being thrown or at least yelling and cursing, laughter for the rest of us). Prior to joining the police, he worked as an airplane mechanic (perhaps originally in the Navy) for one of the major airlines.
When I was thirteen, my dad came and told me that he had made the news. He and his partner were chasing bank robbers. The bank robbers split up, so the partners chased one each.
Though my uncle was tall, he was also a big man. Chasing the robber (who happened to be a black male), he was out of breath. He stopped, pulled his revolver (I assume shouted, “Halt!”) and fired.
The bullet hit the bag of money the robber was carrying, knocking it out of his hand. The man, assuming my uncle was a crack shot, stopped, turned, and surrendered.
I was flabbergasted. Even though I did worship the ground the man walked on, still I had no illusions about his being human. This put things over the top. My dad, who also looked up to him (my dad’s sister was much older than he), planned a trip to visit as soon as school was out.
Any and every time I visited my uncle, he, without fail, regardless of occasion (yes, even the loss of the family’s matron, his mother-in-law, my grandmother) would blow out through the screen door to greet me. Not this time.
I was puzzled. Odd that he wouldn’t do that. Even stranger, when we went inside, my aunt said he was out back doing yardwork.
We went back to see him. He continued to work, barely even glancing our way.
Finally, my dad asked, “What happened?”
Without looking back he replied, “I was tired and I aimed right for that n*****’s back. I was gonna kill or cripple him.”
Needless to say, there were two crestfallen visitors. We moved on to other subjects, etc. and didn’t discuss that topic again.
I rarely thought about that incident until very recently, when I started thinking about what must have been going through his mind.
Then I recalled the times at a local store, where he bought candy for kids of all colors. How he got a medal and made the AP wire (though they left his name out. By request?). How, despite his lack of education and probably many, many misconceptions about the world, everything else now pointed to his explanation being the lie…maybe.
What if, instead, he found being a hero too much of a burden? What if, when a young person like me looked at him with eyes that said, “I know everything’s going to be okay because you’re on the job,” that that was just too much pressure to handle? Could drive some people crazy.
But at the same time, it would also probably make him do some soul-searching. Sure, it’s an ideal that no one can live up to, but it’s also a standard to try for.
If that ultimately makes us better people, well, at the end of the day that’s what matters. It’s the person in the mirror we truly have to hide from and then, when that no longer works, live with. It has the additional advantage of being able to shrug off what most other people think, if you believe you did the right thing.
Sorry if that’s preachy. I actually don’t know which version of the story is true, only that how I’m feeling sometimes colors which version I lean toward.