Friday, September 08, 2006

Automatic Fiction #1

Yesterday, I ran across one of the best blogs I've seen so far. It's called "The Synchronicity of Indeterminacy" and the author writes short fiction based on random photographs found on p2p sharing networks. This is a fascinating idea to me. Whenever we look at a photo of people we don't know, I think we ponder what's going on in the photo or more accurately, what went on just prior to and just after the shutter snap of the camera.

In a way, this reminds me of the "automatic writing" practiced by the Surrealists of the 1920s. I don't get the sense that these stories are written "automatically," - I think they are carefully considered and written but, there is something, I don't know, improvisational about the idea of building a story from a randomly obtained photograph.

In the spirit of this, I'd like to try something similar. I'm going to call it "Automatic Fiction". The idea is to write a brief short story without first considering what I will write. I guess the idea is to "improvise" the story and revise it only subltley to correct any grammatical errors and make sure that it is readable.

So, without further adieu, here goes my first shot at "Automatic Fiction", at least for public consumption. I'm just going to clear my mind and start typing, wish me luck!


She woke up when she heard the car pulling in the driveway and immediately felt threatened. Glancing at her watch, she sat up on the couch and tried desperately to wipe the sleep out of her eyes.

"Carol! I'm home"

Jerry sounds edgy, she thought to herself as she flipped on the bathroom light and began brushing her hair. Jerry ALWAYS she sounds edgy she added as she looked briefly at her mostly faded make up. She decided she didn't have time to do much about it and flipped off the light.

"What's for dinner?"

He was standing in the hall, shuffling through the mail she had piled neatly on the table earlier that day.

"I..." she started and then changed her mind. It would never do to just tell Jerry that she'd fallen asleep and that there was, in fact NOTHING for dinner.

"I thought we could walk down to Tony's for pizza, it's been ages since we've done that. Remember how we used to stroll around the neighborhood when we _ "

The back of his hand struck her cheek hard enough to leave a mark and she fell back against the wall.

"You stupid cow!" he shrieked at her "I work my ass off to make a nice life for us and what do I get when I come home? A walk? For freakin pizza?"

It always amused her when he said that word - freakin. He sounded like a catholic school fifth grader trying to swear and not get yelled at by the nuns for it.

"Don't you mean a FUCKING pizza Jerry?" she said to him in a calm voice, almost not even realizing that she was speaking out loud. "Well, don't just FUCKING stand there, let's get a FUCKING move on and walk down to FUCKING Tony's for our FUCKING pizza. You don't want to FUCKING starve do you?"

He stared at her in disbelief. For a moment his mouth moved as if he was going to speak but no words came out. In fact, no sound at all.

"What the FUCK is the matter Jerry? Cat got your FUCKING tongue?"


She woke up when she heard the car pull in the driveway. For a moment, she lay on the couch, blinking at the ceiling, trying to decide if she was really awake this time. Was that really just a dream? God knows she'd never talk to Jerry like that in real life. Her life wouldn't last to long if she did.

The front door slammed.

"Carol! I'm home....CAROL!"

Calmly, she walked the short distance to his desk in the corner of the room, opened the top left drawer and took out Jerry's pistol. Just as calmly she waited for him to emerge from the front hall.

"Carol! Where ARE you! Did you remember to cook_"

The gun exploded in her hands and Jerry's hand went to his chest, his eyes bulging as he slumped to the floor.

Calmly, she dropped the gun on the coffee table, sat down on the couch and flipped on the television to catch the evening news. She thought about calling Tony's to have a pizza delivered but then thought better of it. Instead, she picked up the half eaten can of Pringles she'd been munching on earlier that day.


Well, there you have it! I don't know if it's any good or not but, it was fun to write. Thanks for playing along, I will definitely be trying this again.

Incidentally, there's a link The Synchronicity of Indeterminacy site on the left side of my page under "blogs and links of note."


Indeterminacy said...

I came by to thank you for your comment, but I didn't see this post immediately (was browsing first in the archives). It's amazing that we both seem to have started blogging aroundthe same time (Aug/Sept 2004).

Anyhow, I'm overwhelmed to read what you wrote here about me. You're really too kind. And I especially enjoyed reading the story - which I think turned out great. I like the way the dream segues into reality, without us knowing beforehand that it was a dream, and the dream complementing reality.

This story struck a note with me for another reason. I never wrote much myself until taking a writing class (in German) to improve my use of the language, not really to write stories per se. I always felt it was necessary to think through and plan out every detail before beginning. Our author (Jochen Schimmang) told us that was wrong. That was the one sure way to write a bad book. If someone is good, there will always be more in the work than was intended.

Anyhow I'm happy that you stopped by - thanks also for the link. I'm going to add you right now.

Indeterminacy said...

I wanted to add: that idea was what got me started writing at all. The belief that everything had to be planned out and carefully executed had stopped me from writing. So I went home and tried what you did now, writing the first thing that came to my mind and seeing where it would lead to. I showed the result to Herr Schimang and he said it was great. The experience and his encouragement were what got me started.

(sorry to write such long comments)