This is from an assignment in the Innovative Fiction Course taught by Karen
I'm just not making it in my innovative fiction course.
What is innovative fiction you might ask? Well, if you have to ask, I'd say you're one of those rubes who still thinks old farts like Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky are relevant. So you probably don't care.
But if you're artistic, you would understand there is nothing more important and more relevant than innovative fiction.
I'm working on a number of major innovative fiction projects. But due to a lack of cooperation, or just being too far ahead of my time, they're just not working out.
Let’s start with collage.
I know, I'll have to explain this to you. You combine many disparate parts to make a really interesting whole.
Project number 1
Take the boring, dull works of Shakespeare. A few plays will suffice. Cut the pages into paragraphs, throw the paragraphs into a hat, and pull them out.
Paste them all together, photocopy them, and voila, you have a great innovative work far superior to the Bard’s lines known the world over.
Don't use whole paragraphs, using several pages, just cut whole words out. This process expands the originality, creating something completely nonsensical that has no relationships to Shakespeare.
I started this project, but my local library has objected to my modernizing ancient works and says they consider the books now destroyed. Destroyed? I brought that old fool into the modern innovative age.
A Hyper-text Drama
Woods. Dark. Trees. Young girl in a red hood. Do you need any more? This is the new, innovative fiction. It's not my job to paint pictures for you. Use your imagination.
Now, click here to see what happens as the wolf approaches.
Here. I said click here. If you want to read the fruits of my high-level labor, you un-dear reader, need to do some of the work.
So, click here for enlightenment. Here. I said click here. You do know how to click, don't you?
Are you one of those fools who only reads books? Want to stay in the past forever? Try.
Put your cursor over the spot. Right over the spot. Get that cursor over that spot.
Did you find it? Is your cursor over that spot? Are you sure? Be sure. This matters.
Now click. You do know how to click, don't you? Take your finger, be sure it's on that spot over your mouse. Is it there? Can you feel it? Push down, down with your finger. Not too hard? Just get the right rhythm. And click. Click.
Click here. You'll see the wolf and be enlightened.
Did you click? Were you in the right spot? Did you use the right finger, and do it gently, but with confidence?
Well, I don't think so. I don't think you care enough. You’re selfish.
You don't care about me or my story. You don't care how you click. You're just focused on your own satisfaction. If you weren't, you'd be clicking right and you wouldn't be stuck here anxious for satisfaction but unfulfilled.
One last try. Here. Click here.
You fool. You're unworthy of my new, creative innovative fiction, but if you ask nicely, I might share some other output of my genius.
Another collage project.
The original idea behind the play, "Found," came from some young people who created a magazine with "found" notes, etc. scattered about, I think, San Francisco.
Good idea, I thought, but who under the age of 60 today uses paper for notes? Everybody keeps everything on their smartphones.
A genius idea. Gather random smartphones of varying kinds. Not just one model, true art is eclectic. Gather those phones and collect random notes from their notepad apps, random appointments, etc. A true modern day collage of grace, beauty, and wit.
This would be my crowning achievement, and I'm sure lead to major grants from national artistic funds if they stay around.
With determined artistic dedication, I proceeded to gather cell phones. I didn’t think I’d need many, perhaps ten would give me wide enough range to critically select the most important and interesting notes that those less talented than me might jot down on their phones. I would take these silly day-to-day ramblings and weave them into a great piece of beauty.
Of course, I planned to give the phones back. I’m not a thief. I also believed those who had their phones chosen for my project would be thrilled to enter into artistic immortality.
What a fool I was!
Pearls before swine. Thrilled? I met only bitter accusations and a couple very nice detectives who, while polite and courteous, scorned my art. They gathered up my collected cell phones and referred me to a good lawyer who, not surprisingly, was little impressed with my desire to expand my work by recording our discussions and making a collage of her advice.
Some other techniques I tried.
First thing in the morning, a few minutes capturing my thoughts.
Pain in my chest. Man. Is that just heartburn? Could it have been the Indian food? My wife said we wanted a 10 out of 10 spice level. Is she trying to kill me?
Think of nothing. What is nothing? Can you see nothing? If you could see nothing, wouldn’t it then be something?
Empty your mind. A task my wife claims should be easy for me. Still. Count your breaths. One. Two. Working. Thinking of nothing. Mind empty. Waiting. Calm. My mind is empty. Waiting.
I am the demon Harvey. Thank you for welcoming me to your mind. It’s been a long time. Let me take a minute to look around.
Jump up. Search frantically for a Bible and some Holy Water.
Cross automatic writing off your list.
Prepare a hardbound book with two hundred blank pages. Market it with the ads, “You Write the Book You’ve Always Wanted to Read.” Sell it via massive campaigns on the Internet. Figure out how to hack the Kardashian’s twitter tag. Add the caveat that once the book is written, you send it to me, assigning me all rights. I pick the best publisher and rush it off to them. Will it work? Trust the words of P. T. Barnum about suckers and minutes.
Ask my friends to get tattoos of my fiction. Start with a short poem. “War and Peace” is out of the question for this project. Don’t have that many friends. The few I have, respond: “Are you crazy?”
Those who are still talking to me after I’ve insulted their limited acceptance of art.
“Tattoos?” they say. “Have needles piercing my skin? In this day and age?”
A few who already have tattoos, offer what they have. I am sorry, but a big heart with your ex-wife’s name slightly visible after the attempted blackout in it doesn’t make it.
And no, I do not want to meet the rather odd angry friend you just met at a local biker bar who has L-O-V-E tattooed on the knuckles of his left hand, and H-A-T-E tattooed on the knuckles of his right. Yes, you tell me, the fact that he’s right-handed says it all. He says his hands can tell a story on their own. He says bring a full wallet to that dive bar at closing time, and he’ll tell that story. I say, I think the story he will tell is about the frustrated writer who gets mugged for his art, and it seems too pedestrian.
Decide to show them it’s not a big deal to get tattoos.
Stop into a tattoo parlor.
Have a brief conversation that ends with me saying, “You’re going to use that thing to do what on my flesh?”
Once again, art meets reality. Cancel that project.
Another option. Modern Tarot cards.
That sounds like a good idea, like the I-Ching book.
I’ll create a deck of modern Tarot cards with more meaning for our times. Assign a plot scene to each one on the back, then market them as a really innovative, innovative fiction project.
Here’s a small smattering from my fertile brain. And I don’t need any snide comments as some might make about what is the best fertilizer, and it’s in my brains.
Card 1: Eternal Wanderer. A young person in a car condemned to wander without end because their cell phone went dead and their only clue to get where they’re going is their GPS on the phone.
Card 2: Dangerous Snow Shoveling. A picture of a man over 60, forgetting he is over 60, as many men over 60 often do, standing before his pavement with a shovel, glancing at his young next door neighbor who has a happy smile on her face, and snow flying from her shovel.
Card 3: The Lost Author. An author sits before a computer screen. Some Word file we cannot make out is in the corner. In the center of the screen, large and glowing, is a video game battle scene.
Card 4: The Stuck in Freeway Traffic Skeleton. This is a picture of a skeleton sitting in a car on a long slowdown on a freeway road. Note: if you get this card after the Eternal Wanderer, cancel your vacation road trip. Stay home and write a story from the cards.
Now all I need to do is design these cards and package them and I’ll be on my way.
But not in time for my class.
Random Art Selection
Okay, this assignment is due, and this is one I must be able to handle. Take your favorite book or novel, open it to several pages at random, poke your finger down and find words to include in your next story. Huh. Sounds good.
First stab: potatoes, fried chicken, yams, onions, garlic.
Okay. Lesson number one on choosing a book for your innovative fiction. Avoid cookbooks. If you use a cookbook, you’ll look like you’re practicing for an episode of “Chopped,” on “The Food Network.” Don’t say it’s a dumb idea, we’re all learning here.
Second stab: Running scared, happy belly rub, and wicked angel.
Winner. This is the name of three horses that ran in a local race, in the order they won. I bet big on them and won something I discovered is a trifecta and pays big.
I’m wealthier than I ever dreamed of, and my wife says this is the best writing course I’ve ever taken. I think so, too. And am working on picking up a copy of the latest sports schedules to find names for my next story–er…bet
Ed Kratz is a retired civil servant who heard about Writer's Village many years ago from a member at the Philadelphia Writer's Conference. Since then he's taken a number of courses at Writer's Viillage.
He has been published in Daily Science Fiction, Every Day Fiction, and OG's Speculative Fiction.