Curses, Foiled Again!

Fade in:

E. A. sits on the edge of the sofa in his tiny beach apartment, coffee in hand, and leaning forward slightly to read some emails on his laptop which rests on a cluttered coffee table with half-burnt candles and empty wine glasses from the night before. He ponders this latest email from his gal pal Shelby.

So, Shelby thinks she wants a writing foil. I am not sure this will go well, but she’d call me mean names if I don’t at least try it. She’s like that. Look at the things she says about “The Donald”. This is the second time she has asked me to write something for her blog. It might be easier to get into the Times than Shelby—Shelby’s blog I mean. Freudian slip if ever there was one. Two emails ago, I wrote: FEED ME . . . Send me a prompt. In the last email I wrote: Do you have an opinion you would like me to challenge? What do I get in return? “Pick a topic and let ‘er rip.” GAWD! Maybe we should talk about how men can never get a straight answer from women. Another way to go could be to try and stump her with something like: The Care and Maintenance of a Penis. What if she views men as nothing more than penises? I know lots of women like that. She might write the crap out of how she cared for and maintained some. I am not sure, but this might not be what her readers want. What DO readers want?

Let’s talk about the twelve people left in North America who still buy and read books made from trees and who purchase them from their neighborhood bookshop. I really don’t have any statistics to back up the claim I just made, but we now live in a world of fake news anyhow, where no one fact-checks statements they read because: ‘Who has that kind of time?’ My exaggerated view of readership on our continent gets a little morbid when I add in my belief that all twelve of them are all in their seventies or eighties and will soon be dead.

So, what does our new breed of “reader” want?

According to blogging “experts”—How did that become a thing?—I lost everyone thirty-nine words ago when I went over the three hundred word mark. Apparently our readers phased and are gone now so I can say whatever the f-ck I want from here on. I can tell you from first-hand experience, they don’t want a weighty 100,000 word tome. I wrote one of those and I dedicated six years of my life to trying to make it fly. In one interview, I was asked: ‘How do you view our world? I replied with: Imagine a passenger shipwreck disaster where you are alone in a life-raft frantically waving a flashlight at the swimmers in the water, but they just ignore you preferring to drown on their own. That is what it is like to try and sell awareness, growth, and change in today’s marketplace. In fiction, 40,000 word novels are too long for today’s reader which brought about the 17,000 word novella. This TOTALLY explains people on social media bragging about reading 500 books in a year. Short-stories are apparently too long for some so “they” created 1000 word flash fiction which then spawned something called a micro-short at 300 words or less. At this rate, by the time I finish the YA fictional work I promised Shelby, I will have to tweet it in 280 characters.

Alexandra believes she is a girl like any other. She loves talking to her mom about her day in class, and all the things she learned, because her mother seems to hang on every word from her. It makes her feel like she is the most important thing in the world. Plot twist. The End. ~ EAB

But I digress.

Fade-in:

Shelby sits at her spotless desk, opens her email and emits a distinctly unladylike snort when up pops one from her guy pal E. A. Barker, writer, raconteur and righteous foil.

But wait, what kind of ‘He Said, She Said’ moment is it when I’m not allowed to call him mean names? Does he know me? They don’t call me the Mistress of Mockery for nothing. As to how the “Pick a topic and let ‘er rip” gambit came about; I was vacillating between two gems — a debate on the meaning in life as defined by Nietzsche’s Übermensch or the relative merits of thongs vs. boy shorts — when I remembered the advice of an ex lover: When you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, mount the hard thing and lob the rock in another direction. Which, the more I think about it, explains why he’s an ex.   

Speaking of dicks, I could write a book about them, or at the very least a short story, perhaps even flash fiction if I knew what the hell it is. Frankly, it sounds like the literary equivalent of a quickie beneath the bleachers during NASCAR. A lot of noise and waste of fuel to end up where you started, so what’s the point?

The same can be said of trends to which, in the interest of full disclosure, I have a life-long aversion. Who decides these things, the geniuses who thought Tom Cruise would be the perfect cinematic Lestat and Jack Reacher? Trends are the brainchild of publishers so desperate for their market share that they’ll hold their collective noses, slap an edgy cover on it, and attempt to convince the book-buying public they’re shelling out cold cash for the latest hot thing. Puhleeze. Readers, real readers who live from one book to the next, want the journey and are more than willing to settle in and savor it, which is what I did with E.A.’s 100,000 word tome as well as many others.

Anyone still with us out there? Another paragraph or two and this blog will qualify as a novella.

Bottom line: Writers have one responsibility, to know their craft, tell the best story they can and hope it resonates with readers. Whether it takes 300 words or 300,000 is of little consequence. Gimmicks will come and go, but the writer who kicks them to the curb and takes his own path will endure long after the current trend is a footnote. ~ SKS

 

Want more of E. A. Barker? Visit his site at mscreant.eabarker.com

E. A. Barker

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