Before I get started, a few things to know:
1) I hate blogging. I hate schedules. I hate deadlines. I hate posting things at regular intervals. I may drop in and post several things in one day, and then go radio silent for days or weeks. These are the rules of engagement.
2) I hate People. Not specific people–there are a lot of people I really like, many I love–just People, in the aggregate, abstract sense. I’m a hermit. I will probably say things to offend, and most of the time it will be intentional. Don’t take it personally…if I know you, you’re not People, and that thing I just said that made you shift uncomfortably in your chair, it wasn’t about you, it was about Them.
3) I hate social networking. I even hate that phrase, “social networking”. I don’t really need to know that you’re going to the store, thanks, fuck off. Unfortunately, there’s a legitimate fear that too much ignoring of this whole bullshit could lead to luddititis. And in order to think, I need to grok, and I need to know what’s there. And it appears–if nothing else, just in the massive size of a data set–that there might be something there. I imagine single-celled organisms were pretty fucking boring and trite back in the day too. They evolved to something more interesting; I’m praying this will too.
And now a word about the title of this thing:
Pretentiously-eloquent microfiction is a pretentiously-eloquent way of saying, briefly, that I like writing, and think I’m good at it. I like words, and the shapes they make, here and there. I like stories, and am pretty good at telling them.
The problem I’ve run into is the first rule of storytelling: show, don’t tell. Which means it’s either a really stupid fucking first rule, or a really stupid fucking name. It should be storyshowing. And I’m horrible at storyshowing. Great at storytelling, but no one (including myself) is going to want to read just one more page of what I do before going to bed. They may love it, but someone reading it (including myself) is more likely to put it down, walk away, and chew on it for awhile to see if they can sort out exactly what just hit them than they are to keep reading to find out what happens next.
And so, “pretentiously” (with apologies to Warren Ellis…eh, fuck it, he said it better than I can, so here it is verbatim):
“We’re deathly afraid of that stabbing word “pretentious,” the word that students use to curse each other’s ambition. It’s a young person’s word, a shortcut-to-thinking word. I’m a big fan of pretension. It means “an aspiration or intention that may or may not reach fulfillment.” It doesn’t mean failing upward. It means trying to exceed your grasp. Which is how things grow.”
And so, “eloquent”:
I like words. A lot. And not just all willy-nilly–it’s not a fetish–it’s just something I grok, and always have, and when you find something you grok, you love it, and hold on to it. I doubt I’d ever win a comparison of vocabulary sizes…but it’s not the size that matters, it’s how you use it. [Insert obligitory “lightning bug vs. lightning” Mark Twain quote here, followed by slightly-less-known but far-more-accurate Stephen King quote about the difference between the right word and almost right word being the difference between seeing lighting strike a hill off in the distance and sitting right there when that motherfucker comes on down.]
And so, “microfiction”:
Ignoring the conventional rules of storytelling like a 14 year-old me at a high school dance and taking a few lines, or paragraphs, or even pages, and chewing them up, savoring and allowing them to do what they do. Using a food metaphor, this shit isn’t appetizers: those are supposed to be noshed on in passing, getting you ready for the real meal to come later. This shit isn’t a full meal either…thus the “micro” bit in there. It’s like a tasting menu: small moments of specific, intentional experience.
And so…on with the show.