Way back, wa-a-a-a-ay back, on June 30, I wrote my first short story over in at Sychronicity of Indeterminacy. The deal with the short stories is that they should be able to be read in one minute. That means about 180 (or slightly less) words – that’s about how many words can be read aloud. Fewer words allows for nice white noise spaces. TV and radio commercials normally clip at the 3 words per second (180wpm) rate; those-faster-sounding-ads are probably recorded ‘normally’ and then sped up digitally. I’ve used software that allowed you to say 30 seconds long, fit this sound bit here – and it stretched/shrunk the sound bite to suit – with the subsequent aberrations in the sound.
So, where does the inspiration for the stories come from? In something of a reversal of the traditional ‘write the story, grab an illustrator’ approach, this method starts from an image, and the story ebbs and flows accordingly. I have to say some images provoke instant stories (see below), while other images provoke a sense of ‘hmmm, perhaps next week’. Well, you know what? You get that. Sometimes it’s fun to play, other times I just want to watch.
Often, when I go for a walk, I overhear snippets of conversation, and I like to weave these strands into the stories. I think of it as verbal patchwork – speaking of which, I found the color chart and filter thing, so my colours will be happier now. The story below includes a few such ‘found’ sound clips – it’s become a form of concrete poetry, captured sounds and words reconstructed and recontextualised.
“Jin,” she said, “Like the otter, not like the drink.”
“You’re so boring,” I said.
“Am I? Am I really?” And she laughed like she didn’t believe me.
The noise of construction started – 12:48 – lunchtime over.
She sighed. “You could’ve done more to save the place you know.”
“Look, it’s just some scrubby willows and grasses – hardly on the World Heritage list – some environmental jewel in the crown…”
She cut me off short. “You’ve quoted him a bit too much! There were otters here!”
“They could be here again.”
“That’s just not possible…” She fixed me with one of her looks. “…or at least not very likely. At least, not at the moment…” My voice trailed off. I felt cold and lost, and dammit, now I was missing the otters. I’ve never so much as seen an otter, let alone seen an otter here.
Even the construction noise stopped.
The damp smell of willow leaves enshrouded us. I shivered. “You know what? I wouldn’t be very disappointed if the airport was closed.”