Over the weekend, she e-mailed me a short story she's supposed to write for her 11th Grade English class. I had the same teacher, same assignment, so this is all very familiar to me.
Her story--for all its occasional technical strangeness--is wonderful. And kind of creepy. It's about a precocious eight-year old Michigan girl poking fun at censorship, sugar-coating, and the sometimes suffocating relationship between adults and children. (One of the first lines is, "The streets are lined with corpulent men dressed in vibrant lobster-red who think people trust them with their children.") From Santa Claus to divorce to illness (and as it's eventually revealed, death), this little girl politely informs her readers that children shouldn't have to swallow bullshit.
Needless to say, I really love this story. But this little girl's narrative voice is so unsettling, even though she's not at all creepy about any of this. I think it's just the idea that she's pulling that sugary layer away from the world that scares me. I'm not big on censorship, as evinced by the forms of media I feed my siblings (and that I was fed by my parents), but that actual sugarcoat to the world itself...I'm not sure how I feel about that!
It's also a bit unsettling because the mirrors into our lives specifically are really evident in this piece. Her teacher was introducing them to verisimilitude, and uh. She nailed that one, and nailed it good. Even at the most superficial level, there are objects that show up in this story that have a lot of...familial symbolism, I guess? The girl leaves rubber duckies on her brother's grave (I collect rubber duckies). The dad's apartment (which my father did). Things like that.
I know most fiction has these mirrors--hell, all of my fan fiction positively reeks of it, never mind worlds and characters I've personally created--but I guess I've never been so privy to the reality-side of said mirrors. I'm rambling; I know. Just trying to work through this, here. I THINK I'M JUST DISTURBED THAT SHE MADE THE GIRL PUT CUTE RUBBER DUCKIES ON A GRAVE. D;
And then I realized that for the story that I wrote for this class? Not only did mine feature a brother-sister pair, the sister had my sister's actual name. That's not even a symbol. That's her damn NAME. XP So maybe that was significantly creepier.
In hers, the older sibling dies.
In mine, the younger sibling floats out to sea, never to return.
As I said, deep-seated issues.
And because clearly it's just one of those flighty, Cloud 9 days, I have more to say. Bear with me for another paragraph or two. I've been thinking about my spn_j2_bigbang. Rather, thinking about the challenge itself, as I do not have a Big Bang to be thinking about. We're three months into a four month writing period, yes, but I don't have one. BUT YOU DON'T SEE ME PANICKING. NOT AT ALL. AT ALLLLLLL. NOPE.
I had whatever-comes-before-an-idea, something that involves insects and purple and the letter M and Winchesters and probably hookers, but I think it's a story for more than 20,000 words. And given me + temporal constraint of 1 May =/= 20k+, I've been thinking that it may be best to save the bugs and the hookers for another time.
It made me think, though--I have a lot of fic ideas I'd love to write, quite a few of which have been with me since the beginning. The one I'm considering, for instance, was originally my idea for a hoodie_time prompt from Comment!fic Post #2 or something. A LONG TIME AGO. The idea has since ventured quite far from the seed, uh, but in its defense that's quite the incubation time. XP But I digress. It made me think: How much of a story can you tell in 20,000 words?
People think Big Bangs, and they think epics. 40k, 60k, 90k--hell, 120k. Entire AU universes, alternate timelines, mythological arcs and beautiful, many-faceted case!fics, shipfics, porn-with-plot fics. Stuff of novels. But if you think about it, 20k isn't that long. How far can you take it?
So, my new Big Bang idea:
a dead dog, and Dean walking into a petstore
Sam buying teleras from Denis's that are 3 for $1
the PTA saying that children shouldn't be traumatized by news of horrible things an apparent kidnapper has done and will continue to do, and John agreeing. John then taking Sam and Dean with him when he goes out in the dead of night to hunt the apparent kidnapper.
Dean encounters a dog, John encounters himself, and Sam feeds everyone. Yeah, that's 20k. That's totally 20k! Don't look at me like that!