Flashes of Mediocrity
by Silence Do_nothing
I've never been drunk, but I believe the writing process has allowed me to experience something similar to a drinker's remorse. Ideas which seem great one day reveal their true terrible nature the next and I'm left wondering how I ever thought them good. That's my explanation as to why, instead of the short fiction piece I had planned, I have a short non-fiction piece on why I don't have the short fiction piece.
As a dilettante writer (it's nicer than using "hack"), I was expecting to sift through a lot of garbage, but I figured a month's time was sufficient to generate the amount of acceptable material needed to build a presentable story several hundred words long. I miscalculated. The ratio of garbage-to-mediocre was higher than I expected.
I struggled with three previous stories and two version of a fourth that weren't worth saving. Those were done on the computer so I tried pen and paper for a new rough draft. The words flowed easily. The process of writing gave me a natural high. I figured I had finally cracked it. The next day, when I was typing it up, I saw that not even a tenth of it was worth a damn. My enjoyment had clouded my judgement.
I have a couple excerpts of the least bad of it. I actually kind of like these, but I imagine an outside reader in even the most charitable mood would find them mediocre at best.
Alan: "... Why don't you study engineering?"
Braun: "Poor spatial reasoning ability. It's like I have a female brain."
Alan: "Glad you said it instead of me."
Braun: "Because you were afraid of saying something offensive to me or offensive to women?"
Alan: "Wait, is it offensive to you because a female brain is supposedly beneath you or offensive to women because your brain is beneath them?"
Braun: "No one's beneath anything. It's really more a matter of a mismatch. Less suitable combinations."
Alan: "You mean like your girlish long lashes?"
Braun: "It's exacerbated by artificial tear drops. The lashes absorb most of it."
Alan: "Women wish they had your eye lashes."
Braun: "Thank you."
I believe I do have lousy spatial reasoning. I have no mechanical aptitude whatsoever and I struggled when videogames transitioned from 2D sprite based graphics to 3D polygons. My eye lashes are unusually long and full for a guy's. Instead of softening my creepy look they exacerbate it. There aren't a lot of cosmetics commercials touting products that give you thinner, less lustrous lashes, so my options seem limited. Even if that weren't the case, it strikes me as less masculine to groom your lashes, even for a more masculine look, than it is to leave them in their natural less masculine state. I'm an expert at avoiding eye contact, so I doubt many people notice anyway. Avoidance of eye contact solves another problem. If the Greeks of mythology were less sociable, fewer would have succumbed to the Medusa's gaze of stone.
Braun: "...if he had disparaged high school football or if he had written that beef wasn't real BBQ and that the best BBQ was in Memphis or the Carolinas, then they [Texas] would have threatened to secede unless they received a formal apology."
Alan: "That's not a useful gauge of their fury."
Braun: "You're right. They threaten to secede every time a replay is reversed against the Cowboys."
Alan: "What we need is for Quebec to secede along with Texas so they can unite."
Braun: "That's actually not a bad idea. You'd have Tebec."
Alan: "No. We are talking about the sovereign nation of Quexas."
Braun: "Okay. Quexas would be a superpower in both accents and strip bars."
The Texas secessionist movement probably isn't as ingrained as the snippet suggests. I do think Texans identify as Texans more intensely than people of other lower 48 states would identify with their respective state. I've heard radio personalities rave about strip bars in Montreal. I don't know why, but I just assume Texas is particularly keen on those establishments. I think Quexas would be a good fish out of water idea for a stupid reality show. Take independence advocates from Texas and Quebec and let them switch locales.
That was the best material I could pull from a 47k text file of notes and a 20k partial rough draft. That was why I had to abandon it. My writing goal now is to reach a sustained level of mediocrity, instead of merely brushing up against it for a brief time.
I still feel entitled to criticize the writing of movies and comics. Partly because I'm an amateur and have the right to hold professionals to a higher standard, in the same way that a fan who couldn't make 60 percent of his free throws still has a right to criticize a professional for failing at the same. More important is the practical consideration that barring me from criticizing writing better than mine would leave no material other than my tattered copy of the 80s"Kool-Aid Man" comic book. Hopefully.