There Is No Original

originality liquidagency

Ever get into this writing headspace?

I can’t do that, nope, that’s been done before….that’s been done before…and that’s been done beforeandddd I’m going to watch Youtube videos I didn’t even want to watch, recommended to me so kindly by algorithms.

When I was younger I was slightly obsessed with originality. If someone copied something it was terrible and I would hate them until I realised originality doesn’t exist; comedian, writer, musician etc. Plagiarising is a different thing altogether, but I still get the originality yips (I believe that is the first golfing terminology used on this blog in three years).

Yips are when you go to perform an action, but there’s a mental block that prevents it occurring in the way intended. Writing can sometimes be like that for me. I’ll think of a story and if there is nothing unique about it I bin it – well – more save it and never look at it again. Sometimes I write a story and detest it, the yips creeping in half way through, as some stupid voice tells me it’s boring, it’s unoriginal and no one will read it and be amazed. Quite probably true, but the originality hangup is a hindrance every day of the year. The most irritating thing is it’s like perfectionism: neither can be acheived.

It’s natural to get the writing yips from time to time. I try to forget about them, try to remember that nothing is truly original and we are all building from the same universal sand pit with the same tools available, only our minds separating us from each other for the most part. While nothing is original, creative writing feels about as close as it gets.

So if you get the yips, write the most clichéd, bullshit, unoriginal, rip-off, bootleg story that comes to mind, deliberately try to take off your favourite writers and storytellers and see what happens. The yips go away. Just don’t publish it!

 

lion around 2

Weekly Six XXVII – SIX WORD STORIES

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THE WEEKLY SIX, or half-fortnightly if you prefer has returned once more (it keeps doing that, I’m sorry) in an eclectic mix. Also if you have Tumblr, lionaroundwriting is my account on there (many of these go up on Tumblr first). Without further ado:

 

Hell Closed For Maintenance. Earth open.

Alien marries earthling. Entire earth: dowry.

Unnoticed hole in bio-suit. Death entered.

Heavy legged raven. Message shattered kingdom.

36th day lost. Companions surprisingly palatable.

Lightning struck once. Zeus had principles.

.

lion around 2

Grimwaldt’s Choice – SHORT STORY

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       MY BLOOD HAD frozen. I was as sure of that, as I was that I would freeze to death. Come spring, a forensics team would paw over my defrosted body. But only if the wolves or bears let me be.

Morbid thoughts. Were they a sign I was resigned to the end? – or just a reminder by my survival instincts on what possibilities lay ahead? I hadn’t the energy to postulate.

Composing music in a remote cabin had its merits. I’d completed one work of beauty. I was certain of that. Only the whipping arctic winds, northern lights and solitude could have gifted me that. And yet, it would be my legacy. I had written a poorly scripted letter accompanying the pages of music for a living soul to find.

Just thinking about writing, I looked at my fingers protruding from navy cotton gloves. Cracked, blistered and dry, curled inwards from sub-zero temperatures like blunt talons. I tried to move one of them, any of them, scarcely registering movement.

Sitting against a wall, legs out in front, I looked at it. A masterful piece of craftmanship. Dark maple wood like suspended treacle, and keys I regretfully know to be from the tusks of elephants. But boy those ivories made a sound, the softest, sweetest melody. My fingers so easily became extensions of them when I played.

I looked at them again. Gnarled and fading in colour. Even if I was saved in this instant, I knew frostbite had won over my extremities. I would never play another key again.

It would be easy to be regretful at this moment. I’d chosen to live here, cut off from civilisation, to regain my pride and joy, to show the world Grimwaldt was still the master.

Food had run out days ago. I’d never go short on water with all the snow and ice outside, but I couldn’t boil it anymore. No fuel. I’d burnt every flammable item in the one room cabin, except my clothes and the piano.

My attention turned to the fireplace. A tiny ember surrounded by ash, refused to die. At least the bed had provided me with comfort through beautiful dancing flames.

Judging by the size of the ember, it would start a fire with some coaxing.

There I was. Stripped to my very essence by the cruelness of winter; a man and his piano. My livelihood, my death. I’m sure pianos burn well. Maybe, they can stave off death, but there was no guarantee I would be saved. Nobody was due for another week. No piano can burn for a week. Even in my state I amused myself with that thought. I had been burning pianos for decades! In Vienna, in New York and Moscow! I could almost hear the clapping once more, quieter, but still present, and I could visualise the standing ovations that were so very hard to come by.

Ahhh. My sixty four year old eye lids closed. I was on the stage of the Grosser Musikvereinssaal in Vienna. My only son had first watched me there.

My eyes opened again, the light darker outside, my mind decided.

I would not burn the piano. That way, someone else could play..

jan 16 repost

lion around 2

The Beginning of the End – SHORT STORY

rewind

 

I DIE, with integrity…,” he gasped, blood running through fingers.

Two bullets exited healed wounds, skin no longer red, holes non-existent. Back into the Glock chamber they spiralled, one by one, two bangs, until they rested in the magazine and the index finger went forwards as the trigger followed.

“There are no guarantees in life, except this -”

The look of surprise and fear on Tom Washington’s face vanished, as he turned his attention back to himself on TV, magically retracting shots from the hoop back into his hands as the highlights became nolights as his game high 40 points became no points, as victory became a warm up.

*

“Consider it done.”

“The point guard, T.W., get rid,” Dario Feretti said.

“Who’s the target?”

“We lost too much on the spread. He’s gotta’ – he’s gotta’ pay. He can make shots? So can we. I hate to do it, I do, he’s a talent, but I gotta’ keep the rest in check, I gotta’.”

*

Firm hand on shoulder. A nod of the head by Tom.

“Just so there’s no miscommunication. You play like you got aids, like you got ebola, cancer – tumours eating your brain, like you got mad cow disease, swine flu…. you play the worst damned game of your life!”

“What choice do I have Dario? No choice. This is it. Last time.”

$5000 goes back into Dario’s hand. “I’ll see you get taken care of. Don’t worry about your team mates. You average 25 ppg, you control the game, it’s a guaranteed loss. Get it done.”

Tom’s pensive face tightens, head lowering, as he sits in the shadow of Dario, who walks backwards left to right in the locker room.

 

lion around 2

Gone Fishing – SHORT STORY

gone fishing

 

HEY! Watch. This is how you kill a fish.” Hoisting a rock up, he smashed it onto the head of the racing-green pike, life leaving quickly through the glass-like eye, but I swear I saw it, the thinnest wisps.

Blood and scales dotted the picnic bench chosen as the place of sacrifice.

“One more to make sure…” and Dad raised his arm again, mashing the pike into the very grain of the wood, the head now flattened, innards oozing out from the gills and mouth.

He looked at me smiling, that job done smile, that gold-won podium grin. Then back down at the ten pounder. He smashed and smashed at the head in a frenzy until scales covered his face like glitter and the head was crushed, severed from body. Only then did he stop, wheezing hard, the stink of fresh fish filling the air.

I’m not sure what it was. But there was a clue in that experience that Dad was a psychopath. At least that’s what the prison psychiatrists labelled him. Seemed a little much to add that on top of multiple homicides. Not sure how many more he needed to qualify as a serial killer. I reckoned maybe five, but who’s to say really?
Even now fishing has a way of calming me down, providing a place to think, one line at a time, as sunshine bounces off the surface of Mt. Posit Lake leaving it like a dazzling yellow skin.

Occasionally I catch a bass or pike. I never bring them on board, never eat them. I prefer to watch as they swim themselves to death unable to free that hook. So helpless; if they could they’d beg for a rock, unless their jaw ripped away in the struggle, leaving no winner and a feeling of dissatisfaction.

And all it is, is a mere distraction. On all my visits, I’d surveyed the whole lake bed. My fishing gear tells me the deepest point is 433 feet.

Ever watched those documentaries high on the channel listing? It really is true what they say about killers going back to the scene of the crime. My Dad did it, and I followed in his footsteps. Behavioural? Genetic? I didn’t care either way.

Somewhere, underneath, beyond the slapping water on the aluminium hull, is a collection. If I have the lake to myself, to us, I’ll flip through the Polaroids, every face alive, some even smiling, and I wonder, when my mind gets mathematical, if the odds of catching a fish without a baited hook, are higher or lower than killing any random person I meet.

One day a thought occurred to me: I started catching and eating the fish. I never used rocks. One chop with the machete was cleaner, more efficient. And if they say anything about generations, it’s about being innovative, improving on old techniques, pushing the envelope: whatever that meant.

I got to figuring, that the fish ate at the collection. So if I ate the fish, I could get some of their soul in me. It’s a theory of mine, and ever since I saw that pikes soul escape as a child I knew they went somewhere, that bodies are more than flesh and blood – lots, of blood. With more souls in me, I get more powerful, live longer, feel more energised. I can spend more time with the wife and kids.

 

lion around 2

Weekly Six XXVI – SIX WORD STORIES

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      TECHNICALLY IT’S WEDNESDAY in Scotland. And as a result here are some more six word stories in this 26th edition. In keeping with tradition of the last few posts, please add your own if you feel inclined.

 

Monster caught. Chalk outline miles long.

Rhinoceros robbed. The piano forever off-key..

Fishing boat drifting, empty. Neptune satiated.

New day; 98 hours long. Enslaved.

Maniacs are unstoppable on submerged submarines.

As suspected, X-ray revealed no spine.

lion around 2

 

Hamilton vs Verniche – SHORT STORY

chalkboard bp

TODAY WAS LONGER than yesterday!” announced Hamilton.

“Impossible! All days are of equal lengths!” countered Professor Verniche.

“To put it scientifically – BULLSHIT! Today, was undoubtedly longer. Some days are longer than others, the same as some days are shorter than others. You can’t disprove it Verniche.”

Irritated by the impudence, Verniche grabbed a stump of white chalk and decorated, with aggressive strokes: the blackboard.

1 Day = 24 hrs  To illustrate he finished with FACT! underneath.

Hamilton rose from his chair, quickly erasing Verniche’s work, then turning to him. “Sorry.”

Verniche rose to the bait. “For what?”

“For erasing your finest contribution to science in decades.”

Verniche went stony faced and crossed his arms at the first wave of laughter.

Hamilton turned back to the blackboard, deftly writing out his theory, the ksk-ksk of chalk on board filling the room.

Yesterday was a day – I worked 8 hours

Today, was longer than yesterday – I’ve worked 12 hours and had to listen to your lecture

A week ago I made love to a beautiful woman – it was a very short day, as if I was in another dimension

With confidence Hamilton finished in a flurry, recounting his own words. Therefore, although we measure time, sometimes it is immeasurable. One day can be longer than the other or vice versa!!!

For once Verniche was silent. And then the entire lecture hall stood up, shouting and applauding the best show on campus: Hamilton versus Verniche. Every Wednesday at 5pm. Lecture Hall LS.24.

 

lion around 2

Let’s Get Semantic

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      FEELING INTELLECTUAL? If yes proceed. If no click anyway.

Language is a given developmental upgrade. How we say something, and what we say may seem plain and straight forward on the surface, but never one to settle for initial appearances, I like to look into the nuances of words and phrases. Semantics is a branch of linguistics associated with deciphering words in a logical sense in an effort to find additional meaning beyond the obvious. So let’s look through the microscope at common phrases:

Just be yourself – A classic, a staple of adults and younger people who have heard the phrase repeated. Often used in situations to reassure someone in order to alleviate anxiety.

Practical use? Zero. If someone is in need of reassurance, being told to be who they are at that moment in time and who they always have been, is like saying, ‘You’re anxious. Now listen, be exactly that same amount of anxious.’ Oh wait, that’s a given as we cannot literally change our minds.

There are plenty of people worse off – Usually said in response to situational complaints. The aim being to make someone feel better about said situation.

Practical use? None. As hollow as the throwaway ‘Everything will be ok’. Knowing there are people hungrier, more tired, more depressed etc is entirely relative and has no bearing on the situation someone is experiencing. Knowing someone is worse off does not affect the situation, because even if you know of someone who really is in a worse position in life, there is no positive to take from that. Ultimately, the mindset the phrase poses is that as long as someone is doing worse than you are, even if you are doing terribly, then you ought to feel better about someones ill fortune in order to boost your mental state.

You wouldn’t understand – Often used flippantly (my yearly adverb, omg!) in response to a back and forth on any number of subjects.

Practical use? Little. Initially, if nothing else, the phrase is presumptuous. If someone says we wouldn’t understand they are questioning our empathy and ability to place ourselves in their position. Youngsters may not have the worldly experience to comprehend issues beyond their years that much is true, however, they are very good at grasping a concept if it is explained. Amongst adults too, the phrase isolates the speaker and commits the sin of not communicating further in order to help someone understand what it is they are saying (or not saying). Even if the breakdown is in discussing why particle physics really is great, ‘You wouldn’t understand’, is a bullshit phrase that helps nobody, and usually someone who says it has something they are not revealing but could be.

Well, I’m not quite sure where that came from. I haven’t even read the first twenty pages (and quit) of a Noam Chomsky book, or deciphered the rhetoric of speeches by George Bush Jr vs Osama Bin Laden for a good eight years. For what it’s worth I believe semantics play a big part in writing fiction allowing us to reveal and express characters emotional states and stages of a story, so I feel I have at least kept this post vaguely writing related. Short story due tomorrow perhaps.

Any phrases you have been exposed to that make zero actual sense? I’d love to hear them.

lion around 2