Category Archives: Literary Excursions

A Short Play: Sit and Shit or Squat and Scat?

Sit and shit or squat and scat? It’s that eternal question that vexes us all.

This is from a play I wrote called Sit and Shit or Squat and Scat? A bit of scatology for your edification and evacuation. I hope you enjoy it.

Latrine One

The latrine opens in in a resturdant called Designated Shitting Streets. Clay and his swirlfriend Baby are seated on wooden stools. The four stalls of the room around them are defecated with tasteful modern fart.

“Do you love me Baby?”

“Oh Clay. You know I will always be your Clay Baby.”

Good afternoon, sir and welcome to Designated Shitting Streets. Are you ready to ordeal?

“Not yet.”

“That’s fine. No need to hershey. Fecal free to look at the menu until you decide.”

“Ready to odor now?”

“One smear for here, please.”

“I see, one smear for here.”

“Anything to stink with that?”

“I’ll just have squatter. That’ll be fine.”

“Ok, one squatter.”

“So it’s one smear and one squatter, right?”

“That’s right.”

“Anything for dessert after you’re done?”

“What do you have?”

“Pooper and squatter.”

“Pooper will be fine.”

“Thank you sir. Your ordeal will be ready soon in that nice clean white room on the right. Don’t forget to poo in the loo when you are done. Thank you for shopping at Designated Shitting Streets, sir, and have a good day please.”



Filed under Literary Excursions

Smart Kids

When I was very young, one Easter I said to my mother, “Why does the Easter Bunny leave eggs? Rabbits don’t lay eggs. They’re mammals.”

I was 3 years old. I can’t believe I knew that stuff at age 3, but I also reading by age 3. I was over at the house of one my great uncles at that age, and my Mom told the uncle, Ivan, that I could already read at such a young age. Ivan didn’t believe her and scoffed. He took a random book off the shelf (an adult book, not a children’s book), opened a page and gave it to me to read. I started reading it, moving my finger along the sentences and sounding out the words. I had no idea what the words I was sounding out meant, but I was sounding them out correctly. Ivan was shocked.

One Easter, when my brother was 3 years old, he peeked outside the curtains. Just jumped backwards. “I know who the Easter Bunny is!” He proclaimed. “It’s Dad!” He had seen my father out in the yard hiding the Easter eggs.

Some kids are pretty damn smart.


Filed under Intelligence, Literary Excursions, Psychology


Look lively, listless language lovers, learning lame lulls lack lasting legitimacy lessening lofty literature’s lumbering, lurching locomotion; leaving Local Lunatic Linguist listing letters, let’s lazily luxuriate, losing life’s latest little lingering laments like landlords limit lawless louts’ leases, least-leniently letting long-lost loathsome lecturers lambaste liberated leaders, lucidly laughing: Listen — lending lighthearted levity lubricates lavish labor, launching latent legato lyrics like larynx-lodged lasagna; likewise, licking lollipops; looping leashes loosely; lustily locking lips; lemon-lime lozenges; large-lidded lunch liquids; lastly, low light levels limning luscious landscapes.


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Filed under Humor, Literary Excursions

Eek! (E-K)

English enthusiasts eagerly envision enhanced emotional elevation, exceeding even existing examples’ elicited elation, encountering each ensuing eccentric exercise, ergo everyone’s esteemed enlisted essayist (enchanted!) ensures each exquisite excerpt exhibits explosive expressive efficacy evincing either excruciating editing effort, extreme endurance, engineering excellence, etc., else elemental extemporaneous effervescence, entertaining enough except — explaining earnestly — entailing eventual emergency; essentially, endorsing ever-escalating elaborate experimentation encourages extravagant excesses, especially emphasizing expectations encompassing elusive execution extending established events — exclusively employing equal everyday emblems (E’s, e.g.) embodying each emblem ensemble’s earlier end (elsewhere enunciated easily) — evaluating endowing entirely equivalent eloquence eternally, envisaging electronic education’s emerging endeavor enjoying eight, eleven, even eighteen entries, exploits experts empirically estimate expending extra-Einstein egghead energy engendering environmentally evil, Earth-exposing exhaled exhaust emissions.

Five funny features feel fairly finished for forum fodder, foolish followers falsely fancy, for failing further focus fueling full foresight, fellow fiction fanciers frankly forget fundamental facts framing fruits from frenzied freelancing, for first fragments flowing from frantic freshman fingers frequently fall flat, forming forced, flawed fakeries feigning fluency, faded facsimiles fractionally fitting for fatuous Facebook flapdoodle, familiar formulaic fragments famously fouling friends’ feeds; fine, for furthermore, fascinatingly, first forays facing far-flung fringe frontiers, finding faith’s fortitude ferociously fighting formidable foes — fear, frustration, flaky functioning, foot fungus — forge foundations for future feats, figurative furniture for fortune’s foyer, faintly favoring fantastic fairytale fates, fervently foremost finally finishing forever.

Good grief, getting gobsmacked glimpsing great glory gushing goofy gibberish generates growing gaiety, gladdening geekery’s gracious groupie (greetings), generally greasing God’s genetically ghostwritten gearbox governing giddiness gainsaying glumness: graphically, guts, glands — generously, gantries guiding glowing glee grains granting genuine giggles, graceful gadgets guarding geniality’s green garden gate; gobbledygook, gentle guy/girl gathering: grin given glimmering gold; gasp gratuitously guzzling glittery glamor (greedily, gilded gramophones gurgling garbled Gangnam getting groovy gyrating go-go gals gamely gesturing galloping); groan giant, guttural groans given glaringly glib games, gross grammatical goulash, gloppy gumbo grouping gimmicks galore: gawky gymnasts gliding gallantly, gingerly grasping gigantic grotesque gorillas; guileless genius guaranteeing gullible gala-goers grimy garbage garnering ghastly grapevine gossip (galling grieving geriatrics gripping geraniums gentrifying grandpa’s grave); ghoulish gory galleries giving grimacing guests grisly gas, grunting gruffly: go gag gobbling grass, goddamn gibbon, get gone guilty gent, git!

Huge hits have historically harbored hidden hazards, hysterical hordes hardly heeding how habitually heaping honors hyping his Holiness, Harry Harangue-Hatcher, hollering, “Hip hip, hooray! Hail Hypertext Highway’s happening hack!” heavily heightens his hedonism, hubris, head hugeness — harsh harbingers hurling humanity’s hardiest hero hellward, hereafter helming his hapless human husk haunting Hades’s hallmark hot haze, heckling Halloween’s hideous headless horseman (hefting his hollow head), harassing Hitler’s hired Holocaust henchmen, hassling ham-handed helicopter handlers — hopefully, hypothetically, having hardcore horizontal hugs holding his horny, high-heeled hourglass honey (he handily helped hang her hemp Hawaiian hammock), heartland’s “happy” housewife humbling hotel heiress Hilton, heinously having hated her husband’s horsey hee-haw “hello,” his hundred horrible hay howls hammering her homicidal; however, have heart, huddled hint hobbyists, hearkening how hallowed hieroglyphs hurtling hence harmonize hypnotically, heaven’s harps highlighting how hyperactive hippocampus hockey heaves hilarious harvested hash — healthy herbs healing hungry humor hankerings.

It is intriguing, if I innocently introspect, inquiring into industriousness, imagining isolating its ingredients, i.e. internal impetuses instrumental in inspiring indefinite intransigence in inking inane, ignoble illustrations (illuminating immoderate idiom’s indomitable impetuosity, its irrepressible impishness, in infinite iterations), intently ignoring indolent inclinations inducing interest in idly inspecting Internet idiocy instead — insouciantly ingesting incessant immature innuendos insulting impromptu interactive images, inevitably imbibing insipid informational items interpreting important issues incorrectly; if indeed impressive inner influences inhere in intrepidly indulging improbable initiatives, I informally identify: idiosyncratic innate impulses involving inflexible ideals; incurable insomnia; iron intestinal integrity; insufficiently inebriated introversion; indubitably, intellectual imperative imitating insecure icicles in impaling indifferent inactivity.

Jumping Jehoshaphat, J’s jaunty jangle jovially jolts jaded jargon junkies, justifying judicious juggling joining jocose journal jottings; judging Job’s Judaic journey jejune, jamming jousts (jointly, jabs) jeopardizing joyful June/July junctures — just jubilate, juvenilely jacking jumbo Jamba Juice jugs joking jumbled jingles jollify jail’s jeering junior janitors.

Knucklehead knaves karate-kicking King Kong’s kidneys kneel, kindred kibitzers, keenly knowing kempt knights knead keyboards, knitting kooky keynotes — kerosene kinetically kindling kinky kittens’ kisses, kiddingly kidnapping Kim Kardashian’s kingdom keys, knotting klutzy Kanye’s knickers; knappish killjoys, kowtow: kryptonite k-key knacks keep knowledge-knockers knackered.

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Filed under Humor, Literary Excursions


Behold, by being brave, but besides boldness by brainstorming before beginning, broadcasting brief blurbs becomes bizarre but basic babbling.

Continuing, casual crowd commenters can concur, collectively checking current compositional constraints controlling character choice, concerning certain crackpot creative chores, chiefly claiming common cunning’s compelled conclusion, comprising conjectured chore conquerability (circumstantially) carrying clear caveats cautioning care, considering calling colossal commitments complete cinches could convey controversial cool confidence.

Don’t dare doubt David’s diligence doing deeds demanding deft, devious design, dear discussion denizen, deeming dogged determination doesn’t darken David’s door; during diction’s driest drudgery, despite delightful daydreams delaying development, destiny’s death-defying daredevil detail deviser dodges despair, denying defeat, displaying devotion, demonstrating dreary deliberation, doubles daft drama’s devastating dynamic disposition, dovetailing directly.



Filed under Humor, Literary Excursions

An Anomalous Addendum


Assembling an appropriate answer appears achievable, assuming an articulate author appropriately adept at alliteration.


Filed under Humor, Literary Excursions

“Jonah, The Series,” Chapter Outline for Serial Work of Novelettes

A friend of mine is working on this work of fiction. I haven’t read much of it, but I did read the chapter outline. I wasn’t wild about his earlier work (movie reviews), but I really enjoyed this chapter outline. He has a BA degree in English from South Carolina State University. He has given the work to a professor who has published several novels and the professor liked it.

This work has “pulp” elements, but I like it anyway, though I am not much into pulp stuff. To me, this seems like it is publishable. It is at least as good as a lot of the pulp stuff out there and maybe even better.

Each novelette is 17,500 words or 70 pages.

Perhaps you are wondering what the limits are for various forms of fiction. Here they are, approximately:

  1. Short-short story – 1-8 pages (under 2,000 words)
  2. Short story – 8-30 pages (2,000-7,500 words)
  3. Novelette – 30-70 pages (7,500-17,500 words)
  4. Novella – 70-160 pages (17,500-40,000 words)
  5. Novel – 160 pages+ (40,000 words+)

Feel free to offer any comments on it.


Welcome to North Hill, South Carolina. In the day it’s a glitzy city and a cheap vacation spot. At night it’s ruled by criminals and cursed by darkness.

15-year-old Jonah Singleton is an angst-ridden petty thief, running with a group of misfits who steal for profit under their friend Bert. One night Jonah’s life is forever changed when a harrowing encounter leaves him with the superhuman abilities of an otherworldly being. Soon Jonah’s amazing powers make him a local legend amongst the lowlifes and hoods, earning him the street name ‘Gold Star’ and driving Bert away.

But Bert’s not going away quietly. He quickly resurfaces as ‘King Bloodlust,’ having gained demonic powers of his own, and conscripts nearly all the gangs in the city on a vengeful crusade against Jonah. Meanwhile, Jonah’s aura affects his closest friends, granting them unique gifts of their own. Selena (‘Daughter Nature’) Reiner gains the ability to control and become the four elements; David (‘Duck’) Morris can download information into his brain simply by tapping books and computers; and Steve (‘Seeker’) James can psychically locate any object or person he’s touched.

With war brewing and the lives of Jonah’s family and friends at stake, he must seek out allies for the coming conflict and learn what it means to be a ‘hero’ before everything he knows is lost. Along the way he’ll fall in love, and of course, eat plenty of Slim Jims.

1. EPISODE ONE: “The Lost Ones”

(1). I Am…
(2). The Lost Ones
(3). The Super Feedbag Raid
(4). The Price of Power
(5). By These Hands

EPISODE TWO: “Origins.”

(1). The Altercation
(2). Mama
(3). The Test of Wits
(4). The Test of Silence
(5). The Operation
(6). Surrounded
(7). Changes

EPISODE THREE: “On Becoming a Legend”

(1). Karen
(2). Backseat Tiger
(3). The Legend Begins
(4). Healing Hand
(5). The Legend Spreads
(6). Hot and Heavy
(7). Apprehension


(1). [Bert] Inauguration
(2). The Really Lost Ones
(3). Paying the Rent
(4). Ransom
(5). Pro Bono Rescue
(6). Highway to Hell
(7). Comfort Food
(8). [Bert] Succession
(9). Light and Pain

EPISODE FIVE: “Fixing the Hurt”

(1). Story of the Year
(2). [NHPD] New Assignment
(3). The Man in the Woods
(4). Control Freak
(5). Carry On Wayward Son
(6). [NHPD] New Lead
(7). The Incredibly Strange Zombies Who Became Mixed Up Creatures
(8). Who’s Your Daddy?
(9). [????] Problem Child


(1). [Duck] Nerds, Dummies and Mutants
(2). [Duck] The Accidental Scholar
(3). [Duck] David: Portrait of a Serial Book Toucher
(4). [Duck] It’s a Date
(5). [Duck] Dip into Darkness

EPISODE SEVEN – “It’s Elemental”

Chapter List
(1). [Selena] The One about the Preacher’s Daughter
(2). [Selena] A Very Reiner Thanksgiving
(3). [Selena] Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, Heart
(4). [Selena] Daughter Nature Rising
(5). [Selena] Good Girls Don’t…
(6). [Selena] …But I Do.
(7). [Bloodlust] Vetoed

EPISODE EIGHT: “Seeker.” (Incomplete)(1). [Steve] Brain Synergy
(2). [Steve]
(3). [Steve]
(4). [Steve]
(5). [Steve] The Girl, the Park, and Other Things
(6). [The True Coming] Hands of an Angry God

Episode 9. “Three Shades of Red”
Episode 10. “Race.”
Episode 11. “The 1.44 MB Nuke Adventure”
Episode 12. “Beating.”
Episode 13. “Old Scars”
Episode 14. “Closer.”
Episode 15. “King Bloodlust’s Court: A Winter Rumble”
Episode 16. “Vigilante.”
Episode 17. “The Virgin Surgeon”
Episode 18. “Prelude.”
Episode 19. “The Knightfall Effect”
Episode 20. “Equalizer.”
Episode 21. “The Pure Light”
Episode 22. “Goodbye.”


Bloodlust has been beaten and the Red Deaths all subsequently exorcized. But in the aftermath, North Hill is far from safe. While Selena struggles with her near-death experience and Jonah deals with his family and personal life, Duck finishes ingesting The Book of Last Remnants, and the truth he reveals spells out even worse trouble for Team Gold. Now Jonah must face off against Master Vel, the man behind the Bloodlust Curtain—a demon whose death could mean the deaths of everyone.

Episode 23. “Cruel Summer”
Episode 24. “Words.”
Episode 25.
Episode 26.
Episode ? “Final Phase”


Selena heads off to college, and with her boyfriend Jonah still in high school that can only mean one thing: an inevitable breakup. But Team Gold will need each other more than ever this time. With Master Vel out of commission and Etea slaughtered, The Order of the True Coming is, to put it bluntly, not happy with Jonah and company. For that matter, neither are the ever-watching dark gods, who have an agenda of their very own.

Open war is declared on Team Gold from two fronts; further complicating matters is that Etea has thrown the positive/negative energy spectrum off-balance, turning North Hill into a beacon for paranormal activity as it attracts the remaining Last Remnants. As the True Coming searches for a final solution to bringing down the Barrier, and poltergeists, curses, and exactly one vampire make life for North Hill a living Hell, Team Gold makes a pact in the midst of the chaos: to expel the dark gods once and for all, at the understood risk of breaking the world apart.

Episode ? “There Will Only Be One…”
Episode ? “There Went My Hero”
Episode ? “Expulsion.”
Episode ? “Purity Ring”


A crucial moment of truth that could change the course of Jonah’s life forever is interrupted when he is stabbed in the back with a magic knife and snatched from his dimension by a foppish, green-skinned creep. Now under direct control of The Hopper and with no discernible way to return home, Jonah has no choice but to be bounced through a series of incredibly oddball—and often quite poignant—parallel Earths.

Jonah’s final stop lands him in a dimension overrun by the Hell Realm, where he comes face to face with Abigail Braxton, a girl whose strength and abilities rival Jonah’s own. And not a moment too soon, either, for Abigail is on a collision course with destiny, her own world’s fate hanging in the balance. Fortunately for Gold Star and the Guardian, hope appears in the form of a legendary sword with power of cosmic proportions.

Episode ? “Sister Golden Hair”
Episode ? “The Guardian and the Gold Star”
Episode ? “Heavenblade”


Jonah returns to his Earth for a bittersweet reunion. But following close behind him is the Heavenblade, and following close behind that is a confused Abigail…and serious complications. Before Jonah can wash his hands of a love triangle he never intended, the Multiverse is thrown into its darkest hour. An existence-destroying force known only as ‘The Corruption’ has been sprung free of its prison. Its ultimate target: the Chrysalis, a pillar that binds all that is and all that could be together. Doom approaches faster than Jonah can prepare, but with the Pure Light lost and the Heavenblade exhausted, our hero is backed into a corner as the ground literally vanishes beneath his feet.

The bells have rung and the carpet has rolled out for the final battle. This time all creation is at stake. Failure means not only the end of existence, but the possibility that existence could ever bloom again. Do the good guys always get a happy ending?

Episode ? Sharp Edges
Episode ? Transfer. (Final episode.)

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Filed under Literary Excursions, Literature

Life (Sad Song)

The years. The long years. The sadness of the years.

Those are lines from my fiction. I wrote those lines 34 years ago, in 1979, when I was 22 years old. I still like them a lot. The Buddhists say, “all of life is sadness,” and in a way they are correct. Once you are realize that, it is very liberating, and you can be very happy. Incidentally, I was a very happy person when I wrote those lines; unfortunately, a lot happier than I am now. I was very happy as a young man, less so later on.


Filed under Literary Excursions, Philosophy


It never starts it never stops it just goes it never zeroes.

That is from my fiction. I wrote that line in 1979 when I was 22 years old. I still like that line a lot.


Filed under Literary Excursions

How I Write Fiction: From a Recent Example

Using the recent flash fiction that I published on this blog, I will give you a brief treatise on how I write, what my values are as a writer, and what I hope to achieve. I will also supply a brief exegesis of some aspects of the story that may be confusing. Here is the piece, which runs to a mere 4 pages and 558 words. Flash fiction is generally under 1000 words:

For years the teenage girl had prayed, prayed for her Dream Man. She knew exactly what he looked like, what clothes he wore, how he combed his hair, what he liked to eat, what he was like in bed, his favorite romantic lines. In fact, she had his entire personality analyzed better than most analysts could.

She knew him from boyhood through wild teen years to stable manhood. Now he was 40, and he was finally a man. After all, all men are boys until age 40, she reasoned, perking her female wiles, fox ears in the air.

Through the years, Dream Man had never changed. He always looked the same, had the same voice and even had the same outfits. He liked the same books and the same movies.

He never changed; he only grew. He was like the best of us that way.

One night she sat on her bed, with a great book by a great writer in her hands. The silver prose sang right off the pages. Pages leaped and fluttered as she turned them giddily, leaves in the wind, dancing.

But her mind kept going back to Dream Man, just like it always did.

Behind everything, there was a surface and a deeper pool. And all art forms merged together in the end.

Behind the painting on the wall, a city of words.

Behind every prayer, a city of dreams.

It was raining outside, steady dribble and flow away there. The lights flickered now and again. The bright dimmed once again. She looked up.

A glimmering against the wall, and there he was, shining just like forever. Dream Man, in all of his resplendence, spanking new as yesterday.

She blinked her eyes.

“How did you get here?”

“I came down with the rain,” he answered.

She blinked again. Not only did I get a stud, but I got a poet as well. Dream Man indeed. Dream Man squared. Dream Man for the win.

“Why? You answered my prayers?”

“Special delivery,” he shone, flashing at the wall.

“Just for me?”

“For you only. For who else? Someone listens, you know.”

“So dreams really do come true then? A-and prayers? Prayers too?” A bit of water brimmed her eyes.

“Not really,” he riddled. “But maybe for a little bit, a dribble of hope, a tiny chance, a morsel, a peck, a taste.”

“And then?” She was blinking furiously.

“Then we pull away the curtain,” he revealed with stark finality.

“Close your eyes, then open them,” he charmed.

She did as she was told. Snake in a trance, how could she not?

When she opened her eyes, his hand was in the air, fading in and out, technicolor against the wall.

A wave, and gone.

What say then? What to do now? She was dizzy, and the room was pitching back and forth on its seas.

But a song was in the air. She lifted her chin upwards, and the words began to flutter in the air.

“We all had,” she sang. “A once upon a time.”

In a decrepit world, stumbling in tears and rags, starving and bleeding amidst the ruins, perfection is a mean hoax.

But as an antidote to the cruel pallor of life in praxis, kneeling against the wall, hands clasped, the city of dreams.

Now, first of all, I begin with what I think are simple yet stunning images in my head. Often they are word pictures, but they are also sometimes little sentences. I spend a good part of most days doing whatever and thinking what I think are striking images and powerful sentences. I am looking for an image that flashes, searing embedded in my mind, that resonates with power and beauty.

I don’t particularly care whether the image or the sentence contains much in the way of meaning – instead, I just wanted an arresting, shocking, stunning and especially perfectly beautiful image or sentence. This was rather what the surrealists were after – they renounced plot, structure, character development and dialogue – the whole nine yards, in favor the stunning blow of a frighteningly gorgeous image or string of words.

I started out this piece with a stunning sentence and image that appeared in my head. I got the image of a man who appears out of nowhere to a woman in the rain. She asks, “Where did you come from?” And he answers, “I came down with the rain.” Wow! I loved that image. A man floating down out of the rain to appear magically before a woman. I also liked the very sound of the sentence itself.

After I tossed that image around in my head awhile, I decided to construct a story around that very sentence. So the entire story really is fake, cardboard, paper-mache, an artifact, a container. The story is a flimsy structure artificially constructed to contain and hold a series of powerful images designed to freeze you with their glorious beauty.

So I came up with the idea of a woman in her room, and it is raining outside. At the other side of the room, the man appears. Hence the two sentences above can now be used. But why did this man come down out of the rain and end up in this woman’s room. It was then that I came up with the idea that he was a figment of her imagination. I then elaborated that with my idea that woman, more than men, hold onto an image of the perfect man for far too long into life. And of course the perfect man does not even exist, but to many teenage girls and young women he does, and their trifling and silly pursuit of him causes all manner of problems for young women who refuse to face reality.

At that point, I decided she either had to be a young woman or a teenage girl, since most sensible women have dropped the Dream Man thing by age 30 or so, hence the bitterness of women’s 30’s and beyond when the female is stricken with the dead weight of reality, cold and black as coal.

For some odd reason, I decided to make her into a teenage girl. Some readers have commented on this, suggesting that the story is all about a teenage girl or I must have a thing for teenage girls. I don’t care about teenage girls anymore except to reminisce. They are nice to look at sometimes, but so are women. So the choice of the heroine as a teenage girl was strictly an afterthought and has no particular meaning.

I then began to construct the outlines of a conversation between the girl and the man who I now called Dream Man, or the man of her dreams. This took a number of days to flesh out in whole.

At some point, another phrase or image exploded in my mind. It was, “city of words.” I didn’t really know what it meant, but it sounded totally arresting and striking in that surrealist way. It swam around in my head a bit and finally I had a sentence for it, “Behind every painting, a city of words.”

What this means is that all forms of art blur together. There’s a picture in every story and a thousand stories in every picture. In a novel, 1,000 or 10,000 paintings or a movie. In that painting on the wall, a poem, a short story, or a novel. Scratch the canvas and find, underneath, a city of words. See?

Next for some reason the phrase, “city of dreams,” popped into my head, obviously related to the first one. I then made a sentence out of this and wove it into the story: “Behind every prayer, a city of dreams.” That ought to be self-explanatory.

I wanted to weave this stuff into the story of the girl and her dream man, so I did so, albeit awkwardly.

“All men are boys until age 40,” – a 20 year old girl, a friend of mine a few years back, made this statement to me, and it’s stayed ever since. I liked it, so I wove it into the story.

“A wave, and gone.” – is a neat little sentence from some previous fiction that I wrote. I loved the sound of it, so I wove it into the story.

A line had been floating around in my head for a while. It was, “The silver prose sang right off the pages,” used to describe some great writing in a book. I loved the beauty of the phrase. So I found a way to work it rather artificially into the story.

After a while, at some point what I thought was a line from an old song came into my head. I thought it was, “We all had our once upon a time.” I loved the sound of it so much, and I thought I could weave it to the story. I decided to have the girl say that upon disappearance of Dream Man. “Oh well, at least we have our dreams,” she is saying. I Googled the sentence and variations on it and came up with nothing until I called a friend of mine and he told me it was from an Elton John song called, “Curtains.” At the end of the song, John sings,

And just like us
You must have had
A once upon a time

So I threw it in there anyway, modified in the way that I remembered it. Writers can rip off lines from songs, TV shows, speeches, commercials, movies, just about anything, you name it. It gets a bit fuzzy when you rip other writers, but this happens all the time too in one way or another. Often it’s simply an allusion or tribute. In worse cases, it is out and out plagiarism. It’s perfectly acceptable to riff off a popular song this way.

In a decrepit world, stumbling in tears and rags, starving and bleeding amidst the ruins, perfection is a mean hoax.

But as an antidote to the cruel pallor of life in praxis, kneeling against the wall, hands clasped, the city of dreams.

Those sentences close the piece. The world is decrepit simply because it lacks perfection,to say the least. That’s at the best of times. At worst, life is an unparalleled disaster of unimaginable magnitude. I think of some of my friends’ tribulations as I write this. Some Dream Man! Some Dream World! There is no such thing as either. Those who dream the world into such an illusion are being hoaxed or hoaxing themselves, cruelly enough as they will soon discover.

“Life in praxis” is just a fancy way or saying, “life as it actually is,” sort of like how they used to talk about “actually existing socialism.”

In the final sentence, we see that no matter how horrific life is, we still have our prayers, our dreams, our fantasies, our city of dreams. We can always dream. Fantasy, while non-adaptive when used as a guide for life, is an excellent defense against whatever monstrosities life visits upon us. No matter how bad it gets, we can always relapse into fantasy, the wonder and glory of which know no bounds. This is nice! We don’t have to suffer whatever unspeakable horror du jour is being dished up alone and without comfort. We always have the escape valve of fantasy to alleviate the pain or vanish altogether into a dream world where misery is lessened or vacant.

The story is rather simplistic in plot, the characters might not be fleshed out too well (though one commenter loved the girl) and who knows how well the dialogue goes. And the theme, the difference between reality and fantasy, is an old one (one commenter suggested it was trite and asinine).

But really all of those things – plot, characters, dialogue and theme – were more or less artificially constructed to surround what I felt were several stunning and arresting images and gorgeous little sentences.

One complaint was that the prose was purple. Purple prose is overwrought, overdone, adjective-laden, flowery writing. Supposedly it is bad prose, but it’s really a matter of taste. Some famous writers have been accused of writing purple prose.

It is interesting that there is no such thing as purple poetry. This is because it is not possible to be too purple, adjectival or flowery when one writes poetry, which is intriguing right there.

Now I feel that the best prose is always poetry anyway, and there are now genres that merge the two such as prose poetry and whatnot. Personally, I am fond of purple prose.

Those who hate it say it is the mark of horrible writing, but I am not so sure. As a terrible artist could not do a poor imitation of a Rembrandt, so a lousy writer cannot possibly write purple prose. You have to be pretty good to start with to even try to draw or write great stuff. Looking around the web, I see plenty of examples of writing that is anywhere from lousy to not particularly impressive (keep in mind I hate most other writers). One thing I certainly almost never see is a lousy writer trying and badly failing to write great prose. Would that they even tried in the first place.

As a friend told me, once you start trying to write great prose, things get awfully dicey.

“There’s a fine line between great literary writing and utterly pretentious, pompous garbage,” he said.

Well, sure. One man’s great writing, singing to the heavens, is another’s laughably pretentious purple-prose ridden dreck, bobbing in a murky, steaming sump.


Filed under Literary Excursions, Writing