A New Year and Other Things

Happy New Year!

I stepped down on my nicotine patches today to the final step, 3, 7mg. A very noticeable difference. I’m as hungry as a bear after winter! I will use these for six weeks, take a vacation in February, and be done with it. I got the not smoking at work part down and that is the only challenge. It is strange to think I’ll be done with this soon. I have fought it on and off since the early 1990’s. Damn, that was awhile ago.

I was talking to a customer of mine a few weeks ago and he too had quit around the same time. He was blabbing how he did it cold turkey after I expressed I was “getting by” and thought it should be just as easy for me as it was for him.

“You do realize,” I asked, “that I have been smoking five years longer than you have been upon this earth?”

A couple of days ago I drew my first four cards from Storymatic (see prior post). I am going to start my new year drawing these in various configurations (see prior post) every few days and dashing off a story each time. I take way too long in-between writings. I can never take a story idea and sketch out a short story – EVERY story explodes into a giant book.

You sit there and think on an idea, research it, toss it around, even if you spend a week or two on just this, it is a week or two you have not written. I can expand that into months and months.

So I am eliminating the sketch part, the gestation part – for short stories – and for the fun of it. Draw the cards, scribble any ideas that come to mind based on them for, say, ten minutes, and then write until it is just flushed. It will be put away at that point until I collect… mmm twenty or so stories and then I will go back over them. Some, I hope, will be worth something and I’ll go back over them some more.

I got a real motley mix for the first round. It sounds like the pieces of an X-Files story. Here are the four cards I drew.

  1. Carnival Worker
  2. Six months to live
  3. Discovery of a new species
  4. Phone call at 3 a.m.

How is that for a first draw? Might as well have had to tell a story from a photograph of a man with a aardvark mounted over his face, spacesuit for attire, in line at the drug store, and the service people are all priests.

What I like about this is how you can treat it as a game and have a lot of fun with it. Take the four cards I pulled. That is the order I pulled them in. One may think, “Alright, so a carnival worker with six months to live discovers a new species but there is a mysterious phone call at 3am…”

That’s a start and if you can get something interesting out of that, I would not begrudge it. But think of how many possibilities there are in that simple draw. Is it the carnival worker who has six months to live? Maybe it is the newly discovered species. Perhaps the newly discovered species, before he is discovered, gets a phone call at 3am from the carnival worker “I know who you are” because the newly discovered species is a “freak” and a carnival worker would know one if he saw one.

The 3am phone call does not have to be to either. It can be to an entirely different person and that person has six months to live. Maybe the carnival worker has possession of the newly discovered (soon to be discovered) species. And the government is after it (the X-Files angle). Maybe the discovery is not a discovery after all (you could get very Lafferty-like with that). 3am – where? Six months to live? Maybe not a sickness, perhaps death row. Carnival worker – freak or one of the clean up crew or an animal handler, ticket man?

Maybe I’ll post one if it is not too ghastly.

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