the short of it

There was a time when I was writing everything in lower case.  Abandoning caps changed the way the words flowed together in a piece.  Every once in a while I still write a lower-case piece, but it’s mostly something I did in the mid-90s.

Another thing I did in the mid-90s and still sometimes do is write very short pieces.  Abandoning caps works better in shorter pieces, since total lower case is not just a little hard on the eyes, it’s also a little more challenging to the mind.  Have to be careful with all that.

But going deep campo for lower case wasn’t the principal reason I wrote short pieces.  I had it in mind to see how short I could get a story to go and still have a full and symmetrical piece.  It seemed about 350 words was the bottom limit.  Pieces also seemed to develop their own internal necessity of length, with around 450 words and 675 words being approximate “natural” lengths for my work.

My first published piece of fiction was in all lower case, and this week it’s the story I’m posting: “eleanor in uncertain way, pulling.”  It was published in NuCity in July of 1995.  (NuCity later became The Weekly Alibi and continued to publish my stuff from time to time.)

6 thoughts on “the short of it”

  1. I’m such a fan, Tetman. It’s interesting that your voice has such continuity through time (and cases). I’d know that was your piece, caps or no.

  2. Thank you, Averil. Paradoxical though it may seem, since I’m so close to my voice it is difficult for me to perceive its temporal continuity. I sometimes worry that I’m all over the stylistic map. Other times I worry that horrible catastrophe awaits me, zeroing in on its target from an unsuspected vector. That’s when I realize I’ve been paying too much attention to the news, which isn’t new at all, it’s the same old dismal stuff and really ought to be called the “bads,” not the “news.” As in, “Have you heard the bads this morning?”

  3. You may be all over the stylistic map, but after all, that piece is (holy shit!) sixteen years old. Your voice and thinking processes are remarkably resilient.

    It’s getting so I can’t look at the bads anymore, what with all the Weiners and weiners and such.

  4. We have a Wiener in our very own Land of Enchantment here, where every day thick brown clouds waft in from Arizona’s burning forests (“Whatcha smokin’, good buddy?” “Arizoner, man, it’s real… piney.”) and every morning we awake to find our cars and everything else outdoors sprinkled with a light coating of grey and black ash, looking like some strange and morbid pollen. Our Wiener is a Republican county commissioner who made the mistake of making a vaguely sexual and somewhat obvious joke about his name and someone named Johnson, and furthermore committed the unforgivable offense of telling a woman “staffer” (not to be confused with “strepper”) in his office that she was “looking good.” His resignation is being demanded by outraged persons (i.e., Democrats) for the alleged offense of creating a hostile work environment, though I can’t say I’ve ever myself been in a work environment that was not in some form hostile.

  5. I used to work for a group of cardiologists, one of whom was a Greek guy (named Nick, of course) who had what I’d now call the August effect on the entire staff. We fell like dominoes. He used to take the entire harem – ehrm, staff – out for drinks, and sometimes his coke-addicted partner would come along, twitching and pinching his nose all night.

    It was a good time, and mostly harmless. No one took offense, no one’s knickers were in a twist. We were a group of adults. We worked, drank, danced, and no one minded that Nick called us sweetie or honey or whatever.

    The office I work in now is plastered with sexual harassment signs. I had to watch a video that instructed me never to touch a coworker, lest I give offense, or use a pet name, since it might be taken the wrong way.

    I miss the old days. (How awful, to sound like an old woman at 42!)

  6. I miss them, too, Averil. Some of them. I’m 53, and I’ve seen situations where a worker could be in a vulnerable and powerless position vis-a-vis a sexually aggressive boss. Can’t say I miss that. But I likewise can’t say I believe making any expression of human sexuality an actionable offense has magically stopped it. All it has done is provided more income opportunities for attorneys.

    It’s a sick and sorry culture that effectively demands every adult be engaged in the maximizing of owners’ profits, then seeks to punish and penalize those same adults when, mixed as they are with other adults, they act like human beings. Even our sexuality now is enslaved. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” my ass. “Land of the free and home of the brave” we sing, trembling in our shackles. And we sing along with Leonard, “Everybody knows that the naked man and woman are just a shining artifact of the past.”

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