Monday, February 06, 2006

(ssf) joy

The assignment for my short short fiction class this week was to write a story that begins with the words "This is going to be fun." With, as the instructor repeatedly pointed out, the quotation marks and the period. To practice doing dialogue, I think, except the last three stories I wrote have been nothing but dialogue, so I didn't want any more of that.

Instead, it seemed like a splendid occasion to see if I could write a shiny, happy story that would make readers feel all gooey and warm about humanity. Norman Rockwell with a word processor, that sort of thing. Not really. The result is titled "Joy" and is available here. It's about academia, but, in case this isn't obvious, it does not have any connection to anything autobiographical or quasi-autobiographical.

Anyway, the suggestions I've received via comments or e-mails for previous ssf-orts have been extremely helpful, so let me know if you have any non-despair-inducing reactions.

Update, Tuesday night: Minor revisions, in response to comments.


Rhymes With Scrabble said...

I liked that line, too.

I have to go get my blood drawn right now, but I will try to provide more helpful commentary later--you should know, though, that I was giggling pretty much throughout. I think having grown up in academia made it particularly amusing.

One impression: I'm not sure if I was supposed to realize earlier on that Joy was a person; I was a bit confused about it until the part about her sleeping with everyone.

Brayden said...

Very funny. My favorite line was the one about being "serious scholars who happen to hate one another."

carly said...

You didn't really need to point out that it wasn't autobiographical, as it's pretty obvious. The reason? You would never be "horrified by [the] rental of a karaoke machine"


Anonymous said...

I'm happy to see Marty, the clown, finally made an appearance on JFW. I was beginning to think that whole experience was wasted on you.

jeremy said...

Yes, I was going to say nothing was autobiographical except for Marty the Clown.

Anonymous said...

Very promising. Thanks for sharing!

Lots of internal pent-up venting, silent sputtering going on -- but to this reader leads logically to the only spoken sentence coming LAST -- not first!
Yep, and meekly said, it is: "This is going to be fun."

Anonymous said...

A fun twist on the assignment.

I don't know how many drafts you do before putting these online, but you do a good job of presenting useful information in a way that seems to flow naturally as I read it.

I like the way this one assumes knowledge at the start, just as a real memo or e-mail would, and we gain understanding of the situation as we read, adding to our sense of the environment when the memo writer tosses in details in realistic fashion as the memo progresses.

To make this come even more to life, I'd like to see more concrete details (inserted to appear natural, and economically so as to keep it short short). References to people, happenings, rooms, water fountains, clocks, weather, what have you.

A little grammar comment: I believe correct grammar for the sentence "If this was going to be fun, people would attend voluntarily" is to use "were" rather than "was." Grammar can be meaningful, especially in short short pieces, and I didn't see that the deviation in this instance was pointing to anything.

Having read three of your short short fictions now, what I'd like to see is whether you'll write a convincing short short piece that captures/expresses an emotion or central thought, or presents a situation that leads the reader to observation(s) not stated. Not to get all serious on you.

Thanks, I enjoy the stories! How brave of you to put them up here for us to babble about.

Anonymous said...

Questions: How many in the class? Do you all have time to comment on everybody else's work? How does that work anyway?

jeremy said...

7. We do have enough time to read each other's stuff, or at least have so far, in part because we haven't had a class yet where all seven people have attended and had stories.

Karton said...

Scary -- when I came to work yesterday there were posters on the doors and bulletin boards reading:

Don't Worry!
A Good Time Is On The Way ... Cabin Fever Party
Saturday, March 4

Ours is not mandatory, though.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious! New Yorker-level funny.

I expect to see it linked all over the blogosphere. Or at least the academic blogosphere. Certainly the social science academic blogosphere. For sure the snarky Madison-based social science academic blogosphere.

Thanks for sharing.

- Tenured old fart former chair.