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KindaNice
March 14th, 2014, 10:02 AM
Buying things contributes to the entire economy. But I'm not sure where money is really supposed to end up, so I just give it to other people instead. Generally, they have nametags.

The different aisles had different things in them. One of the aisles had a person in it. Her cart was blocking some of it, so she moved it. I smiled at her, using my best impression of a person smiling at another person for no reason. Her smile mirrored mine, reflecting my forced cheer back upon me.

We were caught in a feedback loop, bouncing an empty smile between us. I grabbed my cookies and walked past.

At checkout, a man in front of me bought six packages of the same thing. The cashier grabbed one box and swiped it over the scanner in a circle repeatedly, focusing with unreserved intensity at the screen. I imagined a human being standing on an undeveloped Earth, doing that same motion. The other forest creatures gave him wary looks, keeping their distance.

The other register called, “I can get you over here.” There was no one else there to respond.

“How are you today?” she asked, no eye contact.

“Pretty good, I guess.” Fortunately, my brain responds much slower than my mouth. For about a second after the answer, I am still thinking through the actions of the day, compiling experiences for a final evaluation. But then I realize I can give up; that wasn't really a question.

The swiping was in progress. I watched digits fill into place on various screens. 'Beep' equals $2.49. 'Beep' equals $4.68. I see the total sum long before the cashier tells me. I pat my upper left thigh.

There is no bulged rectangular wallet there.




So, this is just a little writing I did, probably over a year ago now, for this funny little series I liked to make about fictionalized parts of my day. It's based on a few trips to the store I had back in my old town. I have several of these, and you are the first person to see any of them. What does this make you feel, and how strongly do you feel it? I want to know because I can't separate this writing from my memory.

InkyEdits
March 14th, 2014, 04:11 PM
I am not entirely sure of the meaning behind this piece but it is very interesting and held my attention. I feel as though I want to ask all kinds of odd questions in regard to it, but what you have written here speaks for itself. It seems to be an account of general, daily things that each of us endure and though most of us ignore such blandness, the select few who see more in everyday things, view them like this. In mentioning the smiling, I ended up smiling as I read it and whether or not that was its purpose, I don't know but it seems to be one of the things most people lack these days. I walk down the street all the time and smile at everyone, despite my own mood or theirs and yet, they never return the gesture. It's a funny thing — I'd like to read more of these snippets.

TMFlynn
March 18th, 2014, 09:29 AM
Some great observations and you make the mundane compelling. You've created a character and voice that I would be happy to spend more time with. You romanticize seemingly empty moments and inject some meaning into a routine activity. And then there's the twist...

-AT
March 18th, 2014, 04:16 PM
Reading this, it's really easy to place yourself in this character's shoes. You can pretty clearly imagine these interactions and thoughts as if they were your own.

It's quite a neat experience. Honestly, when he smiled, I thought to myself "why did I do that?".

thepancreas11
March 18th, 2014, 10:35 PM
Good call, AT. The piece that people can relate to usually gets read and passed on. Characters that we find ourselves empathizing with stick with us when the mundane slip by. I'm okay with the idea of a blurb of fiction like this. Flash fiction definitely has it's little niche; good label, calling it a painting but with words. The way that you've described everything, it could be the modern day equivalent of a Norman Rockwell. Exhibit A: the human goes to the market and follows all the market-y tasks.

There's not much here to critique, honestly. I can only hope that your longer pieces have the kind of "color" that this little thing does because they'd be a delightful read if they did. You should definitely post some more! Also, writing like this reminds me to invite you to try the LM competitions in the future. I think you'd especially like this months Non-Fiction competition where you pick a picture and write about it (if I remember correctly).

W.Goepner
March 19th, 2014, 03:42 AM
I like it. Oops we are not supposed to say that like that. In my life experiences of like demeanor I have found it a bit disgusting to dance arround the other person shopping within the same area as me. Typically they tend to watch me out of the corner of their eye and block my view of what I am looking for.

Yet to smile the mundane smile. I found myself recalling my trip to the outlet store and my encounters with others there. You said this was an excerpt from your daily life back when. Well you suceeded in taking me with you and I found it enjoyable. I look forward to reading more.

Bartleby9
March 20th, 2014, 05:31 AM
The only bad thing I can say about it is its not long enough. It's good though. It touches on how dehumanizing technology can be. It has plenty of irony.

I wonder if you've considered writing a longer narrative with a character who goes through life negotiating with the world this way.

KindaNice
March 20th, 2014, 09:44 PM
Thanks all for your feedback. I'm glad I shared this with someone.


The only bad thing I can say about it is its not long enough. It's good though. It touches on how dehumanizing technology can be. It has plenty of irony.

I wonder if you've considered writing a longer narrative with a character who goes through life negotiating with the world this way.

I actually have considered something like that, but unfortunately I couldn't come up with any sort of plot for such a story. There's the everpresent conflict between the narrator and the world around him, but in a longer story that would stop being conflict and just turn into a description style. I basically don't know how to make a resolution to that conflict that would have a satisfying build up. Also, writing in this style gets boring to write and significantly more boring to read the longer it is, because the description works best when the narrator goes through mundane rituals (a trip to the store, a car wash, going out to a bar, taking a sick day, reading a book, and so on).

W.Goepner
March 20th, 2014, 11:48 PM
Thanks all for your feedback. I'm glad I shared this with someone.



I actually have considered something like that, but unfortunately I couldn't come up with any sort of plot for such a story. There's the everpresent conflict between the narrator and the world around him, but in a longer story that would stop being conflict and just turn into a description style. I basically don't know how to make a resolution to that conflict that would have a satisfying build up. Also, writing in this style gets boring to write and significantly more boring to read the longer it is, because the description works best when the narrator goes through mundane rituals (a trip to the store, a car wash, going out to a bar, taking a sick day, reading a book, and so on).

I can see a story running like that movie, (Damn I can't think of it.) where a novelist is writing about his life. Any way! Try running it along the lines of a office water-cooler conversation. Or some thing like a journalists story of the mundane lives of workers from a closing factory. What their lives are like when they are told they will no longer have jobs. Just a thought on how to run more than one occasion of this together.

Bartleby9
March 21st, 2014, 01:52 AM
Thanks all for your feedback. I'm glad I shared this with someone.



I actually have considered something like that, but unfortunately I couldn't come up with any sort of plot for such a story. There's the everpresent conflict between the narrator and the world around him, but in a longer story that would stop being conflict and just turn into a description style. I basically don't know how to make a resolution to that conflict that would have a satisfying build up. Also, writing in this style gets boring to write and significantly more boring to read the longer it is, because the description works best when the narrator goes through mundane rituals (a trip to the store, a car wash, going out to a bar, taking a sick day, reading a book, and so on).

I don't think it would work in novel form. But I think there's a short story there. With short-fiction you don't necessarily need plot. Instead, it can be about character. For instance, maybe he is out on a day trip from a mental institution, but we don't learn that until the very end when he returns back to institution. So, for most of the story, we as a reader see the narrator as a reliable witness to our technological world. And then there is the twist and we then question how reliable he really was.

ShadowEyes
March 23rd, 2014, 04:58 AM
Generally, I try not to read everyone else's responses before I reply, so please forgive me if I rehash anything or fail to comment.

I feel not necessarily emotions, but general camaraderie. I understand the main character completely. I genuinely laughed out loud at a few scenes: "nametags," "cookies," "intensity," "beep." I chuckled a bit, too, like a President might have at a dirty joke before the nowadays when he/she's constantly watched. This story, for me, exudes commonplace malaise. Everything seems to be working fine, but, for some reason, nothing is fine. The world is functional, but soulless. And then, with the ending, we find out that the main character isn't even granted functionality. He's odd, a misfit, maybe for thinking too much.

You wanted to express an idea, and it came across perfectly. In regards to writing more, that's to your discretion. I can't say if it'll work or not work. It worked for Kurt Vonnegut. Uhh, I think "Job: A Comedy of Justice" by Heinlein does stuff like this, too. I haven't read it. Regardless, it comes across as perfectly weird because people are so uncooperative and perfectly normal to seem true. You become the main character. So, thanks!

Grizzly
March 23rd, 2014, 06:06 AM
I enjoyed reading this a lot. Reminded me a bit of Naked Lunch with all the underhanded comedy, but without all the junkies and gay sex. Normally I'd like to see more specific details, but the lack of it in this piece adds to the overall tone, and I don't mind it one bit. It seems like something I'd see in /r/lifeofnorman, if you happen to go on reddit. Are you by any chance left-handed?

Rivahads
March 23rd, 2014, 05:26 PM
Painting with words , should make you literarily body snatch a persons eyes or describing it to a blind person so they can see the color in the minds eye.

W.Goepner
March 24th, 2014, 01:00 AM
"Its Like Painting With Words." I did find this a strange title for this piece. But as story writing goes it is the truth. I have had many people say "I can't seem to string two words together with any since." I laugh and say, "You Just did." Then I would tell them, "A story can be told about any thing from playing in the dirt with or with out your children. To a grand unimaginable space scene. It is like Painting With Words." Might be I heard it from a teacher or a comic on a talk show. But it was the best thing I had ever heard. When one finds they can tell a story and get the audience on the edge of their seats. You have painted a picture so realistic with words that the listener or reader does not know when it stops if it was real or not. That is about every writers dream. I know it is mine.

I have read books and some days later, went looking through my movie collection and through the stores looking for the movie I just read, though it has never been put to screen. So when I saw this title I had to read it to see what they described. Guess what! It did it for me. Though I would not have titled it thus.

KindaNice
March 28th, 2014, 01:17 AM
I don't think it would work in novel form. But I think there's a short story there. With short-fiction you don't necessarily need plot. Instead, it can be about character. For instance, maybe he is out on a day trip from a mental institution, but we don't learn that until the very end when he returns back to institution. So, for most of the story, we as a reader see the narrator as a reliable witness to our technological world. And then there is the twist and we then question how reliable he really was.

That's actually a really good idea. I'm going to have to try that soon.

For those who care, I also posted another one of these a few days ago in this thread: http://www.writingforums.com/threads/133828-The-Microfiction-Thread/page3?p=1711848&viewfull=1#post1711848.

And no, I'm not left-handed.

Trygve
March 28th, 2014, 01:49 AM
I liked the first line. It sounds like a thought I might capture in my writer's notebook, which actually consists of about twenty scattered notebooks, some note cards, and more napkins and envelopes than I'll ever admit.

I feel like this would work as a scene where the narrator has just been through some major change or epiphany and is now seeing the world in a different way.

The biggest bump in the road for me was the switch to present tense in the last sentence.

The only other thing I'd add is that you could use more specific details. Like the woman's cart could be diagonally across the narrow aisle between canned vegetables and animal crackers, or the guy with six of the same thing could be a sheepish teenage boy buying six boxes of tampons or some other incongruous pairing of character and product.

Actually, let me reverse those priorities. Specific details first, changing tense of the last sentence second.

Write on!