Sunday, October 2, 2011

Oktober the First: No Entry Fee

Oktober is one of my favorite months, has been for decades. I loved being in college in Oktober (yes, I get to spell it that way; one of my grandfathers was a Hummel, so there!), with the feeling of a crisp mind echoed by the feel of the air and the movement all around me. I loved it so much I kept at it for ten years-- I might go back for more someday, and you can be sure I'll start in the fall semester.

When NaNoWriMo found me a few years back, that cemented the excitement of Oktober-- it's the month before The Month, and anticipation is a sweet liquor. Don't get me started about NaNo-- it saved me, and gave me back good writing habits, not to mention several budding novels, some short stories that budded from those, and a host of songs and musical collaborators from a fantastic sister site, FAWM.

 But I've fallen into bad habits, lately, sort of a rut, and this project is designed to get me geared up for November's NaNo challenge, which I'm using to gear me up for a big push to finish the interminable edit of my first novel, THE FALL, AND FURTHER FALL, OF MIRIAM BRONSKI.

 So what is Oktober Ski?

 Every day in Oktober 2011, I am going to write a piece of short fiction and post it here, first in unedited form (well, spell-checked and hopefully typo free, but otherwise as is) and then later, as time allows, brushed off and polished a bit. There may be notes on the process. Fine critique will be welcome. (hint, hint)

 For the sake of having some guideline to rail against, each story will be between 50 and 5,000 words. A range from flash fiction to short enough fiction. After some pondering, I decided not to use a random generator for writing prompts-- I want to feel the fear of not knowing what I'll write about each morning. If needed, I'll find inspiration by opening a book and pulling out a starter from there.

 My November tradtition is to get in a thousand words before breakfast, and right now, I couldn't make it. But I'll get there... that's the Oktober part.

 The Ski is a play on my name (Kozlowski) standing in for the obvious song lyric (love that song) along with the name of the MC* of my first novel, referenced above; and also a fond remembrance of my late friend Eric Hallifax, who affectionately called me Ski. Which was better than Polowski, or Polackowski, the nicknames my next door neighbor Jimmy P. used to call me. He was Italian & Irish, and he liked me, and tormented me for years. Eric was born in England and died in Buffalo, poor and alone, of Leukemia. He was a sometime drug addict, vain as hell, and had a kind heart and romantic soul. He liked my songs. 

 Here's today's story: 277 words, about 40 minutes work.  Let me know what you think.

 Peace, Mari


*main character
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No Entry Fee  (first draft)  By Mari Kozlowski, 10/1/2011



 Pale blue, and slithery, the font. Artistic and hard to read against the paler background. You could almost feel how excited the new “editor” was when they made the swaying, uninformative titles. An editor slash producer slash director; stalwart of the no-budget film scene, making the rookie mistakes they hoped would show their genius. The acting would be stilted or overblown, simplistic characters played by relatives of the cameraman or rejects from local theater. Dreamers. They pretended to despise the industry but here they were, begging for a chance to become part of it.

 She started to eject the disc on principle, then let it go, opened her second beer and sat back. It was the last entry in the stack for tonight anyhow— might get a good laugh.

 You were supposed to watch each entry in entirety, but you could never get through the piles in time that way. Her boss didn’t get that, but he got that she weeded out the worst of them and didn’t ask how. He was grateful to have the more painful examples left off his stack, the final 20. Those were usually bad enough.

 This one was typical, at first. Clich├ęd premise, a lost soul looking for heaven’s secret door— an allegorical quest film, with a bleak lack of set dressing and campy 60’s era costumes that must have come straight from a Salvation Army store. Cheap, all the way down to the few props.

 But not horrible. The acting was better than expected, almost professional. There was an intensity here that the scratchy sound and mundane score couldn’t drown. Candy found herself drawn in. She stopped analyzing and watched.


1 comment:

JohnPainter said...

I am immediately compelled by the potential "meta" implications of a story focused on the creative editing process. Looking forward to the second part of this one!