To rant or not to rant – July 10, 2020

Let’s see if this comes off without devolving into a rant.  Not that a rant wouldn’t be a good idea.  Frankly, a decent rant requires more energy than is available right now and it wouldn’t get the venom required to do it justice. The best rants are cathartic. To capitalize on catharsis, one must be righteously incensed.  Otherwise, the rant and the reading of the rant are pretty much yawning affairs. Without the heat, one doesn’t appreciate the cold.

Two could-a-been followers were sorely disappointed when they learned of spwilcenwrites that a rant wasn’t the first thing unwrapped. Since inauguration, they’ve not enlisted, so any obligation to keep them happy fell by the wayside.  There was too much going on to work on a rant.  As personally enjoyable as rants are, completing them fairly-well drains you emotionally, and other obligations required attention. Maybe in time.  Well, surely, given my cantankerous nature.  It’s my hope something festering will mature so that when it breaks free of social restraint it’ll be a rip-snorter.

Then again, two subjects present right now, neither bubbling long enough in my mental cauldron to support a rant, and probably lacking really enough steam to independently do a blog proud.  We’ll see.

First up is Flash Fiction.  Actually, the whole of writing today, but nothing epitomizes what I see is the degeneracy of writing today like Flash Fiction.  As a reminder, Flash Fiction is writing a complete story using fewer than an arbitrary number of words. That number varies from publisher to publisher and, I suppose on the number of words they’re willing to pay for at three to fifteen cents per word.  Normally it ranges from five hundred to fifteen-hundred words.  It might go up to three thousand words, which is perilously close to accepted short story length.  Some publishers, especially those catering to wannabe writers really aching to be “published,” will pay a flat, for example fifty dollars, for five hundred to three thousand words, at the top-end less than two cents per word.  That, friends, is slave labor.  

On top of Flash Fiction, there are the “new” genres: crappy horror, spastic poetry, sappy, redundant Gothic romance, and terribly written sci-fi, to name a few.  Nothing wrong with any of those genres, so long as the work is well-written.  Asimov.  Shelly.  Service, Burns, Blake, and Keats.  Bronte.  A lot of today’s ‘published’ works are not well written. Especially in the case of Flash.  Why such proliferation?  Because the consuming public, the reader, wants YouTube literature.  Mindless drivel.  Challenge them to think, you’ve lost a reader.  The shorter the work, the better, so the reader, having demonstrated reading skills, can then get back to text-messaging and ‘liking’ and re-texting crap posted by other non-reading readers.

Now.  A finely crafted piece of Flash Fiction is high art.  Some authors work under one-hundred words, some fifty, some twenty-five or less.  That, friends, takes skill. To use so few words yet tell a complete story and even define characters is genius.  It becomes a matter not of what you write, but of what and how you don’t write.

But I’m talking diamonds in platinum settings as compared to rhinestones in tin or, I giggle, broken glass lying on the ground.   If you can work with the analogy.

That there is no widely accepted Flash Fiction length speaks to the illegitimacy of the “art.”  Sure, you can make a case that I like my potatoes fried, you like them mashed, and the clown over there likes them baked, scalloped, or (shudder) in chip form.  Okay, I’ll grant it.  But it warrants better definition and standardization – classes of Flash.  Micro-flash, mini-flash, midi-flash, maxi-flash, and mega-flash?

I see by the hands on my tick-tock, I can’t do justice to the ‘second’ rantable subject – social or political correctness.  I get it, I understand it.  I believe we’ve allowed it to morph itself into absurdity.  Maybe next time.  Maybe, stewing on it for a few more days, it might blossom into a rant.

PSA: starting next week, blogs will come only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. 

Published by spwilcen

Retired career IT software engineer, or as we were called in the old days, programmer, it's time to empty my file cabinet of all the "creative" writing accumulated over the years - toss most of it, salvage and publish what is worthwhile.

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