I have so many things to do at the moment, but none of them are terribly pressing, so rather than figure out which one needs to get done, I have this terrible urge to go read, or nap, or play Neoquest, or something equally useless.
"The Lucky Penny" is going to get workshopped next week. This week's were... well, the class liked most of the stories more than I did. There was a wonderful story about a little boy and the afikoman at Passover, and the others... well, let's just say I may have been unduly put off by the lack of 1) paragraph breaks and 2) commas. Yar! The Grammar Pirate, she be not pleased with the scurvy dogs. It's a good class, though--everyone's been really helpful and positive. It's really weird that I'm the cranky one, though, because usually I'm the one who's trying to be positive while all the Fiction of Artful Nothingness posers turn up their noses.
Which reminds me. I know it's been a debate for years upon years, if not decades upon decades, now: basically, does "low" or "popular" culture have as much worth, if any, as "highbrow" culture? I mean, my answer is "Duh, of course it does," and I think popular can often mean "something that was created without highbrow pretension and just happened to become popular through its own merits," and for that reason, it seems a little more authentic, a little more real. It's the reason I hate Vincent Gallo movies, for example--it just seems like he's trying too damn hard. Keep in mind that I was a huge culture snob through middle school, high school, and the first couple of years of college (which I think was part of why I hated Titanic so much). And then... I don't know if I just fell into the College Student '80s Nostalgia thing or what, but... suddenly pop culture, or failing that, culture without pretense, started making more sense to me. Actually, I think it was the Fiction of Artful Nothingness posers specifically who turned me off highbrow shit. You can only sit through so many workshops, reading so many nihilistic short stories in which NOTHING HAPPENS before a nice, well-written book like Hearts in Atlantis, in which many things happen but also have meaning, starts to look like a knight in shining armor. And so I'm sitting here today, and I still enjoy "highbrow" art, but--I feel much more well-rounded. I like soaps and Henry James and Joe Millionaire and foreign films and Jem and Miyazaki and Vanity Fair and the Weekly World News. And I've written my share of artful stories in which nothing actually happens. And you know what? I'm sick of them. So I'm sitting here facing plot-intensive stories like Black Ribbon and thinking of how utterly bizarre it would be to Fifteen-Year-Old Me if I became a Dickens instead of a Nabokov. (Although Twenty-Five would like to point out to Fifteen that we'll be damn lucky if we become anyone, so shut your mouth and enjoy it if it happens, no matter how it comes.)
At the end of the day, here's what I've learned: It's easy to be obscure. All "obscure" means is that you're not communicating to your audience. It's harder to be accessible.