Sometimes, I fall flat on my face.
That’s seven words, this isn’t a six word story, it’s an essay about my most recent post, Six Word Story .
As bloggers, I suppose we all do this from time to time. We post something truly special (to ourselves), our A-work, and no one sees the brilliance.
Last December, I posted Do Not Reply . It’s a cut and paste of an email message that clearly came from my blog Contact Form. A gushing scribe from a fan, it turns increasingly stalkerish and creepy as it progresses.
I made it all up. It’s supposed to be funny. But other than tagging it as Satire, I didn’t in any way indicate that it wasn’t real.
This was one of those days when, after posting, I got page views, plenty of page views and… nothing—no likes, no comments. When I write an especially long post, I expect this. We’ve all done it. We see a post from one of our favorite bloggers, we click on it, and there it is, thousands of words. Ugh! Usually, I’m not prepared for that large of a commitment. I x-out of the post, planning to come back when I’m mentally ready to spend fifteen or twenty minutes reading a story.
This was different, Do Not Reply was short. Three hundred words. People were reading it, they just weren’t liking it. Hours later, I received a comment: “That is too creepy.” People didn’t know it was satire. They thought I was making fun of one of my readers, a reader with huge boundary issues.
Last Christmas, a letter to the editor of my town’s newspaper slammed the local production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol as part of the liberal socialist agenda. This two-hundred-word dispatch channeled the Tea Party spirit perfectly, and at one point even insisted on locking Hillary up. The backlash was swift and harsh. It was so encompassing and so personal, that the author published a second letter the next day informing everyone to settle down, the original letter was satire.
A joke isn’t funny if you need to explain it. Humor, at times, can be too subtle. And this is the trap I tripped with my six word story.
The point of a six word story is to give enough information in just six words that the reader can infer the plot and the action of the story. This supposedly started with Ernest Hemingway, the king of brevity, with his well-known masterpiece: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. With this story, Hemingway set a very high bar for the rest of us to clear.
My six word story: Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, kaboom was far less inspired. In fact, for what I was writing, the story itself was irrelevant. I just needed a mediocre six word sentence. My “tick… kaboom” story was actually an inside joke with myself, a play on something that runs through my head several times per week.
When my internal stress level builds, usually at work, so do my tics—my unwanted movements and sounds fueled by Tourette Syndrome. My teeth scrape one another, my eyes roll and scrunch up, and grunts emanate from my throat at unpredictable and irregular intervals. Spastic. And in that moment, I feel like I might explode. Tic, tic, tic, tic, boom! This is where I got the idea for my six word story.
So I wrote an irrelevant six word story. Then what was the point of my blog post? Well, it was the copyright statement after the “story.” An over-the-top blurb attempting to protect the individual words of my story from plagiarism. I thought it was hilarious.
All rights reserved. No part of this story, in full or by segment, may be copied, reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including analog or digital print, photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission from the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Here I am, explaining my joke. My sense of humor only works for me. When I told Susan what I was trying to achieve, she rolled her eyes. “No one’s going to get that.” So instead of a witty, satirical post, I posted an unimpressive six word story with a ridiculous copyright statement. Embarrassing! Now I’ve got readers wondering if it’s worthwhile to click on future posts, or if it will be another waste of valuable reading time.
Blogging is a tricky game. I never know what will resonate with readers, or if anyone will even understand the point. I suppose it’s like this for everyone. We make our best effort and lose followers. We pour out our soul into a post and no one says a word. And sometimes, we knock out something of no importance, and WordPress lights up.
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