Six Word Story – Part II

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.

HemingwayThe 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.

Have you unexpectedly bombed? Provide a link.

20 thoughts on “Six Word Story – Part II

  1. I read your six-word story and I figured it was related to the tics you experience. I also read the copyright statement and figured that was part of the message, but I’ll admit: I didn’t really get it.

    But, that’s okay. I don’t have to get it. Often, things I don’t get on first glance stick with me. I puzzle them out until life experience helps me unlock them. It’s as if I’ve been given a clue towards the next landmark in a cosmic treasure map, but haven’t yet discovered its meaning.

    I can’t tell you that I felt that tingle of deeper meaning or significance in your story—mainly because I thought it was more personal to you than universal. But again, that’s okay. If it was only your own clue to your own self on the treasure map of your life, I’m happy to bare witness.

    I dont often think, “Will my readers like this?” Instead, I think, “Is this experience universal? And if it’s not can I connect it to something universal?” Then let readers decide for themselves. And of course I’ve published posts too esoteric to connect. That’s part of the blogging gig I think.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s really interesting. I never think “is this experience universal?” I’ve got to be the most selfish blogger alive. I’m really in it for myself. Do *I* like what I wrote? Are people telling me that *they* like what I wrote? Seeing the problem is stepp one… It’s one of the things I’m actively working on. Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with Angela. In fact I’d say I actively try NOT to think about whether readers will like something because if I start down that path I end up paralysed with indecision. I tend to just write about whatever I have had on my mind lately that I just need to get down so I can tease it out on the screen. Or, as Angela says, I write about something that I think most people feel or think or experience every once in a while.

      I’m sure not all of my posts land the way they’re meant to but I try not to notice, never mind think about it. I wouldn’t worry about getting every single post to land the way you want it to – it’s your blog! And you’re a good writer, so you know we’ll still be checking back the next time even if we skip over one or two!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Gasp! Skip a post?
        My need for validation is well documented on this blog (so thank you for your validation). It drives me nuts… it drives my wife nuts… it even drives my kids nuts. I’m definitely trying to up my game in the writing department, and subsequently, I want people to notice. When I get comments, it’s almost always about the content of the post, and I always think “No, no, not the content, the writing! Comment on the writing!” I make it a point to applaud good writing on other blogs from time to time. I’m not sure if other bloggers really care about feedback on their writing, but it’s mostly what I care about in the comments section. As always, thanks for reading and commenting… and dealing with my over-self-analysis.


  2. “Have you bombed?” I posted a Star Trek ToS fanfic and got beef from trekkers who were upset I got the crew count wrong. I had confused the crew compliment from The Next Generation with that of Kirk’s enterprise. I would otherwise describe myself as a hardcore fan (I wrote a fanfic episode) but when I saw that criticism and it’s “SMH, do your research” tone, I felt the heebie jeebies. I think the point where you cross the “get a life” threshold is highly variable, but perhaps it’s when you’re needlessly critical of mundane details. I think a gay spock seems to sit better with some people than if you got the torpedo yield wrong.


    • Gay Spock? He is half human… that give him like a 7.5% chance of being gay. I’ll buy it. I was a big fan of the the original and STNG but I’ve never had a head for details. I recall Kirk saying “there are XXX men and women on that ship” about a million times, but I doubt I could guess the number within 100. I think it’s really cool that you wrote an episode. Is it posted anywhere?


  3. I too missed the tic/tick connection. I did wonder about the elaborate copyright statement for just six words.

    My bomb-post was an imaginary political campaign ad for author Gertrude Stein, in the repetitive language for which she is known. I worked really hard to replicate her writing style. No one got it.

    I deleted it the same day I posted it.


  4. I’ll be honest — I saw that there was copyright verbiage and skipped the post entirely because I automatically ignore that kind of stuff. I did read the six-word story via the Reader excerpt and I missed the tic reference as well. I may have gotten it if I clicked on it, since I know you talk about Tourette’s here pretty frequently, but who knows. I’d rather you try things here and have them fall flat than not post them at all! It’s a learning experience for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In truth, I wasn’t expecting anyone to get the tick reference. I was just being lazy in coming up with a 6 word story. I wrote a pretty good one at a writer’s conference over the summer, but I can’t remember it. Don’t worry, I’ll keep bombing publicly on my blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. About the stalker satire that nobody liked or commented on, it is very possible nobody wanted the stalker to glom onto them and were afraid to acknowledge it in any way. Your satirical email may have been tongue and cheek, but you must know that stalkers and lurkers (what they used to be known as) do exist and can pose a threat, level of which depends on one’s level of paranoia, random acts of fate, and the phase of the moon. About your tick tick boom story with the extended “copyright verbiage” as nerdywordybirdy called it, I likewise just saw it in the reader and didn’t see the other. Even if I had gone to your page, it’s unlikely I would have paid attention to it. Six words is six words, why look for more (even though I admit “part II” did draw me in beyond the reader and to your page. As to who and how many read and why, you have to ask yourself why it bothers you when you feel misunderstood and/or ignored (beyond the obvious of not being understood and being ignored). There is a quote to the effect, “He who can’t howl will never find his pack.” If your howl is muffled by those doubts, how will your pack hear you?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, as an employee of a domestic violence nonprofit, I know that stalking isn’t a joke. This was another case of me overthinking a post. My character acted on the very thoughts I often have with some of my “blogger-friends” – we’ve been corresponding for years, why wouldn’t they like it if I dropped by their house. Fortunately, I’ve got enough sense to set those thoughts aside.
    I’m well aware that my need for external validation is pathetic and worthy of some serious therapy. It’s something I work on and is actually magnitudes better than it was four years ago when I started blogging.
    Thanks for reading and commenting on my post.


  7. I liked it last week Jeff. Didn’t totally understand it, but I liked the fact you had a go. Don’t worry about the applause. Just keep at it. Stay courageous!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. OK, so I didn’t get the original 6-word story and the elaborate copyright, but now that you explain it, it IS funny. I think it’s perfectly OK to have to explain jokes. I am pretty dense sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This was a great post, I’m still new to word press as I started a blog then stopped for quite some time! I’ve recently been reading blogs however, and coming across this brightened my day! I say this because you are writing exactly what’s on your mind and clarifying things that you have said before. I find your on the sly jokes very amusing! I myself write things I will never know who might resonate with, because its simply things I have gone through or have yet to face! It’s perfectly fine though, because blogging is about the writer! 🙂 So please, keep writing what you think is funny and express yourself with as many or few words you need!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I noticed the copyright but completely glazed over it. I find when I start to think about how someone will respond to something I’m writing is when I get obsessive about word choices, etc and end up getting nothing accomplished but making myself crazy. If I go back and read my own posts I sometimes think “Hey, that was pretty good” but the thine own worst critic is myself part of me starts to deconstruct every line as too clunky, not funny enough, not honest enough. If I made myself laugh when I was writing it, I try to see that as good enough for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm. Obsessing about blog posts… I’d say that ship has already sailed. The cute (or pathetic) thing about this is that I think people are so familiar with my posts that they know I typically don’t have a copyright on my posts. I genuinely like reading my old posts, but I do continue to edit them.

      Liked by 1 person

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