The inspiration came at around the same time as I dropped the first idea for my entry -- a few weeks ago when I visited the anatox household for brunch and writing. I'd received emailed directions from ana, who had them ready in a handy text file for when I asked.
I arrived on Sunday, and I told ana, "Your directions certainly reward reading ahead of time. I particularly like the part," I explained to aethucyn, "where it says 'You'll come to an intersection where you have a choice of turning left to go on [redacted highway] north, or right to go on [redacted] south. Go straight.'"
"Does that not perfectly describe the situation?" asked ana.
"True, it does."
There were other particularly ana-esque turns of phrase in the document, and one bit that referred to making a turn "in the usual Massachusetts rotary fashion," which was clearly written either by a non-New England native, and/or for an audience of such.
Anyway, it got me thinking of how something so mundane as directions to someone's house can be expressive of that person's personality, how the landmarks and details that you remember to point out change over time, and how sometimes the way you choose to describe things changes depending on who you're talking to.
I think my favorite part of the story is the "Yogurt and Lobster Shack" that's later replaced by a pizza place. Can't imagine why it didn't last, although I actually picture it as a sort of institution in town that's been around for as long as anyone can remember, until the day it's driven out by chain restaurants, mini-malls, and high rents.
In the end, though, I think it's more of a concept than a story. And even if it could have been done well, I rushed things and did a half-assed job of the execution. I found it was actually quite hard to make up directions out of thin air, or even to write them in a voice that differs very much from how I actually write directions. The date lines in particular were a lazy touch, where I didn't think it made enough sense without some sort of timeline info, but didn't go as far as to write full email headers, which would have been the natural way to solve the problem.
Anyway, I'm not sure if the story needed more context in addition to the emails, or if I just needed to explore the medium more thoroughly. The idea was to leave the story, such as it was, almost entirely in the gaps between what you see, but I probably left a few too many questions. Instead I ended up with something that looked like a bad episode of a SciFi show where the heroes get stuck in a time loop until they finally figure out how to get out (the desire not to seem too repetitive probably resulted in leaving even more gaps than if I'd thought about it more carefully).
IF I WERE TO MAKE one relatively small change, it'd be to add a message something like this, dated maybe ca. May 2007:
Laura,This hypothetical excerpt is, of course, even more half-assed than the rest of the story, but maybe it helps fill at least part of what's missing.
Thanks so much for letting me stay over on such short notice -- I just don't think I can go back there tonight. Can you remind me how to get to your place? I remember as far as the ice cream stand with the cow pattern on the side, but I'm not sure of the details after that.
IF I'D TRIED to write a third story, after I'd committed the abuse of Photoshop that was my cover design, I think I'd have titled it "One Lane Bridge." I included that in the cover because there's a bridge I cross every day on my commute that has been under construction for some months, during which time it's been reduced to one lane, and traffic must alternate the direction in which it's allowed to flow. I'm not sure exactly what the story would have been about, but I'm rather enamored of the title.
I'm not sure, actually, that my cover shouldn't have been my actual entry, but maybe that's a different *FC altogether.
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