For your amusement, I thought I would share a bizarre habit I have with you. It started out as a writing exercise, but now it's spun completely out of control.
I started attempting to write short stories about eight years ago, just to blow off steam instead of eating my weight in Ben & Jerry's. Nothing fancy. In fact, they were pretty god-awful, because I couldn't write fiction to save my life. Technical manuals? Sure. Scholarly assessments? Absolutely. Anything that had even the faintest hint of a cohesive plot? NOPE. Couldn't do it.
So I started writing about the people I would observe on the Frankfurt subway system. I'd make up outlandish stories about who they were, what they did for a living, all kinds of nonsense. Then I started making up stories about the people I'd meet in passing at trade shows. I tried to be clever about it. I tried to write the kind of stories that Chekov would write: pithy, full of human tragedy, yada yada yada. Let's just say that Chekov had nothing to worry about.
This went on for a while, never going anywhere. Then my mother became convinced that the NSA and JCPenney was spying on her by tapping her phone lines and reading all her e-mails. I am dead serious. She won't call or e-mail me any more because she's afraid the government and JCPenney is spying on her. Honestly, I do not have a problem with this. I told her they probably were because of the grocery cart incident and it was only a matter of time before the Feds picked her up for stealing a shopping cart from one Wal-mart and transporting it to a Wal-mart in another county to piss off the store manager. Yet another of the myriad reasons as to why I do not go home to visit any more.
The idea so amused me that NSA might be reading my e-mails that I decided that they were my intended audience for my short stories. I guess I was ahead of my time (and I guess mom was, too), because apparently that's what the NSA is doing: reading every bit of data that goes around on the internet. Or something to that effect. I don't know. I don't really pay attention. I'm also not looking to start some political discourse on privacy rights or "Big Government." Save it for YouTube and Yahoo.
Nope. I'm here to tell you that my sole purpose in writing these stories has become to entertain those lonely souls who have to sift through all that inane chatter. All the banana bread recipes and the nasty complaint e-mails to customer service reps and lame requests for dates and all that. So I sat back and thought "if I were a government schmoe in charge of monitoring internet chatter, wouldn't I want something that would entertain me during coffee breaks?" The answer was, of course, yes. So, after researching this amazing thing called "fan fiction", I was off like a shot.
I still write about the people I met on the Frankfurt subway system and weave them into the epic narratives of my fan fiction, but now they have mystical, nay, legendary powers. Is the writing any better? No. It's absolutely absurd. The plots are winding and the outcomes aren't even worthy of a drive-in B movie. My goal is to make at least one NSA agent spew coffee on his or her computer screen from the sheer ridiculousness of it all. I hope that, in these troubling times, they can take a break from all the doom and destruction and read my humble offerings and wonder: is THIS the America we're trying to defend? Lord have mercy on us.
Just doing my part.