A niche fiction-writing contest has come to my attention, and I think I'm gonna enter. This is uncharted territory for this literary X-wing of mine. I think the last time I tried my delicate hand at fiction was back at The Womb, when I had to spit out short stories for a class assignment. Everything featured a Catholic college student at a Catholic women's college.

Plot was never my thing. My retired-teacher mother made sure to have a healthy collection of Newbery Award winners lying around, all of which I found highly useful in flattening out my Archie comic books when I left them out in the rain. I was out sick from school fairly often as a young Jedi--sometimes, there was even actual illness involved; when your normal body temperature is 99 degrees, you can wreak all kinds of havoc with the school nurse--and to make sure I was drinking enough fluids, my mother would sit me down in front of an MGM musical with a Sprite and tell me to watch the counter and sip every five minutes.

I loved those movies. I loved the costumes and the music and the dancing, but somehow certain nuances of the actual story always managed to escape me. The Sound of Music was beyond me once the terrifying goatherd puppets were off the screen. Once that Nazi flag went up at the start of the second disk, I was immediately and hopelessly lost.

("Hey, Remember the '80's?" Moment: We had one of those prehistoric VCR's, a video disk player, a system which, contrary to popular opinion, actually did exist. It was kind of like a record player. The video was on this 78 RPM-sized disk, and it was in this hard plastic sleeve, and halfway through you had to insert the sleeve in the player, pull out the disk, and flip it over. The longer movies were on two disks. The Ten Commandments was transportable solely via aircraft carrier. My sister and I have bone spurs from stomping on the floor to stop the picture from skipping. It is important to note that my parents also once invested in a Texas Instruments computer, a BetaMax, Bengals season tickets, and several 8-track players.)

I especially did not understand the part where the VonTrapps were on their way to the singing festival, and they were pushing the car, and all of a sudden those excessively helpful Nazis stopped them and started the Captain's car for him. Why weren't they more grateful? It seemed that Julie Andrews was unduly bitchy about the whole thing. I have seen this movie maybe 8.2 zillion times, but it wasn't until I was a college sophomore that I saw that scene and went "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

I'm eager, if you want to know the truth, about re-diving into this whole fiction business. I think I've learned a lot about story structure since the last time I tried it. This piece will focus on a writer in her 20s who lives in Orlando and works at an engineering firm. Movie rights will be only optioned internationally.

September 24, 2003

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