26 October 2006

Just think what Hemingway could have accomplished with three years of legal education!

In a recent Wired magazine feature, several noted authors were asked to write short stories -- very short stories -- of only six words apiece:

We'll be brief: Hemingway once wrote a story in just six words ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn.") and is said to have called it his best work. So we asked sci-fi, fantasy, and horror writers from the realms of books, TV, movies, and games to take a shot themselves.

Those authors produced some modern classics. Orson Scott Card demonstrated his mastery of the science fiction genre with "The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly." Margaret Atwood composed the definitive everywoman in six words: "Longed for him. Got him. Shit." David Brin offered the melancholy "Vacuum collision. Orbits diverge. Farewell, love."

I was inspired.

Sure, I thought, Hemingway may have pioneered the genre and Wired's cadre of fiction authors may have advanced it, but who's more suited to writing the extreme short story than an attorney? After all, isn't legal writing renowned for its brevity? Since the odds were slender that, allowed only six words, I would either a) commit a costly copyright infringement or b) encounter a hopeless writers' block, I plunged ahead.

Perhaps because my professional life is so centered on the written word, I began the endeavor with a bit of hubris; I was much-chastened by the undeniable failure of my initial attempt:
WHEREAS, Colin Samuels (hereinafter "Author") will
I reflected on this unsuccessful effort and realized that I needed to move beyond my comfort zone and write a story that was less grounded in my legal education and experience as a transactional attorney. Unfortunately, however, the result was a soulless work which, while certainly reminiscent of many classic stories, lacked depth:
Once upon a time; The End.
In my next story, I resolved to take a page (well, less than a line, actually) from Grisham's book (any of them, since they're all the same) and capture the drama inherent in the practice of law:
Jockey's counsel submitted briefs; case dismissed.
Although this work was better, I was not entirely satisfied. I took stock of what I'd learned in my more than eight minutes of dedication to the craft of creative writing and created what is, I believe, my magnum opus. It is a somewhat autobiographical story which conveys its author's love of English literature and reverence for the law, but tempers the grandeur of those subjects with the pathos of his weakness for holiday baked goods:
Pound of flesh? Nominal damages, Fatso!
This is my gift to humanity, or at least to the portion thereof which reads English and is afflicted with ADD.

1 comment:

Vickie Pynchon said...

perfect crime. beautiful woman. prison food.

the noir 6 word story