Post: I asked. He answered.

19 May

Great news! I had another flash fiction piece published!

Granted, I don’t get any financial compensation but the pride I receive in being published makes it worth it. An old sage once said “if you love something, you’ll do it for free.” And while I’d love to be able to make money writing (hence why you can email me to request my freelancing services), I have no qualms about gaining readership by writing for free initially.

However, if there’s one thing I do hold qualms over it’s the destruction of literature by relentlessly pursuing hidden meanings. Granted, as a writer, I will tell you unabashedly that every piece I write and submit for publication has symbolism. That being said, it doesn’t need to be beat to death by an analytical mob. Sometimes water means rebirth, sometimes it means cleansing. Other times, it means the characters are bloody thirsty. One of the most execrable sins against literature is to distort the intentions of the author by over-analyzing his words. Taking words and applying them to one’s personal meaning is one thing; that’s what it means to be art. Insisting that one’s personal view is somehow the sole intrinsic truth within the piece is egregious. So, in order to solve this and make sure that my meanings are clear to prevent future convolution, I am recording my thought processes and intentions. Not to limit the scope of the reader, but to allow them to understand the piece under a different paradigm and perhaps gain a deeper appreciation of it.

The name of the piece is “I asked. He answered.” And like numerous other flash fictions pieces, the title is imperative. The idea is to set the premise that you, the reader, is the primary actor within the play. When you are the actor, when you are the individual asking the question and receiving the answer, there is a psychological predisposition to feel a connection to the piece itself.

Right off the bat, there is entirely a different speaker presented. Why? Why would I go through all the trouble of initiating you as a character and then put another individual within the spotlight? It seems counter-intuitive. That’s fine. It’s how I want it to seem. But I want for you to feel deeply connected, as if you should be in the spotlight. You should have center stage. Damn it, you deserve center stage! Who the hell does this character think he is? He’s not real, he’s a figment of my imagination- you’re an inhabitant of reality. You’re above this creation. At least you feel that way. I want you to carry this primed sensation of superiority.

But what he tells you is confusing. He explains to you that he is indifferent to being imprisoned even if you would want him to feel stronger emotions. This configurations of sentiments is meant to be primordially empowering. This entity which you wanted beneath you has been revealed to be just that. His insistence that you want more though indicates that you are in control. He may be in the spotlight, but you control the light. His indifference does put you off, but the dualistically open-ended and resolute nature to his first assertion entices you to know more.

His last sentence is what gets you. It’s a sucker punch in twelve words. You realize that he isn’t giving the staunch callousness of assumed superiority. He’s demure in subservience. The spotlight is his prison and you are his captor. You realize here that you asked him a question as a tyrannical overseer. And that he answered as a stronger man than most could ever be.

This isn’t meant to make you feel inferior or guilty. The piece is meant to shock the system with the rapid change between two extremes. On the one hand, you feel primal power and jealousy. On the other, within a few syllables, you feel incredible guilt. This almost immediate transition of extremes is indeed reflected in the title. “I asked. He answered.” Notice how the second sentence is the complete opposite of the first? This is the hint at what the piece aimed for. As I said before, the title is extremely important.

Even the wording primes for this awkward transition. Notice the sharp assonance in the first sentence and yet how it simultaneously refuses to flow. As if it could possibly be what you want, yet it sub-textually refuses to do so. Everything about this piece was designed to simulate the sudden departure of power and the immediate transition between two extremes.

Where you choose to go from here with this play on extremes is entirely your licence as a reader. I hope you enjoy it.

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