Friday, December 17, 2010

The Potentially Alive, 6

This is the sixth post (out of six) in a short story about how the world ends, or begins. Click on the appropriate link for the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth post in the series.


The golden rays of a rising sun warmly embraced another morning. They skipped and danced across a lake. The lake, surrounded by lush, green grass, seemed to be composed of a million winks. It flashed continuously like a million cameras eager to record another splendid day. And a splendid day it was.

A tune could be heard now. It was a playfully happy tune, with notes that rose and fell, only to rise higher and higher yet again. It belonged to a girl named Phoenix—a girl who had had earned the right to listen to it—a girl it seems who was just waking up.

Her hands stretched to the sky as if they were being pulled up by the clouds, she looked down at the lake below, let it take a million pictures of a woman at peace with herself, and spoke aloud the first words that came to her mind. “The world began when I was born,” she said, “and the world is mine to win.”

She picked up the small device that was playing her tune. It had given her back her life she thought, and at the expense of no one. It was her latest invention, much better than the first model which had been taken from her, and it no doubt would come in handy now—at least for some.

Walking down the hill, the invention clutched in her hand, she had a big day ahead of her. She waved once more to the lake, took a left, and made her way to what was left of civilization.

The Potentially Alive, 5

This is the fifth post (out of six) in a short story about how the world ends, or begins. Click on the appropriate link for the first, second, third, or fourth post in the series.


The back of women’s heads surrounded the room, their shoulders sagged as their fingers pounded away slowly at the keyboards in front of them, and nobody at all said a word.

This was the place where history would change—where, according to their boss, metaphysical justice would be enacted. “Were not all men equal?” he had asked. “They would exist as such before long."

A phone rang. Shoulders straightened. Was this what they were waiting for? All they had been told was that “super life-savers” had been created by the world’s leaders and set up at strategic points in every city of every nation across the globe.

A woman stood up and turned military-style toward where the red phone sat on a cold aluminum desk in the middle of the room. As she walked toward the ringing phone her pace was measured—halting, even. But the clicks of her red high heels kept her moving forward, and in time with the last ring she picked it up.


“It’s a go,” said her boss.

“What should I do?”

“Flip the switch.”

You got it,” she replied.

The woman flipped the switch. Her hands let go of the phone. Her head sagged. And then, in time with the others, dropped. The room, like the world outside, was quiet.

Had men wanted peace—and referred to it as stillness? They had it now. Did they wish for all to be equally alive? The world’s leaders had granted that wish for those who wished it, and enforced it for those who did not. Everyone was now equally alive—and all were dead.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How to Acquire Ideas for Writing

I just finished reading Ayn Rand's The Art of Nonfiction for the second time this year. Although I don't have time to review it, I do have time to share some advice that Ayn Rand gives on the subject of acquiring ideas for writing:
Like everything else in the mind that seems automatic, this process must be started consciously. Once you condition your subconscious properly, it throws you ideas unexpectedly. It may feel as if the ideas come to you spontaneously, but to mention once again that good line from How to Think Creatively: accidents happen only to those who deserve them. So give yourself this standing order: "I am interested in certain subjects, and I am on the lookout for any relevant event, trend, statement, or theory--which I then want to understand and evaluate." Do this, and you will condition your mind in a truly productive way.
The abundance of such useful tips make The Art of Nonfiction one of my favorite books on writing. Have you read it yet? What is a useful tip you've discovered in its pages? Feel free to leave a comment below.