All Stories, Literally Reruns

Literally Reruns – Crouching Feline, Hidden Lobster by Nik Eveleigh.

Leila has brought out a story from way back in the very early days when we were just putting our toes in the water. It’s been a while since Nik submitted anything – perhaps this Rerun will give him the push he needs to get back into the short fiction saddle:

Crouching Feline, Hidden Lobster has my all time favorite header pic. The irresistible individual pictured is most likely musing in a catnip induced state of bliss and delirium. Behold Loki, Norse God of Mischief.

Exchanging bon mots with fictional cats always leaves an author with a battered ego. Cats, real or virtual, are never wrong, and they get this across in a weird mixture of persistence and sloth that no human mind can match. So, it stands to reason that the made up feline in Nik Eveleigh’s story would win the day even before the day had begun. Still, I must express admiration for the author’s willingness to hang in there for as long as he did.

Q: I often converse with my characters and wind up before the firing squad. Some would call this indicative of mental illness, but since I know that I am conversing with made up persons, I see the activity as all part of the creative process. That’s the long way to this compound question: Must there be madness in not just art, but in all acts of creation?

Q: There are many in the arts who slight humor. They give comedy the cold shoulder because it isn’t “socially relevant.” I think those guys are full of shit. Even the darkest, most realistic tale must have humor in it, or it becomes a boring dirge. Your writing, like Hugh’s, has humor in it. Although this is hell subjective, do you believe (as I do) that writers who demand relentless seriousness do so because they are incapable of being funny? (Jesus Christ! I certainly put some miles on these questions, didn’t I?)

Leila Allison

Nik’s answers:

Q: I often converse with my characters and wind up before the firing squad. Some would call this indicative of mental illness, but since I know that I am conversing with made up persons, I see the activity as all part of the creative process. That’s the long way to this compound question: Must there be madness in not just art, but in all acts of creation?

A: This is an interesting question Leila and I thought I had a perfectly interesting (boring) answer, but then I read your second question and it made me rethink what I was going to say. I’m fearful that when I get to the second question I may doubt the first and come back for another edit so rendering my answer to the second one out of date and the beginnings of a never ending spiral of red pen and doubt. Actually the never ending spiral of red pen and doubt is a summary of my writing ‘career’ (me applying ‘career’  to my writing is like applying ‘human’ to Donald Trump). I tend to believe that any creative endeavour requires a hint of madness to make it interesting. Having been juggling the unholy trinity of work/teacher/parent since the March lockdown I’m also inclined to think that any act that involves creating offspring is also borderline insanity. My tangent about rethinking my answer stems from the fact that some writers (and no doubt some protagonists of other art forms I don’t understand) seem all business and no madness. The whole idea for example of name writers swooping in to write the prologue and an ending while someone else writes the actual content of a book feels entirely calculated to me. Madness is an important part of my make up – why would any sane person spend an evening staring at a page trying to put down words that no one will likely read and entirely for love and then get up at 5am to go and train for marathons you’re never going to win?

 

Q: There are many in the arts who slight humor. They give comedy the cold shoulder because it isn’t “socially relevant.” I think those guys are full of shit. Even the darkest, most realistic tale must have humor in it, or it becomes a boring dirge. Your writing, like Hugh’s, has humor in it. Although this is hell subjective, do you believe (as I do) that writers who demand relentless seriousness do so because they are incapable of being funny? (Jesus Christ! I certainly put some miles on these questions, didn’t I?)

A: I think more than ever the world has enough seriousness in it and everyone needs something to make them smile or laugh. It’s not natural for us as people to be entirely without humour – don’t get me wrong there are some people who do a pretty good job of appearing entirely fun-free but even they have some sneaky giggle tucked away somewhere. There does seem to be this pervasive theory that being funny is somehow unworthy and when it comes to writing, being funny marks you out as being inferior in some way. It’s not restricted to writing – take movies and someone like Jim Carrey playing a serious role but with humour and humanity. Even Adam Sandler put in a remarkable turn in Punch Drunk Love, and yet there’s always that sense that they are not taken seriously because their background is comedy. Robin Williams seemed to get a whole lot more credit for his acting chops once he so tragically took his own life. Returning to writing – I love your suggestion of social relevance. I’d argue that understanding what will make someone laugh is as socially relevant as you can get. I certainly felt pressure to write “proper” stories rather than funny ones, and while there are some that I’m really proud of there’s no doubt that my writing is at its most fluid when I just have fun. I truly believe that if you can have characters that are funny they are more human. Readers connect with them and there’s a much greater chance they’ll give a shit about them if something sad, bad or tragic happens. The more I think on your question, the more convinced I am that the relentless pursuit of seriousness is simply to mask the fear of telling a joke that no one will laugh at. As a final note I’d point at the literary darling Haruki Murakami – he’s as “serious” a writer as there is and yet he’s also hilarious.

 

***

Crouching Feline, Hidden Lobster

 

6 thoughts on “Literally Reruns – Crouching Feline, Hidden Lobster by Nik Eveleigh.”

  1. Hi Leila,
    Excellent choice of an excellent story with a cracking wee fiend as an image.

    Nik – I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this.
    You’ve maybe hit on something regarding humour. It can be very personal and maybe that is why it is so difficult to get across. But I think trying too hard is worse than anything. As you say, let the humour be from the humanity (Or lack of it). That way it comes across as genuine and honest.
    It’s great to see this with another day in the sunlight.

    Hugh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Hugh – you and I have chatted a lot over the years about dark humour, and I agree that it’s such a personal thing. But in the same way that dialogue works best when it sounds like a person, humour works best when it sounds like it came from someone real (or an imaginary cat). I’ll take all the laughs I can get right now.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Not usually the sort of story I’d write – so I’m glad we were both misdirected. Great that it gave you some laughs and I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. As for cats…if it’s good enough for Murakami it’s good enough for me. Cheers.

      Like

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