I had an idea. It’s not an original idea, but I think the way I plan to do it and the place I plan to do it (here, on my site) may be new. The idea is this: I’m going to write two paragraphs, not more than 10-15 lines each, and post them in this space below. The first person to comment gets to write the next segment, also composed of not more than 2 paragraphs, 10-15 lines long each. The second person responding gets to write the next set of paragraphs, and so on and so forth (please rewrite your comment before hitting the comment button if it is too long, so that as many people as possible get a turn). For me, this will have the upside that I get to read and talk to my followers a lot more (but you can respond to this post even if this is your first time on my blogsite). For me and for you both, it may turn out to be funny, enlightening, enriching, and just a lot of fun. If the comments slow down, I’ll take another turn, and every time there’s a response I’ll answer with another story fragment, unless someone else gets there first. If you’re just ready to respond and someone gets in in front of you, you can read their comment, adjust yours slightly to fit the next slot, and then go. This writing a collaborative “book” has been done numerous times in literary history, the most famous ones known to me being A Book by Twelve Authors in which Henry James and others participated, and in the 20th century Naked Came the Stranger, written by several famous authors under the pen name “Penelope Ashe.”
The rules are simple: keep to the WordPress.com rules about appropriate language and material, which means a few curse words and profanities are okay, but it’s not about showing off your arcane vocabulary or shock value, and it’s not necessarily for any high literary purpose. You can parody or play it straight (no previously published texts of yours or anyone else’s, please), but please don’t send any links, videos, or photographs in your response. All it’s about is fiction for fun. Even if Arabella Heartthrob Rapture writes first, and fills up her two paragraph limit with sighs and billings and cooings, that’s no reason why Anthony “The-Tantalus-Machine” Velociraptor can’t take the lovers on a swift interplanetary ship to the farthest galaxy in his two following paragraphs.
I don’t know whether you will like this or not, and if you don’t, then we won’t do it anymore. But I think it might be a good exercise, if nothing else, something you could turn to now and again and limber up on before you begin your serious writing for the day. And don’t worry if you don’t write fiction–write it for fun, or produce some highly embroidered non-fiction that will protect your privacy, if you like. If it turns out that I get a lot of responses from this, then I may do it again, once a season at least. Just remember: two paragraph limit, not more than 10-15 lines long for each paragraph. I hope you’re ready! Here goes:
Alice, angry, told herself that it must be the fiftieth time she’d seen the man without knowing his name. He always gave her a slight nod, or a friendly smile, or a cheery wave. But today, when she was standing by the cosmetic counter at Wenkel’s, one of about six cosmetics counters the major chain store boasted, someone had come up to stand beside her, and a moment later had gently placed a warm, dry hand over hers where it rested on the counter, at the same time sliding something beneath it. She jerked her hand away in reflex, now really annoyed with the saleswoman who was taking so much time to wait on someone else. As soon as she had moved her hand and looked up, she saw the man looking into thin air in front of him, as if he really had no connection with his own hand.
“Does your husband know you come here?” he asked, still without looking at her. Husband? What husband? Trying to frame an adequately chilling response, Alice glanced up again, but the man was already walking away in the distance. She looked at his back. His top coat was a gray rain coat, which had beads of moisture all over the surface; he must’ve just come inside. She turned back and as she raised her hand to attract the saleswoman’s now unoccupied attention, her hand brushed a card, the business-style card the man had left under her hand. She squinted at it; the writing was small. The card said: