Thursday, September 29, 2016

Chicanonautica: Did You Hear the One About . . .

by Ernest Hogan

We were heading toward Farmington through a part of New Mexico we’d never been to before, enjoying the Aztláni landscape, when I blurted out a joke about how Trump will have to hire illegals for his deportation force, and they’ll take turns arresting each other.

You’ve got to write that story!” My wife said. 

I grumbled in agreement.

I may not do it, for a number of reasons.

First, I’m very busy with things I’ll be blogging about soon -- as usual.

Then, despite how I feel about the election, it’s one of those ideas that makes a better one-liner than a story. There’s nothing beyond the essential concept. I could flesh it out, but it will lose its punch in being adapted into dramatic narrative. Believe me, I wrote a lot of these abortions early in my career.

It’s also a timely idea that will seem dated by the time I write it and publish it. Under normal circumstances, it takes a ridiculously long time for something to get published. Sometimes it takes years. It’s really sad -- one of the ugly truths of the writing biz. By the time your avant-garde cutting edge spec fic gets published, it’s usually nostalgic steamwhatever.

Yeah, I have found that my stories about the Latino condition surprise me by holding up decades later; I have to make changes of names, places, and time that would further weaken a story that didn’t have much substance to begin with.

And where could I publish it?

I’ve lucked out in the past, and sold timely stories to editors who wanted them, or who gave me the freedom to do whateverthefuck I wanted. It happens -- at least it does to me. But not often enough to make it worth my while to pursue such ideas.

Also, I tend to need a character to come to life, then I just write down what they say and do.

I suppose I could try to create a character for this one. How about a young, short brown gal, like the kind that you see all over TV these days; make her a single mother, for whom being in the deportation force was her big break. She has a picture of President Trump next to one of Jesus in her living room. She’s also a bit of nerd, and fantasizes about being a superhero while on the job. When it’s her turn to be arrested and deported, she visits her cousins who are working on the border wall.

Sometimes having an opening line helps, like: “I love busting down doors -- it makes feel like a superhero.”



The monster just lies there on the slab. The zaps have no effect.

If a story comes to life, the characters start talking and doing things -- hopefully getting into trouble, and it practically writes itself. This one ain’t doing that.

Probably, this is because it needs something to become a real story, and not just a half-baked idea. By half-baked, I don’t mean it’s a bad idea. It just needs something, to cook more, to developing into something that will work as a piece of fiction.

I know. I always have lots of ideas stewing away in my subconscious. It doesn’t pay to thrash them around prematurely. And sometime it takes years -- decades -- for this to happen. Sometimes they never come to life. I’m probably going to die with a lot of these ideas in my head.

It’s a safe bet that this story isn’t going to to come together before the election.

And the main reason may be that this idea isn’t a story. Ideas can take many forms. Shit, sometimes they’re just ideas! This one may just be a joke.

Rather than twist it out of shape and try to make it into a product I can sell in a dubious literary marketplace, I should just give it to the world.

Hey, everybody! You hear the one about the illegals hired for the deportation force! Tell it, even improve on it! It may not sway the election, but I’ve learned never to underestimate the power of tickling people’s minds.

Meanwhile, who the hell is that pounding on my door?

Ernest Hogan is off on another road trip with his wife this weekend. Maybe it will give him a few more ideas.

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