Thursday 10 January 2019

New story acceptance - "Trembling With Fear."

Very pleased to have my first story acceptance of 2019!  Trembling With Fear have just accepted my flash piece, "Teach Control as a Foreign Language."  I had the idea for this one back in the mid 90s when I was living in Barcelona and teaching English as a Foreign Language and it has lain in the "Burr Ideas File" pretty much since then.  Basically, it occurred to me that we think through language and by teaching English, you are essentially teaching people new words with which to think.  You can also subtly alter how people think and experience the world.  For example, the Spanish word "mujer" means both "wife" and "woman" and that says a lot about the Spanish way of thinking.  After all, groups of guys nudging each other saying, "Look at that wife over there!" says more about traditional Spanish culture than a 10,000 word essay on "The Macho Patriarchy" or whatever.  So by introducing the concept of women being capable of being women and, potentially, NOT wives, does in some way alter how the world can be perceived simply through the use of language.

Similarly, there is the fact that Spanish is quite limited in terms of vocabulary compared to English.  While I'm sure it has many variations on the word "red", from what I knew at the time it had nowhere near the nuance of English which has "crimson", "scarlet", "vermilion" "ruby", "cherry" and so on. In this way, language can atter the experience of reality and how one expresses their experience of it (perhaps partly because English is a hodge-podge of multiple languages in itself, something I explored in a horror setting in another flash piece published by Trembling With Fear, "The Last English Speaker").  From this idea, it was only one small step to think that one could use language to actually alter how people think and ultimately, how they behave.  Hence, "Teach Control as a Foreign Language."

It was always more of a stoned idea than a fully formed concept so I knew there wasn't a 10,000 word story in it.  But once I started adapting some of these ideas into flash fiction, I knew this was one that could certainly carry a 1000 word flash story.

On a different topic, I will be reading "Marks on a Page", originally published in the Wired anthology, at Worcester Speakeasy tonight at Wayland's Yard, Worcester at 7:30pm.  Maybe see you there!

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