Carl Robinette made his professional fiction debut with “The Hard Rise,” in the Department of First Stories of EQMM’s September/October 2014 issue. Since then, several more of his short stories have been published in print and online and he has recently sold another story to EQMM. He tells us he is currently putting together a collection of his short fiction, while continuing to work in local community news. He’s a contributing reporter for the Star News in Chula Vista and several other publications in San Diego County. His predicament as a multitasking Millennial is the subject of his first post for us.—Janet Hutchings
Monday (2:00 P.M.) Time for some high-velocity writing for EQMM’s blog. I’m starting at the last minute due to procrastination on my part and plenty of it. Real high-test putting-offery for nearly a month.
But like the wise woman says, “If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute.” This happens to be one of my guiding principles because in all honesty there’s no helping it. The last minute is my sweet spot as a reporter (such as I am), as an author (agree to disagree), and as a Millennial (only grudgingly so).
I’m thirty-four but I was a minor in the new millennium for sixteen days before I turned eighteen in January 2000. This apparently qualifies me as a Millennial by about two weeks.
As the youngest of four siblings, with my brothers and sisters all Generation X’ers, I don’t really know what it means to be a Millennial, but it seems to have a lot to do with short attention spans, The Cloud, acronyms like DIY, and a general abstinence from the printed word.
So how do you write for people who don’t like to read more than 160 characters at a time?
Hell if I know. What I do know is that a picture is worth a thousand words, video is worth about fifteen to twenty pictures per second, and a meme is worthless.
But enough about Millennials. My short attention span is telling me it would be cooler to write something about the rigors of being a working author with a day job or two.
Monday (3:30 P.M.) I’ve just done some quick online research and discovered that having a bunch of different jobs is pretty common among Millennials. Go figure.
It seems that as a generation we’ve turned our backs on the trades and instead pushed the total U.S. student-loan debt above a trillion bucks.
Funny thing about debt; it doesn’t pay itself back. Funny thing about jobs; there are not enough good ones to go around for all the unskilled young people with state-sponsored degrees in the humanities. (I love the smell of debt bubbles in the morning.)
But we refuse to be discouraged. As Millennials we believe in social welfare, being environmentally responsible, eating goji berries, and paying back our debts. So we get jobs in lieu of careers. We ride bicycles to those jobs. We cook weird food and form heartfelt and short-lived social movements.
Truth is, we don’t have time for books. We barely have time for e-books. Sorry, David Foster Wallace, but it looks like infinite brevity is the hot ticket for this generation.
Monday (5:30 P.M.) I’ve now taken to calling Millennials “Millies” (four-syllable words are so twentieth century).
One of my gigs is doing marketing part-time for an IT firm in Del Mar, California. I can tell you that the tech industry is all about shortening words and creating sloppy acronyms that didn’t need to be created. OS, SEO, SaaS, IaaS, CIO. Heck, the industry calls itself “IT” which used to stand for information technology. Now it doesn’t stand for anything but IT.
Likewise, cops tend to use a lot of alphabet soup in their day-to-day work. B&E, DOA, RHD, SWAT. I must go now and exploit the succinctness of police jargon for my own literary gain.
Monday (10:30 P.M.) When writing for a generation of socially conscious people with heavy Dadaistic tendencies, it’s hard not to question the relevance of crime, gunplay, and straight-ahead violence in literature. But I think I’ve got it figured out.
You can get away with the hardest of hardcore violence so long as you make it silly, utterly tragic, justified, or use it to make a statement about social inequalities. You have to murder your characters with a purpose, a purpose that goes deeper than plot or character development. Otherwise you run the risk of offending the manic sensibilities of the Millies.
Tuesday (11:45 A.M.) I’ve put off writing this blog post yet again and I’d like to wrap it up with a salient point, but I’ve just received an e-mail from Janet Hutchings, editor at EQMM, asking for this here post.
So I’ll leave it at this: It is easy to LOL at Millennials, because there is a real shift happening—a generational gap in thinking as stark as anything we saw in the 1960s or even the 20s (so I say). We may be dumbing down the written word, bastardizing tradesmanship, and running amuck with meta-everything, but the reality is that we’re experiencing what James Ellroy might call a half-assed renaissance.
We are the generation that will decriminalize marijuana, put a human being on Mars, and cure cancer. So that’s all pretty cool, I guess.
As for me?
I’m not quite Gen-X and not quite a Millie. I won’t be curing cancer, going to the moon, or advocating legalized grass. All I can do is eat bullets for breakfast and spew them out as words that will hopefully take a chunk out of my readers . . . both of them.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go finish writing a socially responsible and hyper-violent short story that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while.