Sitting in my desk chair at home at few days ago, pondering the blank page and that gods-forsaken, inexhaustible blinking cursor, my mind began to wander, as it is given to doing from time to time. Sometimes it veers into the realm of the mystical, yet practical, as in, did I remember to unhook the front garden hose in October? Others, it conjures fantastic images, unbidden, of things like winged hairless cats breathing fire from thunder-ringed skies as a full orchestra of tuxedoed ferrets plays the Ride of the Valkyries.
That last one was either because of cold medicine or a couple of Imperial IPAs. Possibly both, my memory of the time is a little…. fuzzy.
Anyway, so my mind
wasn’t doing anything productive on the writing front began to wander the other day, and eventually something hit me: I hadn’t done my “wordles” for the day!
For those of you living without access to basically any form of social media for the last year outside of reading WordPress blogs, Wordle is an online word puzzle game developed by very clever guy who then even more cleverly sold it for, like, seven figures (and I’m guessing a properly-notarized deal with a demon) to the New York Times so the game could live on forever being ruined on the NYT Games page.
It might comes as a surprise, but I am actually a word nerd type of person, so Wordle is right up my alley, and the fact that there’s only one new puzzle daily prevents me from playing it indefinitely as time passes unnoticed, my children move out to settle with families of their own, the house crumbles around me, and the universe cruises towards inevitable heat death. But, I am something of an overachiever, so one Wordle a day is not quite enough. I am therefore bound by my own force of habit to play three different forms of the game whenever I decided to play: the original, where you are tasked with figuring out one word, Quordle (4 words), and finally, Octordle (8 words).
Now that we’ve covered my junkie-like compulsion to check the boxes of three separate word games each day, I harken back to the moment referenced above, when the writing was eluding me, and the wordles provided me with a few blessed moments of
distraction salvation. I solved all three puzzles that day, as I commonly do, except for when I’m driven to rage against the unjust capriciousness of vengeful gods who are clearly interfering in order to rob me of richly deserved, lexiconic satisfaction.
Anyway, on this particular day, the Octordle was solved with the following eight words: Ether, Midge, Druid, Bacon, Movie, Caper, Daddy, and Augur. I don’t know what it was about them, but something struck me funny. It was as if they somehow went together, or more likely, were intended to go together. And then I realized that they felt like a Ten-Word Tale.
Most of you reading this likely won’t remember The Ten-Word Tales, for one, because I haven’t attempted one in over a decade, and for another, because I think I only ever did two or maybe three. A Ten Word Tale was a piece of short fiction I’d cobble together after soliciting my audience for 10 words to use (meaningfully!) within. The last attempt at one was never completed, partly because I was busy writing Famine at the time, and also because the words you guys gave me were, indeed, as challenging as I’d asked for. Actually, no, calling them a challenge would be like giving someone 10 pieces missing from a Gemini rocket and telling them to figure out where to put them back so the rocket could go to the moon.
These words? They were more than challenging. The were basically f*!king impossible to make work together.
But the 8 words from Octordle? I like these. These seem fun, like the new neighbor who comes over with a deck of cards and a keg of homebrew. I can’t just take them, though, and compose an Eight-Word Tale (Octordle Tale?) without some shenanigans. That would neglect a key component of the whole experience, the audience participation.
Here’s what we’re gonna do, then. I’m going to put a poll of the eight words below. If you read this, please, for the love of all things sweet and savory, vote for one of them, whichever one you like the most, or tickles your particular fancy. The top two or three (we’ll see how many votes this poll actually gets) will be the key focus words in the subsequent Eight-Word Tale. The others will still be used in a meaningful way, but the top vote getters will drive the show.
So click your preference below, and let’s see if I can still make up fiction from nothing, or at least something that doesn’t include winged, hairless cats.
Do the thing!