Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Odds: Fifty-Six (Part IV)

Click here for the previous installment...
Click here for the entire story (so far).

Do you think it’s possible that the only reason I’m starting this sentence with a question is because, in order to set up formatting, I copy-pasted each installment beginning with ‘Have you ever wanted to write a story?’ and when I tried to highlight and overwrite it, I missed the question mark? No, it’s not.
Honestly, it would be rather difficult for me to remember exactly how I came to the conclusion that Fifty-Six should be my fourth number. The first three numbers in my list were a part of me. They were inherent to my understanding of how writing, and the world, works. It’s also a bit of a chicken or the egg thing with whether I thought to come up with numbers after watching LOST, or if I focused a lot on the LOST numbers because I had already found significance in my own. But as the old tangent goes, there’s a logical answer to the chicken or the egg “dilemma”. The problem here is that a chicken cannot be born but from an egg, and an egg cannot exist without being laid by a chicken. And so they seem equally likely and unlikely as each other, because one is wholly dependent on the other. But...ignoring all evolutionary concepts (read: reality) on the matter, one has an advantage over the other. Are you ready to have your minds blown? A chicken can live perfectly happily without an egg, but an egg cannot survive without a chicken to protect it from danger, following its creation. Somebody clean up this graymatter! You’re welcome!
Back to what I was saying, when you add up all the LOST numbers of 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42, you end up with the number 108. When I started adding up my three preexisting numbers, I somehow realized how easy it would be for them to reach 216; twice 108, of course. Without any more calculations, I determined that, in order to reach that sum, my last two numbers would have to be around 50 and 80. I tried a few different combinations. 55 + 84? I didn’t want Fifty-Five to intrude on Eleven’s purpose of being palindromic. It would have been an interesting choice since it’s a Fibonacci number, but since my first three preclude me from also using 89, it would have seemed like a waste anyway. 52 + 87? I didn’t want there to be a connection to playing cards, and I didn’t like my birth year being in there, because it’s too obvious. I tried a few more, and finally settled on Fifty-Six and Eighty-Three. Now this seems very inorganic and insincere, but the process itself is what makes these numbers relevant. Yes, by the time I got to them, I had already been looking to complete my collection, but that’s what makes it so cool. The effort I put into finding Fifty-Six in the first place is what imbued it with its power.
Other people have used Fifty-Six for their own reasons, all of which I read about just now, and did not consider when first coming up with it. The most fascinating one is that Shirley Temple’s mother always ensured that she wore 56 curls as a child. I can’t find any information as to why her mother chose that number (or why that number chose her mother), but it seemed to have worked. She was the archetype of the cute child; one that casting directors and modeling agents seem to look for even today. While the ideal “beautiful person” has changed over time, if you think about it, the most adorable children in advertising are determined by how closely they resemble her. I suppose the curls themselves have nothing to do with that, but still. Hey, I’m just spitballing here. Well...I mean, I’m not. That’s gross.
Speaking of numbers, when I started writing for my website, I went through some growing pains to try and figure out how long each installment would be. The early ones are all over the place, and show no level of continuity, in that regard. But then the microstories started being between 200 to 300 words each. I think. I would have to go back and look, but I’m pretty sure they were on the short side, just reaching into my memory. The weekend stories—which I first referred to as flash fiction, and now call mezzofiction (in order to maintain that continuity)—were shaping up to be longer. In fact, they were about five times as long, which meant that five microstories were equal to one longer story. But that’s dumb, because there are two days in a weekend. I continued to work on creating a site that you could count on. Literally. Instead of posting nanofiction stories as they popped into my head, I starting writing them out in a spreadsheet, with the intention of posting them every three hours, a pattern which is broken only by my afternoon story post, and my evening photo. Speaking of which, sorry about the lack of photos. They take more effort than you would think, I’ve run out of “things” in my house, and I don’t get out much. As my methods progressed, I came up with interrelated microstory series that would last for weeks, and were connected in some way, rather than just whatever I could come up with at the time. Lastly, I decided to decide on story arcs for The Advancement of Mateo Matic that would last a year/volume each, and I planned for future Saturday mezzofiction so that I would never again be caught with my pants down, like I was with the continuation of Mr. Muxley Meets Mediocrity. And that’s funny, because my pants fell down when I realized I had no idea what this very story you’re reading now would be about.
Things were falling into place as they should have. Microstory length increased to about 300 to 500, with the mode being rather close to the median. Mezzofiction story length still hovers around 1250 words, but I’m finding I need a little more for my more recent installments of The Advancement of Mateo Matic. It’s easy to go over my mark, but it’s hard for me to be under. I always feel like I’m cheating you out of something, or that I’m missing something and it’s incomplete. But I need to get over that. I don’t encounter Fifty-Six nearly as much as the other four. And that’s okay, because magic numbers aren’t real. When an installment is done, it needs to be done. And right now, I’m only at 1119 words, but it’s done. That is at least more than I thought there would be.
Oh, I forgot to mention that I only started posting my images alongside my stories because I noticed an uptick in clicks when I did so. Most of my traffic, I believe, comes from Facebook. And as you’re going through your feed, if you don’t see a picture, you don’t see it. It might as well not exist. I’m a word guy, I like words. Honestly, you guys are frustratingly simplistic, and I struggle to come up with images that match my words. I’ve even altered my stories in order to match with a picture I already have. Which is ridiculous, and not how writing should be done! Grrr! Anyway, here’s a picture of some penguins, because nothing else works with this story. This is what you have reduced me to. Are you happy? 1256 words. Hmm...

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