Monday, September 19, 2011

Expansion Joints Challenge, part 28: "Die"

Many apologies for the long silence.

When this exercise was hosted over at Porky's Expanse!, he always chose the word for the Expanders! challenge based on some relevant happening or theme. The past week and a half, for me, has been filled with the rituals and emotions at the end of life, the celebration and mourning of a dear friend who passed away September 8th. I've been delaying writing here, caught up in memorials, and house blessings, and the scattering of ashes, waiting for the time and the words to come, waiting for the moment and the inspiration that would let me communicate something about the essence of the week without getting overwhelmed by emotion. I wanted to be able to share something of the spirit and the life of a woman whose personality was such that her memorial reception would not have been complete without the Star Wars-themed plastic tablecloths and plates, or the Stargate montage that featured prominently in the service itself, whose friends posted Facebook statuses like "Spent the evening disposing of human remains in the river under cover of darkness..." after scattering her ashes. But words fail me. Yet, this is the second Sunday that the blog has sat quiet, and that can't continue. Hard as it is to say anything right now, it is harder still to write here and say nothing. So you get the short and badly-polished version, and I hope to do better in the future. I'm going to be trite now, and remind everyone to love life, and drink deep from it, get every last drop. You may not be able to do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about the depth and the breadth of it. That said, I do want to share a few other things that have come my way this week by chance, and the coincidences confirmed my choice of word. The first is this intriguing project on positive and negative space and the second is this amazing WebComic from TwentySided, which you have probably all read before, but which I had somehow managed to miss until a friend sent me the link this week. The connection between them all is, of course, "die", and that is the word of the week.

If you aren't familiar with the Expansion Joints project, it all began over at Porky's Expanse!.

The rules are just as they are described over at Porky's: as much narrative as you can cram into fifteen words, one of which must be the word of the week.

This can take the form of

1. An epyllion,or litle epic, a stand-alone fifteen-word narrative, or

2. An epos, or 'epic'. Instead of an independent 15-word story, you can choose to develop someone else's story from a previous week, or extend your own story from week to week. Just write the next installment. If it has 15 words, uses the word of the week, and continues the story, you've done it.

There are two important things to think about if you choose epos. First, you should have the permission of the person who wrote the story you will develop. If anyone writes a 15-word epyllion or adds to an epos and is happy for others to develop it later, please say so, with something like 'for use in an epos'. Second, by using specific elements of someone else's story, we technically create a derivative work, so it's best to avoid this.

There are a number of generous contributors who have given express permission to use some of their writing as the basis for epos:

Porky, the founder of the project, offers up all of his contributions.

GDMNW has opened up the three stories here.

Dave G_Nplusplus makes any of his Expanders! stories available for use in an epos.

Arlequin has an epos running on his Expanders! page, and he has graciously extended permission to play with any or all of the contributions there.

Andy, over at The Creepy Corridor, has also made his epos posts available for expansion.

C'nor, at Lunching on Lamias, gives consent to use any of his entries, which are partly located on his blog, but mostly strewn throughout the comment threads here.

And, as always, feel free to use any of the stories on this blog that are tagged as "Expansion Joints" in an epos.

Words that have previously made an appearance in an Expanders!/Expansion Joints include: food, fort, stuff, elf, rogue, pass, fool, hammer, note, temper, table, twisted, missing, sacrifice, spirit, rush, tie, line, free, break, cut, opening, close, shock, balance, field, blow, and file, in case you are of an historical bent, or wish to write a complete set.

When you've finished writing your entry for this week, either post your 15-word story directly in the comments here, or leave a link in the comments to the blog page where we can find it.


  1. I'm sorry for your loss. It does sound like a good send off though, if emotionally draining.

    My offering is quite simple and this weeks word was a gift thankfully;

    It was too easy to lose concentration and then you, or someone else would die.

  2. That's sad to hear, and I'm sorry too. Arlequín's right - it seems a fine way to be seen on.

    I hadn't forgotten, but I got a little hung up on the significance. In the end I tied it in with C'nor's and went the absurd route. It's here.

  3. Old soldiers like Kellen never die. The dear captain just smells that way on Sundays!