My Sudden Fiction, or Why I’m Suddenly Obsessed with Egg Cups

Sudden fiction or flash fiction is very short stories, although technically, what I’m writing is called micro-fiction, under 400 words. As I write this post, I have nineteen different egg cup micro-fiction stories, the longest of which is 103 words. All together the posts are just under 1000 words, all inspired by photographs of the Egg Cups of the Damned interacting with others at their family reunion.
So this probably needs some explanation.

I was making myself insane trying to write in chronological order quickly, two things I should never do. This was NOT Bob’s fault, he kept saying, “We have plenty of time, we don’t need to publish these fast, we can wait until 2025” but my own self-imposed guilt was making me insane. Everything I wrote was dreck, I was falling back into depression, and then Bob said, “This needs to be funnier,” and I started to scream.

I’m not funny on purpose, you know. The characters do that. I once had a very nice lunch with people from Writer’s Digest who wanted me to write a book on how to put humor into fiction. I kept saying, “You can’t put humor into fiction, it has to come from the characters, be intrinsic to the characters.” They were both lovely people, but I never wrote the book because you can’t put humor into fiction.

Where was I? Oh, right, I couldn’t put humor into Rocky Start.

So to keep working, I started thinking about the secondhand shop that’s the main setting in the book. It was supposed to be full of junk, but the guy who brought the junk in from his travels around the tri-state was an ex-spy with a perverse sense of humor, so the junk would have to be interesting. So I went to eBay and did a search for “weird.” Don’t do that, by the way. It turns up some very upsetting stuff. But it also turned up these demented egg cups:

which I called the Egg Cups of the Damned.

And then somebody on Facebook (Shelby Lynne) said she’d keep them in the basement, so still just playing around, I put them on my kitchen counter with my Spaghetti Monster canisters and one of my Betty Boop cookie jars.

Which is when I saw them interacting with other characters. Made me think about what kind of people they’d be. Male, for some reason. Probably teenagers. Mean little bastards. I started wondering what their names would be. And because I kept searching for the weird for the RS books, I found these:

These looked like girls to me, possibly cousins of the Damned, and I imagined them meeting at a family reunion. They’d drive the Damned boys crazy, I thought, just smugly smiling through all the Damned’s harassment. I decided they were from the Damned’s mother’s side of the family so their last name wasn’t Damned, it was Smug-Chuckler. (Mama was born a Smug. Her sister married a Chuckler.)

And then I gave the Smug-Chucklers names–Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and Marie Therese–and it didn’t seem right that the Damned had no first names, so I called them Shelley, Keats, Byron, and Howard, and the stories appeared. Names will do that.

So there’s a lot more–I widened my search to salt and pepper shakers and hit gold–but basically, this was play. It was just for me to have fun. It would never be a novel. (No, seriously, I will never write a novel about hostile delinquent egg cups.). But every time I’d find something weird on eBay, I’d mentally put whatever it was next to the Damned egg cups, and a story would appear. A very short story (the shortest one is fourteen words). At first, I was doing just one piece of flash fiction per new character–“This is X. Here’s how the Damned feel about them/what they did to them/etc.”–but then sequels and inter-relationships appeared which is the real key to story–how do these people change in relationship to the people they interact with–and now I have nineteen pieces of flash fiction and I don’t think I’m done.

You want your creativity back? Write something simple that’s fun and that you don’t have to do. I do think it’s a shame that Charlotte Smug-Chuckler accidentally broke Howard Damned’s heart, but Howard was just assuming too much. Meanwhile Byron Damned is hitting on everybody, and then Uncle Robert Damned, a terrifying egg cup, showed up with his four daughters, Medea, Circe, Medusa, and Gladys (another find from searching for “weird”) and the Damned boys are frankly a little afraid of them. Well, not Byron. Byron will hit on anything.

Sometimes I look at that and think that joke of naming the fourth egg cup something different loses its impact by the third time, but then I remember this is just for fun and I do the Meatballs chant: “It just doesn’t matter.” Nobody’s depending on this stuff, it’ll never be formally published, and I’m cracking myself up. The only downside is that I’m going to end up with a lot of weird small china, and frankly, I’ve been here before (yes I still have some of the Walking Ware).

The big thing for me is that writing fiction is fun again. Even the Rocky Start stuff because I’ve re-discovered my inner ham, the writer who will stoop to ever lower levels to find depths of her characters thinking things they shouldn’t and doing things they really shouldn’t. (The Damned boys stole Aunt Emily’s egg, but Charlotte made Howard give it back. He’s helpless in the force of her fluffy little smirk.). I think I’m going to start putting a flash story up every Monday on Facebook. There’s just not enough egg cup fiction on Facebook.

Yes, it’s all dumb. And I’m having a wonderful time. So that’s the explanation for the egg cup stuff.

51 thoughts on “My Sudden Fiction, or Why I’m Suddenly Obsessed with Egg Cups

  1. Please cross-post here. I’m not on facebook by choice but would love to hear if Byron ever gets lucky.

    1. You’ve attached to BYRON? Good heavens.

      I can cross post here. I just thought it would be annoying. They’re really just little jokes, not actual story writing. Think of it as week after week of knock knock jokes. Only about egg cups.

        1. Okay, but you have to promise me that when they get annoying, you’ll tell me and not suffer in silence, all of you. Because I think I have 22 of them now.

          I’ll put them up headed Egg Cups of the Damned Family Reunion, so you can skip over them.

        2. Me, too. These egg cups sound like they would be annoying in real life, not on the page.

      1. Not attached to Byron, just wondering if he suffers cracks as a result of hitting on everyone… and now I’m talking about an egg cup

      2. there is at least one webcomic artist that has a second patreon level just for her illustrated puns. people donate extra for them.

  2. Just wanted to second the “eff it, I’m writing this for me” approach to recovering creativity. It’s been my motto since the beginning of this year, and I’ve been playing with a project that’s secret at the moment, because I want them to be free from any deadline/external pressure, and because it’s weird and crosses genre lines and will likely annoy half of my existing readership (I’ve taken a beloved character from folklore and made them ace and a bit odd). I fully expect my agent to say it’s unmarketable, or at least that she has no idea how to market, but I don’t care. I NEEDD to write them.

    I’m having so much fun, and I keep coming up with more ideas (sort of like the egg cups expanding to include salt shakers), so the trilogy of novellas that I first envisioned now has a prequel that started out as a short story to explore some backstory and that is now finished in first draft, having grown to novella length, and the second novella (that was initially the first book) is now about three-quarters written in first draft, and I have premises for the next two. I just want to write more and more and more of them.

    Before I started them, I was thinking seriously about retiring because I was finding writing a chore and deadlines annoying, and, who knows, maybe this is what counts as retirement for me — writing silly little novellas that only I want to read (plus two close friends who have heard a few of the details and were intrigued, although now I worry that they’re imagining a different character/story than what I’m actually writing and they’ll be disappointed, but I’m refusing to let any negativity/stress into the writing of these stories).

    Anyway, what I meant to say is that the freedom from deadlines and external pressure has done wonders for my creativity. And I think it benefits my other writing too, the stories that have external deadlines and pressure. I wrote both types (pressure and no-pressure) in tandem during January and February, and got a lot done on the deadline stuff, as well as on the fun stuff, so the creativity and the productivity seemed to feed off of each other. Highly recommend trying it!

    1. Gin, I would love to read these stories. Ace representation is incredibly rare so even if these stories never see the light of day: thank you for acknowledging that we exist. And also read.

      1. Thank you! I thought the stories would have an audience among Arghers, just not sure about a wider audience. The plan is to self-pub if my agent (whom I love) is stymied by them, probably in 2025.

    2. I too very much would like to read them. Lois McMaster Bujold retired into “just” writing the novellas she felt like writing. love them

      1. Thanks! I’m planning to mention LMB to my agent as a sort-of comp. LMB’s situation is different (established readership, and her novellas are connected to previously published novels), but they do demonstrate the potential appeal of novella length in fantasy (as does Murderbot in SF, but mine are fantasy/mystery).

    3. Gin, You’ve probably considered this, but just to get it out there: It used to be extremely common for authors to use a pseudonym (or a different pseudonym) when they wanted to try something new that they thought might hurt their marketability with existing readers. More recent examples include Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Harry Turtledove/H.N. Turteltaub, and Jack Campbell/John Hemry. (Some of this was tied to the reordering practices of the big-box bookstores, which may be less of a factor now.)

      1. I published a fantasy short story under a pen name (part of an anthology), but that one was MORE different from my previous books, if that makes sense. I can see both sides to a pen name in this case. Yes, a new name differentiates it from the non-fantasy cozy mysteries, but I’ve already got the crazy cat lady series out there under my own name, and that series has fantasy elements (just fewer than the new series), and the new series would fall in the cozy mystery genre if not for the fantasy setting, so there’d be more overlap in readership than, say, cozy and horror or even cozy and romance. So, we’ll see how I feel when the books are ready to publish.

  3. I’ve been having fun following you on FB but would love to see the egg cup stories here.

  4. They’re really just little jokes, not actual story writing.

    Pish-posh and tish-tosh! Not only are the little jokes stories, they’re publishable. Just because you’ve self-published them on Facebook, they are not one whit less published than if Reader’s Digress had bought them.

    I will quote myself from a blog entry titled MY STORIES:

    2023-11-30
    Other than this blog, I no longer write (for publication.) When I did, the majority of my stories were short. “Flash Fiction,” which is sometimes defined as taking up no more than a couple of magazine pages. More often, it falls in the range of under 1,000 words. Even more often, a specific limit is placed on length – I participated in a number of contests and challenges limited to 300 words… or less.

  5. I just thought they could get annoying. Like that person at parties who keeps telling jokes while you’re trying to have a conversation.

    I think Facebook is for drive-by comments. Short and not deep.

    Here is community and conversation and the occasional deep dive. Cracking jokes seemed disruptive. But I guess you can always skip those.

    1. not annoying, bring on the flash fiction! Facebook though, very annoying, don’t use that.

      1. sorry I meant I don’t. not that anyone else shouldn’t. I try to stay away from time sinks that make me unhappy.

      1. Well, we talk a lot here, and I didn’t want to the person who interrupted saying, “Have I got a joke for you,” until you all hated egg cups.

  6. We need more fun things in our lives, whether it is weird egg cups or amusing flash fiction. I, too, would love to see the egg cup shorts.

  7. I think you should post them. I guarantee there will be no dreaded DNF decisions.

  8. Wow, those egg cups look truly demented. Are you sure you trust them on your kitchen counter at night? One of these mornings you’ll wake up and there will be spaghetti sauce spattered on the walls. Until then, please share your micro fic on Aargh!

    1. Have you seen my kitchen counter? I put it up on Facebook. It’s full of spaghetti monster canisters.

      1. Right, the spaghetti monsters are why I alluded to spaghetti sauce on the walls. I’m sorry but your spaghetti monsters look a bit too friendly to handle these demonic egg cups. I recommend you get an exorcist in asap. 😉

  9. The very idea of designing an egg cup that is a chick strikes me as deeply sick. “Hi I am Representation of Animal Presenting You with the Actual Animal to Eat.” It’s like serving ham on a pig platter. And I’m not even vegetarian.

    That said, bring on the stories, I have a feeling I’ll love them. 😉

    1. As I understand it, chicken eggs from normal sources are unfertiziled. No animal has been harmed. On the other hand, as I understand it, there was probably a calf to get the milk flowing in a dairy cow, a calf likely turned into veal. But lots of milk cartons have pictures of cows on them. (Not a farmer and I think only once did I ever even spend the night at a farm having livestock, so I could be wrong.)

      1. I buy my eggs from a coworker who has chickens. She said they were all likely to be fertilized. 🫤

        1. I don’t know the proportions for farm-bought eggs, which I was not thinking of as a normal source. Of storebought ones,

          “Most eggs sold commercially in the grocery store are from poultry farms and have not been fertilized. In fact, laying hens at most commercial farms have never even seen a rooster. Given the right nutrients, hens will lay eggs with or without having been in the presence of a rooster.”

          https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/can_you_hatch_an_egg_bought_from_the_store#:~:text=Most%20eggs%20sold%20commercially%20in,the%20presence%20of%20a%20rooster.

          Per the Internet, though, you can see the embryo if the egg has one and is several days old.

  10. I’m so looking forward to Egg Cup Monday Shorts! I think we owe it to ourselves to be creative and have fun with our writing, art, reading, gardening, painting, knitting/crocheting…whatever we love to do just for doing it’s sake.

    I was reading an essay about how everything, including writing, in American life is so bound up in, well, the money aspect. It’s reality, sure, but running every single thing through the “but can I sell it?” sieve leads to despair. Not always. But often enough.

    Creativity should feed something else besides the bank account. (In my case it MUST, lol. I’m doing ok with it, but I could make more $$$ foaming cappuccinos at Starbucks. Like a LOT more.)

    I’ve said many times, when people knit socks, others don’t ask them if they got an agent or a sales contract. People just admire the socks. Or maybe the knitter just enjoys making them.

    So keep playing, everyone! Whatever we love to do, just do it for our own pleasure first. Worry about selling something second.

  11. I agree with Gin about the therapeutic nature of writing something just for yourself, no matter how silly. I was really struggling with the fiction writing (well, all writing, really, since getting long Covid) and did a flash fiction short short story set in my Baba Yaga world for a yearly Halloween-themed flash fiction collection on a blog, all inspired by photo prompts. I loved being back in that world, and the writing flowed in a way nothing had in three years. Suddenly I felt like maybe I could still write after all. If I can find the time, I might even go back and see if there is enough story in there for a novella, one of these days.

    I’d definitely read your shorts. Wait…that didn’t come out right.

  12. On a Doylist level, I’m wondering if the Egg Cups of the Damned could be an amateur project, where someone has ordered greenware from a factory, then painted it and had it fired at a kiln. (My mother was into that for a while at her retirement community. She gave it up long before she died, but when I cleared out her place, I still found multiple cartons full of her efforts.) I think it’s the paint job, with the teeny pupils in the eyes and the black edges around the eyes,that make the Damned look so sinister. The shape itself is not so bad. (Obviously, if an amateur effort, the same person would have had to paint a set of cups to the same design.)

    1. Huh. That’s interesting. They look glazed, not painted, but that doesn’t mean anything.

  13. Concerning the Smug-Chucklers, if they lived in 19th-century England, the mere face that they were cousins to the Damned would pose no obstacle to marriage, and might even be preferred, to keep money in the family. So Gothic dangers of forced marriages might well come up. If Byron was anything like his namesake, he might be up for even closer degrees of consanguinity.

  14. You could use them as a header to GBT – like a quote at the beginning of a chapter. something that you wrote, then something that you read.

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