Sunday, January 13, 2013

Easter Eggs and Bacon

I have a short story in West Virginia Writers, Inc.'s latest collection, Fed From the Blade. My title is "Bringing Home the Bacon." Originally, I used the colloquial bringin' then changed it to the more proper bringing for simplicity's sake. I wish I'd left it at bringin', but what can ya do? Anyway . . .

Are you familiar with the term Easter egg as it relates to media? I tuck Easter eggs into all my work. Sometimes there are just a few; often, there are many. If a reader never discovers an Easter egg, the story makes sense. But the reader who discerns my hidden treats gets to enjoy deeper levels of meaning. It's fun for me, and fun for you.

From Wikipedia on Easter eggs:
A virtual Easter egg is an intentional hidden messageinside joke, or feature in a work such as a computer programweb pagevideo gametelevision programmoviebook, or crossword. The term was coined—according to Warren Robinett—by Atari after they were pointed to the secret message left by Robinett in the game Adventure.[1] It draws a parallel between the custom of the Easter egg hunt observed in many Western nations and the last Russian imperial family's tradition of giving elaborately jeweled egg-shaped creations byCarl Fabergé which contained hidden surprises.

One of my favorite parts of writing is naming my stories (and blog posts). Often, the title is the jumping off point for my Muse. A phrase leaps off the Universe's general store shelf and yells "Pick me!"In fact, I'd say half my stories are named, and then written. Frequently, I use idioms that at first glance are familiar and have one distinct meaning. But look a little deeper, because if I use an idiom, it likely has a second (third, or even fourth) meaning as well as it relates to my story.

Bringing home the bacon usually means working for money. The head of household brings home the bacon, a reference to the original meaning of literally carrying home a piece of meat with which to feed the family. My story "Bringing Home the Bacon" is a step-by-step instructional on how that bacon is obtained. Yes, it is a narrative on how to butcher a hog. Told in from a crone's point of view as spoken to a younger person, my story is unusual in more than one way. 

It is not gratuitously graphic. In fact, it is not graphic whatsoever. It is dead-accurate, informative, and detailed. When the zombie apocalypse occurs and you find yourself in need of an instruction manual on how to prepare a pig, "Bringing Home the Bacon" is your go-to text. My crone describes the process in clinical fashion, the way all unpleasant activities have been explained throughout time. 

What makes it creepy is your own imagination, which I do my dead level (heh - get that? "Dead level"?) best to trigger at every turn. I think I succeed on a regular basis although it could be far creepier than it is. The point of the story is not to disgust. It is to preserve a process, a mode of communication and instruction, a way of life on the most visceral level. Told in the vernacular, directly, "Bringing Home the Bacon" puts you in a clearing in the woods shoulder by shoulder with a mountain woman who shares a wealth of knowledge with you in just 1050 words.

But there are more meanings to bringing home the bacon as it relates to my story. And if you've read this far, I'll reveal this third Easter egg to you, Faithful Reader. From

Main Entry:
hack it
Part of Speech:
to succeed
accomplishavailbe successful, bring
home the bacon carry off, come out on
top, come through, cut it, cut the mustard,
deliver the goods, get to the top, hit the
mark, make a go of it, make it, make the cut,
make the grade, prevailpull it off, scorewin
Yes, bringing home the bacon also means to "hack it." In the dictionary sense, hack it means to endure, and to get through "Bringing Home the Bacon," you have to endure a bit of unpleasantry. Then there is the delightful additional meaning of hack it, as in chopping something up. Like the hog.

So there you have it. A world of meaning in four little words. I never choose a title arbitrarily. So think about it a little, and have fun unraveling the mysteries. Or not. It's up to you.

As for me, I'll keep bringin' home the bacon. And the Easter eggs as well.~~GH


Anonymous said...
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Cup O Swank Studio said...

Good post! I had not heard of Easter eggs in writing, but now that I know the name, I realize I've done that myself. Like you say, fun for the writer AND the audience!