You’re probably wondering what the title of this post means. Well, it’s the title of my latest short story, so you can stop wondering “Did this guy start doing some sort of study or documentary or something and not share it with us? That’s very unlike him.”

Anyway, “A Project in Western Ideals” is a short story I just finished at 9,123 words and follows a girl who is being slowly turned into a human Barbie doll by a woman who is more than she seems. The story’s title comes from a phrase that appears a lot in the story, and I felt that it fit the story so well, that I should use it for the title, especially since I didn’t like any of the titles I’d used before, like “Perfection” or “My Perfect Body”.

The story was inspired by a woman in Russia named Angelica Kenova, who is a human Barbie. I first heard about her prior to leaving the States for Germany, when I read an article about her. According to the article, her parents control almost every aspect of her life: they buy her clothes (most of which are kind of sexy and form-fitting); they control her diet and how much she exercises; they even accompany her on dates! And while the article didn’t give any hints about how Ms. Kenova felt personally about this lifestyle (for all I know she likes being her parents’ toy), I did get the impression her parents were the driving force behind how she became this:

 

Yeah, that’s an actual person, not a doll. I even have trouble telling the difference sometimes. And hearing about her story, I started wondering what sort of parents would help and encourage or possibly even force their daughter to go down this route despite the numerous health issues that doing so can cause. This led to “A Project in Western Ideals”, which explores a young woman going through this sort of transformation, and not through her own choice.

As far as my fiction goes, it’s not as dark anything I normally write (I let my protagonist share her deepest thoughts with the audience and she is pretty funny without intending to be), but it does deal with the health problems of trying to look like Barbie and how it’s ultimately creating a fake version of yourself (read this article to get an idea of how bad it is for you if you’re curious). I also think the main character is a lot of fun and I enjoyed writing her.

However, I do think that the climax and ending could use some work. As they stand now, they feel clunky to me and don’t match up to the beginning of the story. The beginning could have some stuff cut out from it too, and I’d like to explore the antagonist a bit more as well, get a bit more of the crazy that makes her do this to my protagonist.

Well, we’ll see what happens when I get to the second draft. And by the time I do, I’ll probably have had some ideas on how to better this story. And I definitely want to make this one better, because with a bit of work, I think it could be one of the highlights of Teenage Wasteland (speaking of which, I’ve got seven stories so far set for that collection at various stages of readiness for publication, including this one. With time, I think I could get a few more in and truly make it an extraordinary read).

In the meantime though, I said this was going to be the last short story I’d write before starting work on Laura Horn again. However since I’m about ten days from leaving Germany and heading back to Columbus, I think I’ll hold off on starting any big projects until I’m back in the States, writing or editing. Instead, I’ll edit a few short stories (none that need to be rewritten, that’s basically starting from the beginning again) and get to work on LH once I’m home and settled back in.

Well, Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement is in a few hours. I’m going to have the biggest meal I can in anticipation of the fast nd see you again before What’s Write For Me tomorrow afternoon (or tomorrow night if you’re me). You all have a wonderful day, my Followers of Fear. I know I am.

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Comments
  1. Sounds interesting! 😀 Congrats on finishing!

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