the tamago report

Eggs benedictated

Month: August, 2013

Writing as other ages

by MDY

The most expensive possession in the world is perspective. When I was in high school, I refused to write as a young man. I won my first accolade as an octogenarian, and finished my final year with a middle-aged assassin. For two years I was a toddler until I pulled the plug on his stillborn exposition. I still find it difficult to become someone I am and am not. But more recently, I’ve been writing about first dates, and travel, and interviews – all those hopes and anxieties which slither around in the heads of my generation. Perhaps it is because I find myself, like Plato (?), increasingly conscious of what I do not know of different ages, whether it be through prematurity or the elision of growing up. Talking animals are easy, as are shimmers of magic, perhaps because they have no referent in real life (or, when they do, they so dwarf comprehension that we can only perceive them through the veil of fiction). But it’s the craftsman’s duty to go beyond what is comfortable and hew out newness in others’ experience as well as his own. “There’s a little of you in all your stories,” they say. But there are still stories of me which I physically cannot yet tell. I keep trying out perspectives so that one day, perhaps I will.


The Importance of Students

by MDY

Necessity is the mother of reinvention. Gatsby’s fatal flaw wasn’t his exaggeration of self; he dies because his shirts, many as they are, cannot keep up with the change that unfolds around him. I read something in yesterday’s paper about how most people’s careers flounder because they get used to where they’re resting, even if it’s in the dust at the bottom of the ocean. Writing’s the same. You can either push yourself or push up daisies.

The process is akin to long division. You do a first pass, take the remainder, then run it again, until you’re “as close as you like” (my former mathematics teacher’s way of describing asymptotic behaviour) to the exact solution. Why is it such a feat to calculate π to multiple places? I’ve typically concentrated on the technical aspects: consistency of tone, the balance between description and verbosity, why is your dialogue always shit, et c. It’s easier to iterate on these more objective elements, though exactly who defines their object remains a mystery to me – probably the same programmer from whom the words themselves originate. How do you improve on a human heart?

“Write often,” they say, but too often without the necessary “and write better.” Those who I’ve mentored, for lack of a less presumptive word, are the best goads for my Orestes to keep running, running, running away. If I can see them on my tail, pursuing me with furious diligence, how can I afford to stop? There’s no shame in failure, only in the presumption of success. My protégés force me to become a better writer and a better man.