the tamago report

Eggs benedictated

Tag: for my reader

Finding New Ideas

by MDY

“How do you come up with your stories?” my reader asked me.

The simple answer is, I do not know. The premises of my stories are easy enough to concoct: take things most people would never think to connect (like robbers and ramen, or hawks and handsaws), and connect them. Sometimes, I draw on experience – things I’ve heard, things I’ve seen. I tend not to do this too often because I find that the closer you stray towards real life, the less latitude you have to mould it into your own. The workability of a premise depends on the strength, and plausibility, of those connections: in other words, developing scenes and scenarios which are weird for a reason and not just for weirdness’ sake. Otherwise you end up on the slippery slope of surrealism, which is very slippery and always leads back to the sea.

Even once you have your premise, new ideas are only one very small part of writing stories of which you can be proud. You also need discipline (to write words and then words and then, after that, more words), and humility (to accept when your premise is in fact too weak, and cannot be saved, and must die), and empathy (to birth characters who are strong, and will survive for the term of your natural life). You need a love of the worlds both around and inside you. Most of all, I think, you need to understand your reader, which is not a goal but rather a choice that you have to make every day. My reader is both why and whom I’m writing for.

But even after all of that, I still do not really know.


Writing with Feeling

by MDY

Hemingway has no heart. You get the suspicion he always cared more for the words than what they meant: “The first draft is always shit”. Technical mastery, yes, but no heart. It’s hard to write memorably without one or the other, unless you are Hemingway.

The difference between me and a carpenter is what trees we use. I’m inclined to reserve my judgement for the composition of a work, perhaps because it’s far less shameful to puncture than sentiment itself. “Human condition…is this really necessary?” We’re cowards who hide behind our craft.

Sometimes I forget about my reader. A work of masterful technique will make me purr with cleverness, but it’s the old verities put simply – love, honour, pity, et c – which she’ll remember. And remembrance is we crave, we who write. We’re cowards who hope to never die. 

when words are not enough

by MDY

As the week tapers off, my reader asked me about my perspective on death. As I tried to answer, I thought back to a moment earlier in the week, when I was sitting on the toilet. The patterning of our bathroom floors consists of tiles in three colours. Most of the tiles are white, while a few are either brown or a yellow-green hue, forming not so much a mosaic as a spattering of wan colouration for the toilet-goer to peruse in what is quite literally down-time. I imagined that each of the coloured tiles was a person, and that I was staring down on them. The ones which touched diagonally were like lovers – joined, but easily divided – while those which were linked across an entire side were more akin to brothers, sisters, or even twins. It occurred to me how few coloured tiles ever touched one another. They were mostly lone drops of vigour in an ocean of white.

I tried to answer my reader but it was difficult. Eventually I told her another story, about how I had looked up on a crystal-clear night at the stars and felt myself shrunken down to insignificance like a tile on a bathroom floor. What do those giant burning suns think of us, when they peer down upon our past? She said I expressed myself beautifully, but all I could hear was the hollowness of my eloquence, echoing back and forth inside my skull like the trickle of a tap: “You’re both going to die! Going to die die die!”

Every morning, the bunny who lives next door watches me walk away. He lives on a balcony high up from the ground, but I can still see his nose twitch and his eyes following mine, black pinpricks in a mound of chequerboard fur. I want to ask him what he thinks of death, and if he ever crawls out from his hutch to watch the stars traverse the road to expiration. I want my reader to see into the caverns of my ribcage, hear what dissonance of my thoughts echoes with fake pensiveness in my hollow-man’s brain. Die rhymes with eye rhymes with lie, lie, lie. But each time I seek the words, they look upon me with forgiveness as I stumble, fall, and fail them. So I smile at the bunny and wave at him instead, hoping that he understands.