Monday, December 8, 2008

Surreal and Sensual

When my instructor challenged me 2 months ago, I had no idea what it would trigger. He asked me to write a story unlike anything I'd ever written before, something not based on reality or real life. So, I shared 'Counting Raindrops' during the forum last Saturday. To my delight, the piece had evolved far from what I'd initiated a few months back. In short, the two characters had taken over and freely ran the story as their own, without me dictating them. Hence, my little experiment was successful:)

The audience's reactions were really fast too. I couldn't believe that they were listening intensely throughout; I thought the story was a bit too long for a reading, 2700 words. My instructor's immediate response was, "That sure was different!" He said he liked my writer's voice. It has become really confident, since I could talk about counting water in the pond and counting veins on the body without blinking an eye. I continued marching on without worrying whether people find it ridiculous or not. They were all going like, "Whaaat...?? It reminded him of Raymond Carver's story on the pet peacock. Who would have thought of something like that?

I knew the piece was surreal (the phrase 'magical setting' came out often), but I noticed several people also commented that it was sensual. Someone even said 'erotic'. Apparently, they all got it as a unique romance piece, one even commented that it should have more sex scenes. I cut it short for fear of it sounding like Mills and Boon. Surprisingly, even my instructor who discouraged sex-related stories said he was disappointed to find out that the couple was actually married, and that the heroine was a therapist. Hmm... looks like I can write 'unexplored' love stories now, rather than sticking to the 'safe' ones. LOL!

My co-author made a good point. He said he hated the second part of the story. After creating a magical world, I tried to explain everything in a real-world setting and it spoils the readers' mood, made the ending anti-climatic even. I should maintain the setting and weaved in the ending throughout. My instructor didn't think that would work. Others gave their views too on achieving a more subtle ending. Interestingly, this time, my instructor couldn't tell me exactly how to fix it. It was too different, even for him. He knew the 'counting' scenes were something that just came, wouldn't have worked if I'd planned it. He asked me to put the story aside and re-look at it in a few months' time. The solution could only came from me.

Oh, one girl's comment was totally opposite of the others. She said she liked the second part, the real world setting, but she hated the surreal first part.
She said it sounded like a typical Malay ghost story setting. Luckily, my instructor firmly waived away her comment. I think she was hastily stereotyping, perhaps because I am Malay or my characters are Malays. The weather effects were nothing like that. In fact, I couldn't help feeling like a film producer who leisurely punched buttons to produce rain, clouds or sun. LOL!

Anyway, that felt good, very uplifting. And to think that I nearly chickened out from reading that story many times. That happened to be my least confident piece. My instructor said it was because I hadn't ventured into that area before. This is a big step ahead for me, I understand now. He said I could take a couple more months to complete the collection for my second book, there is no need to rush it.

I had been so inspired ever since that I'm churning out quite a lot of work over the long weekend:)

Counting Raindrops - 1st Cut


She gestured for him to sit next to her. He did. She placed her right palm onto her chest. Her head bowed down, her eyes casted onto the water. Vibes of sorrow leap out from her. High above, the sky started to cry. Their surrounding gradually changed, the whole universe transformed to complement her sad song, drawn to its melancholic rhythm. He rubbed his eyes, they were misty.

He gaped, worried that she might fall into the pond.
“Try it, boy!”
He obeyed, like a puppet. He stretched his arms and touched the water.
“Boy!” His head jerked back upwards at the firmness of her voice. “Look here!” He turned to look at her.
She cupped her hands, bended down and lifted up a bit of water from the pond. She held her hands towards him. “How many drops are there?”


Uncle Lee said...

Hi Hazia, Wow, love your eloquence, and you do write very well. Wayyyy to go, Hazia.
Keep it up, you'll be very good soon.
It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?

For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.

I have my old, faded dairies to help me for my blog postings, as all I have now are old memories, ha ha.

Oh ya, almost forgot, selamat hari raya to you and all at home.
Best regards, Lee.

Hazia said...

Thanks, yeah, I need a lot of practice. It feels good to progress.

You keep your old faded diaries? That explains the vividness of your entries, as if the stories had just happened yesterday, hehe...