*Dedicated to Noor, Rwan, Rania and Trisha.
Looking back at my old short stories written before I hit the second decade of my existence, I admit that there was some ignorance there; I lacked more knowledge and wisdom than I do now (not that I have much of it now, but I suppose a degree more). However, the more undeniable thing was that I had a much higher degree of free-spirited imagination then, than I do now. I somehow intuitively understood that it was the subtle small random details that made a story fun to read, even though those random little details had nothing substantial to add to the main plot itself.
It’s like life really. You can sum up someone’s life by the birthplace, family background, education acquired, and time of death, but it is really the small unaccounted things that happened in between that made the life worth living.
Now going back to my stories, I can see the differences between my storyteller thought process then and now:
Back then, the facts (such as current world events, historical dates and popular cultural customs) weren’t always correct due to my limited knowledge. I didn’t stress too much on them. Yet my characters were much more alive simply because they were dynamic and reacted to humorous situations similar to how a typical person (or, more often than not, how a non-typical person) would. But that’s the catch— those “hilarious situations” are what really made the stories enjoyable to read, despite the general plot lacking intense depth.
But now? I put more energy in keeping the ‘big picture’ in mind and much less emphasis on tiny details between the lines. Nowadays, my stories require more effort to write because I FIRST make sure I have all the facts straight, as if this was to be preserved in the pages of historical narrative… THEN I make sure my characters have concrete, consistent personalities similar to how actual people are… THEN I make sure the incidents to follow are realistic such that the characters will respond precisely as I or the reader would respond.
However, I seem to have lost that spontaneous touch of imagination, in which I allow events in my story to unfold very unnaturally, very bizarrely, and completely randomly. These days, I keep trying to write stories that mimic real life, which I am finding to be a futile attempt. It is this maybe, perhaps, why the energy has been sapped from me lately. I’m trying too hard to make a false story appear real.
It was exactly because I allowed myself to dream of a different world, a different reality that didn’t always have to be predictable, that writing used to flow so easily and quickly to me. The plot didn’t necessarily take place in a world I wanted to live in; merely one that made it amusing to be a spectator of. I would seriously love to run into my 18-year old self and ask her, “how did you do it?” How did I permit myself to occasionally get the facts wrong without being too hard on myself, but made it obligatory on myself, with pleasure, to constantly introduce irrational but interestingly comical situations that kept the story alive? It was because of the unpredictability that allowed for sudden unexpected bursts of laughter from the reader, that prompted me to keep writing more and more.
I know age “matures” you, and 5 years of university is bound to drill some common reasonable sense in you, especially when one spends half of it in math and physics classes. Presently, when I plan for a plot, I try to make sure logic is incorporated every step of the way. In doing so, however, the story becomes little more fascinating than a newspaper.
It’s been 3 years since I wrote something just for the fun of it, and just for the sake of painting ridiculous smiles on my beloved family and close friends’ faces.
I think it’s about time to unbury and find my inner, dusted, but hopefully still active-in-imagination crazy author of a self – and get writing again.–