Writing Prompt: We’ll Try Interrogation if Nothing Else Works

July 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s been hard for me to get back in the swing of things after coming back to Chicago from Prague. I had adapted to the work space and work environment there. I had nothing better to do than to write (in between the times I was sightseeing and traveling to other Czech cities), so that was what I did with myself.

Here, there is so much distraction. There are two other people in the studio apartment that I feel enough interest in to pay attention to, even when I don’t want to. There are tons of other activities I could busy myself with: cleaning, organizing, reading, painting, doing the laundry, anything but write. In Prague, I had what I brought with me: three books. Here, the shelves are filled.

So the subtle writing doesn’t seem to come as easily as it did. I know it’s just temporary. I know it’ll pass as I readjust, but for now I’ve got to find a way to cope. While sitting in the laundry room to get away from the activity in my apartment, I said, “Okay, just ask the characters your questions directly.” You can spend all day thinking about how you’d show that this man’s life was affected by the one time a girl turned him down for a date, the fountain in the background, the napkin in his pocket. But that takes a long time. And then after thinking about it, you have to write it down, too. And maybe it all doesn’t happen at once, so you forget about it by the next time it needs to swoop back in.

I needed to write and I needed to write right now.

So ask your characters the questions you want to ask them and see what unfolds. I got something good toward the end. It was something important to me, at least. What I found in this exercise as to remember that just because a character answers a question one way doesn’t mean that’s the way it actually happened or the way they actually feel. You’ll see. Try it yourself. Then post what you produce in the comments (or on your own blog and post the link in the comments) and let me know what you found out!

Dear Hyun, if you could find Eun-Byul again, what would you say to her?

I would have nothing to say to her. We had our moment and then it ended and with Eun-Ji I am happy.

Dear Hyun, why did you fall in love with Eun-Ji?

There is something that we can’t explain about a human’s relationship with a wild animal. I see them and I’m curious how they would act if they weren’t afraid of me. I don’t care about taming them. We have enough tamed animals, but i wonder what the world would look like if they were less afraid to rise up.

Dear Hyun, what do you think about abortion? I know, I feel it, too. This wall between us because I try to make you speak to me in English, but that’s not your language, not the way your thoughts naturally come. Would you prefer to sit outside or inside to have a conversation with the person you love?

Outside, especially in the country, whatever place feels more timeless.

Eun-Ji, is there a reason that I should admire you? Eun-Ji, Eun-Ji, can you hear me? What are you interested in? You are interested in something and I want it to be something I am not interested in because you are your own person, not just an extension of me. You are interested in one day owning a store. Maybe you don’t even care what kind as long as you own it and organize it, right? A clothing store with your friend from the other city? Maybe she talks to you about it. Maybe she’s the kind of person who takes a couple weeks out of the year and goes crazy producing designs and names and marketing strategies and calls you to follow her but runs out of gas and lets it fade back.

Eun-Ji, how do you love your father?

I remember that he would sit with me at the kitchen table and let me help him roll his cigarettes. I remember when he was done, he would sit and smoke one, and he would push the leftover tobacco toward me. It would line up against his finger and end up in rows, little walls across the table, so I’d try to spell out words in the tobacco by moving it like he did. It was hard with any 응 because the little circles were difficult to do.
I’d grab a little cup from my mother’s hand, still warm from the dish rack, and make little circles in the space beneath it by pressing it into tobacco hills, but still it was too hard to clear out space in the middle to make them look perfect. So I skipped my parents’ names and went to words like 사과 (apple) and 친구 (friend). He told me the secret of 사과, that when you want to apologize to someone and can’t find the words, you can give them an apple, the same word as apology.

I thought he was lying. I gave one to my friend after I took her hair band from her desk and wore it, but it didn’t help at all. Still, I felt calm when I would walk pas the door to my parents’ room and see an apple settled on the nightstand in the dark.

Dear Eun-Ji, did you ever give an apple to Hyun?

I never asked him if he’d been taught the meaning. I enver wanted to risk it. He never got very upest during our disagreements anyway, so level-headed. I think an apology would have been an insult, assuming he’d held on to a feeling longer than he really did.

Hyun, why did you fall in love with Eun-Ji?

She is beautiful and I saw her taking care of some animals in the park a long time before our friends set us up. I never told her that I saw her, and I haven’t seen her do the same since, but i fell in love with the chance to have someone take care of me even when I was wild and would never give anything back to her. I felt like maybe she could understand me in that way.

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