The CuriousPages Sketchbook

Writing: If only Cats could Speak Japanese

This short story started with the following idea. I was thinking about the difficulty of beginning romance, where each party, in effect, puts all sorts of obstacles in the way of anything ever developing. Sometimes because, like Andrea Segovia, people are reluctant to change their habits or requirements, so will not make any compromises; then, on top of this, when some ‘romance’ does begin, you have the difficulty of furthering it, where both parties are prone to interpret the other party’s ’signals’ in a negative way, which is what they both frequently go ahead and do, so therefore nothing ever develops. So, the frustrations of this whole area was the starting point of the story.

Next, I thought of a girl who was in this position of trying to solve this problem, this riddle. She would be the protagonist. And the idea then came to me that she might consult a detective agency to help her solve the riddle.

These were the two simple ideas behind the whole story.

The agents being sexually amorphous, I think represents the fact that they were ambassadors between the sexes, they saw both sides of the situation.

The name ‘Agent Melancholy’ was a useful device which enabled me to use the name metaphorically, in such lines as ‘Melancholy became her constant companion’, which alludes to the fact that when we are in Lorna’s predicament, melancholy will follow us around.

As for the ideas like the one about the cat learning Japanese, or us striving to find out if the cat could learn Japanese, were it able to speak (all this obviously as a metaphor for Lorna trying to find out if Drew was interested in her), I think these sorts of ideas are simply inspired madness. My writing is littered with such ideas. I don’t know where they come from. They just seem to happen.

Creativity is problem solving. The above sort of inspired lunacy comes from making an unexpected association to solve a particular problem. I think. One has in mind a problem that needs solving, then this bizarre association appears in one’s mind. It just happens. More than that, I can’t explain.

It’s interesting that this explanation of the story is starting to become as long as the story itself, and I have hardly begun to take the story apart.

This is one of the things that appeals to me about the short story form. Its conciseness.

Read the story here.


20 April 2008



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