I used to hate getting feedback from things I wrote when I was younger. I was afraid of being criticized, of being made fun of. I was still just blindly writing whatever came to mind. I had a million ideas that didn’t seem good enough, real enough. But that fear didn’t stop me from writing corny stories and dramatic adventure arcs.
Character profiles were fun. Who is this character? How does he relate and interact to other people? Hair color, eye color, height and age. A short summary of his or her life. Blood type. Fun things like that. I think I only used the blood type thing once and it was hilariously dramatic and oh-so-Korean-drama-like.I cringe when I think back on it, but I blame Digimon for their multicolored hair and eye combinations for inspiring me to draw character profiles. Which led to blood types. And then to twins. And then to a dramatic nurture vs. nature spectacle and a 13-year-old sleeping in a janitor’s closet. It didn’t help that my younger sisters kept asking, “And then? What happened after that?” To be honest, I had no clue what happened so I made up some more stuff and that became that.
Character charts, profiles, banners, posters. We all have our own way of organizing an image of a story. For me, it always seems to start like this. I have a muse. And then I see colors, smells, facial expressions, actions. It’s always so compressed in my head, to the point where I’m not even sure where to start. It’s never just an idea for a story. It’s everything. How the hell do I explain what “everything” is to another person? I have trouble organizing my thoughts, so when I tell someone about the premise of a story, it’s so much less spectacular than it is in my head. It’s like when you tell someone about your dream. 1000 things happened but you usually just summarize the dream into two or three events. There was a race in my backyard. A vortex monster/crocodile came out of nowhere and ate me. I felt myself die and it was a very painful event. True dream, but it barely scratches the surface of what happened in that dream.
I try different things to organize a story and lately, I’ve been experimenting with pictures to help me visualize and piece together plot points. Sky, sea, earth. Flight. Falling. Anger. Sadness. Loneliness. Confusion. Exploration and discovery. Mermaids and more mermaids beneath a sky of falling Icaruses (Icari?) I’ve really been itching to write a fantasy fanfic and this collage captured the world in my head. This is the world that I’ve taken a glimpse at! Yes!!! And within this world, my muse is living.
Or is it muses? KDW. KOB. Heavy, dark, psychotic but tender. Fleeting, burning, that clogged up feeling you have in your throat when you’re crying. It’s not only just the journey that’s being recorded; it’s my own feelings of gratitude. The two of them are like keys to worlds and stories that I have been allowed to see and have yet to uncover. They walk with me when I’m peeling away the layers. Sometimes they seem to disappear, other times it’s like they’re holding my hand through the process, pointing out things I missed, facts that I misinterpreted. I feel like the only credit I can earn is in how well I’m able to convey what’s already been there. How do you describe the Eiffel Tower? It’s in Paris, it’s supposed to be romantic and tourists love it. I’m barely scratching the surface and it’s my muses that push me to better understand what I’m missing. Look for the unasked questions. Think about the answers but don’t feel obligated to answer all of them.
A story is like a puzzle. It’s not that the puzzle pieces are supposed to fit perfectly. You don’t have to fit it together to match what the manufacturer prescribed; fit it together in a way that makes sense to you. It may not be a perfect rectangle in the end and there might be gaps here and there, but the pieces no longer just border one another. They overlap.
Writing is visual. It involves music and smells, experience and imagination. Don’t corner yourself into thinking that there is only one standard to meet. Just write however you want to and enjoy putting together the puzzle pieces.
— To read Kou’s Fan on the Street interview, click here. (: