At the risk of sounding very pretentious, I’ve been putting a lot of work into that novel I’m writing. It’s an extremely self-motivated endeavor, the type of thing people don’t tend to give a shit about, like a newly-weds’ wedding website, or starting a spoon-art collection. Saying that you’re writing a novel is a good way to deflect questions about what you’re actually doing, and a great way to get yourself uninvited from the conversation. That said, I’m writing a novel, and this post is about how it’s going.
When I started this blog, I set out in search of interesting things to write about, and so far I’ve been mostly jotting down notes and coming up with partial stories—which I’m told is how you get these kinds of things started anyways.
Since arriving in South Korea and holing up in a little apartment I’ve had ample time to sit with my thoughts, hashing them out as they surface, working them into a story worth listening to—that’s the hope anyhow. I think my instinct that travelling and experiencing the world would help the creative process was right, but only insofar as the observing and collecting process. For the actual writing part isolation is key, and I think I’ve found that here in Cheonan.
Here are some notes I’ve been taking, maybe they’ll work their way into that all-important novel of mine, maybe not. Here it goes:
I live on the 4th floor of my building. My floor is marked “F” because the number “4” is unlucky. I live in an indistinct building, tucked away behind a much more prominent apartment building, with four massive towers, providing a healthy amount of shade throughout the day.
There is a trail of red sauce that leads from the garbage pile out front, into the elevator, and up to the floor marked “F.” It continues all the way down the slate-scale hallway with a flickering fluorescent light, snaking like the path of some giant red-onion slug.
I haven’t seen the person responsible for making the mess, or the one for cleaning it up. In fact, up until a few days ago, I hadn’t seen anyone at all. It was a little eerie at first, because Becca and I could hear them through the walls, but never caught the other tenants in passing. I joked that our apartment building was haunted. Becca’s been leaving the mirror face down since then.
The apartment is small and square, and constantly reeks of cigarette smoke coming from the walls. It’s cozy. When it gets too cozy, it’s time to throw open our single window with a view. The view is dominated by an unyielding brick wall. If you look straight down there’s an alleyway, and far enough to the left or right you’ll see the busy street. None of our wall-paper matches: One wall is dotted with peach-colored flowers, and the opposing wall with colorful polka dots.
To me, this is home. When the sun comes up over the foggy city-skyline and the chicken delivery runners rev up their motorcycles, that’s when my day starts. When the neon lights gleam on the faces of giant blocky buildings, and drunkards sing songs in the alleyway beneath my window, that’s when my day ends.
This apartment building may be haunted, and it might not. All I know is that when I close my eyes, when I sit in complete silence, this building speaks to me with its creaks and it’s drips and the resonance of a story unfolding all around.