All Stories, Literally Reruns, Writing

Literally Reruns – A Life on Track by Matthew Richardson

Indefatigable, that’s the only word. Under cover of darkness, Leila crept out and made her way via, alleyways and byways and the odd back yard – truth be told – to gain access to the catacombs of LS Towers. There she picked out another Rerun suggestion – and (and you didn’t hear this from me) a stale Twinkie that she had secreted in the survival section. Anyway, once the dust dry crumbs had been coughed away this is what she said:

There’s a heavy load toted by our first person MC’s. There are people who disrespect use of the first person approach, they say it is too easy. There are also people who are fools. Not coincidentally, my research shows that the percentage of people who disrespect the first person and that of fools in general is the same. But maybe I ought to leave personalities out of this, starting with my own.

Anyway, Mr. Richardson’s first person story A Life on Track  blows away the addle-minded arguments against first person writing. Richardson’s MC is a complicated person whose thoughts often contradict his other thoughts, and is one who expresses emotions through the side doors of his personality. By such I mean, he isn’t always frank with his own self. This provides tension; for the reader is better off when the MC’s interpretations cannot always be trusted.

Q: Please explain the inspiration behind the story?

Q: You were able to convey complex thoughts in a naturalistic manner. It never comes off written. Was this something that just came about, or did you have to reconfigure high thoughts into plainer language in effort to maintain realism?

Leila Allison

***

A Life on Track

Matthews responses:

Q: Please explain the inspiration behind the story?
 
People watching at South Gyle train station in Edinburgh. In my student days (longer ago than I care to remember) when I came home to the Scottish Borders for the weekend, my dad would drop me off at South Gyle train station on his way to work, after which I would catch the connecting train to Dundee from Edinburgh Waverley. By virtue of its location, South Gyle served both commuters and schoolchildren. It was this mix, and the varying degrees of enthusiasm within both commuting populations, that struck me as excellent source material for a short story. 

 

Q: You were able to convey complex thoughts in a naturalistic manner. It never comes off written. Was this something that just came about, or did you have to reconfigure high thoughts into plainer language in effort to maintain realism?

 

It certainly helped that my first-person narrator was an educated and relatively erudite person. This gave me licence to marry his growing insanity and paranoia to a reasoning that I hoped would go at least part of the way towards convincing the reader that my protagonist’s response to redundancy was proportionate and logical. 

I had a lot of fun writing this piece; writers always do when they are asked to argue on the side of the obviously-wrong. I took the approach of planning the storytelling as if I were preparing to write an essay. I wrote to convince the reader that getting clipped by a train was the rational and sensible thing to do. The easiest way to convince someone of something is by having a conversation with them, and this informed the style of the piece. There is a lot of rhetorical questions within the story, as though the narrator is trying to bring the reader along the same line of thought as him. Present tense also helps in drawing the illusion that the piece isn’t written but rather spoken, just as one would speak with someone on a train station platform. 

 

2 thoughts on “Literally Reruns – A Life on Track by Matthew Richardson”

  1. Hi Leila,

    Excellent as usual.
    It must be tempting to ask manys a writer about the inspiration of a story but you’ve judged this one superbly to get the best response.

    Matthew,
    I enjoyed your mentioning of Waverly Station. Thinking on that place makes me smile. I’ve never had a bad night out in Edinburgh!
    Brilliant answers overall!!
    Hugh

    Like

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