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The Absurd and the Real: How I Craft Stories from Life's Contradictions

Life is a mosaic of contradictions, where the mundane and the extraordinary, the tragic and the comedic, seamlessly intertwine. As a writer, I find comfort and inspiration in these paradoxes, channeling them into the heart of my narratives. In this exploration, we will journey through the realm of the absurd and the real, discovering how I harness life's contradictions as a woman born and raised in Iran (read my article From Iran to the World: How Cultural Context Shapes My Writing) to craft stories that resonate with the complexity of human existence.

Bhutan 2014


Embracing the Absurd

Venturing into the realm of the absurd is akin to exploring a realm where imagination thrives without restraint. It's an exhilarating journey that allows to transcend the ordinary and stretch the limits of what we perceive as possible. Within this unique landscape, the very rules that govern our reality become malleable, allowing for a form of artistic expression that challenges conventions and delights the curious mind. Life's inherent absurdities—those intriguing instances that defy the chains of logic and rationale—find their place as the cornerstone of my storytelling endeavors.


In my recent short story collection titled "Machinocracy," I draw upon the dark experiences I've encountered travelling the world to craft narratives that explore the absurdity of mass naivety and the paradoxical dynamics between those in power and the masses they govern. One story, in particular, titled "Eat With The Donkeys," stands as a reflection of these influences.


In this story, I create a world where the populace is symbolized by marionettes, moving to the orchestrated tune of the puppeteer elite. The protagonist, Amara, finds herself catapulted into a world of opulence and power, believing that she has finally been recognized for her worth. As Amara sits at the head of the table during the People's Dinner, surrounded by the elite, her perspective shifts dramatically. Amidst the extravagance and decadence, she ardently echoes the views of the privileged, echoing their disdain for the poor and attributing their plight solely to their perceived laziness. In her eagerness to align with the elite, Amara mirrors the journey of individuals who adopt the perspectives of those in power, disregarding their own experiences of struggle and vulnerability. Through Amara's journey, the story delves into the complexity of privilege, showcasing how individuals like her can be swayed by the allure of wealth and influence. Her transformation from a recipient of mockery to an embracer of elitism highlights the psychological effects of being accepted into a privileged circle even for a short time. This resonates with my exploration of absurdity, as Amara's actions and beliefs become absurd in the face of her own experiences and origins struggling in poverty that is build by these elites. The story's setting of a lavish dinner juxtaposed against the grim reality of the outside world underscores the stark contrast between privilege and poverty, exposing the mechanisms that perpetuate societal divisions.


This allegory finds its roots in the very real struggles I've witnessed, where individuals navigate a society influenced by the whims of a minority in control. The story's protagonist embodies the collective naivety that blinds the masses to their own predicament. Her strings are pulled by the puppeteer's masterful hand, and she goes about her life in servitude, unaware of the manipulations that govern her existence. In "Machinocracy," my intent is not only to showcase the absurdity inherent in such societal structures but also to provoke thought and reflection. By infusing elements of the surreal and the bizarre into these narratives, I hope to offer readers a unique lens through which to examine the world around them, encouraging them to question the status quo and challenge the notions that govern their lives. These unexpected moments, often dismissed as incongruous or irrational, hold an undeniable allure. They beckon to me, whispering tales of wonder that beg to be told. As a storyteller, I find myself drawn to these instances, those glimpses of the inexplicable, as they offer a gateway to weaving narratives that both captivate and challenge.


In my creative process, I draw inspiration from the surreal, the nonsensical, and the bizarre—elements that, when skillfully interwoven, transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. By blending these whimsical fragments with the essence of reality, I construct a multidimensional tapestry that resonates with readers. This fusion of the fantastical and the tangible not only engages the imagination but also prompts contemplation. It's within the marriage of these seemingly disparate elements that I find my stories, where the absurd grants me the liberty to explore uncharted territories, spark new perspectives, and invite readers to question the boundaries of their own perceptions. It all taught me to not take myself so seriously.

With besties and writers, Bangkok 2020


The Dance of Contradictions

In the midst of our everyday lives, we navigate a profound dance between opposing forces—finding joy within sorrow, embracing hope amid despair, and discovering beauty amidst chaos. These threads of contrast form the very essence of my storytelling, where the collision of these dualities illuminates the rich complexity of the human experience. My personal experiences of traversing different corners of the world have deeply influenced my perspective on this delicate balance. From the serene landscapes of Bhutan to the opulence of the Emirates, the ancient mystique of Ireland to the vibrant energy of Turkey, and the tropical allure of the Philippines to the spiritual depths of Thailand, each journey has enriched my understanding of life's complexities. As I ventured through Bhutan's tranquil valleys, I witnessed a society that reveres happiness as a fundamental goal, reminding me of the fragile balance between contentment and ambition.

With friends in Bhutan 2014


In the Emirates, I marveled at the juxtaposition of modern skyscrapers against timeless deserts, underscoring the interplay between progress and tradition. Ireland's folklore and rolling landscapes revealed the enchanting dance between imagination and reality. Turkey's intricate history and diverse culture spoke to the harmonious coexistence of opposing ideologies.

Turkey, Istanbul 2010


The Philippines' warm beaches and resilient spirit echoed the profound link between natural beauty and human resilience. Last but not least, Thailand's temples and bustling streets symbolized the interweaving of spirituality with the rhythms of daily life and given me a place to call home for 11 years. Each country became a mirror, reflecting the intricate dance of contradictions that shape our existence. These experiences have lent depth to my characters, as I guide them through their own intricate journeys, allowing them to confront their internal battles within the backdrop of a world that often eludes easy understanding. Through my storytelling, I seek to honor the delicate equilibrium between opposing forces that I have witnessed across the globe, inviting readers to contemplate the tapestry of life in all its intricate beauty.


In this regard, dark fiction serves as the perfect canvas for exploring life's contradictions. In the depths of darkness, truths are often illuminated with stark clarity. The stories I craft delve into the corners of the human psyche, shining light on the aspects that are often shrouded in shadows. The absurdity of life's darkest moments, when juxtaposed with the mundane, can bring forth narratives that challenge readers to confront uncomfortable truths. Within my trilogy I've harnessed the realm of dark fiction as my creative canvas to delve into life's intricate contradictions of a woman born and raised in the middle east. It's within the depths of darkness that truths emerge with uncompromising clarity. The narratives I weave venture deep into the recesses of the human mind, casting a spotlight on the facets often obscured by shadows. "Machinocracy" on the other hand, it is a prime example of how I employ these techniques. Through the lens of satire, I exploit the potent force of exaggeration. By magnifying elements of reality, satire allows me to accentuate the absurdities that exist within our world. This technique serves as a catalyst for readers to pause, reevaluate their preconceptions, and question the established norms and power dynamics. With a touch of humor, I unveil the hidden layers of societal constructs, sparking a collective reassessment of the status quo.


For this, we should not underestimate the power of satire, as a form of storytelling that thrives on contradictions. I love exaggeration and by exaggerating reality, satire highlights its absurdities, making us pause and reconsider our assumptions. Satire, I've discovered, is an extraordinary vehicle through which the genuine and the absurd harmonize seamlessly. It affords me the opportunity to pinpoint and showcase the peculiarities we often overlook, thereby offering readers a fresh perspective on their surroundings. Through these literary tools, I've endeavored to create narratives that embrace the contradictions inherent in life, urging readers to explore the interplay between darkness and light, absurdity and reality, and ultimately to question the tapestry of existence itself.


Conclusion

As I write more and more, I've come to realize that the beauty of life lies in its contradictions. These contradictions are the soul of storytelling, the essence of what makes fiction reflect reality in its truest form. From the absurdity of a seemingly insignificant moment to the profundity of life-altering events, I draw inspiration from these contrasts to create narratives that celebrate the complexity of the human experience. Through my stories, I invite readers to ponder the absurd and the real, to explore the tapestry of contradictions that make us who we are.


And you? What you drive inspiration from?

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