Cilantro and Barf Stories
No, this is not some rant about how icky I think cilantro is. I am coming back to a blog I wrote several weeks ago where I challenged myself to write a short story in less than a month. If I couldn’t do it, the punishment would be eating a cilantro—the taste of which I can’t stand—salad.
Okay so this blog is sort of about how foul I think cilantro tastes, but mostly it’s about what happened with this bet I made with myself.
I decided to write a true story about my bus ride from Istanbul, Turkey to Budapest, Hungary. It was quite an experience. I traveled alone on a bus where not one person spoke English, and a few hours into the 36 hour ride, I got really sick.
It’s a story about survival, cultural differences and similarities, humanity, humiliation and tons more. I’ve told the story to friends more times than I can count, so I always thought I should write it. The bet I made myself seemed the perfect time to try.
I didn’t think the story would be too tricky, I knew everything that happened already, I just had to write it down. I started out okay, writing a bit here and a bit there, not too worried since I had almost a month to write it all.
Last Tuesday was the day I had to have my rough draft finished, so I was a bit freaked out when I realized last Sunday night that I hardly had anything written.
Monday I wrote furiously on the bus all the way to work. On my bus ride home I was writing fast as well, until I got to the part where the main character in the story (me) got sick. That was when I wondered if it really was all that smart to write a story about someone who pukes throughout a bus ride, while riding on the city bus. I got sick as I continued to write about being sick. I finally got so ill that I had to stop writing.
I couldn’t write when I got home either because I still felt all ishy. I even went to bed early.
So that left Tuesday for me to finish the whole thing. I wrote carefully through the bus ride to work as well as the bus ride home. I didn’t have time to get sick on the bus anymore, and somehow I managed through it okay.
When I got home I made myself the best dinner, and then ruined it because I was forced to write while I ate. I had to write about how I got worse and worse on the bus, puking all the time. Not a great thing to write about at the dinner table if you ask me. But the idea of having to eat a cilantro salad, that was much worse. So I continued writing.
After dinner I continued to write. I was up until about eleven finishing the story. But I finished!
I won! No cilantro for me!
But now I am wondering if it was really worth the price I paid to write that story. Even without the cilantro salad bet haunting me, I wonder if writing should ever be like that. Should writing be forced so that you feel the ishy that your character feels and you don’t want to continue?
I also wonder, if anyone would want to read something that is so full of nausea. Maybe I am just too close to the story, and that is why it affected me the way it did. But I wonder if there is a line where the barf factor is just too ishy to read about?
Lucky for me, I get to shelf the barf story for now. It’s back to non-sick-making YA fiction for me.