A Writer’s Craft

I’ve been reading Ottessa Moshfegh’s newest book, My Year of Rest and Relaxation. I was an instant fan when I read Eileen and she hasn’t disappointed. Her writing is so distinct and I’m noticing some of the things that make it read like Ottessa. The one I’m going to talk about today is her use of similes and metaphors. As a literal person, figurative language has always evaded me, as in I can’t come up with them! So, I’m a big admirer of writers who can pull it off well. Exhibit 1: The narrator talks about feeling “both relieved and irritated.” That could have been the end, but she compares it to how you’d feel if someone shows up in the middle of your suicide (!!!) I find that to be so skillful because:

    It is a highly specific situation
    It describes relief and irritation perfectly
    After this bomb, she continues like nothing is out of the norm

Exhibit 2: The narrator describes how her older sort of-boyfriend pays no attention to her, and she knows it. To him, she is the “mac ‘n’ cheese or marshmallow cereal” at the grocery store. Again, she could’ve stopped there and we would know what she means, but Moshfegh takes the metaphor and runs with it by going on:

    She was kids’ stuff
    She was nonsense
    She wasn’t worth the calories

By this point, we know exactly how little Trevor values the her and how well she is aware of it.

👏👏 As a reader, I’m always in awe of writers’ craft and the ways that they make writing their own. More to come!

Survival tactics #1

My father could pelt me with shards of glass, for all I cared. Nothing was going to get to me that day. Soon I’d be at Rebecca’s house where I’d be treated like a queen. – Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

Written by one of my favorite writers, this quote describes how I’ve survived nearly 30 years under my parents. I always told myself that one day, I would be living a good life and they would not be able to touch me.

At school, when I was teaching and being nearly abused in the classroom, I told myself that one day, this was going to be in the past, and I would never have to see this student again.

Whether it is healthy or not, this tactic of looking forward to a day when these people are not in my life anymore has carried me to this day. I’m not ashamed to say that when I really didn’t have to see these people or students anymore, I was happy. Overjoyed. Relieved.

I do wish I was treated like a queen. But as of now, I am just so glad that my life is not constantly stressful. Perhaps one day I will be treated like a queen.

There I go again looking forward.