The Durian Divide

Durian is a strange fruit. With most other fruits, people either love them or treat them with indifference. Durian, however, polarises. There’s a great divide between the “love it” and “hate it” camps. Those who love it will wax eloquent on its deliciously distinctive flavor slightly reminiscent of custard, the sweet creaminess that melts in your mouth, and even the joy of licking it off your fingers. Those who hate it, however, will speak with disdain of its ugly, spiky exterior and its pervasive, pungent aroma–though durian lovers will contest just how malodorous it actually is.The thing about durians is that no matter the camp you may be in, when you encounter one, you know exactly what it is.

El Durian

If the smell doesn’t give you ample warning, and you somehow miss the green ball of spikes, one small bite is all it takes to inform all your senses that this is most definitely a durian. It’s a taste that stays with you long after the durian has disappeared–for better or for worse.

It’s something that I’ve realised lately is lacking in my writing. Personality-wise, I avoid conflict. I’m happiest when everyone is getting along, and I hate stirring the pot. It helps when creating sympathetic characters, but sympathetic characters aren’t always the ones who resonate with you. A logical plot that’s perfectly grounded in realistic possibilities–enough to please everyone–isn’t necessarily the one that’s going to make you stop and think once the story’s over. (Primer, anyone?)

I can read all the writing books I want, and refine my craft for years. I can listen to podcasts by authors, go to conventions, and get the theory of writing down pat. But it’s all moot if I’m too afraid to put myself into my writing because people will be offended; too afraid of making myself vulnerable to nasty attacks on my person and my beliefs; too afraid to show the world all I am, the good and the bad.

My writing will never have that distinct voice that agents and publishers seem to go on about at length. It will never stand out from the crowd and draw people in with the raw, unique spark that is me. It will simply be yet another solidly written, yet bland, story in a veritable ocean of failed stories.

So today, I will take the first small step and declare: My name is Leanne Yong, and I love durians.

Photo credit: El Durian, by John Loo.

Leanne Yong is an aspiring author who is working on her second young adult novel. Check out her blog at Clouded Memories for more information and a journal chronicling her latest foray into novel writing.


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