Turning the Untouchable into Something Tangible

This intro section is analagous to a fan fiction author’s disclaimer at the very beginning of their work that gives proper credit to the rightful author of the original story and explains that any fictious elements are of his/her own creation.

Life was a little hectic this week, so I’m writing this post super last-minute and basically begging forgiveness for the crappy writing that is to follow. Many thanks.

I’ve watched Wong Fu Productions’ short films for a long time now. I started in high school, back when I had what I consider my first “serious” relationship, and I’ve continued watching them well into the present — when the number of people with whom I’ve shared any sort of romantic inclination has increased by…a not insignificant number.

My perception of these videos has, much like Philip Wang’s own portrayal of love, changed over time. It’s not just that I have different people in my mind when I watch, or re-watch, particular videos (“Strangers, again,” anyone?).

It’s also that my own reflections on the video and myself change.

Wong Fu’s latest video, “Untouchable,” came out only two days ago, so I’ve not had much time to really reflect on it as much as I have their other videos, but it’s also proving to be a little harder to “work through” for a number of reasons.

I’ve watched the video five times — twice on Bart on the way home from San Francisco on Thursday evening when it was first released, once when I returned home later that night, once more last night, and once more this morning.

“Untouchable” wasn’t, for me, as sad or tear-wrenching as “Strangers, again” was/is. Rather, the new video gave this strange tug on my heart strings and, for lack of better descriptors, made me want to headdesk. This is me trying to figure out why.

You can watch the video for yourself and then read my comments, so I don’t have to summarize:

I enjoy writing what I know. I don’t think it was ever an intentional choice, like I was trying to strictly follow the advice of my creative writing professor. This was always something that started happening very naturally.

This was also a realization I made with intense clarity only a few weeks ago.

I’ve always enjoyed doing creative writing, but as of late, I’ve had a lot of trouble working on the piece I’ve been meaning to finish for a month now. I open it at least once every two days, stare at it, and wonder, “Where do I even go from here?”

Some nights, I reread it, leave sassy margin commentary (à la thesis), make technical edits, arrive at the “end” and then…get writer’s block. How or when I approach it doesn’t seem to matter — even making notes throughout the day doesn’t help move things along.

On one of my rereads, it suddenly occurred me: The reason why I couldn’t continue writing was because the narrative, the “story” had yet to finish in real life. The experience driving the heart of the story didn’t have a conclusion.

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“Untouchable” | Photo Courtesy of Wong Fu Productions

There was one specific line of description I’d written that triggered this epiphany, and I remember thinking, “Oh my God, it’s them.”

Was the name the same? No way. Was the appearance? Definitely not. Was the personality? Literally down to a T.

I’m not sure if people will believe me, but truly, cross my heart and hope to die — I do not base my characters off real people when I start writing. I enjoy building my characters beforehand, but I don’t actually pull traits from specific friends during this process.

And yet, somehow, there was a person I knew, on paper.

It’s not the first time this has happened. In the past, three of my friends who’d read a couple of my creative writing pieces came back to me with this awkward question: “Did you…base this character on me?”

I swear, it was not intentional.

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“The Last” | Photo Courtesy of Wong Fu Productions

I don’t think I’m having trouble working through the story of “Untouchable” because I don’t, as Evan does, write fictional stories about people I know and so strongly believe in these alternative storylines that reality becomes a dull silver in comparison.

I do play out conversations in my head, write down what I want to say to people, and even make plans A-Z’ (that’s “Z prime,” by the way) to account for everything that can go wrong — or go right. And I do wonder about the hypothetical future I share with others, be it romantic or just platonic, sometimes even after the potential for that future has passed.

Phil’s own words — though now over a year old — about his writing process have helped me come to terms, so to speak, with how this video has made me feel.

I write from personal experiences, which means I’m always running the risk of having certain parts of my live be extremely visible to everyone who reads my writing. (Perhaps an interesting thought experiment when you also consider what I’ve not written about.)

Most people wouldn’t think too much of this, but for the select handful of friends who are a bit more privy to my personal emotions and thoughts, I suspect my writing gives them even deeper insight into the ways my mind works and how I interact with people.

My stories, however, thanks to the teachings of aforementioned creative writing professor, always have resolutions. (Hence the intense writer’s block when my own life is in the grey zone.)

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“Untouchable” | Photo Courtesy of Wong Fu Productions

I think this is why “Untouchable” been throwing me for a loop. (It has taken me over 980 words to get to this conclusion. Someone get me an editor, stat.)

It’s not the fact that Wendy calls her past with Evan “untouchable.” It’s not the fact that she makes a point of reassuring him that she’s still so aware of how significant “you and me” are. It’s also not the fact that this girl has some #savage lines.

It’s the fact that she leaves him with a quiet “I’ll see you around,” and he responds with an almost inaudible “yeah.” Because this parting allows the possibility of them having another run-in to exist. And it also suggests that their paths may never cross again in the future.

Open-ended conclusions, transitions, grey zones, anything without a solid foundation have never been my strong points.

But life isn’t always a story, and there isn’t always that resolution all tied up with string — even if it’s a string with several undoable knots that’s almost worn through. So while I can write things that have happy or unhappy endings, it’s better in life to treasure and hold onto that which is untouchable and turn the page.

Because at least you’ll always be certain that you have that page to turn back to.

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