Something I wrote for an course on German literature I took last semester.
"Now you've started telling me off. Well I suppose I deserve it as I shouldn't have let you in here in the first place, and it turns out there wasn't even any point." - The Trial.
Let’s face it. Everyone goes through this phase of obsessing over Kafka, his life, his times, his dog and the works. And everyone at some point in time wishes that they could write as marvelously as this 20th century German writer. There is something deliciously addictive about the feeling of despair and being trapped in this cruel cruel world, because deep down you know, everyone hates you. And who knew that better than Franz Kafka? So this is one among the many How-Tos, How To Write a Kafka Story (in English) And Convince People That You Actually Did Unearth It From Somewhere. And yes even though all his works are in German, most have been translated into English so if you do not know a word of German, do not despair. This guide is for you, if Kafka is your hero unto death, or if you just need a good story to narrate at the next dinner party:
1.The Father: How CAN one possibly conceive of a Kafka story, without some subtle referencing to The Father? The Father played a Very Important role in Kafka’s life and features in almost all of his stories (one, directly, many indirectly and some as unearthed by Kafka Researchers). If you must write a Kafka Story, you must criticize The Father Figure. Describe in great detail how he oppressed you, how he is insensitive to your feelings, how you feel trapped when he is around, but yet how, you must accept his presence, for after all, he is The Father. These details are of crucial importance. Be deliberate, be subtle, but remember, everyone looks for The Father Figure in a Kafka Story. Do not disappoint them.
2.Kafka stories are pleasantly peppered with incongruities. Do not fix your mind so on Rationality, Order and Method. Be irreverent in your thinking process. Preferably, start out with a random out-of-the-blue opening line. Like this :
One morning, Harrod Hamsa woke up from beautiful dreams, to find that he had been turned into a dishwasher. He finally had proof that his wife was just using him.
3.If you want to write a Kafka story, you must slip into the psyche of Kafka. You must realize that the world now hates you. No one would want to let you write, there is simply no peace of mind that you can find and nothing can possibly go right in your life. Know it. Live with it. If possible, cultivate a low self esteem. Write about how constricted you feel and something must always go wrong with you all the time. Trust me, that is terribly attractive.
4.If you happen to contract that awful awful disease called the Writer’s Block while writing your Kafka story, do not panic. Write as much as you can and leave it. Most of Kafka’s works are in fragments anyway. You could convince a few researchers that the remaining story was burnt, during, of course, a bout of insecurity.
5.Be sufficiently mysterious. If you can’t make any sense of your story, it’s fine. There are many eager researchers waiting to find myriad interpretations of your work – religious, political, social and gastrical. You could even try out the Early Morning Writing Method: As soon as you wake up, grab a piece of paper and a pencil and let your thought flow. Edit it later on for grammatical errors. You will be amazed to find how profound you could get.
6.Be prosaic. Short, crisp sentences are a strict no-no. Rambling sentences describing a woman’s attire, a house and other things of consequence are appreciated. Keep your story short, but your sentences long. Do not pause anywhere in your stream of thought, write write and write some more. Do not even take a moment off to worry about your tortuous sentences. A large cup of coffee would probably help here. Preferably black.
7.Begin in a casual, conversational style. In a tone you would use, to borrow a cliché, to describe the weather. Act like it is no big deal. The suspense should ideally lie at the end of the first sentence. For example – One morning, Alfred K had two omelettes for breakfast when he happened to glance at the morning newspaper and discovered that he was a spy. Be dramatic, but pretend like you do not understand the first word about drama.
8.Remember, that if you must pull off a Kafka story, eager readers would look for many popular trivia associated with Kafka. Do not disappoint them. One of them would be naming your protagonist after Kafka. Or just the initial K or any German name beginning with the letter K. This will establish the fact that your writing is perfectly genuine and that what you write is indeed a mirror of yourself.
9.Your description of objects and people must be voluptuous. From the painting on your wall to the woman who hates you to the construction of a monument, focus on the visual imagery. Be as imaginative as possible and write in great detail about the setting. Ignore huge gaps in logic, but pay special attention to trivialities such as your breakfast, you taking a bath and so on.
10.If you are the protagonist in a Kafka story, you must remember that your work is of utmost importance. In fact, The Three Things Which Are On Your Mind All The Time Are: Your Father, Your Sense Of Being Trapped and Your Work. The world may end, but you must reach your workplace on time.