References for the “Memory Tree” illustration

Photo references supplied by Saigon Tai-tai for the tree.





I love picture #3 and #4. It’s exactly how the Memory Tree would look like. Excellent!


Leaves of a story

The Saigon Tai Tai returns undefeated! She brandishes her pen against the thieves of the nite and cuts off the bandits in their paths with the colours of a tale (i feel like Calvin with Hobbes living on another plane :-)) 

I really like the drawing of your tree. It is a fine image of the memory tree… I like also like your idea of the tree feeding off the stories of the village. Infact, i had the feeling that the tree's leaves were each a story.

The only things i have (after the robbers robbed me of all my material goods and virtual ones including all my digital photos of Vietnam) are some of these tree pixes. Unfortunately, i was unable to load up the last image in my last post and that's been stolen too.. is it a reflection of the imp coming to life???!!!

And maybe it is… if the imp were like the robbers, stealing while we were asleep – then our memories is like the tree, for that the thieves were not able to steal. The stories passed down to generations after continues the life of a memory tree – even if it is through one boy.

Sorry, i am not sure how these thots can be grafted to Draft 2 or Draft 3. These are just some articulations after some personal anguish….. 

Draft: Burglary (working title)

burglary: noun ( pl. -ries) entry into a building illegally with intent to commit a crime, esp. theft. ORIGIN early 16th cent.: from legal French burglarie, from burgler…. related to Old French burgier ‘pillage.’

Am IMing with Saigon Tai-tai as I post this. Was asking her how’s things after the burglary (mentioned at the end of this post). She says still discovering things that were stolen, like her writing board. She doesn’t even have a watch to tell the time. But she quickly adds that one has to let go of those things, and that most important her family is safe and didn’t get poisoned by the theives or worse.

Why not make a story out of this mishap, I asked. So ok, here’s the outline:

  • Story, as told from the eyes of a young girl, starts with an introduction about her family — her mother (who likes to take photos), father (who likes to play golf), her younger brother (who’s only one year old), her grandma (who has a quiet smile), her family dog.
  • She also talks about her favourite things around the house. Like, “This is my room where I sleep and study. This is my Teddy Bear that I bring to bed everynight… This is my dog, Snowy. My brother is one year old, and he doesn’t know how to speak yet. This is my…” (you get the idea).
  • Then one day, the family discovers that their house has been broken into. They rush in and discover that things are missing. So they go about the house. “Oh No, the TV has been stolen”… “Oh No, my Teddy Bear has been taken”… (using the technique of repetition, which young children like in the story)
  • So the girl, the mother, the father all get very frantic. The mother said “They stole my camera with the pictures in them. They were some of my best. sob sob sob”. The father says, “My golf clubs! All gone!” why why why. Snowy the dog discovers his food dish missing. Woof woof woof (ok, can’t think of what the little girl might say)
  • Finally the grandmother (always the wise one) says “But there’s lots of things they didn’t manage to steal or take away from us”. They look around and at each other. And then the grandma said, “We still have each other, safe and sound”.
  • And the mother added, “That’s right” and held the father’s hand. The father smiled and held the girl’s hand. The girl smile and held her baby brother’s hand, thinking “Baby Brother is still here, his stinky clothes and all”.
  • And then grandma says “We still have our memories, and our love. They did not steal that.”
  • Optional ending: The girl discovers her crayons were still around. The mother gathered some paper and the whole family started to draw — the mother’s photos, the father’s golfclubs, the girl’s teddy bear. Grandma, she just sat and watched them and smiled her quiet smile.

Possible drawing for The Memory Tree

Tree in Park (19 Apr 2006)
“Tree in Park”, 19 Apr 2006. Pencil on sketch paper (scanned image: 976 x 875 pixels)

A possible reference sketch for the Memory Tree in the story. I envison the tree to be thicker and more regal. Perhaps this one could be the shrivelled version. A little photoshopping here and there, chop off the top and make the leaves bushier… Or perhaps I should think of a tree that’s closer to a Banyan that Saigon Tai-tai proposed in Draft #2.

[Reference: Tree in Park (Apr 2006)]

Combining Drafts #2 and #3

While Saigon Tai-tai sprouts a new bud, I’m wondering if there’s another way to end the story to Draft #3.

In Draft #3 as well as Draft #1, my tendency is to use the “boy outwits imp using riddles” angle. But from Saigon Tai-tai’s Draft #2, while the approach was still “imp gets outwitted”, somehow the outwitting had to do with stories being traded. I wonder if I can build on that to create an ending.

Let’s see…how about:

  • As people stayed away from the evening storytelling sessions, the tree also shrivels and loses it’s magic (it’s a magic tree that feeds on villagers stories, andi in turns creates good magic that helps villagers)
  • Imp distracts the villagers away from tree
  • Boy discovers the plot. The boy is able to recall all the stories and revives the tree, which in turns revives the villagers’ memories.
  • The imp cannot win against this and flees.

BTW, the “tree gets shrivelled” idea came from Saigon Tai-tai. She just emailed me to say her home’s been burgled. The loss of valuables and property meant she’s currently catching up with work to make for lost time (yup, this Tai-tai have to work for a living). She said she might not have time to work on the Memory Tree and that “the image of a nice tree is now lost forever…”

Luckily she’s looking at things positively.

A story sprouting…

inspirations from Mui NeI have a story sprouting… can i grow, like a bud or a leaf on the memory tree? Unconnected to the village or the boy or the imp? But the story has fluff all over it?

Draft #3 – “The boy, the imp and the Memory Tree”

Here’s a reworking of the story from draft #2. Discussed with Saigon Tai-tai that maybe we cut away the fluff and see what we can come up with. I copied her Draft #2 to a document, removed the dialogues etc and then I pared down to an outline, which was essentially:

  • Story takes place in a village
  • Gathered around to listen to stories
  • Imp came along and made the villagers stay away
  • Someone saw through the ploy
  • Turned the tables and saved the village

And this was what I came up with, Draft #3, with a boy as central character (sort of), and imp, and the tree:

A long time ago, there was a village. The village was known for an old tree that resided in the center of the village.

In the village there lived a boy. He was different from the rest of his friends, for his legs were weak from young. He could not run as fast or play as hard as his friends could. He hardly had any friends. The only time he was happy was in the evenings.

Every evening without fail, the villagers would gather under the tree to listen to stories being told. From the young to the old, they shared simple tales of what happened in the day. Sometimes they shared elaborate stories of things that happened in the past. They told of stories of lives past and present.

But one year, an imp chanced upon the village and spied upon the villagers and their evening routine. It saw how the villagers were laughing and enjoying themselves and decided to play a trick.

Each evening, the imp would visit one of the villager’s homes. It tried to tempt the villagers from going to the evening gatherings under the tree.

Each family was surprised when the imp visited them. The imp quickly explained, “Why spend time in outside when you have laboured all day? Let me show you something better.”
And the imp produced a polished stone. The imp bade them to look into the stone and the villagers were amazed to see beautiful images and lights from a simple stone.

Evening after evening, the imp secretly visited each family and showed them a magic stone. And day after day, the villagers stayed away from the gathering under the tree and preferred to just admire the stone. Through the imp’s magic, each stone showed different things each time they looked and by the time they were finished looking, they were too tired to do anything. Some days, they were too tired to even go to the fields.

This continued until one evening, there was no one who bothered to gather at the old tree.
The imp danced around the tree and chanted gleefully, “Now there is no one left to share their stories”.

The imp thought it was all alone, but it was overheard by the little crippled boy who was hiding near the tree. He overheard the imp and realised it was the imp that used its magic to make all the villagers stay away.

Right, this is where I need to find some ideas of how to have the boy defeat the imp. The boy will use his intellect of course. The magic stones are obvious analogy about a sedentray lifestyle. So how is he able to trick the imp? I realised I’ve used the angle of Draft #1 as the ending. Ok, can this story outline work?