We were delighted to be the first publishers of Rei’s work in Issue 5 of Confluence. (You can order it here.) Rei sent us a beautifully written story called ‘Violet’, about literal colour blindness and young love.
Tell us about your writing background…
When I was in primary school. I remember doing a lot of creative writing in class, where we were free to create anything we wanted. I once wrote a tale of two rabbits in a mystical world called Candy Land, and another about a pop star called Jichael Mackson (yes, quite original weren’t they?). Unfortunately, I stopped writing for a long time when I entered middle school as we began focusing more on essay writing and the art of analyzing other people’s writing! Now that I am a Junior in High School (aka the busiest year of your life!), I will admit that I don’t get to write as much as I would like to, however, I make sure to jot down interesting thoughts when they come to me.
Why do you write?
I write because I find that it is a great way to figure out my own thoughts. I often find that I am not completely grasping the full meaning or the full essence of my own thoughts on a day to day basis; I feel that writing them down allows me to understand them in a way that is more complete. To me, writing a good piece of prose is like editing a photograph. Sometimes there are things you see – raw sensations that you capture in life – that lose its magic when you try to explain it to someone afterward. That is why you have to, in a way, recreate the art by saturating the photograph – or in this case – converting the experience into carefully crafted prose.
What are you reading or what book has gripped you recently?
My favorite book at the moment is Roots by Alex Haley. The story is based on a West African called Kunta Kinte and his life after being captured and sold into slavery across the Atlantic. Although I had learned about slavery at school (as all of us do, I’m sure!), it was not until I read this book that I truly felt the misery and the full implications that these ‘textbook’ terms had had on real people who had suffered through its horrors. That, to me, was a sign of just how powerful writing can be; how words on paper can make you feel so deeply about something that has absolutely no relation to you! Work like Roots is what I truly love about literature and prose.
What sort of poetry do you like??
Although this may not be the ‘proper’ or the most conventional answer, I am quite particular when it comes to poetry. I like it when poetry is relatively easy to read and doesn’t require the decoding of each and every word! With that said, I have participated in numerous poetry readings and enjoyed presenting a famous poem called ‘She Walks In Beauty’, and another war poem called ‘To World War 2’; both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. Prose is much more of ‘my thing’ because it can be pretty much anything: long, short, poem-like, rhythmic – you name it! Ultimately, I need to feel a true connection to anything I read; I need some depth, excitement, perhaps even some conflict.
What tips would you have for other young people, (or people of any age) who want to start writing?
My biggest tip for those who are interested in writing their own material would be to give yourself some thinking time. Whether it be on the bus while staring out a window or lying in bed on a Sunday morning, try to think of things in life that interest you! These can be specific things such as an object or a person, or some vague concept like ‘belonging’ or ‘loss’. People often tell you to ‘write what you know’, but I do not believe that you should feel limited to your own experiences or what you are familiar with. Stretch yourself! For example, my short story ‘Violet’ was about a blind African-American boy in a newly integrated Alabama elementary school. I am neither male, nor blind, nor African-American, but it was the concept of ‘blindness’, ‘innocence’, and ‘unity’ that I felt compelled to write about. The lesson here is never to limit yourself.
Can you remember when you first got the writing bug?
Although I do not remember what I wrote exactly, I definitely started writing stories from around the age of 4. Since I could not yet speak English, all of my stories would be written in Japanese, with little drawings on the side! My parents read many books to me and I think that played a key role in sparking my interest for books.
Have you got anything coming up in print?
Unfortunately, none that I know of. I have submitted a new short story to a few magazines and publishers but I have yet to receive an answer! I hope to be able to share some more of my prose with everyone out there! I would once again like to thank Confluence for being the first to ever feature my work. I greatly appreciate the support!
“It was close to summer in the year 1962. I must have been in the third grade back in my hometown of Auburn, Alabama. It was a time of Black and White, of Colored and Non-Colored, and I lived behind the ‘translucent’ wall – a place of knowing without conception.
Colors, shades, and tints – all blurs. Even ‘blurs’ were a blur to me; merely empty sounds that attempted to describe a reality that I was incapable of grasping in full spectrum. They’d tell me egg yolk is Yellow, grass is Green, sand is Brown, the President is White, and I’m Black. I’d say egg yolk is runny, grass is prickly, sand is fine, the President is powerful, and I’m just me – a boy in Alabama.”
(Extract from ‘Violet’, by Rei Lindemann, Confluence 5)