Evelyn Lee Takes on the NaNoWriMo Challenge for RRP
For the first time, River Ram Press is engaging with NaNoWriMo and we’re beyond excited for the results. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and you can find out more by looking at Kristin’s Touch Base Tuesday from this week. Now, we are even happier to announce the writer River Ram Press has invited to take on this challenge for us, Evelyn Lee! Once a winner of the Story of the Month award, we have been waiting for the opportunity to bring her back to our RRP Stage because of her talent and popularity with our community. For the first time since Evelyn has become an RRP writer, we have her all the questions you want to know as she steps up to the plate to represent River Ram Press for the month of November.
1. Who are you as a person: where are you from, what do you do, what are you doing?!
I am a communications undergraduate from Singapore, pursuing film studies, journalism and photojournalism. I take photos while wandering the streets and corners of my humble island city, and other places when I have the time and money to travel. When I’m not holding my camera, I am turning my photographs into postcards for Vinyl Memories Postcards, my online store/passion project, writing short mood pieces about my pictures, and selling the postcards at the local Market of Artists and Designers.
At random moments of inspiration I like writing short pieces of shape poetry, which I share with my friends on Instagram, because I want to make poetry short and sweet, simple and relatable to everyone. I guess my life is pretty much filled with words and pictures, because I spend my leisure time writing in my journal, scrolling through pictures of art, travel photography and home decor online, as well as making the occasional watercolour painting.
2. Your background as a writer?!
My writing dreams started in my childhood when I read Roald Dahl’s magical books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. I decided then I wanted to tell stories like him, and spent the afternoons after class in primary school recording my mundane days in my small pocket diary. At around age sixteen I wanted to “write a novel”, but I discovered the impossibility of typing out a manuscript in the house or a café without going out there to experience life – with not many years of life lived yet to begin with. From then on my writing experiences were pretty pragmatic, involving a journalism internship at the national newspaper, and a copywriting internship at a design studio – both writing styles I did not like. In university I rediscovered the joy of writing in essays about films and paintings that I really cared about, and creative writing classes that covered fiction, poetry and multimedia writing. During a semester abroad in a university in England I tried out nonfiction writing for the first time, and was surprised to find that I actually liked writing features, travel and personal essays more than fiction.
3. Where did the idea for this piece come/how do you get inspired to write?
The piece I am going to write for the NaNoWriMo challenge is an extended work from a short story titled Paper Houses, previously published as Story of the Month on the River Ram Press blog. It is actually a fictionalized, dramatized account of my own experience as a Singaporean Chinese girl who studied abroad in England, and having to negotiate the tensions between cultures, the alternate realities of the life and love affair there and her original life back home where she has returned to. On a deeper level I wanted to explore the very relatable struggle that many youths can relate to – the conflict between one’s dreams and responsibilities.
4. Your ideal time and place to write? Explain your answers!
The movement of commuting from one place to another often draws out words and ideas from me. At these times I quickly jot down the sentences that appear in my thoughts, with my phone or a notebook if I happened to bring one. I always found the public commute a special experience, because we are all going places yet staying stationary in a mode of transportation. Perhaps that runs parallel with the idea of writing and imagination.
5. Why do you write?
I write to cope with overwhelming emotions. My words are most often compelled by the feelings of pain and love, although not always related.
6. What is your strategy going into NaNoWriMo?
This is my first brave attempt to write such a long piece of fiction, so I guess I have to find my way. Being someone for whom writing is more an art than a craft, I think first of all I have to start being disciplined by dedicating a few hours each day to write, whether inspiration strikes or not.
7. Do you think you’ll hit the 50,000 word goal by the end of the month?
I don’t know…but I sure hope so and I will give my all to make it happen.
8. Are you excited for the challenge?
Yes! In fact it feels like a sign…ever since I completed the short story, I have been thinking of continuing it, especially with the encouragement of my friends who asked for a sequel. But I guess I did not have the courage or determination to see through this daunting task to the end. Being invited by River Ram Press to take part in this challenge is a great honour, and I am thankful for this chance to begin again.
9. How does it feel to be sponsored by River Ram Press for NaNoWriMo?
I feel really grateful for this opportunity, and it gives me great motivation and renewed confidence to realise my long abandoned childhood dream – to write a novel! Thank you River Ram Press, it was really a blessing to be found by you! I am eternally thankful.
Evelyn Lee believes that every person is a story, yet a thousand novels are not enough. Writing poetry is inseparable from her other love – photography – because each poem or photograph is a moment lived and felt deeply. She enjoys conversing and connecting deeply with people, and believes that the worth of our lives is determined by how many other lives we touch. Travelling makes her extremely happy, but to her travelling is often not a physical journey but a mindset. And for this reason, she tries to find beauty in fleeting moments, and see the world through its colours and shapes.