Llia (Aulia) Halimatussadiah is a writer of 30 books, from novels to how-to books. She is also the co-founder of NulisBuku.com, an online self-publishing platform, and Storial.co, a social storytelling platform that allows writers to do direct publishing digitally. In the past 3 years, she’s been writing biographies of successful Indonesian Entrepreneurs. Her latest book ‘Done is Better Than Perfect’, is a biography of Indonesian Digital Marketer and Serial Entrepreneur, Denny Santoso. You can read more interviews with Indonesian writers here.

1. What is your view about productivity, discipline, and inspiration?

Llia: I’m not productive, I just have a lot of things to say. The abundance of my curiosity and energy has led me into a series of learning, from books, classes, workshops, people, situations. And every time I learn something new, I just have to share it. It can be in the form of social media posts, writing books, podcasts, and videos. Inspiration comes when you’re living with a sense of awe and wonder of the world, just being aware of the present moment. It’s so natural when you’re in the state of accepting, receiving, and allowing, you’ll get inspiration. I meditate every morning and night for at least 20 minutes, being still helps me a lot to be in coherence mode, and the effect of calmness inside will last for hours.

Once you’ve decided to create something big, for example, a long book, then inspirations alone are not enough.

You will need a plan to keep you accountable for your commitment. You need a structure. You need to be disciplined. I always said, structure before substance. Create outlines first, then pour your heart into it. I am proud to be able to be balanced (most of the time!), balancing my yin and yang, masculine and feminine energy that governs creation.

2. Do you have a writing routine?

Llia: I write a gratitude journal every morning, writing the evidence of the things that work well in my life based on my intention. For writing as in book project, I also do it first thing in the morning usually from 7 to 9 am, then I’ll get ready to go to the office. I am not writing full time, but my job as CMO at my own startup Storial.co allows me to have words, a big part of my life.

3. How do you manage a writing project? How do you organize your thoughts, your resources, and your time?

Llia: When I get inspired to write a book, it usually because I’m curious about a subject and I have spent enough amount of research that already benefits my life that I’d like to share with others. So I started a project with a clearly articulated objective, what the impact the book would make to the world when it’s done.

Then I would create a mind map to see how the book outlines would look like from start to finish. Then I’ll set the book launch date and count down from that date to figure out my researching time, my total writing time, my first draft, my proofreading time, my editing time, to my final draft. Then I’ll usually figure out from that schedule, how many pages per day I should write to be able to reach the goal on time. If I have to write 3 pages a day and I skip one day, then the next day my goal would be doubled.

When I’m writing a book project, usually my mind is fully occupied with my project, so I’m focusing on my energy and time to my writing project ’til I finished at least the first draft.

4. You are writing different types of books: novels, poems, guide book, self-help, travel book, spiritual, movie script, etc. Why? How do you want people to remember you or your work as a writer? 

Llia: I’m bored if I’m doing the same thing over and over, I like some challenges when I do my work, that’s why when writing gets a bit too easy for me, I add the challenge by writing books on different subjects. The latest and heaviest challenge would be writing a biography book of entrepreneurs’ stories. The difficulty level is so much higher because I need to dive deep into another person’s life and become them for some time. It’s tough!

I want to be remembered as a person who falls in love with life. And it shows through my passion for words and my variety of books.

5. What do you “discover” when you write?

Llia: I discover more about myself when I write. I was almost sure I was an ADD because I can’t sit still. I can’t even sit comfortably at a cinema because I just need to move from one thing to another, mentally and physically. So, when I write, I need to stay with myself for a little longer, it needs a bit of forcing my body to sit down and type the words coming out of my heart and mind. And when you’re able to be at peace, your mind clears, and things come to you like a light bulb. You suddenly get it.

Whether about the content that you’re trying to write and the correlation with your reality, to the way you handle yourself to be able to finish the book. People you need to meet will also appear to show you what you missed. Writing invite you to a new piece of land you never knew existed inside you.

6. How is your stoicism reflected in your writing or in the way you approach writing and publishing?

Llia: Nothing is bad news for a stoic. When my manuscript got rejected by a publisher, I turn it into a print-on-demand business NulisBuku.com that later grows into a new company Storial.co, a social storytelling platform. You just kind of take whatever life has thrown at you and turn it into profit (laugh).

As for my writing, I guess I’m very practical in my view about life because of stoicism, my writing is simple and to the point. I kind of joke to my friend Henry Manampiring, the author of Filosofi Teras, that I need more drama in my life, otherwise I would never be able to write a novel any more!

7. How would your perfect day as a writer look like?

Llia: My perfect day started as I wake up in my little villa overlooking the hills and the pool. Then I open my wooden door, feel the fresh air in my face, then take a deep breath. I started to meditate for 20 minutes to expand my heart and reach out for my journal to write and be grateful for my day the day before.

I walked to my writer’s room just beside my pool and open my laptop. Took 15 minutes to read books on the table and start to continue writing while sometimes rest and see the forest view on my window. I will write for 2 hours then take a break to walk in the forest around my house for an hour. I start writing again after having a light lunch until around 2 pm.

I’ll sunbathe by the pool for an hour then take a 2 hours nap. I woke up to get ready to go to the beach and watch the sunset. Then taking notes for any inspired words coming out of my brain. I’ll have dinner with friends until around 9 pm then heads home. I can watch movies or read books related to my writing until around 10 pm.

Then I’ll meditate for 20 minutes before I sleep. 

*) PHOTO COURTESY OF LLIA.

 

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Bernard Batubara (Bara) is an Indonesian author living in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He begins his writing career as a poet. Today, his works have been published in newspapers, literary magazines, literary web portals, as well as several anthologies with fellow authors. His books are Angsa-Angsa Ketapang (2010), Radio Galau FM (2011), Kata Hati (2012), Milana (2013), Cinta. (2013), Surat untuk Ruth (2014), Jatuh Cinta Adalah Cara Terbaik untuk Bunuh Diri (2014), Jika Aku Milikmu (2015), Metafora Padma (2016), Elegi Rinaldo (2016), and Luka Dalam Bara (2017). Radio Galau FM and Kata Hati are now major motion pictures. He occasionally gives lectures on creative writing in high schools, universities, and communities.

 

How does Bara—the writer—see love and heartbreak in his writings?

 

Bara: My first novel draft was a love story. I wrote it when I was in junior high school. It was about the life of a rebellious high school student and a love story that blossoms with a classmate. A cliché, I know. Like a template. But it was only this kind of story that crossed my mind the first time I tried to write a novel. The draft was completed in 2 years.

I sent it to a big publishing company in Jakarta and got a rejection letter 6 months after.

At first, love-themed stories (and heartbreak; these two are actually a unit; it is impossible for each one to be written on their own) became the fuel for my writing. Simply because I felt that these stories were the ones closest to me. It was a theme I thought I understood the most. Actually, I wanted to write fantasy like Harry Potter novels, but all the monsters I could imagine already made their appearances there. I felt less imaginative to write fantasy and I didn’t read enough to write a historical novel. So, I wrote romance.

As time passed by, with 2-3 of my books were still talking about love, my readers (generally they are younger than me) labeled me: Bernard Batubara—the romance writer.

I started to be known (or seen) as a romantic guy because I write love stories. There was one time when I tried to ditch the label because it felt like I have been somewhat dwarfed by the market. I do possess other interests apart from writing love stories. However, now I accept it and think of that label (the romance writer) as a good opportunity to deliver various ideas outside my ideals about love itself.

My other books, although the ‘outer packaging’ is still revolving around love, are actually talking about a wide array of issues. I talk about illegal logging, horizontal conflict, social condition, law, modernism, urban living, existentialism, religion, and many more. Love stories are used as packaging, a prelude to my ideas.

One of the heaviest tasks for a writer is to make the reader feels connected to what he writes. Love (and heartbreak) story is the easiest material to get people to resonate with it. I use love stories as a bridge to talk about other things with my readers.

Bernard Batubara

 

How far do you process real-life experience into fiction?

 

Bara: At first, I thought one of the most important skills a writer should possess is imagination. Writing is about creating things that once did not exist. That’s the joy of writing.

However, lately, I feel as if I am not too clever in making things up. It’s easier for me to write about the things I have experienced.

I don’t need to find the scenes, characters, or situations that don’t exist. I need only to daydream for a while, remembering a situation or a scene from my past, then write about it.

Easy.

But of course, it’s not always easy to write about your personal experience. There were times when I didn’t want to remember the things I needed to remember. I want to write about the things I have experienced, but I don’t want to write them all.

However, censoring my memory means a betrayal to memories itself.

At the end of the day, I just face it. Anger, disappointment, sadness, all the negative feelings that surface when I remember certain parts of my memories… I learn about them. I dissect my memories. I ask myself why it happened this way or that way, to the point in which I am able to digest those negative feelings and understand them; while turning them into stories.

The first step to remember is by reminiscing the most important part of my experience. For example, if I am writing a love story based on my experience with my ex, I will remember the most impressive moment of our relationship. Usually, that part contains a conflict, and this becomes a conflict in the story as well. I will start writing them down. From here, I can move in many different directions. I can go forward, or backward to past experiences until those memories turn into a full write-up.

How far do I go? Radio Galau FM—almost all of it is based on my personal experience. Kata Hati only takes some ideas and conversations that happen in the real world. Cinta dengan Titik is about someone else’s experience (my friend). Milana, part of it is a personal experience, and the other part is not. And there it goes.

I am most straightforward in my latest book, Luka Dalam Bara. In some of my social media channels and talk shows, I told my readers that the book recorded my romantic experience with someone (most of them know who this someone is).

 

Someone says, write only for one person. Do you agree with this?

 

Bara: I would say that I am quite in agreement with that suggestion. It reminded me of one of my favorite writer’s advice, Kurt Vonnegut. He said, write to please just one person. “If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”

Another favorite writer of mine, whose name I do not wish to mention here, once said that he writes only for one person: himself. I think I have done the same thing, writing only to please myself, and I did it because it’s easier than pleasing everybody. (Everybody means 7 billion people on earth? Scary)

 

All stories are love stories. How do you feel about this? Is this something you believe in?

 

Bara: Yes and no.

No, because there are good stories I have read, and the writer does not write about romance at all. Some good stories talk about war, violence, political intrigue, glum future world, and many more. Good stories are not always about love.

However, I think even in those stories where love-themes are avoided, at a certain point they will indirectly tell us something about love. Love becomes something subtle and inherent in the story of life, and this—at times, enables us to see love stories in novels that don’t fall under the romance genre. When I read 1984 by George Orwell, I read a love story between the protagonist and his female partner, although Orwell might want to tell a story about the forlorn future of humans.

All stories are love stories—this could be true for the previous reason: love is something inherent in life and it takes different shapes. We’re not only talking about eros love or platonic love but many different kinds of love. Just like it is impossible to write a story without a mention of human sufferings, it is also impossible to avoid bringing forth a love story, however subtle, in a story.

Bernard Batubara

 

As a writer, how do you see the difference between your male and female characters when they fall in love or heartbroken?

 

Bara: Male characters in fiction works I’ve ever read face their broken-heartedness in a way that is not too different from my male friends in the real world. First, they will deny it. Second, they find distractions. Third, they regret the things they have done. Fourth, they know it’s impossible for them to turn back time, so they’ll enter the next step. Fifth, they accept the fact that they are the real problem in that broken relationship.

The same goes for female characters. They’ll weep, mourn until their tears dry up, and in no time they find someone new to love.

I guess because fiction is a reflection and a result of contemplation of real-world events, the characters’ actions would not be that far different from what we have seen in the real world. These are also the things that make us feel connected to a novel or short story we are reading. We feel as if we are seeing ourselves (or our friends) in it.

 

How is your attachment to your works? How do you deal with compliments and criticisms?

 

Bara: I would think of myself as a writer that could move on easily when it comes to my work.

At the time a new book is being published, I no longer think about it. I am already focusing my mind on the next one. Sometimes, during talk shows, there were questions from readers about certain scenes in my book—and I had to dig my mind really hard to answer that—since I had detached myself quite far from that work.

I used to think of my published books as my children. In that sense, our relationship is like this blood-connection between a father and his children. But then, I thought, a good father could be one who lets his children grow independently and find their own ways to face the world. Furthermore, the world the children are facing is their own world—a world that is different from the world of their father.

My attachment towards my published works is limited to a chronological memory. Which book, published by when, or how I began writing that book… those kinds of things. But when it comes to emotional attachment or the like, I don’t think I have that kind of feelings inside of me.

I do not have enough energy to cultivate an emotional relationship with all of my works. Life moves forward and I invest my energy on my future works.

And speaking about criticism, I was once annoyed with the mocking of my works on social media. However, afterward, I realized that being annoyed had no benefit for me. So, that was it. Today, I think of all the responses to my work as appreciation. I only take into account inputs from people whose reading taste and thinking ability I trust.

The rest are just different forms of appreciation.

*) photos courtesy of Bernard Batubara
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Gratiagusti Chananya Rompas (Anya) is the co-founder of a poet community, Komunitas Bunga Matahari (Sunflower Community). Her poems had been published in Kompas daily, Spice! magazine, and the anthology “Bisikan Kata Teriakan Kota” by Jakarta Arts Council, and “Dian Sastro for President! #2 Reloaded” by Yogyakarta Cultural Academy. She graduated from the University of Indonesia majoring in English Literature and got her Master’s Degree in The Gothic Imagination from the University of Stirling, Scotland. Her anthology, Kota Ini Kembang Api (This City Is Fireworks) is republished by Gramedia Pustaka Utama in 2016.

GRATIAGUSTI CHANANYA ROMPAS: ON FIREWORKS, SUNFLOWERS, AND METAPHORS. I do believe, though, that if one aspires to make poetry his or her art, one should understand that poetry is a discipline with a long history. So it is imperative that one educates oneself at least about other poets and what they have done as well as why they did what they did. This will help one to find one’s voice and what one wants to say through one’s art.And if one wants to write, one better reads too. Reading is good not only to widen one’s knowledge, but also sharpen one’s analytical skill. Any writer should have this, I think, so he or she can give a better judgment about his or her own works before anyone else does. This, in turn, will make him or her more critical to any form of art he or she is consuming.

 

Why city—and why fireworks?

 

Anya: I was born and have lived almost all my life in Jakarta. It is a city where I have felt a broad spectrum of emotions: from hurt to joy, sorrow to enthusiasm, rage to being loved, losing hope to believing in simple things. I think a person is more or less molded not only by their experiences but also where he or she spends most of their time. This helps create one’s reality and, in my case, it is an important ingredient in my poetry.

I am always drawn to lights, any kind of, since I can remember. Study lamp, street lights, fairy lights around a Christmas tree, the light coming from behind the curtain of a window, even the light coming out of a laptop or computer screen. However, I also realize that if there is light, there must be darkness.

So I feel it is just natural for me to use fireworks as a representation of the coming and going of light and dark, which then become an experimental tool to explore a city’s inhabitants. You may not find many references to fireworks though in this collection. The phrase “Kota Ini Kembang Api” is not even a title of a poem, instead, it is taken from a line in an untitled poem. To me, the swift changing from darkness to brightness that fireworks cause serves as a symbol and metaphor. That is why I chose it as the collection’s title.

And when I wrote the other poems, I kept in mind to associate how swift the day lapses with the contrast and irony between the city lights and its shadowy crevices to describe whatever emotion or event I wanted to talk about. When the collection was finally finished, I realized that my days went by more like a spiral than the literally linear concept.

 

Why poetry? Why not novels, or short stories?

 

Anya: When I was still in elementary school, I wrote short stories in one of my AA books so it did not attract the attention of my teacher, and distributed it around my class so my friends could read whatever I had written in it. And all my life I have always enjoyed reading novels or short story collections. One of my not many attempts at writing a short story even made its way to a collection published by the Jakarta Arts Council many years ago.

But when I started writing poetry (for an assignment when I was in junior high) I realized poetry is a format that fitted like a glove for me to express myself. No matter how long or short a poem is, every single word has to be significant. Not that novels or short stories do not have this trait. It is just poetry that fits how my mind works. Jagged, fleeting, tumultuous. I feel there are so many ways for me to express them through poetry compared to other forms.

I guess I just have to live with the fact that I am not an all-rounder writer.

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Can anyone write poetry? Can anyone be a poet?

 

Anya: As a co-founder of Komunitas BungaMatahari (better known as BuMa), a poetry community that has lived by its motto “Semua Bisa Berpuisi” (or, roughly translated, “Poetry for All”), I absolutely believe that anyone can enjoy, respect, understand, read and, of course, write poetry. I have seen this happen many times with my own eyes through various activities that BuMa organized or was part of. Many people from many walks of life were so keen on the idea of poetry. And this proved the popular belief that poetry was a difficult art form was not entirely correct.

I do believe, though, that if one aspires to make poetry his or her art, one should understand that poetry is a discipline with a long history. So it is imperative that one educates oneself at least about other poets and what they have done as well as why they did what they did. This will help one to find one’s voice and what one wants to say through one’s art.

And if one wants to write, one better reads too.

Reading is good not only to widen one’s knowledge but also to sharpen one’s analytical skills. Any writer should have this, I think, so he or she can give a better judgment about his or her own works before anyone else does. This, in turn, will make him or her more critical to any form of art he or she is consuming.

I am sorry if I sound too patronizing. But I believe one has to respect one’s art as well as other people’s. And then all you have to do is add a little bit of fun and some love to your poetic journey.

 

How should one read poetry?

 

Anya: When I was in university, my poetry lecturer said that poetry was meant to make a poet’s ideas or emotions concrete, not to make it unclear for the readers. But sometimes poets like to play too, break some rules, adding purposeful puzzles into their works. Just like writing, reading is a skill to be learned. So you can spot those “mischiefs” and decide for yourself whether they add meaning to the poet’s works or otherwise.

I believe in successful and unsuccessful poems. Again, to decide which one a poem is, you need your analytical and critical skills. Learning these skills will depend on, amongst others, what kind of literary diet you are consuming and your view of life.

I notice many people choose to see poetry as only a pile of emotions that came to a poet almost magically. Well, it is true that one of the first signs that a poem might—underline might—be successful is how it touches and connects with its readers. True but debatable. And we have not even talked about taste and its politics!

However, the answer to this entire conundrum is quite simple: read, read, and read.

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What’s going on inside of you before, during, and after poetry is born?

 

Anya: Poetry is my way to understand my head and heart and all the stuff that is in them. Oftentimes I feel like something is wrong and/or confusing and/or unrecognizable going on and I cannot stop it. On a good day, lines come across my mind and I can unleash them just by opening my laptop and typing them. On a bad day, I cannot write a single thing. On an okay day, I can write a few lines but then nothing. A poem in “Kota Ini Kembang Api” took me four years to finish.

When I am writing, I focus on the stuff I said above. It is like watching your laundry spinning in your washing machine and then grabbing that one shirt you have been concentrating on (impossible in real life, I know). I also pick on associations that appear—like memories, visuals, voices, smells—and try to incorporate them in my writing. However, this happens more organically than it sounds.

After finishing the first draft of a poem, I will give it a once-over so I can trim unnecessary words, or change them, fix illogical lines, etc. I will only stop when I feel I cannot mess around with it anymore. It will also be the moment when I can begin to understand what kind of shirt I have fished, its fabric, stitching, size, and fit. In other words, this is the moment of truth: have I used all the right literary tools and techniques and make them work or not.

 

Can you tell us more about the creation process behind the lines of Kota Ini Kembang Api?

 

Anya: All the poems in “Kota Ini Kembang Api” have been arranged in a certain order so that readers can read them as a book-long story. Yet, readers can also enjoy them individually as well as start or end at any page of the book and hopefully still find them enjoyable.

So, for me, each of them serves its own purpose. Like a string of pearls that I can claim as my necklace.

——

For more interviews with Indonesian writers, click HEREGet Anya’s book Kota Ini Kembang Api HERE. Photo courtesy of Gratiagusti Chananya Rompas.
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Windry Ramadhina is the writer of Orange (2008), Metropolis (2009), Memori (2012), Montase (2012), London (2013), Interlude (2014), and Walking After You (2014). She was nominated twice in Indonesia’s Khatulistiwa Literary Award. With a friend, Windry hosts tastelifetwice.net to share anything reading-related. She also appears in the show Breakfast with Author 1: TIGA CERITA CINTA.

 

Where do your characters come from?

 

Windry: Every time I write, I start with a conflict. Other elements, including characters, are born from there. Certain characters are only suitable for a certain conflict in a certain story. Thus, each character is unique.

A character becomes unique when we get to know him/her well enough. I am imagining that my characters are alive, just like us. They have a certain tone of voice, a certain way of thinking, as well as certain values–that are predetermined by the things they’ve experienced in their lives. They have background stories. And I have to know them all.

I even need to know what’s in their closet, what’s in their fridge, or how they look at someone who is meaningful to them, or what they would do if they were bored, or who they hang out with on a Saturday night. It’s a long list.

Often times, sketches help me. The more I know my characters, the more I get to know what to write about them.

Sometimes I also look at the people around me and borrow their characters for a novel. Rayyi’s friends in Montase (the novel), for instance. They are actually my real friends (in real life). This is an easier way to go, but it’s not a done deal that we can always find a real-life model that suits our story.

 

IMG_4728_edit4What does your choice of characters tell us about who you are, your dreams, your fears, yourself?

 

Windry: My readers could easily recognize me through my characters. Each one of them is a part of me. I’m like a tiny jar full of various kinds of candies. When I write, I take a candy to be thrown into the story. The candy is me–who wants to be a photographer. Or myself–who believes that rain falls down carrying angels. Or myself–who is afraid to get hurt because of love.

To me, writing is an expression. Either consciously or subconsciously, I  guess I always show the real me to my readers. Through a story. Through the world, I write. Through my characters.

It’s very important for me to write honestly, by being who I really am. Because I am not writing to be ‘liked’. I write what I like so I can find readers who like the same things as I do.

 

How were your childhood upbringing and the people you know affect the way you choose your characters?

 

Windry: In my family, I was raised with such discipline, it was pretty tough. I was taught to be independent, not to rely too much on other people. And I do not have many siblings. I have a little brother who is really close to me–we’re like best friends. But most of the time I am all by myself because on many occasions, we’re living in different cities.

So it should not be surprising if most of my characters are strong, ambitious women who find it difficult to compromise. They are perfectionist, cynical, and has the tendency to appear cold. I am not really into weak characters; the way I do not wish to see myself as a weak person.

I grew up influenced by Japanese pop-culture. There were times when I read more manga than novels. Shounen manga, especially Naoki Urasawa’s, made me fall for witty, dominant, and complex characters.

Only after I got acquainted with Ichikawa Takuji’s novels, I learned to like sweet and sloppy characters, who make insignificant mistakes, something we can laugh at. I learned to have fun with them.

 

What do you find interesting about people?

 

Windry: I believe that everybody has a story. I like watching them, and then asking myself, who are they? What are they like in their daily lives? How do they live their lives? And in the end, I start to create some scenarios that–I think–might happen to them.

At other times they let out certain expressions, or do something I don’t normally do, or talk about things I just knew, or wear–for instance–a kind of hat I rarely see. Usually, these are the things that pique my imagination. But in essence, all I need to do is asking questions.

 

What’s your definition of a strong character in a story? Who is your favorite protagonist and antagonist from a book?

 

Windry: A strong character can make the readers feel their presence; their presence affects the readers; something that is long stored in your memories. Such characters must be created wholly. They need to be just like us, with multiple sides and complexities.

Each time we’re talking about protagonist and antagonist, I want to distance myself away from the trap of good-and-evil or right-or-wrong. I like ‘grey’ characters more.

I like imperfect protagonists, with weaknesses of their own, which gives me a chance to get annoyed at them from time to time. And I always want to find antagonists who would make me fall in love, who would grab my sympathy.

One of my favorite protagonists is Sophie Kinsella’s Rebecca Bloomwood. She is not trying to be perfect, at all. She is what she is. Just like Agatha Christie’s Arthur Hastings. And both are funny–in their own ways. They offer themselves to be laughed at. Sometimes, when I read, I just want to laugh and have a good time.

My favorite antagonist most probably is Johan Liebert from the manga Monster by Naoki Urasawa. A handsome (if not pretty), smart, and cold murderer. But what makes me fall for him is that he’s hurting. He’s hurting so deep; to an extent that the readers won’t be able to hate him.

 

If you can pick one real character from your personal life, someone who definitely has changed the way you look at things, who will this be?

 

Windry: My mother. She passes along the things she loves to me. Books, language, traveling. I got my first book from her. I fall for words and languages because of her. I went on many traveling journeys with her. And she taught me things that define who I really am, until today.

We’re not always on the same page about everything, but I think most of who I am comes from my mother.

Since I was a kid, most of the time, my mother is not at home. She is not ambitious, but she is always so lucky when it comes to working. And basically, she’s not the type who’d like to stay at home. She is sharp and independent, and a bit nonchalant. If we’re traveling in a group, she’ll separate herself and discreetly slip away.

Sometimes I ask myself if my writings actually talk about me–or about my mother.

—Photo courtesy of WIndry Ramadhina. For more interviews with Indonesian writers, click here
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Maesy Ang and Teddy W. Kusuma wrote about their traveling journeys in the book Kisah Kawan di Ujung Sana (A Story of A Friend On The Other End), published by Noura Books in 2014. Both can also be found typing away on their travel blog, The Dusty Sneakers or hosting pop-up stores and creative events at POST Pasar Santa, Jakarta.

 

What’s the biggest challenge in writing a book together?

 

Maesy & Teddy: The biggest challenge was to begin.

Although we have blogged together in The Dusty Sneakers for five years, writing a book together required us to work much closer together. We’ve always known that our creative processes are different, but we never clashed until we started working on the book.

Teddy is a true blue artist; he writes when he wants to write. He doesn’t even need to know what the story is, he just needs some jazz and coffee to accompany him as he types away until the story reveals itself.

Maesy is the exact opposite. She could only write when she knows exactly what she wants to say and how she wants to say it. She needs to know the big picture and the small details, so she spends a lot of time plotting and brainstorming in her notebook before she could open her laptop and write.

So when we started, Teddy felt constrained by Maesy’s questions and planning, while Maesy got frustrated over Teddy’s push to write impulsively. In the end, we resolved it by playing to each other’s strengths.

For a week, Teddy was left to write the prologue to set the tone of the book, while Maesy thought, researched, and planned. Then Maesy brewed a huge pot of kokos ananas tea, brought out a stack of colorful post-its, and facilitated a two-hour workshop for Teddy and herself, which resulted in an outline for the whole book.

At the end of the week, we had everything we needed to start writing. Maesy loved how Teddy’s prologue set up the tone for the book, while Teddy was amazed by the fact that he could just glance at a wall with color-coded post-its to see all the plans for every chapter in the book as well as how they are linked with one another.

It was smooth sailing afterward, as each of us was free to work as we liked and find that our different approaches complement each other.

Maesy Teddy

 

What’s your idea of a “perfect journey”?

 

Teddy: To me, a “perfect journey” is one that touches you on a personal level. You know, the kind that has elements that you’d remember for a very long time. A trip filled with warm conversations with a close friend, one that reminded you of a significant moment from your past, or sometimes, a small random gesture of kindness, like when we were on a train in Japan, an old lady gave Maesy and I a panda origami she just made.

Mostly though, a journey is perfect when shared with a loved one.

One of my most vivid memories is a bumpy bus ride that Maesy and I shared in South India. We’ve been going our separate ways for more than a year before spending 14 days together in India, so I was missing her quite a lot. Maesy was sitting next to me, her face green from carsickness and she was about to fall asleep. It was just a bus ride, but I remember it vividly.

Maesy: I agree with Teddy, but to add a very practical dimension, a perfect journey is one where I could be completely unplugged. When I am able to roam without any Internet connection, it means that I am not travelling for work and that I travel with Teddy. There is no one I need to keep in touch with, nothing is urgent and no screen is competing with my surroundings for my attention. It feels very liberating, being unplugged.

 

What’s the life-story of this book? 

 

Maesy & Teddy: Like the story within, the backstory of the book also took place in several different places.

The idea first came to life under the coconut trees in Sekotong, Lombok. Maesy was recovering from a serious case of respiratory problems and Teddy has his first break after a long, intense period at his office.

We spent four days swimming, sleeping, sunbathing, and reflecting on what we felt missing in our lives. As much as we love our jobs, we felt that a creative spark was missing, a spark that only writing and traveling could fulfill.

We started reminiscing about all the life lessons we found through traveling and found that mostly came from the period when we first started the blog when Maesy got a scholarship to study in the Netherlands and we each traveled on our own.

We thought that these stories are best told in a longer narrative format than what we usually do in the blog, so that was the first spark of idea for a book.

It seemed that the universe was listening, for Noura Books contacted us right after we returned from Sekotong. Noura Books found our blog and asked whether we’d like to write a book, so of course, we said yes. What serendipity!

After we came up with an outline, we went for a four-day retreat to Portibi Farms, an organic farm in Cicurug, West Java. We took enough breaks between writing to hike and swim in a waterfall, bake bread, help out on the farm, and play Twister with the children of Portibi’s owners.

That proved to be a winning combo, for we drafted half of the book during the retreat! Perhaps also because we happened to stay in a room called “The Librarian”, another serendipity.

But mostly, the book was brought to life in Jakarta. In the weekday evenings, where Teddy stayed at work after everyone had left to write. In the weekend mornings, where a sleepy Maesy would brew pots and pots of tea – rooibos, Darjeeling, and hoji cha – to accompany her to write.

As much as we love traveling, the ultimate magic is finding the wonder in everyday life in our hometown.

Jakarta is home for us, and it is at home we saw the book came together – a truly magical experience for us.

 

What do you like the most about each other’s style in writing? 

 

Teddy: The way Maesy writes reflects a happy, sweet, quirky, and intelligent personality – just like she is in real life.

She has a way to reflect on and synthesize her encounters into a meaningful story. When she wrote about the dark side of fairy tales, she could draw the similarities between fairy tales and the tales told about Indonesia as a nation. Behind the beautiful story of Indonesia as a prosperous, united, and friendly nation, there is underlying darkness of inequalities and intolerance.

For me, home is where I was born, Denpasar. I was intrigued when Maesy explores the idea of home so far away from her own – in Taipei, in Amsterdam, and in Den Haag. I found myself thinking about the way she sees things far after I was done reading her chapters.

Maesy: Teddy writes with his heart on his sleeve. You can tell exactly how he feels about something through his writing.

In the chapter he wrote about the unpleasant consequences of tourism in Bali, you could see how upset he was although it was written in a mild tone. You could tell how much he loves his odd friend, Arip Syaman, although the chapters with Arip in them are full of silly incidents and humor.

You could sense his agitation when he questioned the call to preserve tradition during his trip to Baduy. Reading Teddy’s writing feels very intimate because he lets you know how he feels, in the most charming use of Bahasa Indonesia.

 

What kind of travel stories are your favorites? And why?

 

Maesy & Teddy: We grew up reading fiction and folktales. We find that characters matter the most in any story, so we love travel stories with strong characters.

We care much less about a place, we keep on reading because we want to know the characters better and get to know a place through their eyes.

Maesy grew up reading fantasy books, and in those books, traveling is how a character becomes aware of their personalities and grows as a person. Lyra Belacqua in Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is bold and mischievous when the story started, but it was only when she traveled to the North Pole she understands that being brave also entails sacrifice and thinking of the consequences of her actions.

We love travel stories that are also stories of personal journeys, one in which the narrator finds something meaningful about him/herself.

We also enjoy Agustinus Wibowo’s Titik Nol. It is ultimately a story of humanity, seen in people he met throughout his travels, those whom he hold dear, and also within himself. These are the kind of stories that will last in our minds.

 

You talk about friendship and distance in your book, and how you’re bridging that gap through letters. In your personal life, what are the significance of friendship, distance, and letters to you?

 

Teddy: I started writing letters to friends before the dawn of e-mails. My best friend in high school went to university in Yogyakarta while I studied in Jakarta and we decided to keep in touch by writing letters.

Those letters to me were not just a way to connect with my friends, they were also a way for me to connect with myself. I only wrote my most significant thoughts and events that left the deepest prints in those letters.

How I write my letters became my habit in writing anything personal – be it blog posts or the book.

Maesy: The book (Kisah Kawan di Ujung Sana) was about the period when Teddy was my friend at the other end of the world, while I studied in the Netherlands and formed new friendships. These friends are now my soul sisters at the other end of the world – in Brussels, Managua, and Vienna.

While we stay in touch through Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram, it is only when we took the time to write long letters that I really could connect with them beneath the surface and see our friendship grow.

It is only when I write long letters that I feel the distance shrink. It is when I read their letters I believe that life is long and the world is small, that our paths will cross some other time.(*)

—For more interviews with Indonesian writers, click here
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Elia Bintang had just launched his first novel, Pantai Kupu-kupu (Butterfly Beach), published by Plot Point. He is also an avid blogger who writes at Jurnal Elia and a singer/musician. Albert Camus, Haruki Murakami, and Jean-Paul Sartre are some of his major influencers. He is now living in Bali, Indonesia. You can read more interviews with Indonesian writers here.

 

Why beach? And why butterflies?

 

Elia: It’s a very simple story. A girl meets a guy in a strange, faraway, almost mythical place called Butterfly Beach (Pantai Kupu-kupu). She is in search of the purpose of her life. He is in search of the love of his life. In Butterfly Beach, every morning, the sun rises with millions of butterflies flying out of it. That’s the general idea.

Why beach?

Because it’s a perfect setting for the characters. Imagine that you’re sick of the way you’ve lived so far, and decide to think about what it is that you really want, why do you exist, and stuff like that. Imagine that you are into the alternative way of living (and thinking) because the accepted way sucks. If you stay in the city, you’ll feel very much alienated. If you go to the mountains, you must be full of hatred.

This is not a story about alienation nor hatred.

There might be a subtle feeling of alienation throughout the book—I can’t put that out of the picture—but it has a certain quality of warmth, as well. A certain quality of fun–and a relaxed attitude. You’re serious, but not so serious at the same time. So, the beach is a necessity.

As for the butterflies, no particular reason. Maybe because they’re beautiful (just think about millions of them coming out of the sun). The main character has a rainbow-colored butterfly tattoo, too. She, as well as the guy, is a part of the Rainbow Community. It’s inspired by the Rainbow Family of Living Light in real life, a community that embraces the alternative way of living.

I choose butterflies more for artistic reasons, I guess.

 

How and where do you write?

 

Elia: When I’m working on a novel, I write for eight hours every day. I write anything that comes to mind for the first draft. After that, I review it, analyze it, make an outline, and begin the second draft. I review and analyze it again, decide on which parts that are inefficient and should be left out; and what I should do to improve the story and the writing. Then I begin the third draft.

If everything goes well, it’s all that it takes. But sometimes, it takes more.

I write anywhere. I’ve written in Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and Bali. All I need is a quiet, peaceful room with a closed door. And cigarettes. And cups of coffee. A beer, occasionally. Whisky. Songs that take me somewhere else. Magic mushroom would be nice, as well, for fresh new ideas and perspectives.

 

You’re a musician, as well. What is it that music can’t do, that writing can do, or vice versa? How do these two influence each other?

 

Elia: A song is a sword. A novel is a slow knife. If you want to die, get the first one. If you want to understand pain, get the second one. You will die, too, in the end, but as a deeper, wiser, more complete person.

My music doesn’t influence my writing. My taste of music does.

I like Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Massive Attack, Isaac Delusion, stuff like that. Their songs set my mood right when I’m writing surrealistic things, which is an important aspect of my work besides freedom and counterculture. They stimulate my senses and imagination.

 

I believe that our writings or stories reflect our fears, dreams, wishes, concerns, beliefs—or a combination of all those. How do you see Pantai Kupu-kupu reflects yours?

 

Elia: It reflects my concerns and belief quite a lot. I believe that we should live this life as subjects, not objects to labels, stereotypes, norms, values, and anything created by society.

We have responsibilities towards other people, of course, but we are individuals at the same time. We are free.

It’s up to us–how to live and define ourselves. All the characters in Pantai Kupu-kupu define themselves; or in the process of defining themselves.

I support equality between men and women. I’m not talking about the difference in salaries they make at work or the numbers of men and women in the parliament or stuff like that. I’m talking about the mindset.

Women shouldn’t be afraid of anything. Women are free individuals and shouldn’t give a shit about the pressure society puts on them; it’s how society sees them that has to change. Women shouldn’t live their lives expecting to rely on men financially and emotionally; because they are better than that, and are capable human beings—besides, men don’t owe women anything, we are all equal.

All female characters in Pantai Kupu-kupu are free individuals with good self-image and self-esteem.

Today’s culture was shaped by the generations before us. What kind of culture will we pass on to the next generations? It’s not the time to write about weak, fragile women and the superiority of men.

 

I sense several issues related to interconnectedness, finding oneself, and spirituality in this novel. How do you—yourself, as Elia—see these issues?

 

Elia: You pray to the ‘higher’ being every night and day. Then things work out as you asked. You say, my prayer is answered. Then things don’t work out. You say, my prayer is not answered. How do you see that?

I’d say, it’s just the nature of life.

Even if you pray to a tree, the outcome would be the same: sometimes you get good things, other times you get bad things.

Based on this argument alone, I see no point in being too spiritual. I believe in the existence of spirits, but that’s it. I never discuss anything beyond that in my writing because my purpose is to emphasize the absurdity of life and the surrealistic things you can experience, not the spirituality itself.

I’m a non-believer and I think life is absurd.

You can live all your life as a good person and die in a traffic accident or in a bombing. You can be a bad person, kill millions of people, live a long life, and some people suggest to make you a national hero after you die. One phenomenon could occur just because it ‘felt’ like occurring.

I don’t believe in interconnectedness.

About finding oneself, I always think that self-knowledge is important; and that in life, it’s much more important to be than to have. Do everything your way. Succeed your way, fail your way, and in that, you will find yourself. The logic is very simple. When you’re being you in every decision you make, self-discovery is inevitable.

 

What’s the most difficult writing days in your life look like? 

 

Elia: Writing is not difficult. Thinking of what to write is.

I always have a big picture in my head before I work on a story. I know how it’s going to be like, how the main characters look like, what are their strengths and weaknesses, their clothing style, how they move, how they become who they are, what they want, and so on. If you know all these before you write, it’s easy.

Writer’s block is a myth.

I don’t remember anything so unbearable about my writing process.

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Rahne Putri is a poet and a published writer with her book Sadgenic. She also contributes her stories for Cerita SahabatThe Journeys 2, and Jika. Her words can be found through her poetic blog entries or her Twitter account–with more than 77K followers. You can read more interviews with Indonesian writers here.

 

Where do your words come from? What made you attracted to words and poems at the first place?

Rahne: Where do my words come from? Honestly, I don’t know. Sometimes I am also surprised how poetic words come out at certain times. This question made me think. Probably it was gradually shaped from my childhood ambience. I do not remember it specifically (because actually, I’m forgetful), but apparently I recorded a lot of things from my family’s habit, and those things were kept in my subconscious.

In the old days, Eyang Putri (grandmother) loved to tell stories and write letters for me when she missed me (obviously, with a very formal Indonesian like how it was back then). I also recalled a piece of love letter from Romo (father) for my mom, glued into the back of her cupboard’s door–which I love to secretly read. Or a poem about “Dad” on the bedroom wall of Eyang Romo (grandfather). I grew up in a loving and romantic family.

Moreover, I also love to dissect dialogues from theaters, movies (from cartoon to romance), to melancholic lyrics from love songs. It seems like these things shaped me to end up loving words and poems.

Rahne Putri

How does it feel to be inside of you during moments when words or story ideas pop up in your head?

 

Rahne: Usually when these things pop up, I want to enjoy solitude. Because there are many disputes over what’s on my head and what’s on my heart, so I try to focus and identify the things I want to feel and convey. I try to make myself truly exist, expressed, and present to accompany me when the inspiration comes. Actually, it feels like loneliness. There are only me, time, and thoughts.

 

Some writers said that they are more productive during sadness or heartbreaks. Does sadness fuel you?

 

Rahne: Ha! Yes! I feel it! When I am sad or anxious, I tend to question a lot of things and it triggers me to keep daydreaming or think about all the possible answers. Question marks urgently reverberate from my heart, then crawl to my head and my fingers to be expressed through writings.

When I’m happy, my heart does not question much. I even have the tendency for not wanting to write.

Does sadness fuel me? Yes, it does. I love my sadness, to be exact. It doesn’t mean that I want to be sad all the time, but I always capture the beauty in sadness (thus, Sadgenic). Sadness allows me to be honest with what I feel and directs me to know better about what is it that I really want.

Sadness is an opportunity to appreciate losses and longings. Sadness is the energy for me to keep moving… away from it.

 

What’s your favorite place to write? What can we see or feel when we sit there?

 

Rahne: I don’t have a special desk or place to write, because inspirations come to me in various places. Every time I prepare the time for it, it doesn’t come! (laugh).

However, in my writing space, you’ll feel nothing but stillness. Usually, I play instrumental music and have a clock nearby so I can hear it ticks. Both are the rhythms that guard me as I write. Oh, and you may hear the sound of trickling water.

There’s always a corner in my writing space (in my imagination) that needs to be wet–either from rain or tears.

Another habit, I oftentimes close my eyes when I am about to write, because there lies a huge window, and I have to go past it to start the journey to my imagination.

 

How do you approach bookstores? And if you can build one, how would it look like?

 

Rahne: I’ll share a little about my imagination as I enter a bookstore or a library. Usually, I’d rather visit the hidden corners–which others rarely see or pass. I always imagine that there are books waiting to be flipped open and to be read.

I have the habit to ‘give lives’ to objects around me since I was little, so those books, in my mind, are actually storytellers–waiting for someone to listen to their stories.

When walking through the shelves, it feels like all of them say: “read me, read me” or “pick me” with various tones of voice. For instance, it would be an old guy’s voice when it’s a vintage book, or a child’s voice because it’s a children’s book, or a female’s voice, impatient to tell the love stories inside.

Imaginations aside, the kind of books I look for are mostly poetry books and children’s books that are full of pictures. I am also attracted to books with lovely covers, and books with sweet, nice, and curiosity-arousing opening notes.

My childhood dream is to have a bookstore with huge windows, for the sunlight to enter, and people can read with sufficient natural light. Then there are couches, so they can read the book they find. And in one of the corners, I’ll prepare hot tea and cakes.

 

How do places affect your writings?

 

Rahne: Essentially, I like places with the concept of ‘waiting’. A seaside or a hill where someone sits–waiting for the sun to rise or set, or a coffee shop where someone is waiting for a friend.

I love to watch people in places with such a concept, guessing what they are going through, what they are feeling. Often times, in airports or train stations, my emotional examinations are richer, because everyone is in the position of waiting, then they move away, or move towards something. Those places are full of goodbyes and hellos. So, some anxieties or hopes I capture there are being carried on through my writings.

I am also thankful to have a bit of (overly) active imagination because there are loads of future places I dreamed of that I have visited. Maybe they are not real, but it feels so fun to mash them up with something I want to write, feel, and tell. 

*) photo courtesy of Rahne Putri.
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Windy Ariestanty is the Editor-in-Chief of GagasMedia and Bukune, two of the most well-known publishing companies in Indonesia today. She is also a writer who loves to travel. Her travelogue Life Traveler was shortlisted at Anugerah Pembaca Indonesia or Indonesian Reader’s Award in 2012. You can read more interviews with Indonesian writers here.

 

The script that is being published and the script that isn’t being published. What are the 3 most basic things that differentiate the “fate” of those two, based on your experience?

Windy: Hahaha. This is a tricky question. But let me rewind an ‘old song’ that people have always known all these times–but they forget it many times.

No matter what, books have two faces. Business face and social face (when it comes to ‘art’, for the time being let’s put it under the social face).

Based on those two faces, as short as my experience taught me, I can summarise them into 3:

  1. Theme. A theme that answers market needs or gives information about what the market will need in the future. A publisher must have known about the readers of the script that will be published. Is the theme answer market needs or even a few steps further from the existing market? The ability to predict themes that can answer market needs or go one/two-step further from the existing market is the ability to create a “trend”.
  2. Content. When buying a book, a question people always ask would be: what is this book about? When it comes to writing, forever, content is the king.
  3. The writing. How the theme and content are being written. No matter what, good writing is the first catch to grab the attention of an editor. Editors easily fall in love with good writing.

 

What are the most common misconceptions held by aspiring writers who are about to publish their first books? 

Windy: There are several things.

1. Editing stage.

A writer often assumes that the editor is someone who will scrutiny his script. Someone who will tear his masterpiece apart. In reality, your editor is your writing partner. She is the first reader who tries to see the hole in your script.

Not one single editor wants to damage her writer’s piece.

She is the first person that will clap her hands when you finish your writing, and she is also the first person who will go brokenhearted when your writing is not becoming any better.

Another misconception is that the editor is the person who will take care of all types and errors on your script. Come on, that’s not really the job of an editor. You can activate the spell-checker facility if you only need this function from an editor. An editor’s responsibility is way more than that.

On a very ideal level, an editor needs to have the ability to guess and create book trends. True, an editor will help taking care of all those stuff regarding structure, grammar, and typo. But my suggestion is this: before sending your script out, there is no harm in cleaning up all those typos.

Trust me, no matter how bad the script is, an editor can still read it when the typos are minimal. Do help the editors to enjoy reading your script by minimizing typos. Won’t you feel tortured reading a raw script with typos scattered all over from the first to the last page?

Sending a script without a title. Yes, the publisher will help you in finding a title for your to-be-published script. But sending out a script without a title shows that you don’t even know what your script is all about.

2. Publishing contract.

A publisher only has the ‘publishing right’, not ‘copyright’. The contract only binds the writing/script, not the writer. Thus, before signing a contract, pay close attention to this. Don’t regret it later. Go through your contract carefully before signing it.

3. Do I need to pay?

A lot of writers still think that they need to pay some amount of money to publish their books. I am going to say this straightforwardly: you don’t need to pay for anything. On the contrary, you will have royalty rights for your script.

4. Promotion is a publisher’s business.

Most of the time, a writer believes that as a writer, his task is limited to writing only. Unfortunately, life nowadays expects more than that.

A writer also needs to think about what he’s going to do after the book is published.

Of course, the publisher will think about that. They will think about book distributions and how to get attractive displays in bookstores, or about sending free copies to media or colleagues. They may even think about book launching or discussions. But the publisher is not taking care of one single writer.

It will also be impossible for them to keep on promoting the same book over and over again. Based on my limited knowledge, I came to the conclusion that the most effective promotion tool for a book is its writer.

Thus, I always ask writers to learn about how to ‘sell’ both themselves and their works. They also need to learn how to develop themselves into a brand (self-branding).

Windy Ariestanty

 

How does Windy-the-Editor influence Windy-the-Writer, and vice versa?

Windy: Hahaha. This is a bit hard to explain, but have you ever heard this sentence: you can write badly, but you need to edit your writing well?

I have this mindset. To edit well, of course, you need to know about good writing, right? So, when I write, I just write. I push the “off” button on my mind as an editor. When I finish my writing, I will read it again. This is the time when I turn on my editor’s brain. I try to see what is not working in my script and what’s working. Then I edit and revise it.

My knowledge as an editor helps me to see my script more clearly and objectively.

To me, an editor should be able to become a writer. She knows what a good writing is like. So it’s only natural that she can produce good writing.

An editor who doesn’t become a writer–well, to me they look like a dead chicken in a rice barn.

Although I have to admit it myself, for an editor to be a writer, she needs to defeat the fear inside of herself: hey, as a writer who edits and an editor who writes, you’re gambling your reputation. If your writing is good, people will say, that’s natural, she’s an editor. If your writing is bad, generally people will say, how come an editor produce such bad writing? What does it tell about her quality as an editor?

In reality, being a writer and being an editor is two different thing. We can’t even write while editing.

It’s difficult, isn’t it?

When it comes to how my profession as a writer influences me as an editor? It will be easier for me to inform a writer about what to do because I understand how these writers’ minds work.

It will also be easier for the writers to accept my inputs because they can see that I also do what I preach and I go through all the difficulties they are facing. The probability to get comments like, “It’s easy for you to just say it all. You don’t know how hard it is to write and revise!” is minimal, because I also write.

But I have to admit, I am lucky to have a profession as a writer and an editor. Both support each other. Both teach me to have above-average listening skills. Writer-editor who doesn’t learn to listen will face difficulties in becoming better.

What is the relationship between inspiration and discipline when you write?

Windy: I am a slow writer. I will let you know that before I am being delirious.

To work with a material, I need to read it many times, let it seep in, and only then: writing it down. Inspirations, indeed, can come in a short burst. When it happens, I will catch it in a hurry.

I believe that inspirations are everywhere. But they are also looking for those who can become their “masters”. Someone who will execute them into something–who will make them manifest. At times like these, I will write or note it down hurriedly. I don’t care how bad my writing is when I’m doing this. Afterward, I’ll leave it to seep in, and then I’ll polish it into better writing.

Isn’t writing a matter of rewriting over and over again?

When it comes to discipline, that’s another thing. I know that I oftentimes get lazy. Not being discipline to myself. The temptation to create an excuse so I don’t have to write is plenty. I’m tired. I don’t have time. I am not in the mood. I don’t feel like this idea is good enough. As a result, everything stops in the “wanting” level, instead of in the “doing” level. To be honest, this state sweeps me often as well.

But writing is not for the lazy ones. Writing needs strong will and extraordinary discipline. So I try to craft times to write in the midst of my busy days ‘playing around’. Hahaha. Hey, it’s fun. To win over time or even defeat it–is always pleasing to me.

Are you the type who believes in writer’s block?

Windy: Let me tell you one more thing based on my not-so-many experience.

Writer’s block, to me, is just an excuse to cover up the fact that we’re lazy to write.

I am not the type who believes in writer’s block. Saying that I am not writing because I do not have any idea–to me that’s bullshit.

If you’re lazy, than you’re just lazy. That’s fine. That’s human.

Writing is about discipline in practice. Of course, a vacation for a writer is not writing. Similar to the concept of taking vacations, it feels so good not to write. So, if you want to take vacations from writing, go ahead, and do whatever you want to trigger your creativity and create the desire to write again soon. Play around.

However, I also control my ‘vacation period’ so I don’t keep myself from not writing for too long. Even if I don’t feel like going back to the script I am working on, I will write other things to ‘warm-up’ my machine.

Another simple thing I do to keep my machine warm–even when I am swept by laziness, is by reading and watching movies. Or… this is my favourite part: creating quality time with selected people. I can pick these people randomly–those I haven’t met in a long time, those I have just met, close friends, boyfriend, etc. I like conversations and meetings. From here, new ideas often spring to life.

A writer will not be able to suppress her desire to write something that inspires her. Thus, go out and see anyone. They could be the ones who fish the inspirations out of you and drag you out from the laziness to write.

Looking back, what makes you start writing in the first place?

Windy: Simple. I write down a lot of things because I want to prolong my memories.

*) photo courtesy of Windy Ariestanty.
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Hanny illustrator
Hi. I'm HANNY
I'm a published writer and a writing/creative workshop facilitator based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In Indonesian, 'beradadisini' means being here. So, here I am, documenting life—one word at a time.

hanny

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