Letters for Creatives #57: Colin Tan - Interview With an Artist vol. 3
He weaves narratives in prose and poetry
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I am very excited to do this interview with Colin Tan as I have been thinking about doing it for a few months. His work always inspires me to read and write about subjects that I am not familiar with.
You can find him on Instagram. His books The Man Who Ate My Arms and The Neon Myths are available on Amazon (UK, USA) and Book Depository with free global shipping.
I am so excited to do this. I have not been so excited in a very long time. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how your writing journey started?
I was born way before the days of wifi in Liverpool, England. Being a mixed race, working class kid, my childhood was quite turbulent. The local library became a special place to me, a quiet place and a place to escape via books which I would read for hours.
I then began to write as I approached my teens and would write something almost every day. Back then I regularly won creative writing awards in school and locally.
But instead of pursuing a career in writing or English, I was encouraged to move into other areas. Sadly, I stopped writing for a long time in my twenties due to the demands of the industry I worked in and incredibly long hours. I only rediscovered what was missing in my life, writing, a few years ago.
Wow! I am so surprised. I am so glad you rediscovered the craft that now we can read your phenomenal stories. Did your writing ritual change after you stopped writing? Or did it stay the same?
I don't think I have ever seen it as a ritual, but it is something I have always had to do. There is and was a gnawing frustration in the background when I am not writing. For a long time, I didn't understand what it was.
What I write now is unsurprisingly different to what I wrote when I was younger. I don't have set times or schedules around it. I just try and catch ideas when I can and do something. I am the happiest if this happens daily. If it has, it has been a good week for me.
That is very similar to my process. But I have not been prolific these days. I miss March and April of 2020 so much as I was writing a lot. Writing makes me so happy, like I became a kid again.
If that is the case, then I think you need to try to schedule some time to write. Even if you don't feel like writing, you can eventually crank something out. The more you write, more stuff comes. It is very easy to fall into a rut and then you don't write anything for a long period.
Well. I have been in a rut for months, to be honest. I miss writing for fun so much. I am going to try that and see how it goes.
Try writing about not being able to write. It always works for me. What I mean is, try and describe how you are feeling, put it down, try and mould something with it. It is kind of like a muscle that needs exercise.
I wrote one about writer’s block and it was kind of fun! I am even a bit surprised reading the piece.
That is good and then you have written something and broke the cycle. That is the trick.
How does your day look like when you are not writing stories?
A lot like most people, working, trying to work, getting by or constantly daydreaming, which I have done for as long as I can remember.
Daydreaming kinds of takes us away from the reality and we get to write stories that come out of nowhere.
How did your writing style evolve? Were you always writing mysterious stories or did you stumble upon this style by accident?
I write to explore and make sense of the world, people and emotion. In doing so, it seems natural to strip away what we consider to be natural and normal. By doing so, I think it prompts us uncover truths about ourselves and our nature. We need to frame the world differently to appreciate a new or different perspective, in narratives.
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