Writer Hengtee Lim on His Writing Inspirations, Living in Tokyo & Time Investement.
Amongst the hustle of productivity and the chaos of self-help articles, lies the body of work of a Tokyo based short-stories writer whom style and topics urges you to slow down and re-focus on what really matters. Things like human bonds and th beauty of little details of everyday life.
Under the username @snippets on Medium.com Hengtee Lim shares his meditations and insights on life`s simplest topics and most underrated corners with a peaceful and poetic style that got me hooked from the first story I read.
Today I have the honor to insert below a little interview with Mr. Hengtee who was so humble to have with me. Enjoy!!
(All the pictures of this post have been taken by the man himself. Find more on his Instagram @hent03. )
On his life and current occupations:
- First off, a brief introduction about you: where are you from? Tell us a little about your education, career and current occupations?
I was born in Adelaide, Australia, where I lived until I graduated university. University took longer for me than it did most; I failed a few subjects I wasn't invested in, took a year off and worked retail, and returned to study part-time for my last two years.
After graduation, I moved to Japan and taught English for four years in a small town in Nagasaki. After that, I moved to Tokyo, where I'm slowly trying to build a name as a writer.
Excerpt from Paper Planes (probably my favourite story)
- Also, you are currently writing for Sprudge about the gradually growing culture of coffee in Tokyo, what passionates you the most about it and what other industries would you be interested in writing and learning about?
Coffee is home to a lot of interesting stories and passionate people. I've met people from all walks of life through writing about coffee, and many have been kind enough to share their stories with me - listening to what inspires others is a great way to get in touch with what inspires you. Coffee is also very malleable - for some people it's a form of expression, for others it is a point of connection and communication - and so I enjoy seeing how people fit it into their lives and careers.
As for other industries, someday I hope to make the time to write about movies, video games, and martial arts, too. I've grown up with those things, and I'm sure there are interesting stories to tell.
- Who is your inspiration in writing. Who are your favourite authors/ bloggers..?
When I was in university, I was heavily inspired by Haruki Murakami - I loved the way he wrote about the grey areas between feelings. I hadn't found words for that previously, so I wanted to capture it in my own writing, too. Much of what I write probably has its roots in work like "Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" and "Norwegian Wood".
Julian Barnes is another writer I discovered some time ago who left a deep impression on me. His wordsmithing is a beautiful thing; the word choice and sentence structure in his books is sublime. "The Sense of an Ending" is one of my favorite books.
Stylistically, I'm very influenced by Cormac McCarthy. When I first read "The Road", I was impressed by McCarthy's ability to convey so much with so little.
Excerpt from The Best Day In A Three Months Relationship.
- Can you briefly describe your writing process? Do you think and visualise the whole story in your head first and then write it or does it come while writing? And what other steps does it include?
I tend to start with an image or a snippet of conversation, and from there I find a general flow and a few characters. Usually I know where a story will end, but even when I don't, I still try to put the general idea down so I have a first draft to work with.
When I have a first draft, I go through lots of editing, reshaping, and cutting. I tend to put a focus on two main areas:
- Cutting the superfluous - this means words, sentences, and sometimes paragraphs. Creating simple, evocative sentences is my goal; I want to say a lot with a little.
- Creating a sense of rhythm - I tend to think of words like musical notes, and sentences like melodic lines. In this sense, a story is like a song, and I try to keep this in mind when I edit - I want the flow of my stories to feel just right. I spend a lot of time reading and rereading to try and capture this.
- What is your current struggle, is there something you would like to improve or are currently working on?
The biggest struggle might simply be taking the plunge and releasing a book. I'm somewhat terrified of the idea that if I did it, it wouldn't sell.
Outside of that, I want to grow as a writer through telling stories I feel are important or intriguing in some way. Probably all writers aim to do that though, I imagine.
- Personally your stories give me that feeling of falling in love with the details of everyday life even when it`s about old people or phone calls. What impact do you hope your snippets to have on your readers?
I always write what I find interesting, and what I find thought provoking, but I don't know if other people will, too. With that in mind, whenever I release something I simply hope that readers enjoy it, or find it interesting in some way. On a deeper level perhaps, I hope it gives readers a moment to reflect on their own lives, too.
But I don't feel I can ask for much more than that. I'm lucky simply to be read.
On Human bonds and life.
Excerpt from Paper Planes.
- You meditate a lot on the warmth and meloncholy of human bonds, what is, in your opinion, the most important thing in a relationship (in its broader meaning)?
I don't know that there is a "most important thing", but I do feel that mutual understanding and acceptance are underrated - often we want so bad for people to be something they can't be, or we hold expectations they can't meet. This contrast makes for interesting stories, but in real-life relationships - whether romantic or otherwise - it can make for a lot of stress.
- Lastly I would want to know what matters to you the most? Is it simply about witnessing and telling the stories of people or is it about trying your best to touch their lives and their tough skins with a soft feather of love and care? Or is it just about working on yourself and your skill set and being an inspiration and a ambassador of hard and dedicated work?
Recently, I've been fixated on the idea of time, and how little of it we have.
What matters to me at the moment is trying to make the most of the time I have - I want to fill it with work I feel passionate about, and people who inspire me and make me feel good.
I don't know if I can set lofty goals like changing the lives of others, because my own life is still such a work in progress.
But if I can spread some positivity through the way I live my life, that's a great bonus.
Well Mr Hengtee, you surely do for me!! Thank you for your beautiful art and these humble and honest insights on life.
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