Rain Chudori. (JG Photo/Lisa Siregar)

A Minute With: Rain Chudori on Being a Female Writer


DECEMBER 21, 2015

Jakarta. Writer Rain Chudori dabbles in poetry, acting, and short- and longform stories effortlessly.

Rain has been writing since the age of 14 and has published 20 short stories in numerous publications, including the Jakarta Globe, the Jakarta Post, Tempo English, Whiteboard Journal and Nylon magazine.

Now, at 21, she looks back at her early years to compile eight short stories in her newly published book, "Monsoon Tiger and Other Stories."

The Globe spoke with Rain about her themes and the importance of a woman's perspective in literature.

Q: What inspired you to keep writing?

A: I am mostly inspired by my own experiences. I fell in love with a lot of men and I've broken their hearts. I also had my heart broken. Every emotion in this book is real. The only one that is fiction is the shape that it takes form in, the names of the characters and the chronology. Every one of those characters are very real and my love for them is real.

So the inspiration is the feeling of wanting to love, and everyone that I have ever loved. I think, for women, wanting is the most important thing that we can have. We have to want a better partner, better house and that's OK. We grow up and people will tell women to be thankful — and women are thankful, but we want the best. We want to be on top of the world and we should be on top of the world.

You write about your longing for a partner. Do you ever worry about people thinking it is such a typical theme for female writers?

That is a very backward way of thinking. There are a lot of men writers who write about love, and we hardly question their motives. Why don't people ask what we [women] think about love?

Have you ever feared of being told that you are too young to have experienced these emotions?

There is no standard age to feel love and heartbreak. Heartbreak is not only caused by romantic love, but also because of your parents, family or friendship.

Why did you decide to write these stories in English?

I think language is only a medium. I get this question a lot. Let's take Kartini as an example because she wrote in Dutch. It doesn't make her less of an Indonesian writer. But next year, I will translate this book into Indonesian.

How does it feel for you to read your works from when you were 14 years old?

[Mostly] embarrassing, but also it makes me nostalgic. Maybe there are other little girls who felt the same. My earliest writing was about longing for my father and for his presence. And as I grew up, the longing became for romantic love, the men I've loved in my life. So it's always been the same, but the figure's just changed.

Now I always try to be more refined and structured in my writing. Back then, I was so emotional when I wrote and I didn't really think about the grammar.

Do you think your age helped to define you as the voice of your generation today?

I don't know if it's different, but I hope that I will bring a fresh, new perspective about being a woman. Women these days deal with misogyny, systematic sexism in the industry, the gap between men and women writers in the literature industry, street harassment, rape culture. What worries me the most is competition between women.

That's why I always encourage my girlfriends to keep writing. That is also why I initiated the Murmur House [a literary journal]. Women have to support each other. We always think there's only one or two spots for women and we must compete for that. No, we should be able to make more room for women in those powerful positions.