What inspired you to write “Sincerely, a Climate Science Undergrad”?
There’s a piece within the piece, it’s a lot of journal entries and short stories strung together. The original of the stories that I wrote that kind of inspired the whole thing was the “Sincerely, a Climate Science Undergrad” that’s written as a letter to some of my professors and I wrote that last year when I was a freshman in college. It was inspired by the feeling I felt, like I was surrounded with of just this hopeless attitude when it comes to climate change, and just this feeling that as a science climate major, my professors kept saying things that made it feel like the world was ending, but also saying things like, “young people like you are going to change the world.” I just wanted to capture that experience, which is what inspired that piece. And them from there I had all these other journal entries and short stories from over the years that all related to climate change I and wanted to tie them all together into one bigger piece. What actually inspired that was the wild fires that were happening over the summer, and around that time was when I started writing the piece. It was something that defiantly opened my eyes to climate change and how it’s affecting me personally.
While reading this piece, one of the parts directly references the wild fires. Was this part one of the last ones you wrote?
Yeah, trying to remember the sequence of events that I wrote everything, but I must have written the piece towards the tail end of when the fires were happening, because I remember writing that journal entry about sitting on the hammock and the smoke rolling in before I had the idea to write the piece as a whole. So that came first and it was just me writing in my journal that turned into something.
Why did you choose the letter format for this piece?
The original piece was a letter, and with that it felt like the right format to express these things that had been weighting me down, and that I felt I was biting my tongue, I talk a lot in that piece about not raising my hand in class or saying anything that was going on in my head, and it felt like the perfect format to express all these things, like I was saying them to my professors.
If there is one thing you want people to take from “Sincerely, a Climate Science Undergrad”, what is it?
I would say obviously, climate change is real. And not only is it real, but it is going to be directly affecting all of us, in some way or another. And probably, within my life time—it already is and so I would just it is ok to come to terms with that and accept the gravity of that. It might feel overwhelming, and that’s ok and it is so important that people feel how serious the situation is and how dire our situation really is. But at the same time, I hope people come away with the idea that it is not hopeless. Because the only way humanity is going make the huge level of change needed to over come this issue is that people know it’s possible to achieve this when we all work together.
Are there any artists/ writers that inspired you, both for this piece and in general?
I was thinking about this question, and I was trying to think of specific writer that really inspire me with their writing style. For this piece specifically, there are two people who kept coming to mind – who are more public speakers than writers– were Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Those two people really felt fitting for my inspiration for this piece, just for how eloquent they are in their PS and how willing they are to cut thought the nonsense and speak they are to speak the truth about being afraid to hold anything back or fill anything with fluff. Just straight to the point.
I also have a few people written down about inspiration for my writing style and poetry: Mary Oliver is a big inspiration to me for my poetry, Virginia Woolf, and Rachel Carson are two other people I wrote down. It was really hard for me to pick one person for that question.
What was your reaction to finding out you were going to be published?
Oh my gosh, defiantly shocked. I was not expecting to get published. When I wrote the piece, I did not know I going to submit it for publication at all, so defiantly shocked and defiantly excited. And I think it’s been something that has really helped me see my writing as something that I take more seriously and something I can do for other in addition for just doing it for myself, because in the past I have done a lot of writing and a lot of journaling for myself, so getting published has helped show me that, hey this is something I can share with others too.
Have you written anything since submitting?
I have mostly been focusing on poetry since the publication. I am actually taking a poetry course this term, just for fun. And it felt like something I could do for my mental health with online classes being so taxing. Winter term definitely dragged on for me and I think a lot of other people I’ve talked to recently. So, having that in my schedule to just read more poetry and motivate myself to write more poetry, so I’m really excited to have that. I have been writing more poetry for fun so we’ll see what comes from that, maybe some of it I will be sharing with others and submitting down the road.
What is your favorite writing memory?
Ok, yeah, so the memory that comes to mind for me is a memory of something I wrote that’s in this piece, actually. The poem that starts with, “watch the sun set red through wildfire smoke…” It’s very much based on a real experience I had, where I was quite literally sitting on top of my silver Toyota mini-van that my family takes all over and thought the mountains. Me and my brother had driven up this old dirt road, up in eastern Oregon, just for fun and I was sitting on top of the van, watching this sunset. And my brother has this picture of me –he’s a photographer—and he has this picture of me on the van, with this just really beautiful red sunset. And that poem I think was really significant for me at the time because it was a way for me to put something into words. The poem is really just about being lost –both literally and figuratively. That day, before he took the pic of me, we had driven up this dirt road and we were look for a hiking trail he had read about online, it wasn’t listed on a map and we didn’t have GPS, so we were just driving around trying to find it. So that part of the poem about being lost on a rocky dirt road by the cliffs edge was very much literal about that day. And we did end up finding that place and we had a great hike and it was lovely and it was really significant for me to put my memories of this day that was a fond memory I have and put what I was going though in my life at the time int that context as well. And it ended up being something I was able to fit into that larger piece.
What it your favorite kind of art/media to consume?
I will say that I love music. I play the guitar, and I love listening to music was well. That can also be a source of inspiration for my writing. I love to hear the lyrics that people string together and I also love poetry, as I mentioned, both reading and writing it. So those are my two favorite forms of media.
What’s fact about yourself you normal don’t get to share?
I was thinking about this question – because you sent me them ahead of time and I am very glad you did, because there were a lot of them that I was thinking about, like gosh, what is something about myself that I don’t normally get to share… My fact is I actually have five names. I usually tell people “Emily Elizabeth Rice” because its easier, but on my birth certificate, my name is “Emily Elizabeth Tamarah Ormes Rice” which is a mouth full and makes paper work a big pain in the butt.