22 October 2018

Meet the 2018 Scribe Nonfiction Prize Shortlist – Vito Rinaldi

In the lead up to announcing The 2018 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers, we’re introducing you to every name and face on the shortlist. These are some of the brightest nonfiction minds in the country and they’re all aged 30 and under. Read their profiles on the Express Media blog to learn more about their writing journeys, love of nonfiction and their tips and tricks to writing the best real-life stories.

Vito Rinaldi, 18, VIC
The Jumper

How did you begin writing?

I began writing at about four years old, though most of my works were written backwards and would have been unintelligible were it not for the crayon drawings that accompanied them. I plagiarised word for word about five of my favourite kids’ books after that, and eventually started churning out my own stuff.

Why do you write nonfiction?

I don’t. I do write stories though, lots of them, and some of them happen to be real. 

Tell us a bit about your submission to the Scribe Prize:

The Jumper is about me, which is very much not my usual subject matter. I like creating things from scratch, new people, new places, new situations, but that’s the problem. It’s all made up. This piece isn’t made up, which is why it was hard to submit. Fortunately I’d fallen into my usual habit of finishing up far too late and didn’t have the time to second-guess myself, so I clicked the button and here we are.

Why did you choose to write on this subject?

I chose to write on it because I write to understand, and at this point in time I didn’t understand myself. Throughout high school I saw a lot of my friends try on different guises, flit through different groups, carry signs for different causes. I was never so open about who I was and what I was on about, largely because I felt that it wasn’t important. I know who I am and that’s all that matters, I thought. Skipping ahead a few years, I found myself in a big city devoid of all but one other person who knew who I was, and as I floated around in my newfound anonymity I started to wonder, do I know who I am?

The answer is no, though as always it’s more complex than that. I lived a life of female experiences, some frustrating, some traumatic, all of them doused with a good dose of dysphoria, and when the time came to shed this girlhood, this ill-fitting jumper I’d worn since my birth, I had to learn everything over again. I spent all my childhood playing football in long shorts and t-shirts, my hair cut above my ears, being a boy but not being a boy. I created characters, alter-egos, anything to get away from being me. Now I had the opportunity to be me, no pretence about it, and I had no idea where to start.

We’re often pushed to forget the things that have hurt us, or to deal with them swiftly, succinctly, and move on. I understand; we wouldn’t keep poking a wound if we wanted it to heal. The issue is that trauma, pain, and everything hurtful we experience in life aren’t flesh wounds. We can’t ignore what we’ve been through, patting on a little disinfectant now and then while we wait for it to go away. We have to find new ways to live our lives with all that we carry inside us, and to turn what we’ve been through into knowledge we can use to help others. This, to me, is what a story is, especially those which aren’t fictitious.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Write as a discipline. I don’t find writing particularly fun – fingers never work as fast as minds do – and the process of putting thought to paper can be tedious. But sometimes it isn’t. You’ll never experience the good if you don’t sit down and write through the bad.