Welcome to another episode from our Brno Expats Have Talent series. Brno is full of talented people, and some of them are not from the CR – we’re introducing one talented expat at a time!
This month, meet Bruno, a long time staple of Brno’s creative writing and founder of the Brno Short Story Writing Contest which is now expecting entries for its 6th season.
Bruno Zalubil (USA) – writer, journalist
How long have you been writing?
I wouldn’t consider myself an artist, and I haven’t yet proven myself as a great creative writer. Really, creative writing is just a hobby. More accurately, I have been writing professionally since I was in high school and wanted to be a sports journalist in order to follow the Chicago White Sox baseball team as a beat writer. I got out of journalism and into horse racing publicity, but now, living here, I was able to find some places to write newspaper-like columns in the Through Brno blog for the Brno Expats and the Bruno in Brno weekly column in Brno Daily.
Lately, unfortunately, professional writing and a young family have significantly restricted my time. I keep a journal just to keep things straight in my head, but I haven’t been able to work on my many-years-in-progress book.
How was it visible in your home country or previous place of stay?
I had several writing groups in Seattle and in New York City. Plus I did well in an annual short story writing competition, finishing fifth and eighth and with honorable mentions out of more than 700 international entrants. That is the contest upon which the Brno Short Story Writing Contest is based.
Is it your main source of income or a hobby?
Pretty much everything I do professionally connects to writing in some way. I provide technical writing for an exciting startup, Jetveo Platform and App Builder, I proofread and translate for university departments and local companies, and I teach writing online to teenage students through the Center for Talented Youth. It is great that there are so many outlets for writing in English, even here in the center of Europe. Finding a job (while not speaking great Czech) was my biggest concern about moving here almost 16 years ago.
Do you cooperate with other expats or local Czechs in your activity?
The Brno Writers Group, where local writers get together to critique each other’s work, has had monthly meetings, more or less, for about 10 years. And the Brno Short Story Writing Contest just started for the sixth time. That brings together even more writers, including native-speaking writers but also a lot of non-native speakers, so there is a lot of creativity from a lot of angles.
How do you find living in Brno as an expat and artist?
Brno — and, by extension, Europe — is a great place to live. Everything is a little bit different from the United States so it feels like I have a fresh perspective on things, even after having lived here for so many years. Of course, I like the idea that every story starts in the middle. That is because it is influenced by where we came from and, if it is good, it will influence where we are going. That is a theme that I flesh out in my personal writing.
Is it easy to practise your art here, what obstacles did you face?
Brno is growing in many ways. One is that there are more and more English-speaking young professionals, either expats or local students, so there is a growing audience for English-language articles and stories. That is the key: it is satisfying to write pithy lines in your journal, but it is better to have an audience that reads and appreciates that cleverness.
Where do you find inspiration? Did Brno/CR bring any new inspiration to your art, what/who was it?
I find inspiration everywhere. I have really never had trouble finding topics to write about. Finding the time to explore them is the key.
How do you practise your art now, in these strange covid times?
Writing is an individual process. The mechanics are basically the same even during quarantines. The problem is that having the whole world affected by a deadly illness brings a heavy psychological weight. Regardless of what you are writing, it doesn’t take long to get to a point where you ask yourself an existential question about whether you are living your life to its full potential.
Is there any other area in art that you’d like to explore? What are you looking for right now?
As I get older — my 50th birthday is coming soon — I feel the need to finally write something meaningful. I have adjusted my life a bit in order to eliminate most of the negatives and better balance everything. I’ve had so many ideas and thoughts that I have sketched out, but more excuses (both valid and simple laziness) that have kept me from following through. Hopefully, things settle down and I can spend more time on my American Dream expat novel. Brno is the perfect location for it, both as the setting and the workspace.
What did you choose for your live input?
The video was a quick idea-to-finished-product production. I wanted to build upon the fact that there are plenty of writing opportunities in Brno — and to make sure that the Brno Short Story Writing Contest gets as many entries as possible. Hopefully that will bolster the membership of the Brno Writing Group.
Where can expats find you and your art in Brno nowadays?
A lot of my work is buried on local websites. That’s unfortunate because I think there is some good stuff there. Here are direct links to some of the stories that people have liked. Please poke around in the history pages to read some other stories. My main role nowadays is in facilitating the Brno Short Story Writing Contest.
If you’d like to read some of Bruno’s local articles, you can check out the following links:
“Through Brno” blog posts on brnoexpatcentre.eu:
- Horror That Came Through Brno
- Through Brno: Finally Finding the Legend
- Through Brno: Having a baby!
- Through Brno: It’s a Boy?
Bruno in Brno columns on BrnoDailycom:
- Br(u)no: Explaining Brno’s Phallus-like Chronometer (to Teenagers)
- Grumpy Br(u)no: Just Give Me a Normal Cup of Coffee
- Grumpy Br(u)no: When Will Christmas Finally Be Over?
- Quar [Br(u)no] antine: What To Do While Stuck At Home
- Br(u)no: Life Continues Through Self-Quarantine Week 2, Alcohol Helps
Photos courtesy by Bruno Zalubil