When did you start writing?
As a child, I had an active imagination. I would dress up in costumes, invent different worlds, and play out stories with my siblings. That’s where my writing – my storytelling – began.
As a teenager, I learnt to play the guitar and soon began to write my own songs. It was a way to understand myself and to express my feelings. In a way, the twenty to thirty songs that I wrote back then were my first poems.
It wasn’t until I started university that I began to take writing more seriously. During my three years, I wrote a draft of a young adult mystery novel, some flash fiction and various short stories that tackled mental health, gender and sexuality. But it wasn’t until my final year that I started writing poetry.
What inspired you to write this boy is a rainbow?
In my final year at university, I went through an unsettling time. I lost my first love. A three-year relationship that I had invested in and depended on, gone. I felt powerless. I felt empty. I felt that I had lost my voice.
The only way that I felt I could handle how I was feeling was to write short poems in the notes of my phone. Whenever I was stung by a wave of pain – whether that was home alone or in the middle of a seminar – I would take out my phone and quickly tap out a few lines. I wrote my emotions out, purged myself, rather than bottling it within.
Over that year, I wrote hundreds of poems. Each one a clipping of my soul, a piece of my heart. Every single one is special to me. Because each one symbolises me taking back the voice I thought I had lost and learning to love someone else – myself.
When I started, I didn’t even realise I was writing poetry. I never intended to put them together in a poetry collection. I never thought I would someday have the bravery to publish them, let alone publish them under my own name and not a pseudonym. But I now know that’s exactly what I want and need to do.
I am not ashamed of my feelings, I am not ashamed of my past, I am proud that I have endured it – that I have survived – and I want to share that journey with others so that they, too, may survive their own troubles. Yes, I’m baring my emotions, my pain, my soul in these poems, which makes me feel incredibly vulnerable. But it’s worth it.
How did you self-publish your book?
There are many different ways to self-publish – I started out with Amazon’s Createspace, which has since been renamed KDP. It’s a great, easy to use platform for any young writer!
I designed the cover art and layouts myself, but you may want to get a professional cover designer (or designer friend, if you’re lucky enough to have one) to help you with this.
I would also recommend getting your work proofread by beta readers before you publish – friends, family, or a professional proofreader. You want your book to be the best it can be before you send it out into the world!
I recently found this video about self-publishing from Savannah Brown, which I would have found really helpful when I started out. Watch it here.
Who are some of your favourite poets?
I studied English Literature at university, so I read a lot of poetry! Here’s a few I particularly liked: T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath and John Keats.
And from Instagram: Trista Mateer, Charly Cox, Wilder Poetry, Rupi Kaur, Caitlin Conlon, Hollie McNish, and Yrsa Daley Ward. I share lots of other poets and their work on my Instagram story – you can view it here.
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Two things. First, allow yourself to write lots of bad poems – it’s the only way you’ll learn to write good ones.
And second, write from the heart. Have the bravery to let people into your most intimate moments, because this is where your world and theirs will meet. The result is truly magical.
Tell me more about your upcoming project – this boy is a constellation.
My first book was such an empowering experience – I found art I loved creating, I found my voice, and I found a community of people who could relate to my work. But it was so much about love and heartbreak – and I knew that in my second book, I wanted to write about other topics too. I wanted to write better, more creative poems and I wanted the visual journey to be more interesting too. I hope that when you read the book, you’ll get that experience.
In this second book, I explore life in my early twenties: that post-adolescent period when finding your place in the universe seems impossible. It is a book about letting go of the past, finding purpose, challenging expectations, struggling with body image and mental health, dating, and learning to love yourself.
To find out more about the book, take a look at the ‘new book’ highlight on my Instagram page.