When I wrote my first book, The Trichster Diaries, I was surprised at the immense emotional relief I felt. I often cried while writing. It was so emotional for me that I had to take long breaks in between writing, sometimes dreading the next story I wanted to share because I knew it stir up feelings I ignored for most of my life. I didn't realize just how many emotions I suppressed growing up. I was trying to ignore the pain my trichotillomania was causing me and focus on blending in. I wanted to be perceived as a "normal" child by everyone around me. How exhausting for a child of 10.
Writing The Trichster Diaries healed me in ways nothing else had. I couldn't help but think that there were other parts of me I could heal through writing.
Vicissitudes enters the chat.
My first poetry collection! Where do I begin? I think I'll format the rest of this blog post into Q&A style...
Q: What does the word "vicissitudes" mean and why did you choose it?
The word "vicissitude" has a few different meanings. It can mean the quality or state of being changeable, the alternation between opposite or contrasting things, the natural change in nature and human affairs, and more. I wanted to write about love and relationships and I thought "vicissitudes" fit perfectly. Love is complex. Is there anyone out there who hasn't experienced the rollercoaster of love?
After I wrote all of the poems and decided which ones I was using in Vicissitudes I was tasked with curating them in a way that allowed each poem to be powerful on its own while also flowing well as part of the collection. It took me multiple tries to get it just right. It was important to me that the reader felt the ups and downs of the rollercoaster while reading.
Q: Was it challenging to write about something as personal as love?
I think one of the best things about writing poetry, or writing in general, is knowing that I can write about something that seems so unique to me but is relatable to everyone in some way or another. It didn't necessarily feel challenging but I did want to make sure I told the story correctly and honestly. Love is messy. I included poems that were true to what I was feeling at the time even though I'd respond differently now. You know, growth.
Q: Let's talk about the cover.
I am obsessed with the cover and think it is the most beautiful cover in the world!
I partnered with one of my all time favorite artists, Jessica Carballo, for the cover as well as the internal artwork. When I first started writing Vicissitudes I knew I wanted her artwork to be included. She's amazing. It was a no brainer. When she agreed to take on this project I was screaming with joy! Not only does it bring the book to life it transcends it. Vicissitudes is much more than a poetry book - it's art.
When I told Jessica about my idea for the cover, I said I wanted the girl to look like me, I wanted outlines, and bursts of color. I wanted it to stand out compared to The Trichster Diaries which is black and white. We went through different color palettes and I'd circle the ones I liked and crossed out the ones I didn't. It was such a fun process.
We went through a few different options before we landed on this exact cover but my pose was the same. Jessica was inspired by this photograph taken of me by Mina and Enza Photography. It perfectly captured what writing Vicissitudes felt like. Soft yet protective. Vulnerable yet guarded.
Q: There's internal artwork?
There sure is! This might be my favorite part of Vicissitudes. I asked Jessica to pick 10 poems that spoke to her and create artwork for them. I didn't want to see them until she was finished. I wanted absolutely no say in the creative process, unlike the cover where I did. It was important to me that Jessica had 100% creative freedom. I love where Jessica's mind went and I love that she included special details that only I would know.
Q: I'm sure you could talk about Vicissitudes forever and might make another blog post about it in the future. What do you want to say to end this blog post?
I want to express just how much I love this poetry book. The whole process was new for me and completely opened my eyes to new possibilities. Yes, I had published books before but this was unlike anything I'd ever done! Not only was the content completely different, it had artwork, it's a completely different size than my other books, the quality of paper is different, it's this big burst of color, EVERYTHING felt different. I grew so much while completing this collection, I healed parts of me that needed a little extra love, I let go of things I didn't need to hold onto anymore, and I created something with one of my best friends. I'm so proud of it.