I think that there is so much value in the human story, and every experience, whether that leaves us distraught or strengthened, is purposeful in helping us grow.
Vanessa Frances – 27 May 2017
The Back Flap
A collection of poetry, prose, and essays, touching on triumph and tragedy, overcoming one’s own demons, abuse, as well as the bitter sweetness of first love and first loss. As with dirty clothes, humans themselves are given the chance to wash, rinse, dry, and fold themselves over and over again. with every cycle, we gain more of our own wear and tear, adding to our own individuality. Everything comes out in the wash.
About the book
What is the book about?
laundry is a collection of poetry and prose that touches on a variety of themes and events that have occurred within the course of my life, such as abusive relationships, bullying, identity struggles, and eating disorders. The work is divided into four different sections, each section being titled after a phase in the cycle of doing your laundry (wash, rinse, dry, and fold) with the titles being symbolic of the human experience throughout our growth, change, and experiences.
When did you start writing the book?
I began writing the book in July of 2016, when I decided that I had amassed enough journals from the past three years of my life to begin telling a story that I felt would be best told through poems that myself and so many others could connect to. The human experience is a complicated thing, and sometimes even the biggest events feel better depicted through a limited amount of words. laundry gradually evolved into both my catharsis and catalyst for finding hope and strength in our pasts, and preparing for our futures.
How long did it take you to write it?
Roughly seven months, including editing.
Where did you get the idea from?
All the inspiration for the poetry came from experiences in my own life, and the experiences that others have felt inclined to share with me. I think that there is so much value in the human story, and every experience, whether that leaves us distraught or strengthened, is purposeful in helping us grow.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
There were specific poems that were inspired by particular people that I found most difficult to write out in full. No matter how much you think that you have grown in your life and have changed since you first felt the feelings that were so poignant, you’re never really ever ready to go back and feel the same things that you thought wouldn’t hurt as much as they did before. None of us are capable of being strong every day of our lives, and going back to take inspiration from moments I was at my weakest were some of the hardest experiences for me.
What came easily?
Poems where I felt satisfied, happy, and inspired came the easiest. Any emotion, whether good or bad, the moment that you are feeling it at the most powerful will always be the most inspiring moment to write something down during. When I knew that I was feeling something particularly powerful and decided to write something down, I knew those poems were the ones that turned out best.
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
In my opinion, the best way to write poetry is to read poetry and learn from past authors. I have a particular liking for Sylvia Plath, Rupi Kaur, Amanda Lovelace, and Zelda Fitzgerald as far as writers go. They all have such varying and particular talents, and are all such interesting women to read about and study regarding their literature. I can only hope to be half as great as any of them.
Do you have a target reader?
I feel that my target population is those who have been through some of the lowest and highest points of life. Relatability and understanding is what I’ve always aimed for, and the greatest poetry seeks to make things both general and relatable to any reader, and that is what I hope I’ve accomplished most.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
Sitting in a quiet place with a cold glass of water, old jazz music, and plenty of mint gum to help wake up my constantly exhausted brain.
Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?
Since laundry is a collection of poetry, after I established what I wanted each section to cover in regards to their themes and significant topics , I organize poems that I write to fit in the sections that I have and order them in a way that reads as both a set of disconnected events, and also a continuous storyline.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
Definitely as I go. I don’t like looking back and seeing a lot of spelling errors or grammar mistakes. I like to keep the process precise.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
Classic jazz, 1950s music, or instrumental tracks of pop songs. Anything that helps keep me focused on what is in front of me without getting too sidetracked.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
I did not. I knew that with poetry it might be best to do the self-publishing route in order to help establish myself and learn a bit more about the publishing industry as a whole.
What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
Going Indie to me had always seemed like that natural choice. Stylistically, I much prefer to do my own thing and create things that I think are different or intriguing, much rather than simply fitting a defined square that some authors get trapped in when going about a predefined publishing route. I think that after doing some self-reflection, I realized that in order to get the most out of my first publishing experience, it would be best to work on my own.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?
One of my best friends, Emily Kucala, is an absolutely incredible graphic designer. After a couple of failed attempts on my own part, I contacted Emily to see if she would mind helping me make the cover into something beautiful that I couldn’t imagine myself being able to create on my own, and it certainly turned into something beyond my wildest expectations.
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
Marketing wise, I’m taking the most modern approach that I can think of. Contacting Indie sites and reviewers, using social media platforms, and simply word of mouth, is what I’m hoping will help the book grow into something that many people will be able to read, love, and enjoy.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
I would advise them to take it slow and not rush into anything that they aren’t ready for. You have to know your limitations and take care of yourself. If you’re overwhelmed or stressed, you won’t be able to do everything that you want to do with the work.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Concord, Massachusetts, but I’ve spent the majority of my life in Orlando, Florida.
Where do you live now?
St. Augustine, Florida.
What would you like readers to know about you?
I would like them to know that just like myself, they are not defined by their experiences. No matter the good or the bad that you go through, you are comprised of a collection of your best and worst, and that is what will make you into a mosaic of a human being; beautiful with different pieces and shards, that come together to be something amazing. Life is all about our choices, and the way that we react to those choices. What we do, say, think, or feel may be constantly changing, but it is constantly shaping who we are.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a new collection of poetry, as well as my first full length novel, which will hopefully be finished at some point. Every step is a process, and I’m trying to be steady with every one of them.
End of Interview:
For more from Vanessa, visit her website.