IndieView with Brynn Taylor, author of (You Broke Me) Open

I believed for a long time that I would eventually write a book, but when I saw how much this particular subject of toxic relationships was helping other people, I knew I had to create (You Broke Me) Open. 

Brynn Taylor – 15 July 2017

The Back Flap

Reading Brynn’s poetry is like reading the diary you never took the time to write. She starts by confessing how she never told the truth in her own childhood diary, to telling the completely candid tale of her lost lover and her journey to finding her true self. Through poems like The Art of Broken Pieces, Corrosion, In Your Hands, and Tough Love, she’ll make you get in touch with all the feelings you’ve always known you had, but just couldn’t express out loud.

About the book

What is the book about?

The book walks you through a toxic relationship from beginning to end. It is a very personal journey of trying to find yourself through a loved one before you are ready, and constantly being manipulated and ridiculed in the process. I carefully and meticulously describe all the times I felt broken and incomplete, both before and during the relationship. I talk about falling madly in love and trying so hard to fix myself, while simultaneously fixing my shattered relationship. It is called (You Broke Me) Open because it took constant struggle to realize that my damaged pieces are what make me whole, despite being told that I was not “enough” for somebody; I just first had to break free from the person I loved more than anything to figure out I was more than enough for myself.

When did you start writing the book?

I began writing poetry shortly after my break up in May 2016, and many of those poems found their way into the book. Although I didn’t quite have the idea for the book in mind yet, I had been in many relationships during high school and college, and kept both handwritten journals and notes in my phone through all my darkest days. I used many of those journal entries and notes when I created this book. I guess you could say that it was a long time coming, because I always had a hard time expressing my emotions and used writing as a coping mechanism throughout my life. So in 2016, I sat down with a pen and paper and turned all those broken thoughts and ramblings into poems.

How long did it take you to write it?

It surprisingly only took about 6 months to physically sit down and write/compile my poems. I did prep work, and research before and after but I had been a writer long before I began writing poetry, so I had a lot to work with. Writing also became a lot easier for me after my last relationship ended because I was so suppressed by the man I was with. Words flowed through me pretty freely the second it ended and the book was completely finished and being sold a year later.

Where did you get the idea from?

I had always been compelled to help people. Before my last relationship even began, I had an idea to create my blog, Brynnspiration. It was meant to be an advice column, but also a sort of self-published diary for people my age to relate to. After the relationship ended, that same idea turned into something a bit more cathartic and meaningful. I believed for a long time that I would eventually write a book, but when I saw how much this particular subject of toxic relationships was helping other people, I knew I had to create (You Broke Me) Open.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

This was my debut poetry book, so what I struggled with the most was comparing myself to other poets. I bought many poetry books before I began the process of creating my own. I had only recently began writing for online publications, such as Elite Daily and Thought Catalog, so I took on this challenge early in my writing career. However, I was able to find my own unique style through writing each and every day, I just had to get past the insecurity of not being good enough. When you release something so personal, it’s hard not to wonder what people will think, but once I stopped worrying, I struggled a lot less.

What came easily?

Most of the actual writing came very easily. Like I mentioned, writing was always something that I did, just never something I frequently shared. After my relationship ended, I was a lot more open to sharing my struggles with the world. Hearing positive feedback from people helped keep me encouraged, and coming up with ideas of what to write was never that difficult because I was constantly thinking about words I wanted to say, and finding inspiration after being lost for such a long time. I think that when you find solitude in writing, and reading the work of other writers, it comes very naturally. I was just writing about any and every feeling I had during my relationship, so it never felt like work. It had been so difficult for so long to express myself, but something about this topic just clicked.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

It’s all about myself and my last boyfriend. I’ve written a few fun and fictional pieces here and there which you can find on my blog, but for the purpose of this book, I kept everything very, very real and close to home. While I have written a few articles about my relationship, a lot of them were more so the lessons that I learned POST break up. I wanted this book to include some of those lessons, but show the darker sides of the relationship. I hope by being completely candid, it will show people that it takes a lot of heartache to reach the point where you finally learn something.

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?

R.M. Drake, Tyler Knott Gregson, and Rupi Kaur have all been HUGE inspirations for me. They are all amazing poets, and all have at least one book out. Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey sits on my nightstand and I’ve read it at least 10 times. Their poems were the exact light in the dark I needed when I was going through my own struggles, and that is what I wanted my writing to be like for others. I love their realness, and how simple they keep their words, without losing the impact. After I discovered them, I began following every poet I came across on Instagram. I try to read at LEAST 20 poems a day, and write at least one, so Instagram is a great place to do this on a budget. When I come across someone I really like, I will always buy their book if they have one.

Do you have a target reader?

Originally my target reader was the 20-something-year-old female, but since the book’s release, I have had males reach out to me, as well as middle aged women, and they all had different takeaways, which was really exciting for me. I think the book really targets anyone who feels like they are a victim to their relationships, whether that is with a parent, a young love, or even someone they have been married to for years. Everyone moves through life at their own pace, so if someone is looking for some comfort, and wants to feel like they aren’t alone, then this book is for them; especially if they have gone through, or are going through a particularly challenging break up where it seems like the pain will never end.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

My writing process is to NOT focus on writing at all. I like to do yoga, or read poems on Instagram. I also like to drink tea and sit outside, or do anything really, as long as I am completely by myself with zero distractions. Anything along those lines makes me feel reenergized, and that is when I write most of my favorite pieces. Sometimes when my mind is completely still, memories or hidden emotions pop into my head. Whether they are happy or sad, I’ve learned not to suppress them, but instead just write them down and create something out of them. Sometimes if I am on a hot streak I do this daily, but if I feel like I am losing focus, I just change up my routine a bit or take a break for a few days.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

Since this was based on my life, I didn’t really TRY to outline it, but it did end up that way. Most of my thoughts were all jumbled up and out of order, and some of the pieces were written at completely different times, so they didn’t feel like they went together at all. Once I had most of my material completed, I THEN went back to try to organize my thoughts and emotions into some sequential order. Sometimes I would think of a title for a poem before the poem was written, or vice versa. But most of the outlining and chapter/poem titles came at the very end.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

Since the poems sort of each tell their own story, or rather, are their own individual “piece of the puzzle,” I often edited each one as I wrote it. Most of them are short so it was easy to catch any errors. But then when I was reordering everything and typing it up, some things got lost in translation, so I had to proof it several times before it went to the printer.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I love music, but I can’t listen to it when I write since I find it distracting, and I often get too immersed in the song. But sometimes before or after, I’ll want to listen to something where I particularly feel the words. I like songs that would make me think, “How I can express that same thought in my own way?” I love Sara Bareilles, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Beyoncé, and so many other strong female artists. Pretty much any song that is hauntingly beautiful and almost makes you want to cry in public is very inspirational to me.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

I was writing for Thought Catalog, which is an online publishing platform. The online magazine is owned by The Thought & Expression Company, and the site attracts 25 million monthly unique visitors. I was recruited to contribute to the site after publishing a few articles on my own blog that resonated with a similar audience as theirs. After that I wrote for them pretty consistently, until I noticed that they also publish books. From there I worked exclusively with their staff on the whole process.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

Thought Catalog operates under the idea that “all thinking is relevant,” and that is exactly how they always made me feel. They reached out to me when I first began writing, and since then allowed me to express myself however I wanted and write about whatever came to mind. They never made me feel like they were in control, and they never really were. They were simply the guides that I needed, since all I had was an idea with no clue how to see it through. I knew they would be an amazing company to work with, since I had already written so many other pieces for them. They let me be completely involved in the creative process and come up with the idea for the cover art, even though I didn’t have the means to design it myself. Since they had published so many books before mine, they really made it easy for a complete rookie, but at the same time, they made me feel like a professional author.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I had the idea, but a professional designer on the Thought Catalog staff took that idea and made something even better than I could’ve possibly imagined. Honestly, the cover is probably one of my favorite parts of the whole book. All I said to the team at Thought Catalog was take broken pieces of glass and make them into wings, and she made a MASTERPIECE! Thank you, Kristina Johnson Parish. 🙂

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

I am pretty much just winging it. I actually work in marketing full time, for a small nonprofit in Princeton, so I DO have the experience, but I also never wrote a book before this, and don’t really have as much time to put into marketing as I would like. Thought Catalog has been helpful putting me in their newsletter, but social media, word of mouth, and reaching out to bloggers have all been particular focuses for myself. Lucky for me, Thought Catalog will ship books to bloggers and influencers I find that have a large following, even if they are in other countries. I don’t really have the means to do paid advertising, or buy marketing materials, so I am just hoping to get the word out in the very little spare time I have. I am in the process of getting my design certification, and I already had my website/blog to post links on, so I would like to design a campaign around the book where I drive traffic to my site and Instagram page. But for now, I am just growing my following on social media, and doing random “giveaways” to bloggers and followers. I thought about book readings and book conventions, but they are proving to be way too expensive. Hopefully the organic route will start to pay off. 🙂

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

ASK FOR HELP! It is totally okay to have no clue what you are doing; sometimes all you need is an idea and persistence. If I didn’t stumble upon Thought Catalog and find those resources, I would’ve definitely went the self-publishing route. There are so many platforms and people out there, and they are not hard to find in today’s technological world. Utilize Google and Social Media. If you find anything confusing or difficult to use, then reach out to people who already have books published, or contact customer service. I know it can be a pain and you have to jump through a few hoops, or sometimes you don’t get a response, but don’t be discouraged. I knew that publishing a book was always in my future, so I would’ve stopped at nothing. Just stay focused and ask for help if you need it.

About You

Where did you grow up?

I am from Monmouth County, New Jersey.

Where do you live now?

Still in New Jersey. Mercer County.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I can sing, draw, write, dance, make jokes, communicate with any and everybody, cook, and put myself together very well, but I can’t ride a bike. Don’t ever be fooled by appearances, because nobody is perfect 🙂

End of Interview:

For more from Brynn, visit her blog, like her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

Get your copy of (You Broke Me) Open from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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