When Sarah and I first started blogging more than a year ago now, one of the first blogs we followed was Emily's. We were immediately drawn in by her honest and enlightened poetry and we've completely devoured every poem she's written since. Emily's poetry collection, No Need to Speak, was published last year and her poems have also appeared in places such as The Somerville Times, Ibbetson Street Press, The Endicott Review and she's even been interviewed on New Mexico's National Public Radio.
I wanted to interview Emily (also known as Nilly, a childhood nickname) not only so that more people could read her work, but to also show just how humble and bright the poet behind the words is. In our interview, Emily gave me mountains of beautiful thoughts to work with and unfortunately, I can't fit it all into one post, but here's just a glimpse of Emily and her work:
When/why did you start writing?
I would say I have been writing my whole life (as people usually say when asked when they started doing whatever hobby/passion/etc.) But since it is not physically possible for a 1-hour-old baby to pick up and hold a pencil, I cannot say that. What I do know, however, is that I started to write A LOT in elementary school. I was the girl with the notebook, sitting alone by the bench in the playground.
My mom would take me to this store (which I completely forget the name of now…well, it’s out of business anyways), but I would buy these hard cover blank books. My books made me feel special, and gave me the feeling that I had something to bring to the table. Also, my stories made my teachers so happy, and I loved how my creativity was doing that. And eventually that is what I connected my books with. When I wrote, I made people happy. I liked making people happy.
Is there anything that you've written in the past that you just laugh at now because it's just so ridiculous?
Oh, absolutely. In just about every form of writing too…As a child I wrote children’s stories. Let me give you a few titles to give you an idea…“The Cat Who Could Play Soccer”, “The Cat Who Lost its Tail”, “The Cat Who Lost Its Tail Part 2”, “The Class Pet”, “Cats and Kittens”, “Cats”. (Notice a theme?) Then I wrote poetry that rhymed…(which I thought was my specialty as a child).Very, very cliché, and horrific. I have them stashed away somewhere. I won’t throw them away though, because I think they are too funny. But, I am still hiding from them.And novels? I have started so many novels that it’s quite funny. I could never get past page 8. They weren’t going anywhere.
What's your favorite part about writing?
I have three favorite parts, but they can be intertwined, so I think they can count as one!
But with that being said, I love how writing connects people, causes people to see things in new ways, and holds people and emotions in place.
Do you have a schedule or set writing goals?
Well, as far as writing poetry goes, I write a poem every day. What I usually do is write a poem on the notepad app on my IPhone right before I go to bed. Now, most of the time it isn’t a finished poem. But it is at least a few lines, an image, or an idea. Later on I put them all on word documents on my computer (which I organize by month in a poetry folder), and week by week I finish and edit the poems. This is very beneficial for me in terms of keeping up with my poetry blog because this way I have a number of poems to choose from. I try to post on my blog every Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday.
Since I have collected so many poems since my first poetry book, I have decided to put together another one. I plan on this book being longer than 100 pages, or close to it. My working title for this book is The Mechanics of Happy.
I am also working on a YA novel, which is currently on pause because I am doing so many other things at once. The working title for this is Give it Time. (Though, I really think it will change once I write more.)
What advice do you have for those who wish to start writing, but don't know where to begin?
I will say what so many have said to me in the past and keep saying to me now:
I know that sounds so obvious, and doesn’t really sound helpful at all. But there is actually a lot of meaning behind that piece of advice. Keep writing despite all odds, opinions, rejection, doubts, time limitations, or anything at all. Continue to go on, no matter what people tell you. If someone tells you that you are a “bad writer” or critique you in some way, don’t stop. Believe me, I have had my fair share of doubts and criticism, and I know I have a whole lot more coming my way.
If someone likes your writing this does not mean everyone will like your writing.
If someone does not like your writing this does not mean everyone will not like your writing.
It took me a long time to come to terms with these two statements above. And many writers will struggle with this too. But this is what you need to do:
Check out your local libraries to see if they are having writing groups, poetry readings, or anything of the like. Explore the Internet, start groups, join groups, get into blogging. If you go to school, make connections there. Ask, ask, ask, talk, talk, talk. Make connections everywhere you go. Tell people you write. Ask people if they write. Get people to read you. Ask people for their opinions. It is important to expose yourself to a range of difference audiences and to people who respond well AND not respond well to your writing.
Then, after all of this, send your stuff out to magazines. Go to www.poetsandwriters.com and check out the classifieds. Poke around and see if you connect with anything you see. Then go for it.
What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?
I want to show people that no matter what they are told in life, they are good enough, and that they have the power within themselves to achieve whatever they work towards. I hope that my writing connects people, inspires people, and drives people too.
Check out Emily's Blog, NillyWrites, and be sure to give her some love.
Do you know someone that has a cool story to tell? Do YOU have a cool story to tell?
(*hint* the answer is yes, you do have a story because everyone has a story) Then I want to hear it.
Send me an email at email@example.com
Let’s have tea :)