May 9, 2020
pi&anne is a published author and artist. She is very prominent on Instagram @pi.and.anne where she posts short snippets of all her work. I would recommend that everyone take a look at her book On Things Of Life. It is a recommended piece of work by everyone.
James: When did you start writing? Why did you start?
pi&anne: I would like to define writing not solely as putting letters onto paper or a screen, but as having an affinity to create and express in a way so oneself and others are inspired to think, and to discover new doors and perspectives. Alice has not been shrinking and growing without reason. I have been “writing” stories since I can remember, though I had chosen different mediums than words and language. I preferred drawing, played imaginative roles, and let imagination run. The words are the “result” the reader has in front, yet the story behind their creation is more than sitting down and typing. The writing starts much earlier. When it comes to poetry, I did some attempts as a teenager, forgot it, and started anew [in] 2013.
James: How often do you write? And how do you find the time?
pi&anne: I write all the time. Haha. I use my phone and a simple text app, and anytime I have an idea, I pick it. On public transportation, in the morning after waking up, drinking my coffee, before I fall asleep. It is rather a question of slowing me down and being able to shift focus to the other important things in life.
James: How do you stay motivated when writing?
pi&anne: Usually, I do not have to take any action to keep me motivated to write, because it flows. And in case it does not, I have found the following two things helpful: I simply start to write about how it feels like to be stuck, not caring about form, style [or] anything. Call it free write or creative writing. I use affirmations that my worth as a writer or person does not depend on the amount or frequency of me writing anything, because creation is like a river, and there will be spring again, and the ice will melt. The words will flow again. I can trust the nature of the cycle.
James: What inspires you to write?
pi&anne: Anything. Truly. Foremost, I use writing as a tool for expression and discovery of my own emotions and thought processes, to combine physical feeling with rational thinking. There is never an end to exploring all the nuances and shades of how I react to outer stimuli and what I bring to it, too. Because how we see and digest the world is highly influenced by how we filter due to our experiences. I am so damn curious about all these filters. Learning and finding new angles to things fills me up with fervent, persistent fire. You could summarise, it is what makes this world and life tick which inspires me to write, and write, and write. Like a scientist. On the ground of language. With a philosophical nudge.
Talking about inspirational ingredients. Coffee is the main one, in the morning, haha. As are cuddles, safe encounters with people, and calming company. Sometimes a blanket, a tea or water and some music. Also, chats with friends!
James: Do you base characters off yourself and other personas you are familiar with?
pi&anne: There is always something of me within any poem I write. I usually write out of my perspective, and when not, I try to make sure to still make it clear that this is one possibility, one variation of how it can be. I do not like to write generalisms or to create boxes and labels, so while my experiences might colour everything I write, I try to make sure readers notice these are MY colours. They do not have to be theirs.
James: What marketing strategies did you use when trying to sell your book?
pi&anne: This is an interesting question when it comes to being rather artist than seller. One of my former employers told me after three months of training in his department, I shall please do anything but marketing, and he was right. I will always tell the truth about a product, downplay its importance bearing relation to the whole picture in mind, refrain from exaggeration, and insist on quality talking for itself.
So what I did is allowing me to mess up with this, as I did not feel at all comfortable with the whole selling process. I have shared stories on Instagram about the book and where to get it. I did a clean giveaway there, without any huge or complex conditions for entering it. There is a nice linktree to the sites where you can get my book/s in my bio. I will frequently tell people in my Instagram story I have a poetry collection…. Then I will wait until the universe discovers my worth and showers me with thousands of sales.
Just kidding. Oh well. My aim was to be published and to make myself and some people happy. I am health-wise limited in my capability to do large work where high levels of concentration and focus is necessary. If you ask me, this is [the] reason why many talented writers will never be discovered in a large setting, because self-presentation and self-confidence, doing a ton of preparations and steps already for creating the book itself and its layout, and energy is needed which some do not have to this extent.
In addition, having a chronic illness adds a lot of cars parking on your sidewalk of life, and other people will not notice them as hindrances (because they are not for them). Inclusion means there should be thoughtful accessibility provided to certain things/services/routines/places which you do not have because of your limitations. Even doing something like this interview needs a lot of mental labour on my side. So acknowledging the fact what I am able to do and that this is very much less than is expected for successful marketing is a matter of keeping in mind what my aim is – and while it is nice to reach many people, my health will always be the priority.
James: What is the process of publishing a book like?
pi&anne: It is tedious, fluctuates between it-sucks-on-many-levels and oh-wow-this-will-be-the-best-experience-ever, and needs a lot of perseverance, when patience is not available. Hm. Often, the writing itself is not as much the problem as the process of deciding how to publish and where, meaning if to self-publish or not, on which platform/with which publisher. You are almost done with writing, maybe editing and grammar checking? Research is needed about publisher’s conditions, about marketing (!), possible additional services (like cover layout, editing, grammar check), their reach, presence in local stores, presence at national/international book fairs, simplicity of the process, providing of a ISBN, marge, printing quality, sizing of books, hardcover or softcover, service if there are any problems, access and availability to international readers, and more. Take it all with a grain of salt and see what you are able and willing to do on your own, and for what you will need help. And your own mission.
Once you settle for a publisher, you need their data for sizing and layouting. Or they do it for you (for a fee). In any way, a lot of communication and/or fight with your software of choice will happen. A first copy to check printing and appeal (it is stunning how much of a difference it makes to imagine how it will look like, and to have it in your hands!). Finally, or even while you are in [the] process of doing all this, choose your channels for marketing.
Coming back to – it is tedious, fluctuates and needs perseverance!
James: Can you share one editing tip?
pi&anne: I have found it very helpful to find first a kind of red line of development for the book (foremost when it is a poetry book), similar to the development of a novel, starting with a riddle, a problem, a question, and then working your way through various variations and options to a conclusion or a closure. Also, within each poem, often less is more. It does not hurt to copy poems and try out various versions of detailing, description and coming back to one and the same question: what is the nature of its message? Do form, wording and layout underline it?
James: What is the most crucial part when writing a book?
pi&anne: I have told myself frequently: “Do not make publishing the book your only goal, stay with your joy of creating, take your time, do your thing, keep being true to yourself and what feels right for you, it will come together. Everything. Trust the process. Trust yourself. Trust your voice.”
James: What is your main writing goal?
pi&anne: Finding answers to my own questions of life. I think, self-awareness is the key to having the possibility and strength for choice and change. Writing is for me art therapy, occupation, and finding my own voice. If anyone who reads my poetry is inspired to do the same, or to use my words as [a] starting point for their own exploration of living in this world, existence and human-ness, then I have done something good, and enough.
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