It’s Here

I sit here at 3:58 the day before I plan to launch Undertow. I’ve spent the last 2 years
writing, cutting, illustrating, editing, dreaming.

I’ve had doubts:
“Can I do this?”
“Will people like it?”

And, I’ve had determination:
“I know these words need to be heard.”

Undertow is so different than Waves. Waves was a ripple in the ocean on a calm day. Waves was beautiful, and angelic. Undertow is intense, it is powerful, it is hopeful and strong. I remember when I released Waves I was terrified, it was my first time sharing my writing on a large scale, and I was so afraid that people wouldn’t like it, or would hold my words against me somehow. But now, now I truly don’t care. And, I don’t say that in a way that means I don’t care about my supporters. I mean, I don’t care if people like it, because I like it. I believe in it. And, I know, the right people will hold this book and feel at home.

I’ve decided to stay with the ocean theme, because it’s one of the only places I’ve ever felt 100% at peace. It’s a place that means so much to me, and I will continue to dedicate my books to the ocean for as long as it feels right to do so.

It took me a while to decide on the title “Undertow.” At first I considered “Riptide” and then realized Vance Joy’s song would literally flood any millennials mind when they read it. I considered “Shipwreck” and “Shoreline” and basically every other ocean word. But none of them fully encapsulated what I think Undertow is.

=This defines my experiences over the last few years. From outer glance, I was moving in a linear, upwards motion. But under the surface, there were riptides, and they tried with all their might to pull me under the surface at times. They groped my legs as I stood on the shore, begging me to anchor down to the bottom of the ocean. Writing Undertow was proof to myself that I could fight the currants, I could stay on the shore.

And now, here I am, completely in awe that the experience of creating Undertow is coming to a close. I’ve come to realize, I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing. Each book I write holds so much, and if it can be a vehicle to help another person feel less alone in the weight of the ocean, that’s all I can really hope for.

I love you all, I wish I could do another book release party, but I know we’ll all celebrate in our own ways together. I’ve launched an online store where you can purchase Undertow, and feel free to use the discount code PRE15 at checkout for a pre-order 15% off. Printing is set to be finished in November, and shipping will occur in December (Aiming for before Christmas). It’s unexpected if COVID19 will cause shipping delays at that time, but rest assured I will do everything in my power to get Undertow into your hands before Christmas.

If you have any questions about Undertow, when shipping will occur, or any other questions for me, feel free to reach out!

xo

Why I Stopped Writing my Second Book

I’ve been wanting to write this for a while but wasn’t sure where to start.

My first book, Waves, took years to write. It was a bundle of poetry and prose written over the span of 7 years. It was a representation of personal torment and growth. Honestly, it came easily. It was burning inside my chest and I didn’t feel relief until I had it all on paper and in the hands of readers.

The words came easily. I would have dreams of ideas for poems and cool phrases and metaphors would come to me often. Of course, it was a process to write the book in its entirety, but overall the process was seamless.

But- here’s what I never talk about when discussing my writing- It kills me and brings me to life simultaneously. While I’m writing, I isolate myself behind closed doors with headphones on and dive into the darkest corners of my mind. Truly, it’s a scary place to be. But, it provides me with compelling content.

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if my writing makes me sick, or better. If it provides me serenity or traps me in a nightmare. And the conclusion I have come to is that it does both. I turn into almost a zombie when I’m writing; not showering, sitting at my desk, or more often in bed, writing and deleting and writing and deleting… I forget to go outside, forget to experience life because I’m so consumed with writing about it.

All of that being said, I’ve been taking a bit of a break from writing my new book, Undertow. Partly because I have to go out and experience things before I have content to write about, and partly because I’m so tired of writing about the past. It’s exhausting and re-traumatizing, to say the least.

Here’s what I’ve been trying to do instead of write
(in hopes that it will give me inspiration when I’m ready to write again) :

  • Seeing friends. Instead of isolating myself and writing, I’ve been trying to connect with old friends and make new ones. Each person I meet inspires me in some way and contributes to new ideas.
  • Focussing on wellness. When I write, I get into a state where I literally forget to take care of myself, no matter how hard I try to remember. It just isn’t on my radar. So lately I’ve been using this break to focus on nutrition, work & relationships.
  • Planning activities that will inspire me. I’ve been planning trips, social events, even just listening to new music, reading new books (different types and genres than I usually read) and watching new movies and tv shows to spark inspiration.
  • Actually experience my life instead of writing about it: This is a big one. For a while, I was so consumed with writing that I rarely left the house except to go to work and do groceries. Now I’m seeking out experiences, staying present in moments instead of thinking about writing of them later and focussing on goals aside from my next book.

This isn’t to say that there won’t be another book, it’s just going to take longer than I initially thought.

Here’s to living, and experiencing.

TJ

Another Article I found Interesting:

https://www.bustle.com/articles/66871-5-reasons-why-writers-should-take-a-break-from-writing-every-now-and-then-and-what

Books That Have Recently Changed My Life

Simply put- these books changed my outlook on life, my brain and my perception of absolutely everything.

I’ll keep this short and sweet.

  1. The Desire Map- Danielle LaPorte
    This book feels like a gift for my soul each time I open it. With words that I believe can ring true to any soul searcher, LaPorte invites you on a journey of creating a life you desire based on how you want to FEEl vs. what you want to DO/Accomplish.

    “I ONLY WANT TO HIT MY TARGETS IF THE AIMING AND THE HITTING BOTH FEEL GOOD.” 

    41s6-jozs6L._SX408_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
    Buy it here


  2. Take Me With You- Andrea Gibson
    This book holds your hand during the worst of days. Filled with Gibson’s best, most raw and hopeful poems, it is sure to welcome you in for a warm embrace whenever you need it. Though many readers criticized Gibson for the “messy” format and grammatical incorrectness, I believe the heart and soul of these poems make up for it all 10 fold.  Bonus #1: Small enough to take everywhere. Bonus #2. Cute illustrations!

    AndreaBook_2048x2048.png
    Buy it here


  3. UNFU*K YOURSELF: GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD AND INTO YOUR LIFE- Gary John Bishop

    This book gives it to you straight- no bullshit/no dancing around the truth/ no sugar coating. Though Bishops “tough love” approach may not be for everyone, it was insightful and reaffirmed what I already believed- If you want it bad enough, you’ll go for it. If you don’t go for it, you don’t want it badly enough. A read that encouraged me to get out of the ruts and limitations that I set for myself.

 

41HAaBdPbgL._SX309_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
Buy it here

 

A letter not sent

I’ve been going through some old writing, from a harder time in my life. A time when I was treading water…trying to stay above water. I’ve been reading the words, remembering how I felt, and being so thankful that I’m not feeling so empty these days.

I’ve decided to post some of my most vulnerable pieces of writing. Not my best pieces, but the pieces that hurt my heart to write, and even more to read years later.

Here is a letter to my grandmother, not sent.

TO MY GRANDMOTHER

“Tonight marks two years. Two years since I graduated high school and two years since your soul let go. I remember that night like yesterday…I knew you were sick, I visited you a few months prior and saw your beautiful white curls fall and saw the light go out in your eyes. That night, I walked onto the stage, I accepted my diploma. I made it. I made it in spite of the depression. in spite of the heartache, the losses and the cruelty of people. I reflected one the four years that I hated so much and for some reason wished they weren’t over yet. I looked into the crowd and saw my mom, her bright eyes full of hope. Hope for me, and you. Hope that I would always remember this night and hope that you would be able to see me succeed in my life. I walked off the stage, sat beside her and held her hand. I thought of you and wished you could be there sitting with us to share that moment. I remember after graduation I went home and had a drink, I sat and took my life in. I felt panicked…as if something bad was happening. I tossed and turned trying to sleep that night, I woke up from a dream of you. You were swimming in the ocean, the sun was shining and so were you. Half asleep I heard the phone ring. I knew you were gone. You went into my dreams to show me you’re happy now, you’re shining now. My mom knocked on my door and my heart sank knowing that the light would now be gone from her eyes too…To lose your mother must be the most difficult thing imaginable. I hugged her and I promised her everything would be okay. I kept that promise, I got my shit together. But most days I miss you so deeply that it numbs my heart and it hurts my soul. You were the single person I felt truly knew me. I hope you’re swimming in the ocean with the sun beaming on your fair skin. I love you more than I ever expressed and I promise I will keep your daughter safe.”

My heart feels heavy and light reading this. To my 17 year old self- you are so strong. To my 17 year old self- you are going to be okay. To my 17 year old self- do not look back. To my 17 year old self- live, live, live.

ffceddfbf700fd8d8e0b800c3ca1cee2--watercolor-beach-watercolor-painting.jpg

Top 3 Spoken Word Poems by Andrea Gibson

Spoken word poetry (specifically by Andrea Gibson) is one of my greatest influences in my writing. I’ve been a fan of Gibson for years. Gibsons’ poems are my number 1 favourite purely because of the emotion, the shaking voice, the honesty of it all. Aside from the spoken part, the writing is absolutely chilling. With metaphors I never would imagine. My feet enter Gibson’s shoes each time I listen.

You could say Gibson is my favourite spoken word poet, but that wouldn’t be giving them enough  credit. Gibson advocates for LGTBQ+ people. They advocate for equality and for love and mental health. They are the purest form of art I have heard so far.

Here are my top 3 favourite poems by Gibson in order.

  1. Angels of the Get Through“Say this is what the pain made of you. An open open open road. An avalanche of feel it all. Don’t ever let anyone tell you, you are too much. Or it has been too long. Whatever keeps the stutterer from stuttering when he sings a song, you are made of that thing.”
  2. Your Life, Gibsons newest release is so pure and rings so true to not only myself, but so many LGTBQ+ people. It explores the struggle of a child who doesn’t connect with the gender/sexuality they feel they should be.
  3. I sing the Body Electric, Especially When My Power’s Out

    “The day my ribcage became monkey bars
    For a girl hanging on my every word
    They said “you are not allowed to love her”
    Tried to take me by the throat
    And teach me I was not a boy
    I had to unlearn their prison speak
    Refuse to make wishes on the star on the sheriff’s chest
    I started wishes on the stars in the sky instead.”

    ed1987479c95b06d03a7577563dd0bf7

5 Poetry Books to Read When You’re Struggling

I’m an avid poetry book reader. I have read some that I love, and some that didn’t resonate with me. Here are my top 5 poetry books I read when I’m struggling with mental illness (in no particular order.)

  1. The Sun and Her Flowers– Rupi Kaur
    Words cannot express my love for this author. She covers such a wide spread of topics from heartbreak to immigration and loss. Reading this book was like traveling the world in her shoes. I could feel her pain. Right when I thought she couldn’t top Milk and Honey, she proved me so wrong. And I’m glad she did.

    tumblr_ox9kiqeGpN1w6k0evo1_1280.jpg

  2. Pansy – Andrea Gibson
    Andrea Gibsons ability to perform her spoken word so humbly while still wrenching my chest has always amazed me. I was pleasantly surprised by their book. I truly didn’t think the spoken versions of their poetry could translate onto pages without seeming empty. I was 100% wrong. This book is like a big hug when the world is crumbling around you. These poems are your night time screams into your pillow. They hit you in the face and you’ll surely go back for more.

    “They’re telling you to blend in, like you’ve never seen how a blender works, like you’ve never seen the mess from the blade.”

  3. Become  – Emery Allen
    This was the first poetry book I ever fell in love with. It’s imperfectly perfect and will surely engulf you in one breath. It’s simply about growing up…becoming. Great for a nostalgic kinda feel.
    tumblr_oqesk907Y91qba6mzo1_500.jpg
  4. Depression and Other Magic Tricks – Sabrina Benaim
    This book intrigues me. The writing is spectacularly odd. The depth of the symbolism is what kept me turning the pages. It’s perfect for anyone struggling to be. She creates a friendship with the reader and reminds you you’re never alone.
    “I am sleepwalking on an ocean of happiness I cannot baptise myself in”

  5. Neon Soul – Alexandra Elle
    A hopeful collection of prose and poetry. Elle creates a sense of undeniable hope. These poems are gentle and undeniable inspiring. This book is a healing experience paired with beautiful illustrations. This book should be in everyones self-care tool box.
    “Sometimes you’ll 
    be too magical to contain 
    in a human heart.”