Hi everyone! Today, I’m very pleased to introduce to you my blogger friend Marlen from Chicago. She’s not only a blogger extraordinaire at Messages on a Napkin, a woman with impeccable style, and the ultimate queen of layering, but also a super talented poet and author of Ugly People Beautiful Hearts, a collection of over 70 poems and verses “moving between the feelings of loving someone, feeling loss, trusting the night sky, losing your light, resolving that hurt is beautiful, and finding compassion in a stranger’s smile.”
Marlen’s poems are so contemporary, relevant and honest, they really manage to touch my heart on a level I never knew existed, and because I don’t want any one of you to miss out on so much beauty, I asked Marlen to tell me a little bit more about her book and the creative process behind it. Enjoy!
1. Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?
I draw it from a little bit of everything- from songs I hear, from little moments in my life, from other poems I’ve read. Sometimes if the light hits my eyes a certain way I get this whole romantic scene in my head; or if the sound of my boots sound soft enough against the pavement, I start to hear a story in the quick echoes. I find that to keep the creative process going, you have to do two things: 1) Surround yourself with your art and 2) act on it *immediately. *Since I’m a poet I make sure to read poetry almost every day, getting familiar with all the different ways you can work with words and play with imagery. And when I do get an idea or when a pretty sentence forms in my head, I make sure to drop everything and write it down immediately. Usually my instinct is to be all “eh, I’ll write it later” and then I immediately forget it. Some of my favorite poems were ones that I scribbled down super hastily on the backs of receipts! You never know what you’re letting slip away.
2. What made you decide to sit down and actually write your first book?
Well, this was a long time coming- I’ve literally known I was going to do this since the first grade, haha. But wanting to do it and actually doing it are two different things. The thing that finally made me do it was a frank talk with myself. At that point I was working at an office, hating every moment I was forced to create a spread sheet, and making no real strides towards a career I wanted. I was in this self-created rut, and it was obvious I could change it if only I tried. So I asked myself what I really wanted to do. I answered,* to write*. So, I asked,* uh, why aren’t I writing then?*
It was simple: to be a writer I had to write. So I forced myself to sit down and get in the habit of doing just that, every day for a few hours a day. It didn’t matter if I had no inspiration or all my words sounded like crap for the full three hours- it was a habit I had to be diligent in creating in order to succeed. And eventually, it stuck!
3. How did you come up with the title for your book?
It came to me while I was hella tired at two in the morning! It’s funny because everything I write sort of comes out with no real form or purpose. With this book I was just writing poems as they came to me, and when it was all finished I knew I had to pinpoint a theme. And the one thing I was struggling with that year (and it came out in my words) was my realization that we’re all beautiful on the inside and have something wonderful to contribute…but at the same time, we’re sort of terrible people. Myself included. There have been so many times where I was selfish or chose myself over other people, and other times where others hurt me or treated me poorly without hesitation. We’re all ugly people, but we have beautiful hearts.
4. Did you learn anything from writing Ugly people Beautiful Hearts? If so, what was it?
I learned that it’s up to me to get the things that I want. Nothing comes easily- it’s very rare when something falls into your lap by pure luck. For the longest time I thought that being a writer was this lofty dream that I’d never be able to achieve. I’d probably become a teacher or an office manager and just think of what could have been. But I mean…all I had to do was try until it actually happened. It’s still a rough time coming- not even my dad bought my book, and most of my friends just smile in support when I talk about it. But that doesn’t matter all too much to me- this is my beginning and even the small failures are exciting. I have *years *to convince you my words are beautiful. I’ll wear you guys down eventually 😉
5. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you
about their work?
Ahhh so hard to choose just one! I love classic books, but my favorite writers are all poets. It amazes me how much emotion they can capture in just a few short sentences. My absolute favorite is Tyler Knott Gregson, followed by Shinji Moon, Christopher Poindexter, and Iain S. Thomas. Most of them write short, 5-12 sentence poems, but the way they describe small interactions- seemingly insignificant scenes- is border-line heart-breaking, that’s how beautiful it is. I’ve reread their books ten
times over and I’m still not bored with their words.
6. What book are you reading at the moment?
Right now I’m reading Lang Leav’s poetry book, Love & Misadventure. They’re short five sentence poems that rhyme, and they take you from the beginning of a relationship up to the end. It’s really cute and touching.
7. You give so much valuable fashion advice on your blog and on external websites, would you ever consider writing a book about fashion?
I would love to! I was actually tinkering around with the idea of creating an ebook on how to find your personal style, but that’s more on the back burner right now. Though now that you have me thinking about it…it does sound pretty fun to put together, doesn’t it? Finding a style that fits you is something really hard to do, and it would be lovely to help navigate some women on how to find a look that fits how they feel on the inside.
8. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Surround yourself with other inspiring writers! Find your peers and create friendships with the ones you truly admire and respect. This whole endeavor seemed so big and scary and lonely when I started out- it felt like I was working with a pipe dream. But when I took my words to Instagram and found a dozen other people working on the same dream I was- and working *hard- *I became re-inspired. All of a sudden, it all felt more tangible. Not only did I admire the way their minds worked when it came to words, but I also wanted to be as driven and relentless as they were. It seemed like they were writing all day long, and then working on a thousand other side projects that had to do with words. It made me feel like I was doing too little, and I could definitely handle more work. Who needs sleep, right? I’m grateful for their push, but also for their friendship and encouraging words. It’s always really nice to hear that your work matters
Watch out for this talented lady, or you might just miss the rise of the next Emily Dickinson.
Ugly People Beautiful Hearts is now available on Amazon for instant download.