1. What inspired you to write your book?
I was originally working on my thesis for graduate school about social interactions, but when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I returned home to help her through chemo. The book naturally became a mix of poems from that experience and poems that I originally intended to write about. The overall theme of the book speaks to the uncertainty that each day holds. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow, which is mirrored in my book - you never know what's next when you turn the page.
2. What is it about?
It's about humanity and the intricate care as well as the carelessness with which we treat each other. It's about cancer, death, veterans, anti-Semitism, familial relations, etc. It's about the world we live in now and how each individual has a personalized relationship to their place in this world and to each other.
3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?
I hope it will be a haven for people to visit when they feel misunderstood or are having trouble putting their feelings into words. So many people have dealt with cancer or are suffering or are having a hard time connecting with others and have an even more difficult time finding an outlet for all of those feelings. I hope readers feel less alone when they read it and can return to it whenever they're feeling that way.
4. What advice do you have for writers?
Spend less time on social media talking about how much you're writing and more time writing for yourself. Don't worry about what people think about your art and your words - what other people think about you and your work is none of your concern. Don't write for other people, write for yourself. If it happens to affect other people, rejoice. If it doesn't affect other people, still rejoice.
5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
In 2012, when I was applying to graduate school, I was applying to both MFA Writing programs and MA Journalism programs. Whenever I told people that, particularly older folks, they'd say, "why are you applying to the two fields that are dying?" Obviously, meaning newspapers and publishing houses. I had one older female writer tell me that nobody needs editors, which was amazing because her book was littered with spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. Book publishers allow writers to continue making their art without having to worry about the business involved. Newspapers serve as a platform for writers to expand their outreach and allow us to establish our credibility and maybe even receive a paycheck.
Now, four years from when people told me that newspapers are going to be all electronic and that editors will be extinct, these platforms and career choices still exist. Conversely, I think a lot of writers are fed up with the politics in the writing community. It used to be that if your words had merit, they were published. Now a lot of writers are only getting published in major publications because they're great at making connections, which is disheartening, but has led to wonderful websites like Medium where you may post your piece, albeit for no profit, which is another issue. The caveats for being a writer are ceaseless. We experience surpluses and pitfalls from these advances (personally, I'm ecstatic that I have a laptop and can hit "delete" whenever I make a mistake and not have to start the entire page over as was the case with typewriters.), but I love the feel of books. I love the smell of books. I love writing marginalia and sticking post-it notes in books and I think a majority of others feel the same way. I still see men in suits reading the Times (the print version!) on the subway. I loved the process of creating this book with Thought Catalog. It was wonderful to have a dialogue with a team of people who believed in what I am doing and was okay with sending me several variations of artwork until I believed it was worthy of the cover. So, where do I think the book publishing industry is heading? To the printing press.
6. What challenges did you have in writing your book?
I didn't have any challenges in writing the book. All of these poems flowed out of me and felt like they needed to be written, edited, and perfected. I think the most difficult part of creating a book is not in the creation of it, but rather, in releasing it. I had a hard time letting these go because it feels so finite. I enjoy revisiting some poems like old friends and seeing how they've changed. Now I guess I'll have to visit them like close friends whom I already know well and have little to catch up on. Either way, I'm elated that they exist, are living their own lives in the world, and perhaps making new friends too.
7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
If you can only afford to buy one book this month and you want it to be mine, please just shoot me an email and I'll send it to you for free. Nobody should have to struggle with picking one book a month and I'm honored that anyone even wants to read my work. But if you're perusing Amazon or iBooks and would like to purchase one singular poetry book, consider choosing mine if you know a loved one with cancer and are frustrated by it. Consider buying my book if you feel a disconnect in humanity right now and it makes you feel a bit helpless. Consider buying my book if you're having a hard time with the monotony of everyday. Consider buying my book if you enjoy or are irate about being human.
Being Human is available in paperback or Kindle here: https://www.amazon.com/Being-Human-Julia-Gari-Weiss/dp/069272253X.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016.
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