Poet Interview Series: Ashley Jane
We are delighted to grab some of Ashley Jane’s time to talk about her poetry and writing process. With two books already on her belt Ashley aka breathwords on social media is already a seasoned poet, whom we all can learn from. Read the full interview below to learn more about her source of inspiration, her writing process and her top tips for poets just starting out. Don’t forget to check out her books and follow her on social media to stay up to date with her latest work.
Where do you live and how does it influence your writing?
I live in the US. I do think it influences me in a variety of ways, some as simple as the seasons and weather. I tend to use nature a lot in my writing, and I use the things I am surrounded by for inspiration. I think living here gives me access to a lot of publication tools that may not be available everywhere. I think it also influences my perspective on world events.
When did you first become passionate about poetry and what attracted you to it?
I have loved poetry since I was a little girl. I remember in fourth grade, we were given an assignment to make a poetry collection. I had so much fun reading and illustrating the various poems I had found. After seeing how much I enjoyed it, my mom pulled out her old journals and gave them to me. I spent hours reading through them, and I decided I would start writing too. Poetry is such a powerful tool for working through emotions that we all feel, and without it, I would be lost.
What inspires you to write?
Most of my writing comes from personal experiences: relationships, life changes, living with a chronic illness. But, I also draw a lot of inspiration from my surroundings. I love letting nature guide my poetry. I also enjoy watching people. The psychology background in me loves seeing the different interactions between people and creating a story from that.
Do you publish your Poetry on other channels but Instagram?
I do! I can pretty much be found on most social media under @breathwords. But, I tend to focus mainly on Instagram, Facebook, Lettrs, and Twitter. I also post some poetry and book reviews on my website: www.breathwords.com.
Who is your favorite Instapoet and why?
Oh that is a tough one! There are so many phenomenal poets on there. @alfa.poet is an inspiration. @nicolelyonspoet makes me feel like she has been crawling around in my head. @aseawords has such a creative way with words. @emmablaspoetry turns nature into the most gorgeous metaphors. @lovelylogophile and commasandcuriosity pour their soul into every line. @elowengreypoetry and @a.d.galatis are masters of imagery.
Can you tell us a little about your writing process? How do you come up with poems and how do you edit them?
I start with jotted notes usually. I keep a notebook with me for whenever a line comes to mind or I am inspired by something I see or hear. I usually sit down to write at night. I am a night owl with horrible insomnia, so it is a good way to keep my mind occupied. I co-run a few poetry prompts and participate in others. Sometimes, I use those to guide the poem, and other times I have the poem and use the prompts to sharpen it up. With editing, I re-read a lot, and I bounce a lot off of my friend Matt who does most of the editing for my books.
Do you support yourself through writing financially, or do you have a day job and what is it?
I wish! Unfortunately, poetry doesn’t pay a while lot. I do write my own books, but I also help others with publishing their own books. I help do anything from setting up their self-publishing accounts to creating covers, formatting, editing etc.
I did research and worked as a substance abuse counselor in the prison system for a few years, and I still consult as needed. I also help local companies set up computer systems and troubleshoot.
How many hours a day do you spend writing and what helps you to get into the writing mood?
It varies by day. Sometimes, I am writing off and on all day. Others, I just can’t focus on that. I would say that I spend at least an hour a day, sometimes more. I need it to be mostly quiet when I write, so if there is a lot going on or I am working on another project, then I write less.
And what’s the best moment you’ve had with your poetry so far?
My best moment was publishing my first book and getting so much positive feedback from people who I didn’t know. All the messages from people telling me how much my words resonated with them was just overwhelming in the best possible way.
How do you respond to writer’s block or not knowing what to write?
I think writer’s block is the mind’s way of saying you need a time out. Good poetry is emotional to read and emotional to write. Sometimes, we have to take a step back and breathe. I respond by trying to reground myself. I visit friends, go explore some place new, or just zone out watching bad reality tv. It’s all about taking a moment to let your mind rest. That is usually all it takes for me to push through the block.
What are you working on next?
Currently, I have a few projects. I am working on a book of darker poems, as the last part of my “a breath of poetry and prose” collection. After that, I plan to finish up a more personal collection that will touch on my background and living with lupus. I am also working on something cool and interactive with another poet that we hope to finish this year.
Where would you like to see yourself in three years time.
Happy. Really, that’s it. While I have goals that I would like to accomplish, I have learned that I have a bad habit of setting unrealistic expectations. Stress is the worst enemy of lupus. So, for now, my goal is happy and writing.
What is your strategy you to grow your audience?
I know that the goal is to grow, and I try to be interactive as much as possible. I look at my analytics for post times and such. I schedule things and tailor my feed’s look to be something that appeals to others. But, honestly, my main strategy is to be myself. To encourage and interact with others who share the same passion as me. I think most people who really know me would tell you that I am all about helping others succeed. I think, in doing that, I help myself as well.
What advice would you give young poets just starting out?
Be yourself. Don’t change your style to fit what you think you should be doing to fit in on Instagram. Write from the heart and soul. Your story is important.
Engage with others in a genuine way. Find people whose poetry speaks to you, and comment on their work. Get to know your fellow writers because they will be your biggest supporters.
Do not play the follow/unfollow game. It’s just rude, and it is one of quickest ways to be shunned by the community.
Do you think poetry has a greater purpose?
Absolutely. Poetry is pure soul. Poetry has the power to create change. It comes in so many forms, and it is a powerful tool. Throughout history, poets have led revolutions with their words. And maybe it is re-emerging and becoming popular again because the world needs a little wake up call.
Please see below for links to Ashley Jane’s aka breathwords books and social media links. Be sure to check out her work and follow her on social media to witness this talented poets work.