Meet Jacinta Hudson. She began her writing journey in High School, accumulating a collection of poems that would later become her first book baby, Just a Thought- published in August 2012. Currently, Jacinta is working on a Historical/Love story, (loosely) based on a true story. She is also working on another exciting project that she hopes to have ready in the coming months.
Jacinta loves music, food, sleep and Disney flicks. She is also incredibly passionate about spending time with friends and family.
J: I’d like to thank you for agreeing to chat with me today. I’ve attempted to write poetry in the past (it was never really good), but I’ve always enjoyed reading the poetry of others and I can’t wait to chat with you about your poetry journey.
JH: I’m excited to get going.
J: How old were you when you started writing and how old were you when you started writing poetry?
JH: I always remember writing. Little scenes, song lyrics, beginnings to stories that were never finished…I would write really long letters in birthday and Christmas cards that made everyone laugh.
J: You used to write song lyrics? Did you sing too?
JH: I love to sing, but I don’t “sing”. While I’m doing the dishes, yes. In public, no. None of my songs have any music to them, but I knew when I wrote them that they were meant to be set to music as opposed to poetry. Come to think about it, I think I started writing lyrics before I really settled into poetry. They probably have no real musical structure to them, but I always knew they were songs.
As for poetry, I remember I really started that when I was in high school. I would jot down quick little poems during classes, during a free period, or on the bus home. As every teen does, I had a lot of emotion and that just became my way of getting it out. I never really thought, “hey I want to write poetry,” it sort of just happened.
J: Was it always your goal to publish that poetry one day or how did that come about?
JH: You know, it was one of those “what if” things. I always joked with my bestie that if I got enough of them together, that maybe I’d try and publish a book. It was like “yeah right”, but it always stuck in my mind. Then I cracked it at my brother one day (My brother used to write stories and would always say that I wasn’t a real writer because I “only write poetry”) and showed him all the novel ideas I had that I started along with my collection of over 100 poems. I told him what I said to my bestie and he took it upon himself to help me try. He sat there and went through it with me to check for errors and then we looked up self-publishing to try to get my book published! I wasn’t expecting that at all!
J: That was so sweet of your bother! Give me some details about your poetry book! What’s the title? Can you share a brief synopsis? How many poems did you include?
JH: It’s called “Just a Thought.” I love the title so much, because to me, poetry is very emotional, so it was ironic to bring thought into it. At the same time, I wrote the poems when my emotions became too much, and I couldn’t sort through my thoughts, so it was wordplay. Hehe. It is a collection of 100 poems exactly.
J: That title is so beautiful. How did you pick what poems to include? Was that process hard? Did you need an outline?
JH: They’re all different. Covering loss, want, happiness, and trying to figure out who I was at the time. It was a teenager trying to find her place – in the world and in her own heart.
No outline. I feel like outlines fall into the “thinking” category. For me, with writing, I feel like you have the “feeling” category such as poems and songs and the “thinking” category such as novels, essays, to-do lists, etc. Honestly, I just write my poetry in a word document and put an asterisk between each one. Unless one stands out as one that I REALLY can’t have in the mix, they all go into it. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve so there aren’t many that don’t go into that doc.
J: That’s really interesting! What is the hardest part about writing poetry?
JH: Honesty. I try to stay true to the emotion and emotions are sometimes hard to face. There have been times when I’ve left a poem unfinished for a while because one emotion is clouding another, and I want it to be authentic. I just leave it until I know what fits. The longest a poem has gone unfinished is six months and I usually don’t like to leave a poem unfinished for more than a day because then you run the risk of it not being authentic because your feelings have changed toward the situation you’re writing about. Being truly honest with yourself in that moment can be hard.
J: Wow six months is a long time! Did you feel like you could still be honest with your feelings when you came back to it?
JH: The thing about emotion is that sometimes it’s really clear at the time because you are dead smack in the middle of it. However, sometimes, especially if you’re dealing with more than one thing at a time, it’s just a mess of chaotic emotion and it’s overwhelming. While you know exactly how you “feel” in those times, it’s really hard to put it on paper if you can’t narrow it down.
That particular poem I referenced…I was pissed off and I don’t handle anger well. I kept coming back to it and trying to work out what the last line was. I didn’t want it to be harsh and blunt, but I couldn’t find the right words. Once I came out the other side of the emotion it was easier to find the words I wanted. (Don’t worry, I wasn’t pissed off for six months, it just took a while to get just the right words for the last sentence haha.)
J: Haha, I get it. That makes sense and I go through similar issues when I’m writing. What is the best part about writing poetry?
JH: Ah, the best part…Honesty. Letting that emotion go and putting it on paper. The moment when you realize that you took something hard and heavy to deal with and made something constructive and comforting from it which you’ll only get if you’re honest. Particularly when you can read it back later and FEEL that same emotion. When you put that much heart into it, it’s totally worth it.
J: So, honesty is like a double-edged sword for you. Both hard and rewarding. How long was it from when you started writing poetry in high school to when you held the final copy of your poetry book in your hands?
JH: I think honesty is a bit of a double-edged sword for a lot of people. Risk and reward. It can just as easily bring people together as it can tear apart. That’s why it carries so much weight.
Around ten years. I finished writing the poems shortly after high school and then there was a bit of a gap where I didn’t do anything with it, and then I got it published. Weirdly, I have another Word doc with more poems in the making. I hope to publish book two in the next year or two. For that one, I managed to write double the number of poems in half the time haha.
J: Awesome! I’m looking forward to it. What was the publishing process like? Did you do the cover and editing yourself? On what platform did you decide to publish?
JH: Ah publishing…I wouldn’t recommend doing things the way I did them. As I said, my brother helped me. We basically spent an afternoon looking on Google for answers to questions we didn’t know we needed to ask haha.
J: Questions like what?
JH: We looked up publishing and poetry and discovered what traditional publishers wouldn’t publish poetry, especially as a debut. Then, we moved onto self-publishing. Did you know that cost money?! I didn’t! I learned that self-publishers that charge you a fee to do things like editing and cover are referred to as “Vanity Press.” I also learned that you had to buy copies of your own books if you wanted to sell them yourself and that a lot of the marketing is done by the author.
In the end, I went with a Vanity Press company. I sent them my MS and they formatted it for me. I sent them a quick design I did on Microsoft publisher and they prettied it up for me for my cover. They did everything that I needed help with, which was great. Looking back, I just wished I’d done more research.
J: If you don’t mind me asking, what Vanity Press company did you choose to go with and would you recommend them to other poetry writers? How long did they take to format your book and get it back to you?
JH: I went with Xlibris and my experience has been mixed. On one hand, they were really easy to work with when I was getting published. We pulled it all together and I had a copy in my hand in under three months. On the other hand, I have only recently, after five years of asking, finally got the message across to them that my preferred method of contact is through email. I do love my book baby though. Even though I want to do things differently with future books, I would not have been able to handle the world of POD platforms back then, let alone formatting and cover design and everything else they helped me with. In that regard, they were a lifesaver. To those considering publishing who are a little unsure, I say do some research. If you find that you don’t like POD platforms, can’t make your way into traditional publishing, or are just overwhelmed with it all, I say go with a Vanity Press company. At the very least, contact one and ASK QUESTIONS. There is no harm in asking someone who knows more than you to share some knowledge.
J: Great advice! Do you have any other advice for poetry writers who are unpublished?
JH: Don’t let fear stop you from asking questions, from trying new things, or from typing something in Google and maybe getting lost in an internet black hole. Don’t sit there thinking your work isn’t good enough. I hear SO many people who write poetry compare themselves to others and say, “It’s not great, but I love it anyway.” If you have the emotion there, and you love it, it’s instantly better than you think it is. Stop letting the fear that someone will say it isn’t great stop you from doing whatever you want with it.
J: I agree. The comparison game, or lack of confidence, holds so many writers back, including me. However, we can find the strength to be brave and publish our creations. How do you feel about including images in poetry books?
JH: A picture is worth a thousand words, right? I feel like…Okay here’s a book analogy. We all know that feeling when a book becomes a movie and you think, “NOPE, he is NOT supposed to play the lead. They have it all wrong. That’s not what I pictured in MY HEAD.” While on the surface, pictures in poetry books seem nice, (I like the IDEA of an image to go along with the feeling), I feel like it goes against the honesty thing I mentioned early. Not for the author. For the author the picture matches the poem, hence it’s presence. However, because poetry is so subjective, the image might not match the poem for the reader. I don’t even title my poems for this reason. The poem and its emotion stand alone. I’ve had people say they really like and resonate to poems I wrote that I wasn’t even fond of. And I’ve had poems I’ve loved writing that people haven’t gotten at all.
J: Interesting viewpoint! I never thought about it that way. Last question: Any poetry books or poetry authors you enjoy or recommend?
JH: This may be horrible, but I don’t really have any major favorites. I have a poetry book in my bookcase and haven’t read it yet – probably more than one actually. I remember in school we were given a booklet about poetry and it had “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, “If” by Rudyard Kipling, “Stop all the Clocks, Cut off the Telephone” by W.H. Auden and a few more that I really loved. It’s the individual poems and the way they make me feel when I read them that make them great.
J: Do you have a favorite author or novel that isn’t poetry related?
JH: I am in love with Marissa Meyer’s Heartless! I have always loved Alice in Wonderland and Marissa has done a marvelous job with these characters and paid a beautifully crafted tribute to “The Raven” in it which I just adore. I cannot stop gushing about this book! Haha.
J: That’s something I haven’t read! I’ll have to add it to my TBR list. Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with me, Jacinta. You’ve been really enlightening and helpful!
JH: Thank you! People have always pointed out how much I light up when I talk about writing. My face hurts from smiling right now. It has been an absolute pleasure talking with you.
If you're interested in reading Jacinta's book or would like to find out more information about her, you can do so at the links below:
Buy Just a Thought: https://www.amazon.com/Just-Thought-Jacinta-Hudson/