Becoming a Writer: An Authors Insight

With approximately 2.2 million books being published worldwide each year, the importance of paper is not only appreciated by authors, but fundamental to their craft. In an interview with Bethany Arrowsmith-Cooper, author of the poetry collection The Soul Garden, we delve into the topics of writing, hear an author’s insight of the publishing process, discuss the importance of books, and see the effects of putting pen to paper.

Do you come from a literary background?

Books have always been important in our house! I grew up having people read to me, and when I was younger my mum studied English Lit at university, so you could always catch her with a book somewhere. I also really enjoyed English at school, and I took it at A level!

When did you first start writing?

I used to do a lot of journaling throughout my teens, but I pretty much swapped that for poetry in 2017 when I discovered that I needed something slightly different to properly express how I was feeling. I dabbled in poetry prior to that but I hadn’t quite found a sweet spot for my writing. I highly doubt any of my pre-2017 poems will ever see the light of day!

How has writing and reading affected your life?

Writing and reading have always been a positive thing in my life. Reading a paperback book is a wonderful chance to escape to a different world or learn something that I didn’t know before! Writing gives me the chance to express feelings that I can’t quite work out how to say out loud. I find that writing is a really good way of dealing with the emotions that I don’t know what else to do with – getting it all out on paper helps clear my head, and it’s a bonus if that develops into a finished poem.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

I write a lot about emotions, but I also quite enjoy writing about people, relationships, and the weather (especially when it’s stormy or dramatic)! Current events sometimes make it into poetry form, depending on how close to my heart they are, and I enjoy incorporating Bible passages and stories into my work.

Do you find writing easy?

Well, that depends on the day. Sometimes, words come very easily and then I can finish a poem in twenty minutes! Other times, I find it pretty difficult. I can’t seem to be able to find the right words, or engage with my concept in a way I’m comfortable with, and it takes a long time to finish a poem – occasionally I even find myself attempting to finish poems I abandoned months before! My relationship with writing is very often the latter, rather than the former, but I do still enjoy the challenge.

How do you develop your writing? Is each poem planned out structurally or does your writing take on a mind of its own?

Each poem definitely has a mind of its own. Once I have worked out a concept, or an idea, I see the resulting poem as working out how to tell that story the best! The poems I write have different characteristics depending on what I’m writing about. I’m terrible at planning things out – when I want to write something, I just sort of have a go and see where I end up!

How did you get published?

I self-published my collection, The Soul Garden, through the company Lulu! You basically do everything yourself, following their publication guidelines, and they provide you with an ISBN, and a place in their online shop for people to buy a paperback copy. Once I’d worked out a couple of the technical bits, it was really easy to do!

What tips would you give to aspiring writers?

I think my main piece of advice would be to just have a go at everything! Don’t be afraid to try out different styles or concepts if you want to. If they don’t go so well, then don’t worry about it! Nobody has it perfect the first time around, so explore as much as you like and find a style that really suits you and that you really love.

Can you give advice to somebody who wants to publish poetry specifically?

I remember when I was editing my book, it was really easy to get caught up in comparing my style to other poetry books out there, which made me question whether mine looked ‘right’, or whether my style of writing was ‘right’. I had to keep reminding myself of why I was publishing, and what it was that I wanted to achieve. I see poetry as a way of expressing oneself – everyone is different, and has something different to bring to the table, so it’s okay if your writing isn’t the same as everyone else’s. Don’t try and fit your own work into a box. Ask yourself why you want to publish, and keep reminding yourself of that, and make something that you love and are happy with.

What is one thing you wish you knew about the writing and publication process when you first started?

Before I published I wish I knew about the stigma surrounding self-published work. I was asking around to try and find stockists for my collection, and I came across a couple of places who were slightly sceptical because my book hadn’t been published through a press. Their reluctance is understandable (no hard feelings!) I just wish I had been mentally prepared for the rejection beforehand.

To find out more about Bethany Arrowsmith-Cooper and The Soul Garden check out the Instagram page @soulgardenlife or blog

To buy a copy of The Soul Garden, click here.