Recently, I made the acquaintance of writer and artist Alayna-Renee Vilmont. I inquired about the drifting petals on her highly entertaining and attractive blog and one question led to another. Whether you’re a reader or a writer, you might enjoy reading the answers, too.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Philadelphia, and attended university in New York City. In between being born and now, I’ve also called London, Los Angeles, and Ft. Lauderdale home. I’ve traveled the Caribbean working for a cruise line, and have also been to most of Europe. I’m currently a faux Southern belle, living in Atlanta, Georgia.
What do you like to write? How long have you written? What prompted you to start writing?
In addition to keeping a blog, Jaded Elegance: The Uninhibited Adventures Of A Chic Web Geek, I write poetry and short stories on a regular basis. I also have significant bits and pieces of two novels sitting on my computer, but I tend to have attention span problems with longer works. I started publishing and entering my work into contests and submitting to literary journals around the age of 7, so we’ll just say “I’ve been writing for a very long time.”
I don’t really know what prompted me to start writing. I always had a lot of ideas, and a desire to be heard and to express myself. I started working as a performer at a very young age, and so much of that world is about using your personality and your vision to bring another person’s vision to life. For me, writing was a way to express my thoughts, my ideas, visions, imaginary worlds, without feeling they’d somehow be laughed at or disapproved of by another person. I didn’t share my writing with anyone for a very long time. To this day, I can get on stage and perform in a three-hour show without a bit of stage fright. Whenever I have to read my poems or stories or anything I’ve written, my hands shake the entire time. Writing has always been such a private part of my world, and sharing it with others makes me feel vulnerable. I admire authors who enjoy reading their own work. It takes a lot of courage, and the need to cast aside the fear of judgment.
What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?
My most recent book is a collection of poetry entitled “Ophelia’s Wayward Muse”, published in late 2012. It was something I wanted to cross off my bucket list, and I’m so happy I chose to do so.
30 word synopsis? It’s a modern coming-of-age story about the role that human connections and relationships play in our lives, and help mold us into who we eventually become.
Do you keyboard your writing or write in long hand? Do you outline or free write?
Both. I have numerous paper journals, and will never resist the opportunity to buy pretty journals, pens, and other writing tools. One of the poems I wrote was actually written in a tiny spiral notebook while waiting for my bus in Port Authority. Another was written on a blank page torn out of a telephone book. The “rough drafts” of my ideas are typically fragmented thoughts and phrases I like, but once in a while, I’ll get a mostly complete poem.
When it comes time to edit, I do everything on my computer. Almost all my fiction comes out via computer screen, too. I find that when writing fiction, essays, or blog entries, my mind works faster than my hand can get them to the paper. Poetry is a slower and more deliberate creative process, and better-suited to handwritten mediums.
And, no, I don’t outline. I just let everything come pouring out, and edit later. I think that stories tend to tell themselves and find their own natural flow. Outlining, like most forms of organization, feels constraining to me.
How long did it take you to write the book?
Oh, it took me forever and a day to write the book. The poems were collected over a decade-long period in my life, and stuck in journals under my bed and on old memory cards for a very long time.
The actual process of writing the book, editing, cover design, choosing which poems would be in there, and running the Kickstarter campaign that allowed me to cover the costs of doing what I wanted to do took about 6 months. One day, the idea came to me that would weave some of my poems together in order to tell a story. Once I have an idea, there’s really no turning back.
One thing I’m not is detail-oriented, but I edited my manuscript 17 times after I said, “Oh, look, a manuscript! I’m done!”
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I’m a freelance writer by day, and organize a social group in my free time, so I basically write creatively whenever I have a moment. I find I’m most inspired when I’m traveling, because being somewhere different gives you a different perspective on the world and on yourself. I’m also more inspired after midnight, when the rest of the world is asleep, and I know my creative process isn’t likely to be disrupted or de-railed by anything but me.
I will write anywhere, though, when the right idea comes into my head. I often remember pieces by where they were created, so places tend to have sentimental meaning to me, perhaps more than others. I can return to that place years later, and feel exactly how I was feeling when I originally wrote something.
What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas?
I’m inspired by people, and by their inner lives, secrets, and figuring out what makes them tick. I’m an extroverted person by nature, but I’m also keenly intuitive and notice things about other people that often go unnoticed by others. It isn’t always something of which I’m even conscious, but will later think about a good deal. I often joke that I know how someone else is thinking or feeling before that person does, and I’m often absolutely right. Sometimes, I understand what’s going on with someone months or years before that person has an epiphany.
It’s not always a gift in my personal relationships. In fact, it causes a lot of heartbreak. As an artist, though, it’s inspiring. Human psychology and the way people relate to one another is something that artists have been inspired by for thousands of years, yet, it’s a code nobody’s quite cracked yet.
Most of my ideas are inspired by my life, or by the people around me. A simple interaction with another person can create a reason to write, and that’s why blogging has always been such a natural medium for me.
What contributes to a good writing day?
A good writing day is a day in which nothing goes wrong to distract me from writing. If my personal life is in shambles, if I’m struggling at work, if the bills aren’t paid, if the “to-do” list is out of control, I’m not going to be in a mental state to be creative. Similarly, it can’t be a day in which I’m overly excited and happy about other things. I have to be in an anxiety-free, introspective state, or the writing tends to not get done.
When that happens, I’ll read or watch reality TV. Soon, I’ll feel inspired to write again. However, I can’t make myself be one of those 7-day-a-week writers, unless I’m writing something that requires no creativity whatsoever.
One of your favorite quotes –
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars” ~ Jack Kerouac, “On The Road”
You can find out more about and keep up with Alayna-Renee and her works here:
You’re invited to check out her work or simply drop by for a virtual visit!