Author of "Questions" in ISSUE 02 and her thoughts on pondering queerness, maintaining self-care routines, and her varied reading interests.
What are you reading these days? Do you love/hate/feel neutral about it, and why?
I read pretty quickly, sometimes 1-2 books/day. This morning I finished Playing Nice by J.P. Delaney which was a fast-paced thriller and had my heart RACING. I’ve recently entered the thriller market (as a reader) and am always looking for suggestions! One day I was walking down my library aisles because I’d run out of books to read and *bam* a new obsession was discovered. Also, I recently finished Bully Market by Jamie Fiore Higgins. My sister is the math/finance half of the brain while I’m more artsy. I learned so much reading about the toxic culture on Wall Street (even if I didn’t understand everything the author said about trading). People closest to me know I have a mildly unhealthy obsession with K dramas (and food). I recently read Charlotte Cho’s The Little Book of Skin Care. It was the perfect intro to K beauty, and really just skincare in general. I’ve already adapted some of the practices like using SPF and cleanser.
Could you provide for us a passage of writing that deeply shifts something inside you?
I recently read Proximity by Sam Heaps, which was released by Clash Books. This is a banger. The narrator ponders: “I am as queer as I have promised.” That hit me. I constantly ponder my own queerness. Being femme I’m constantly fighting an internal battle. Can anyone see that I’m queer–I’m screaming it inside. Dating a cis man shields me from the world in a way I don’t like; makes me invisible to most of the world as queer. But I want to be loud. Still I can’t change who I am. I need to live authentically as me. Having to validate or defend my own queerness tends to deflate me a little. Because if I don’t deflate I become angry. And that’s an uncomfortable emotion for me from childhood. So am I as queer as I promised? Or only as much as I promised? I’m not sure…but I’ll continue to ponder.
Do these ponderings on queerness come up in your writing? If so, how?
Yes, absolutely. I think sometimes the narrative is to assume a heteronormative storyline, however, queerness is in most of my writing. It's part of who I am, I can't separate it out easily...one folder for queer poems and one folder for straight passing poems. That would be a trick of the light, a lie. Being a femme presenting queer person, I am often reminded of the poem "Of Althea and Flaxie" by Cheryl Clarke. There is a lot of harm done from bi erasure, how loud do I have to be to prove I'm not hiding?
When you are working on a piece, what inspirations do you draw from?
I almost always draw from my own experiences as inspiration. I find that I can’t present as authentically if it’s not from within. I used to write some fiction but it wasn’t nearly as free flowing compared to what I write now. Surprisingly, most of my work is first drafts. There are a few poems I have to pry out like stubborn teeth though…when I recognize a jewel mucked under some sludge.
What craft elements are you most interested in/attached to within your writing?
When I was in college, my weakest technique was dialogue. I worked hard to hone that element of craft because at the time I was writing mainly fiction. Now, I can see how important dialogue is as a poet. My poems tend to be one major stream of consciousness and though I’m not great at speeches, my narrator can fake it till she makes it.
Who (or what) are some of your writing obsessions, and why?
I think reading is the biggest obsession I have as a writer. All of my librarians across three libraries know me by name. I am a very varied reader, I don’t stay in my genre. In fact, I probably read poetry less than any other genre. I read memoir, photography, cookbooks, thriller, non-fiction, fiction (on occasion), art, YA, picture books, graphic novels. I walk down the new sections of libraries hoping to discover anything and everything. Then, I walk down the regular aisles to see what I’ve missed. I follow bookstores and indie publishers to see what’s going on. I follow some Instagram book reviewers to see what people are saying about books. Books. I just love books.
What are some ways in which you remain productive/find time to be a writer?
Writing finds me. While I’m driving I write on napkins, when I’m trying to sleep I’m typing a new poem into my iPhone, I even jump out of the shower and dripping wet scribble nonsense into a notebook (sound familiar?). I always make time for the things that are important to me. Also, I spend a lot of time taking care of my physical and mental health. Sometimes I can’t be productive because my pain is too high, and that’s ok. Life is full of ups and downs and learning to ride the waves rather than fighting has helped me a lot.
What are some ways in which you get through a block in your creative work?
I don’t force myself through blocks. I don’t make myself sit down and write a certain number of words per day. If I’m not having a lot of creative energy, I invest in myself by reading, doing selfcare, watching my K dramas…it’s all charging me up with inspiration that can be used at a later time. And it’s keeping my body and mental health where I need it to be.
Tell us about your writing/creative space looks like.
I don't have a set place to write. For me, keeping on top of my mental health is the most urgent task. That "space" is the most important thing to keep clean for writing. I've felt so heavy with the state of the world lately that it's felt difficult to write. I find myself wondering: Who even cares? What's the point? I started a new project to help address this heaviness in a constructive way...to lift some of the load off my shoulders. Writing helps me put some of the heaviness down that isn't mine to carry. I can only hope it helps the reader put down some of their load too.
How do you navigate the experience of submissions/rejections/acceptances?
I have hundreds and hundreds of rejections, just like most writers. Something I’ve learned over time is to stay true to myself and my writing. If an editor is requesting an edit that completely changes a piece, I will explain why the edit does not work in this instance. It’s ok to defend your work, which is confidence I’ve gained only with experience. And I still celebrate all of my acceptances, they are all so special to me in their unique way. Each home where a poem lives is important and revisited by me many times.
Regarding your piece in Issue 02, what does it mean for/to you?
I wrote "Questions" while waiting for my partner in a bar. I don’t spend a lot of time in bars, so I already felt so out of place waiting. I’d just gone through a terrible divorce. Divorce can make you feel so many things: regret, emptiness, nostalgia, pity, euphoria. Upon entering another unexpected and serious relationship after divorce, I always feel like I’m walking a tightrope waiting for it to end. How long will this magic last before this next partner decides a fight isn’t just another fight but our ending? I’ve written about this unsettled feeling several times because I still can’t shake it.
Do you have any recent publications and/or projects?
My latest book My Kink Adventure was released March 8th by Curious Corvid Publishing. My previous poetry collection Panoramic was also published by Curious Corvid Publishing. I’m super thrilled to be part of that family, the writers and editors and captain of the ship are just all so smart and creative. CCP publishes a pretty wide selection so there are options for every reader. Also as a pub house, we just released The Curious Corvid Grimoire with 100% of proceeds going to Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence.
Is there anything else you would like to share with other writers?
I’m so in awe of the talent and tenacity of writers, especially in the indie community. Since they don’t often have to conform to those pesky financial models of mainstream publishing, the creativity is just unparalleled. Every single day I find myself singed with pride at even being allowed to share the smallest space in this community.
Aimee Nicole is a chronically ill/disabled, queer poet currently residing in Rhode Island. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Roger Williams University and has been published by various lit mags. She has three poetry collections: Daily Worship (Laughing Ronin Press) and My Kink Adventure and Panoramic (Curious Corvid Publishing). Feel free to follow her on Instagram @aimeenicole525 for awkward selfies and pictures of her cat.