The book is a collection of poetry that narrates my journey through trauma, mental illness, relationship struggles, and my growth as a woman. Though it is my own journey, I find that it often mirrors many other people’s stories– this is the main reason I write. My hope is that others will see themselves reflected in my work and know that they are not alone…that they too can go through seemingly unbearable events and find themselves alive and thriving.
From floundering to flourishing, Molly S. Hillery has kindly set aside time to recount the steps towards her publication ‘bare roots’, a poetic reflection upon her life. Molly, thank you for sharing your time and honesty about your life’s journey with us today. As mentioned earlier, this collection chronicles your personal journey through life changing challenges. What prompted you to approach these challenges through poetry?
Spring is the most difficult time of the year for me. The idea behind “bare roots” and subsequent sections of the book come from the idea that I can reclaim this season as my own; that I used my voice and story to help others, rather than drown in memories and sorrow.
I really admire your courage to taking those huge steps to reclaim your season whilst consciously making the choice to ensure that your grief could be used to benefit others. It really shows an enormous strength and positively of your character that you choose to turn your pain into power for yourself and others. But I’m sure the choice to even attempt to work through this melancholy would have been daunting. Did you carry out any research while writing to help guide your process of reclamation?
If self-reflection counts, then yes!
Of course self-reflection counts! Self-reflection is wisdom from life and just because it isn’t written down doesn’t mean that it doesn’t count as research! Was there any particular step in the writing process that you found as the most worthwhile?
Pouring my heart and soul onto paper and being able to share it with others is an incredible gift. If even one person reads this and is inspired because of it, I’ve done my job.
I sincerely hope that you are able to connect with and inspire at least one other soul to make sure you achieve that job. As your gift is to share your story, what kind of inspiration do you hope to leave with the readers?
You are the author of your own story– what has happened to you, what was done to you, and what you’ve lived through is crucial to your growth, but does not have to define you as a person. You are allowed to write your own ending.
I really love that idea of being able to write your own ending, and I think that sometimes with difficult circumstances that sometimes is forgotten. If you could re-write your own progress with regards to this book, is there anything you would change?
To not be so hard on myself! I can be my own worst critic at times.
*Laughs* Not being so hard on your self does seem to be a lifelong battle. But the fact that the book has made it to publication shows you’ve made immense progress. Overall, what do you feel was the largest lesson learnt during the creation of this book?
Self-publishing can be a brutal process at times. Letting go of perfectionism is key.
It does come back to that idea of being your own worst critic. But hopefully you’ve shown your inner critic that you can do it and hopefully they will be less critical on your next writing project. Can you tell us about what you’ve embarked upon to write next?
A memoir surrounding my current life circumstances.
Good luck, and I hope that your current life circumstances continue to become better as you keep writing. Speaking of that, what does keep you writing?
I love it. I have a passion for words. Catharsis. Also, nothing can replace the feeling of knowing someone has connected to your words in a profound way.
Catharsis, passion and connection are an interesting tangle of emotions. And I love that you’ve made them work together. How do you keep track of all of your ideas coming from this array of emotions? Do you keep lots of notes in a book somewhere?
Yes, in the memo section of my phone!
*Laughs* You have to love the joys of modern technology and the phone that does everything! Do you find that the technique of using phone notes has been a handy daily tool for writing?
This book is more of a collection of my work over a two-year period. Right now I am writing every day.
Do you use any rituals to keep you writing every day?
Keep writing. Even if you write, “I don’t know what to write right now,” keep it flowing.
Oh, I love that idea of writing ‘I don’t know that to write right now’. I may have to borrow that one and use it for myself! Is editing something a part of the writing process that keeps you in that state of flow? Or do you prefer third party editors?
I edited this book on my own. The editing process took almost as long as writing the entire book did. In my opinion, work is never really “finished.” I had to just call it quits on the editing with this book, take the leap of faith, and publish it.
I have to admit that I was one of those people who always saw work as never finished, but I found it drove me up the wall because I could never get it good enough. I think a better frame of mind is that it is a reflection on how you see the world at this point in time with the information and emotions that you currently have. Of course time moves on and both you and world change, so the relationships with your work will change. But I think it’s like you said earlier, you are the author of your own story and your work only reflects a chapter of it. As you’ve moved yourself into the realm of self-published author, do you have any tips for yourself in the future, or author authors looking to jump into the writing pool?
- Keep writing! Never give up on finishing your book
- Try not to compare your success to others
- Enjoy the journey and remember why you started it
That is some wonderfully sage advice. Do you feel that your sage advice to authors is influenced by your day job?
I am a preschool teacher right now. I think about my kids and what kind of world I would like them to live in when I write. I draw on my experiences as a child in some of my poetry.
Awww, a preschool teacher is a wonderful job. Kids are so cute at that age. Could you see yourself working outside of early childhood schooling? What other work would you think that you would enjoy?
Therapist, writer, mental health advocacy.
I think that you can tick off the box of writer, and perhaps even therapist as I think that you’re often doing the work of a therapist at times when working with little ones. Before I let you return to your memoir project I’d like to see if we can share in a little more of your spirit through some questions pulled from the quick fire question collection. Let’s start with: Do you have any philosophies that you live by?
Sharing your story is the easiest way to get rid of shame. There is nothing inherently wrong with anyone that lives with trauma or mental illness.
I hope that others can take your advice to break through the shame in their own lives. What is your zodiac sign?
Where is the line between insanity and creativity?
Ooooh, that is a good answer. What came first, the chicken or the egg?
I do believe that you are the first in the egg camp. Congratulations! Are you left or right handed?
If all of the world is a stage, where does the audience sit?
In the solar system?!
*Laughs* I’m sure we can get some bleachers or maybe even a grandstand setup in the solar system to cater for audience there! What is your best tip for authors?
Enjoy the journey! Forget the profits.
And as writing is a journey of words, do you have a particular favourite one?
That is way too hard. Lately it is “placate.”
I quite like how that one sounds, good choice. At long last we have almost reached the end of today’s interview, but I have one last question that I hope you can use to inspire readers to explore ‘bare roots’. What’s your favourite line from your poetry collection?
“Sometimes, life rips us from the places we consider to be solid ground. I hope you find that what you need to survive the conditions of this life has been inside you all along.”
Molly, thank you for sharing your some of the conditions of your own life with us today, and I wish you the best of luck connecting readers with ‘bare roots’ and with the progress of your memoir.
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘bare roots ( ASIN: B06ZYQ5JQ2 )‘.
Want to find out more about Molly S. Hillery? Connect here!