caring is what defines the length of any given distance
- Palm trees and rain
november author spotlight: the interview (part two)
After nearly a year of planning, creating, writing, dancing, and perfecting the process - Palm trees and rain has finally made its debut! On November 17, 2017 Natasha Dubalia released her very first INTERACTIVE self-published poetry collection. Palm trees and rain includes four chapters of poetry titled after the seasons (summer, spring, fall, and winter) and four dance pieces that accompany each chapter. When you get to the points in the book to watch a video, there is a quick response code on the page in which you place your phone camera over the code and it takes you directly to Natasha's website where the video can be viewed. This is such an incredible, creative, and unique concept that our poetry community has never seen before! I began following Natasha and engaging with her while she was in her editing phase and her resilience and desire to produce an amazing project not only for herself but for her readers was so inspiring to witness. When I first came up with the idea to do an author spotlight each month, Natasha was my very first choice. I am ever so thankful she allowed me into her world and to be a part of her journey. Keep reading for part two of Natasha's interview where she details how Palm trees and rain came to life!
When did you first decide you were going to write a book? Was it always a goal of yours or was it an idea that came later on?
I think that somehow I always knew I wanted to write - in a blog, magazine, somewhere. The idea of writing the book was different though. It developed in my mind in a very short period of time and I couldn’t let the thought go. I have to admit that when I started writing some of the pieces I never thought they would end up being part of a book.
When were these pieces written? Were they all written in a particular year? How old were you during the writing process?
I began the process in February of this year and the pieces were all written within nine months or so (hence the seasons being each of the chapters of the book) and I was 26 when I first started. Somehow I wanted to reflect my journey and make the reader part of it too.
Describe what was going on in your life as you were putting together your pieces for this book. (Were you going through a breakup, a life change, personal growth, etc).
Each of the chapters represent different emotions. Whilst writing them I experienced a mixture of everything: the butterfly moments of 'hellos', trust, love, but also fears, insecurities, pain, emptiness and growth - loads of personal growth.
What made you want to incorporate dancing into this project? How did you come up with the idea to mix both of your passions together?
To me communication is about what we say with words as much as what we say with our bodies. Dancing has always been a big part of my life and I have actually spent the last few years exploring my inner movement through contemporary dance. Because of my passion for dance I wanted to be able to combine both verbal expression (written, words) and nonverbal (dancing, body language) to be able to share what words can't sometimes express and vice-versa.
Take us through the dancing aspect to your book and the process it took to put together. Did you choreograph all of the dances yourself? Where were they filmed? How did you pick the musical element?
The dance videos are an ongoing project which will be ending next spring. Each of the videos are released within the seasons in order to create an interactive journey with my readers. Because I am self-publishing and my readers come through my social media platforms, I wanted them to be part of the creation process. Currently, the only video available is Summer which we filmed on a lost beach in Los Angeles, California. We are very excited about preparing and rehearsing the Autumn video which will be filmed in a forest (an autumn landscape) and will be released the second week of December. Winter will come out after Christmas and Spring of course by the beginning of spring.
The choreography and filming comes from the talented Matthew Lambden, an incredible creative soul and a very good friend of mine. My dance partner is Michael Brandon, a stunning dancer and also very good friend. You can check them both out on Instagram: @matthewlambden and @themichaelbrandon.
The actual prep and filming process is quite tough. Rehearsals, concept ideas, research, costumes, and more need to be considered. The music element comes from artists that inspire me and music that I can identify with or reflect on. We always discuss everything as a team in order to brainstorm ideas and make the most of it. I feel very lucky having such inspiring people around me and them being friends of mine as well. It makes everything even better!
How did you go about self-publishing? Did you do research first as to what was the best/most cost effective way to release a book? How did you choose which avenue to take?
Self-publishing was an adventure too! I researched what were the most effective options and I went through many reviews from other authors. I finally decided to self-publish using CreateSpace as it seemed the best option for my title.
What is some advice you have for other writers/poets thinking about self publishing? What do you know now that you didn’t know before about the process?
The physical aspect of the book is very important. To me it was imperative to have the book in my hands - I wanted to see how it felt. It might be obvious but always make sure that you get a physical copy of your book before publishing it and that it matches the digital proof. I personally had a problem with the cover in which the printed version was different to the actual digital proof so please be careful!
What was the hardest part about your project? Did you ever feel like giving up or even putting the project to the side for awhile? How did you persevere?
Yes I did. On some occasions I questioned myself. I feared failing and it was rather difficult to overcome but I kept pushing myself through it. I wanted to make it happen so I knew I had to remain focused on the big picture. I’d say that it is not about the outcome but the process instead. We tend to forget to enjoy the actual moment and I don’t know if I will be able to write another book in the future so it was very important for me to enjoy the moment in itself. Also talking to friends and to people around me who were very supportive was a great help.
When putting this project together what was your main goal? Did you want to release a book for yourself (to prove to yourself you could do it) or was your goal to share your poetry with a wider audience?
I truly believe I started to put this project together in an unconscious manner. I started writing because it was what I needed to heal. Keeping everything inside felt too tight and I could not find another way to let it out other than through dancing and writing. I began to share a few pieces with friends and social media and I realized that people were able to reflect within my writing and it changed everything. It was then that it wasn't about me anymore; it became about others and that’s when I felt the most encouraged to continue. It might make me feel vulnerable BUT if I'm gonna be helping people find a way to escape and to overcome things then it is definitely worth it.
I am just the ink for words that others might not find within themselves but they are definitely there and no matter how painful a situation might be, there is always room for hope. That to me is beautiful itself and i want to help people find that beauty.
What did this process teach you about yourself? Do you feel more confident now that you’ve accomplished what you set out to do?
It taught me that there is a level of strength within ourselves which we are not aware of. It reminded me that life is too short to not be doing what you love. It taught me that there is no better feeling than listening to your inner self and to pursue your inner passion. It taught me that fear is just a concept in our minds and it's only us as human beings who allow fear to control us. It taught me that vulnerability leads to personal growth. It also taught me that no matter how proud other people are of you, you need to be proud of yourself. Damn...it has taught me endless things about myself! I'm going to have to write down a list one day.
What’s next for you? Where do you go from here? Do you take a break from writing to enjoy the success of your book?
I actually don't know! For now I’m gonna head back home for Christmas and spend some quality time with family and friends. I don't think that I could ever stop writing and dancing so I think you are going to have me around for some time!
Would you do another project like this in the future? Would you release another poetry and dancing compilation project? What other projects are you interested in doing in the future if not another one of these?
Yes, absolutely. I would love to be able to continue with this. Bringing to life a theatre piece combining both dancing and writing is my dream!
In less than 5 words, describe what this project means to you.
A life change (opportunity).
To get a copy of Palm trees and rain, click the below button to order or you can enter the Tribe of Poets contest on Instagram where a copy of Palm trees and rain will be given away to the winner! Deadline for the contest is November 30th! i have also linked below ways you can connect with Natasha and learn more about her as a writer and her journey!