we're all just books begging to be read by the right person who'll reach our ends.
- The Girl and Her Petals
The Girl and Her Petals, Javier Rivera's (@a.fellow.poetry) debut poetry collection released December of 2017 is certainly a book for the those who have loved and lost. Beginning with a note to his past lover and muse for the entire collection, we learn early on that the words displayed on the pages are still very much bleeding.
The heartbreak, pain, confusion, torment, and agony that ensues from losing the one you love is felt on all 212 pages. After the book concluded I had an overwhelming sense to know what happened next. I had such a curiosity to know if his muse read the book, how she felt, and most importantly - did she come back.
Read Part 2 of the Author Spotlight Interview below where Javier answers all my questions about what happened next as well as how the collection came together.
At the very beginning of your book you state that all of the poems written in this collection were for one particular woman. After finishing it I have to ask, did your muse read this book? What were her thoughts/feelings about it? Was she supportive of it? Do you know if she has written a similar collection of your shared experience?
Sadly, to this day I have no clue whether she read the book or not. Our communication fell out halfway through writing it. However, she is well aware that I finished it and it’s out there because we had one brief encounter where I tagged her when the book was released and she responded with “can’t wait”. Besides that, I’m still in dark about how she feels about it. As far I recall, she was very supportive of me finally having the drive to write a book even if it was about her. I think when we were talking she might have written maybe two poems about me but that’s me assuming as she never really told me specifically.
How long ago did this heartbreak happen for you? How much time was there in between the ending of your relationship and the start of your idea for this project?
It’s probably been a couple of months now. There actually wasn’t much time - I was writing the book as the heartbreak was happening.
How did you decide on the title A Girl and Her Petals? What other titles were you thinking about and how did you finally choose this one?
The girl I was really in love with absolutely adored Rupi Kaur and it was perfect timing because she had just released the “The Sun and Her Flowers” . Notice the similarity? I did it as a sort of romantic gesture for her idol.
Your book is extremely powerful and heartfelt. I could feel the pain in each one of the pieces. How difficult was this for you to not only write but then organize to put together into a book? Did you ever have any thoughts of stopping or going in a different direction for your debut release?
Very difficult. I almost gave up on dividing the book into chapters but thankfully I had a good friend of mine that actually began as a follower and she sorted out the poems for me. I couldn’t have done it without her that’s for sure. I never thought of stopping when I was writing it but I do remember wanting to get rid of the angry poems about her because I thought they were too brutal.
Which of the poems in this collection was the hardest for you to write? Explain why and describe the place and time you were in when you were writing it.
I think the hardest poems were the ones about acceptance because personally I wasn’t there yet and it was really me writing to myself to get over it. I was definitely at a point of self-destruction during this place and time and in order to avoid reckless decisions maybe even inflicting harm to myself, I desperately wrote even if it kept me all night.
Which of the poems in this collection was the most therapeutic for you? Explain why and also, talk about your emotional journey after the piece was written.
I think the poems filled sadness were probably the most therapeutic because overall it was a release and I needed to empty out those emotions. The emotional journey after the pieces were written provided more comfort than I could comprehend at the time and I guess that’s why I kept going as well.
How long did it take for you to put this whole collection together? Was the writing of the poems harder than figuring out the layout and organization of the book or vice versa ?
It took me a total of 3-4 weeks. The poems came easy for me due to the emotional high I was on but the layout and organization was definitely the hardest part about the book making process.
When going into the creation of The Girl and Her Petals, were you writing the book for you being as though it was a goal of yours to write a book or did you go into it as creating an experience for potential readers? What was your ultimate goal and desired outcome when going into it?
Ultimately the goal was closure for myself and a small part was maybe she would return after reading it.
Describe your publishing journey. Did you self-publish and if so, how did you decide which self publishing platform to use or did you go through a publishing company? If so, did you get approached by them or did you approach the company? Explain the process you went through.
I approached a small indie company - So Rad Press publishing. I kind of found them on accident and I'm glad that I did. I was really struggling to figure out this whole book process and when I found them, I immediately sent them an email and they gave me the complete rundown on how they function in a pretty timely manner. They gave me two plans to choose from which was cover + interior of book = $200 or the full cover + interior and distribution = $400. Honestly if you have the money and you just want to be done and let someone else handle the rest - Rad Press publishing is the way to go! They are very sincere and get back to you quickly if you any questions. They have artists on hand and give you multiple cover options to choose from if you give them specifics on how you want your cover to look. However I believe the only downfall is you don't get any type of money till 90 days after your publishing date nor will you know how many books you have sold till then.
I did not compare them to other publishers because other publishers required you to go through a long process and there was no guarantee that your manuscript would be accepted which is why I went with Rad Press because they will accept anyone! So I would definitely recommend them if you fear how to do the process on your own and you have some extra cash laying around.
Did your following on social media influence you at all when it came to releasing a book? What has been the overall reaction to it by your followers? Have they been supportive of you and throughout the process of writing the collection?
Not really, besides them voting on the cover for the book. The overall reaction was great! My followers have always been very supportive no matter the situation and I think that’s why I love them so much.
Do you think having a large following is crucial to have if someone wants to write and release a book? How important do you think it is to have a loyal following before releasing or do you think it’s important to have at all?
I think waiting to write a book till you have a large following is a detriment to yourself because at the time I only had 4k followers and honestly, I didn’t care. I wrote this book for myself and I think that’s partially why I’ve grown to be successful with it as well. A loyal following always helps, but always remember if you’re going to write a book , write it for you and not anyone else.
If it weren’t for Instagram and social media, do you think you would have ever written and released a book? Or do you think you would just continue to write for fun without sharing your voice with others?
I don’t think I ever would have written a book without these social media platforms because that’s how I met the girl in the first place! However, without it I probably would have just kept a journal and wrote for my eyes only.
What is something you wish someone would have told you prior to writing and releasing your FIRST collection? Did anyone in particular show you the ropes to the process or did you figure it out all on your own? Give one piece of advice for someone about to embark on the book writing process.
I wish someone would have told me how extremely exhausting and frustrating the process is after finishing the book. Writing it is the easiest part! No one in particular showed me the ropes but I had two people behind me that were helping with the editing and moral support which was definitely needed. One piece of advice that I have is to find someone to keep you motivated. It’s a very frustrating process and it beats you down mentally.
What is one thing you will do differently on your next project? What did you learn this time that you would change for the next time around?
One thing I’m doing differently is that I’m self-publishing it completely on my own! I learned that if I want chapters in the book it’s best to determine that now and divide them as you write them! I’m pretty sure that makes it much easier!
Take us back to the night before your release date. What were you feeling/thinking? Were you excited, anxious, etc.? Did your muse read your collection prior to it being released to the public or did she see it when everyone else did?
So excited, scared and everything else in between. I had shown her some samples of poems in the book but that’s the only advantage she had compared to everyone else and I’m still in the dark as to whether or not she read it .
Now that you have published it and people have read your book, do you feel like your desired goal was met? Are you happy with the outcome, do you have any regrets, or feel any disappoint?
I’m definitely happy with the outcome as I do feel almost unfazed by all the pain I used to feel when I think about this girl so I definitely no regrets. The only slight disappoint is I might never know how she felt reading this book.
Do you think this collection changed the relationship with your muse? Where do you stand now? Do you think a happily ever after is in the future for you both?
It didn’t change anything as far as I know. I know she’s apologized for leaving me in the dark and of course I always wish her the best. I think a happily ever after does exist but probably not with each other.
What does this book mean to you? What has it taught you about yourself?
The book means closure and the final goodbye to girl who was to hurt to love anyone including herself. It taught me that no matter how much pain there is always light at the end. It’s always so hard to believe during the time but it’s true the light comes and somehow you’re still breathing and smiling again.
to read The Girl and her Petals
i'd like thank Javier for giving me access to his creative realm and for sharing with us his journey with his debut poetry collection.
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love & light,