December Author Spotlight: Marya Layth (Part 2)

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after all, the best views are worth falling for 

- More than Bread

More than Bread, Marya Layth's debut poetry collection takes you through a journey of a girl seeking a concrete answer in an ambiguous world. Broken down into four parts, we are taken through the dialogue shared between The Girl and The Star and why she is searching for one particular star to answer her questions. Each part also includes poetry fitting for each moment The Girl shares with The Star. 

Self-published and released in August of 2017, More than Bread speaks for so many people in all walks of life. People forced to fit into a mold society created long before they ever walked this earth. Those told to dream only the dreams deemed safe and logical by those who once took the same risk we are told not to. So many of us in the arts have been on this road and asked the same questions The Girl has but never to find the answer and so we end up living in the what if's instead of the i did's. 

As i read through More than Bread I not only felt The Girl's evolution but of Marya's and my own. Empowering and inspirational, Marya teaches us that we mustn't be afraid to be our true selves and to follow the path we see for ourselves regardless of how unconventional it may be. Life is bigger than us, it is more than bread, and Love for self and for others is all that matters in the end. 


Where did the title More than Bread come from? What does it mean? Did you have any other ideas for titles and if so, how did you decide to go with this one?

I actually came up with the title More than Bread with my godmother. Being that I didn’t have a huge budget for an editor, she would often come over to help me edit. Initially the book was going to be titled Apocalypsis but we agreed that word came packed with too many preconceived notions. During one of our editing sessions we just sort of came up with it as response to the poem “the Dialogue”, which is the final poem. What I love about it is that the poem is only a few verses long, but it sums up the spirit of the book entirely.

What was your inspiration for this project? Was it always a goal of yours to write a book or did you grow into the idea? If so, describe that growth.

When I started writing the poems for what would eventually become More than Bread, I had this constant vision in mind of holding up a mirror to myself and the world around me.

What came out was the conviction, revelation, defeat, anger, wonder, pain, and faith that had built up in my voice from years of not knowing how to express it.

Did you do the illustrations prior to writing the poems, after, or during? How did you decide which ones to include and where they would go in the book?

I was not planning on including illustrations and only decided to do so within the last 4 months before its release. It delayed me quite a bit actually because on top of it being a last minute decision, I had to learn how to use Photoshop to draw the illustrations. Until that point, I only made art the old fashioned way: that is, pen and paper or canvas and paint brush. My husband bought me a digital drawing tablet one day that I was reluctant to use for months, but he finally convinced me it was the best way to include illustrations in the book. I ended up taking to it quickly and really enjoying it.

What is your favorite poem in More than Bread. Why? What does the poem mean to you? 

If I had to pick my favorite poem, it would be “Boxless”. The poem sums how I have felt my entire life. Infact, so many of the poems in More than Bread are my way of finally owning the fact that I do feel like I can’t fit into a mold. “Boxless” is my way of owning who I am unapologetically and saying I will no longer doubt the path I find growth on, even if it means I am considered naive.

And as much as I wrote “Boxless” from a personal place, I also wrote it knowing that there are those who feel the same. I want to inspire the tribe of people out there who have spent their lives hardening themselves so they can neatly fit into society’s and other’s people’s idea of success.

The Girl’s character is such a perfect example of someone who feels the same way. She is literally looking to the stars, to the sky, to something bigger than herself, because she feels that society can’t guide her to where she wants to be.

Did you self-publish More than Bread or did you go through a publisher? Describe your journey of either avenue you took. 

More than Bread is self-published on Amazon through Createspace. I chose Createspace mainly because I found it to be the most streamlined option.

The most challenging part about self-publishing is, well, being a self publisher. You take on the role that entire publishing houses are established for. Marketing, indesign, cover design, editing, and accounting is on you.

Self-publishing forces you to get out there, network, and engage with the writing community and readers since there is no marketing team doing that for you. It’s one of the most challenging parts, but also one of the most rewarding.

What advice would you give to someone who just finished their manuscript and wants to begin the publishing process? What things would tell them to research or look into? What do you wish someone would have told you when you were at this same place?

Explore all your options before committing. Whether you traditionally publish or self-publish, it will take a lot of time and patience.

If you decide to self-publish, be sure to do it as professionally as possible. If you can swing it, put a budget aside to find an editor and anything else you need help with in the actual forming of the book.

The truth is, aesthetic matters. People most definitely do judge a book by its cover (and interior) so be sure the cover and interior are professional looking, well thought out, and showcase your words in a way that you are proud of.

That being said, don’t beat yourself up when things go awry. You’re only one person who is taking on the role of an entire industry while also juggling your aspirations as a writer on top of countless other responsibilities.

What was the hardest part of this project for you? Was it the poem selection, the formating, the illustrating, etc?

I found organizing the order of the poems to be the most painstaking. It took months. Fortunately, a friend suggested that I break up “The Tale” into four parts, because initially I had the entire story featured first (looking back, I have no idea why I thought that was a good idea). After I made that decision it became much easier to allocate the poems because I chose them according to their relevance to the part of story featured at the beginning of the chapter.

What emotions did you face right before releasing your project? Were you anxious, excited, overwhelmed? What fears, if any, did you have the night before More than Bread released?

When I finally released More than Bread I was mainly overwhelmed with all the technicalities that went into putting it on the market. Both my husband and I were staying up until three in the morning multiple nights a week doing research, formatting, finalizing the illustrations, editing, re-editing, and the list goes on. By the time the release day came, I was excited but also tired and a little daunted by the prospect of having to shift gears and market my book.

It’s safe to say that my greatest joys with More than Bread have been in the weeks following the release date when people actually began engaging with and responding to my book.

How important was it for you to have a strong support system during the making of More than Bread? Did you find yourself stressed out or frustrated at all and leaning on your family and/or friends for support? Do you think their presence made a difference on the outcome?

The support I received from my husband and family made More than Bread possible. They never sowed a seed of doubt into my decision to devote myself to writing, which is precisely why I dedicated the book to them. I know how rare it is to have that, and I don’t take it for granted for a single second.

It’s hard to put into words how profound of a help my husband was during this entire process. He helped me with everything from editing, to formatting, to designing, and all things technical. Nothing that was printed didn’t hit that page until he saw it. I must have made him read More than Bread at least 25 times. He has seen it at every stage of its development and spent so much of his free time helping me bring this book to life.  He believes in my voice so much, sometimes more than I do, and I really can’t stress enough how deeply blessed I feel to have someone who takes my passion seriously.

Also, my godmother poured hours of her time into helping me edit, and even brainstorm the title. She is someone who has been very close to me since childhood, and to have her work so intimately with my book was very meaningful.

What’s next for you? Where do you want to go from here? Do you have any more projects coming up? Do you have any ideas to release another book in the future?

I am on the brink of a few projects that will be released in 2018. I’m launching a micro-gallery on my website www.maryalayth.com with original watercolor prints inspired by the poems in More than Bread. There are a few other projects in the works but I’m trying to tackle one thing at time.

And yes, I have a growing collection of unpublished poetry and short stories that I plan on publishing over the next few years.

In less than 5 words, describe what More than Bread means to you.

Reach higher. Be humble.


to read More than Bread,  

 

I want to thank Marya for allowing me into her world and getting to know her on a more personal level! More than Bread solidified for me that I must keep pursuing the path I see for myself and to never allow the opinions of others to lead me off course

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Are you in the process of writing a book or on the verge of releasing one? You could be the next Author Spotlight! Click the button below to contact me. Please include all your information as well as your project release date! 

love & light,

e l e v e n