Published February 23, 2018, Morningstar Musings written by poetess Danica Gim, is the perfect poetry collection for those in their 20's trying to figure out life on their own terms. While reading this book, I found myself being able to relate to so many of the pieces Danica wrote. I was able to literally feel the emotion behind the words on the pages because it was not too long ago that I had been feeling the same ones. There are many stages we go through in life and Morningstar Musings is the perfect read for someone beginning to travel down their path of self exploration, unsure of what's to come but certain for a future different from their past.
In part two of the March Author Spotlight interview, Danica details just where she was in her journey when she wrote the pieces to this collection and how she's come out on the other side. Danica's strength, determination, and bravery is truly inspirational and you'll soon see why!
In the introduction you mention that this book was written far away from home. Where is home for you and where did you write the pieces for this collection? What took you away from home?
I started writing the first pieces of this book in Vancouver, Canada. I moved there from the Netherlands (home) for an internship. I stayed much longer than I planned to and even moved to Los Angeles for a while. Much changed for me in these places. I realized that I was not happy with a lot of things back home and that they needed to change. I made a lot of mistakes and hurt people in the process. Looking back now I could have done a lot of things different, yet I wouldn't want to change a single detail of what it brought me. Change can be terrifying and that's a big part of the book.
This collection is perfect for young adults in the world struggling between the life their parents showed them and life they wish to see for themselves. How did you decide to settle on this theme/topic?
I've always had a close relationship to my parents and I couldn't have wished for a better childhood. I was raised in a Christian family and Christianity played a big part in our daily lives. It's a religion with beautiful concepts and values and it has brought me a lot of comfort growing up. However, it also brought me pain and confusion. From a very young age I didn't understand the concept of why a man couldn't love a man or a woman couldn't love a woman. Or why I should feel so guilty about something as natural as wanting to have sex with my boyfriend. I've seen people use God to justify the most horrifying things. More than once I've seen Him used as a pawn in the games of others. But Christianity was all I knew. I grew up in a Christian family, went to a Christian elementary school, a Christian high school and in college, I joined a Christian student society. It was my entire life. All the people around me were Christian or pretended to be. It wasn't until I left for Vancouver that I found a moment to breathe. To be in an environment where Christianity wasn't the norm and where I had time to think just for me, without the influence of those in my direct surroundings. I met so many new people with so many different visions on life. It inspired me and made me see the world different. I knew my new vision on life would hurt my parents. I think it's something many young adults deal with, especially in a generation that develops so fast with the help of our current technology and social media. We want to respect our parents but we also want to create a life that's our own, with our own beliefs. Fellow writer Lauren Eden once told me that we are taught from a young age to obey our parents and adopt their values. The moment we find that we don't actually agree with some of these values it can be a most scary and alienating experience for us.
A lot of the pieces in the book are so raw and personal. Which of these was the hardest for you to write? Why?
The hardest ones for me were the ones about religion or my parents because I never want my parents to feel like they've not taught me right, that I wasn't a happy kid or that I don't respect their beliefs even though I don't share them anymore. I owe everything to them yet I also can't pretend that this change in my life did not happen or hide the uglier parts of religion as I experienced them.
Which piece in this collection are you most proud of? Why?
Imagination is one of my favorite poems in the book. It's one of the longer ones and I wrote it for the boy I'm still madly in love with today. When I read it I still feel that same longing as when I first wrote it and it takes me back to all our late nights whispering secrets to each other.
Your pieces about religion are very honest and I could relate to your questioning of them. Has your family and/or friends read these pieces and has it caused any conflict with them? Have your loved ones been supportive of your growth and your journey?
A lot of people close to me have been very supportive and a lot have been very quiet about it. It definitely has caused conflict and it still weighs heavy on my heart. There is a lot of silence where I would have loved to see support, but it's the price you pay for writing. I know one thing for sure and that is that I can't and won't stop.
How did you come up with the title of Morningstar Musings? Did you have any other titles you were thinking about using? If so, what were those and what made you finally decide to use the one you did?
I adopted the name Danica when I started my Instagram account. It means Morningstar. Considering my journey of change, I was very aware of the big difference in meaning between two names that are so similar. My real name is Danique and it means God is my judge. I thought it was a perfect metaphor of the struggle I was going through and decided to incorporate it in the title.
What made you decide to leave blank pages for readers to draw and/or write on throughout your book? What inspired that idea and have you received any feedback or seen any pictures of readers filling those pages?
I wanted the readers to feel like the book belonged as much to them as its words once belonged to me. One of the most inspiring things to me is reading the work of other writers. I wanted to create an opportunity for readers to write down their own thoughts as they went on this journey with me. I haven't seen any examples yet but I would love to!
Did you self publish your collection or did you go through a publisher? What was the process like for either avenue you took?
I chose the self-publishing platform Createspace. I heard good things about it from other Instagram writers and I would definitely recommend it too. The process definitely took longer than I thought it would but that's mainly because I found a hundred little things I wanted to change every time I was close to being done. I started putting the book together back in September/October of 2017 so that process took me about four months but I had already been writing the content for a year. Createspace is very user friendly and gives clear step by step guidance for basically everything. I especially loved that you got to review your book in an actual book format. If something is wrong with the formatting, the images, or the outline of your book their system lets you know. And the best thing is that you don't need to buy a bunch of copies of your own book. They only print it when someone orders one. This means you have zero risk!
What did you want the illustrations to look like in your book? How did you select your illustrator and how did you finalize the art that was used and coordinate them with your words?
@gabriellascrapart did the illustrations for my book. I saw her work on Instagram when I first started my account and saved one of her illustrations to make sure I would be able to find her again if I would ever need an artist. I wanted something simplistic yet a little different. @margaretlejarde made my cover and chapter illustrations. I posted a shout out on my Instagram and she responded. I fell in love with her work. They were both very patient with me and they turned all of my suggestions into something wonderful!
Did you have any help with your creative process or the editing and self publishing processes? What did this support system mean to you and what would you like to say to them now that the book has been released?
English isn't my first language so I wanted to make sure the book didn't have any mistakes. I asked one of my friends to review it for me and she has placed some wonderful suggestions for a lot of the poems which really helped me out! Also Instagram writer @anmooreword has been a wonderful friend and support for me. When people close to me didn't respond as excited about the book as I would have hoped, she was there to console me. She was the first one to see a picture of my cover! My partner has been both my rock and my inspiration for a majority of this book. He gave me the love and experiences for a lot of my poems. I will be forever grateful to all of them and everyone that has supported me.
Who was the first person you gave a copy of Morningstar Musings to? Why did you choose that person to be the first eyes to your debut release?
The first person I gave my copy to was my boyfriend. I met him short after I started my Instagram account and he has been a big inspiration. He is the person the book is dedicated to and the majority of the poems in chapter III are meant for him.
How has social media influenced the release of your book? Or has it at all? Has writing and releasing a book always been a goal/dream of yours?
I wrote a book once before, together with a friend and it got published in the Netherlands. I always wanted to write another one but I didn't expect it was going to be a poetry book. Social media has definitely given me the platform to share and build an audience. Without it I probably wouldn't have published my book because no one would know about it and only people close to me would have read my work. Now the whole world has access to my poems.
What will you do different the next time you decide to write a book? What advice would you give someone thinking about writing and releasing their own collection? What do you wish someone would have told you at the beginning of your process?
I wouldn't mind looking into the possibilities of an actual publisher. I'm very proud of the result of Moringstar Musings but I'm not a professional so I'm not opposed to getting actual help of people who may have a completely different view on certain things. My advice is to take your time. I sometimes wanted to rush it just to get it out there but I'm very glad that I didn't. It wouldn't have come out as good if I did.
How has your mindset changed from the start of writing this book to now? Describe some of the growth you’ve experienced from then to now and how you are feeling about it now.
I've learned two things in past year: don't worry so much about what people think and always be honest. If I hadn't been so concerned with hurting people and their opinion, I would have hurt a lot less of them. Sometimes we tend to lie to people to protect their feelings but the truth always comes out and being upfront with them works better for everyone in the long run.
What was your #1 goal with releasing your collection? Did you achieve that goal?
To be honest I really didn't set a goal for myself while releasing this collection. I didn't want to get my hopes up to high. Though I'm very satisfied with the results so far. When I started writing I did set a goal for myself at one point to reach 10K followers, and I achieved that for sure!
What is next for you? Do you wish to write another book or are you going to take some time off?
I'm going to enjoy the 'birth' of this book for a bit first but I will definitely continue to write on my Instagram. I hope to start a web shop soon where I can sell prints of my poetry. To me that's the next step! I try to not overthink the rest too much.
What does this book mean to you? When you look at the cover and flip through the pages - what do you feel?
I feel proud! I have held it multiple times now, saying I can’t believe I created this. Its words are a reminder for me, a turning point in my life. To love fully and take nothing and no one for granted and to be true to myself.
to read Morningstar Musings
a special thank you to Danica for allowing me the opportunity to get to know her better as a person and as a writer and also for giving us a sneak peak into her creative realm.
Have you recently released your own poetry collection and are interested in being featured in the Author Spotlight series? Click the button below to send me a message! Be sure to include your IG handle, the book title, and it's release date!
love & light,