Last year I had the idea to put together a poetry collection. I started looking through the thousands of poems I’ve written over time, some only a few lines, some a full five pages of rhymes, some just little ideas or incomplete attempts. I realised that just looking through the poetry would get me nowhere nearer to completing the collection. I was getting way too into the pieces; reading them and rapping them rather than selecting anything. I needed a theme, a category to help me know which ones to shortlist.
My poems span a myriad of topics. I started writing at about age seven, although it was more fun than serious, then the hobby transformed in my teenage years. I would always run to the pen to pour out my thoughts and feelings, I would get ideas and lines float into my head all throughout the day and have to get them down before they floated out again. It was my vice to clearing the bubbling chaos that was often inside of me. When I was at music college, I started to share some of my writings. I wrote a couple songs for other performers to sing, I would pass my phone to friends and tell them to just read through my notes. I got positive feedback, and it was a huge boost as it was the first time I felt comfortable enough to let other people in to my deeply personal poems.
The year after I left college I was lost in direction. I wanted to dip my toes into everything but didn’t have the motivation for any of it. The one thing that stayed consistent, however, was my writing. That never wavered. I set up the Lyric Deep website last year and being able to share myself three times a month on here means the world. I feel like I have found my direction, I have found a space where I am not censored or embarrassed, but I am confident and proud. It is an incredible feeling. The website went live around the same time I was putting the poetry collection together.
As the website was doing well and I was invested in it so much, and I started university last October, and I had no resources or knowledge on how to publish my own book, I kind of let the idea fall by the wayside. It was a dream, but unfortunately felt just that. I left the project to collect dust. This was until a dear friend and incredible power here on earth arrived with support to offer. Oracle Girl (www.oraclegirl.org) and David, her partner, got in touch with me and offered help with publishing. I have to admit, in my inexperience, I thought they meant just sharing one of my poems on their social media pages! When I realised they meant help to publish a poetry book, I was flabbergasted. Their generosity blew me away. I was also shocked, as I had been working on the manuscript already, but as I say, left it alone to focus on other things. It was almost like Oracle Girl knew this… but all I’ll say on that is – check out her website!
I returned to the manuscript. It was a bit of a mess, but the outline was sure. Each poem was in a different bloody font, a different size. The spelling and punctuation was just embarrassingly crap! As I had just copied and pasted the poems into one note, it wasn’t a suitable format for a manuscript. I transferred it onto a Pages document and got to work editing it on there. And of course with that ran into more problems! Oracle Girl told me about Kindle Direct Publishing (an amazing programme that lets you self-publish books! It’s easy to use and I really recommend it), and when I tried to submit my Pages manuscript, it was the wrong format. So I downloaded a template from KDP and redid it on this. Then it was outside of the page boundaries, then, then, then… but I eventually got there!
The title of the book was something I wanted to carefully select. For all of my poems, I like to choose interesting and unique names for them. I feel it gives them an edge, a pull, an individuality. I wanted the book to have the same, but I also wanted it to make sense with the collection’s topic. There are six chapters. Him, Her, You, Me, Them, Us. Each chapter has nine poems, starting with three about hating the chapter’s pronoun, transitioning into the stages of that hate turning neutral, and finally blossoming into love – an important metamorphosis I feel every human should learn to embrace. So, love is the centre of this book. But, I thought, how many bloody things are out there titled some variation about love? Then I had an idea.
I chose the title I Love, as it applies to the chapter names. I Love ‘Him’, I Love ‘Her’, I Love ‘You’, I Love ‘Me’, I Love ‘Them’, I Love ‘Us’. It is a simple title, but I enjoyed how it applies to the book, and I thought it was direct and catchy. The alliteration of I Love by Lyric Deep pleases me, also. Things were coming together.
I ordered an ISBN from Nielsen UK, which means I can sell the book wherever I want. I made the cover art on a free app on my phone called PicsArt, and I love how it came out. It worked perfectly with the size I chose for the book, and I decided to have the cover in a vinyl finish rather than a matte one. I Googled how to write a blurb, and did so. All of this was experimental, and that’s what made it so fun. It was a wholly new experience, one I’ll never forget and one I’ll always cherish, as this is my first book! KDP lets you order a proof copy, so you can check a physical version of your book out before publishing it or ordering official copies. That was my next step.
When the proof copy arrived, it was a beautiful moment. I felt like I was holding years of hard work in my hands, years of experiences and moments and feelings and emotions and finally putting them to great use. Unfortunately there were some formatting mistakes, to do with spacing and things like that, as well as a few typos. I corrected these in the manuscript and resubmitted it. The journey was nearly done!
I ordered 250 copies. They took a month to arrive. I made the decision to sell copies from the website only to people in the UK, as this is easier for me to sort with postage. The books are also available on Amazon for those outside of the UK. I really do hate speaking about money. But I felt it necessary to be transparent on here about why I wanted to sell them on my own site. Amazon takes a pretty big cut of the profits, yet if someone purchases on my own page, I get 100% of it. After months of hard work and doing all of the creating of this book myself, I hope others can understand why the income from the book matters to me. I already have ideas for the next book I want to publish, so the earnings from I Love mean a lot, as they will be funnelled back into my future creative works. This is the first step in what I hope to be a lifelong career. I Love is the culmination of years of wishing to be a successful poet, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel so accomplished already. This is the beginning. I am dedicated to working hard, putting in the effort to achieve what I want to achieve. And that is simply to share my creativity, and be able to live off of that.
I want to thank everyone who has bought a book. It means so much to me, and I can’t begin to explain how exciting it is to know my work is sitting in-between pages in people’s homes. My house is full of books, and knowing I’ve joined somebody else’s bookcase just spins my head. Thank you, thank you, thank you. To be able to support one another is so vital in these trying times. We are a community, not because of creed, skin colour, sexuality, but because we are all human. And you have all made this human very happy.
Another new addition to the website is the Videos page. Most of my work is written to be performed. Well, it is to be read also, but its full power really shines when it’s spoken. Here you will find the links to my Youtube videos of me performing different poems. I plan on recording and uploading many more. I really enjoy doing it, and I enjoying sharing them with you.
Finally, I want to say a huge thank you to Jacqueline (Oracle Girl) and David. Your support with I Love has made it all possible and to have the boost and power of you both involved in the project is immeasurable.
This month Jacqueline is doing her silent immersion. This is a whole month of purification. I really recommend signing up, and checking out www.oraclegirl.org for the other events Jacqueline does. She is opening the world up to the Positive changes that are on their way, and being part of it is really something special.
The poetry collection is dedicated to her, and features a quote from Jacqueline at the beginning. As you will see on her website, “embodying more love on this planet” is what she is all about. This book takes a huge inspiration from that.
WIAEA (What I Am Excited About):
Song: King Kunta by Kendrick Lamar – For some odd reason, I put listening to Kendrick Lamar off for a very long time. I love rap, mainly from the 90s and early 00s. I like some of the modern stuff, a lot of the current UK hip hop artists are incredible, but I’m not too up to date really. I watched a video on why To Pimp A Butterfly is the greatest album and I was convinced to finally check it out. I was blown away. The music on it is just so exciting, and Lamar’s lyrics, vocal delivery and passion, as well as his message, really swept me off my feet. I love King Kunta, the third track on the album, but I recommend listening to the whole project, off-shuffle, on-speaker.
Book: The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R Tolkien – Again, this is a series I’ve wanted to read for ages. I’m a big fan of the films, and as I’ve really upped my reading game in the last couple years, I felt it was finally time to venture into LOTR. I got the books in a boxset, including The Hobbit, for Christmas. I can’t put them down! Jesus, by far the greatest literary work I’ve EVER gotten into. I am blown away by Tolkien’s creativity, imagination and hard work. You are taken into the story head first; it is better escapism than drugs and drink could ever give. I’m sat in my bed imagining myself as an elf. I’m truly gripped.