Help Lola write dangerously and live boldly

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I’ve known Lola since she was 16 years old, and went by a different name. I’ve watched her change, as 16-year-olds have a habit of doing, even as her thoughtfulness, raw talent, and passion have remained the same. She is now applying that passion and talent to her first book—a collection of poetry—and needs a little bit of help getting there, as many young writers do.

What is the Night of Writing Dangerously?
The Night of Writing Dangerously is a San Francisco-based event in which 225 writers fill the Julia Morgan Ballroom to attempt to each finish their pledged goal of writing 50,000 words towards their novel in one month, a pledge we call NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month for short. I am going to be a NaNo Rebel this year, choosing to pour out 50,000 words of poetry rather than a novel.

Why is it important for you to attend the Night of Writing Dangerously?
In many ways, the unprepared who attempt NaNoWriMo can have it slide past them like a half-hearted New Year’s Resolution. They mean well, but it is a big commitment and they don’t know how to tackle it in a single month. But imagine this: How much harder would it be to shrug it off when you set up the plans to attend a big workshop where over 200 people were all attempting that goal too, giving each other moral support? How much harder would it be to give up if a group of people, loved ones and strangers alike, were all so convinced you could do it that they bet a great deal of money you could, making a huge donation to charity in your name? On top of that, the more people you insisted to face-to-face that you could achieve this goal, the more you’d have trouble backing out. I believe that psychologically, if I attend this event I am already that much closer to success.
But allow me to appeal on a different level. I am young, but not young enough to continue to comfortably coast without direction. I’ve been insisting from a young age that writing was my passion and through thick and thin I have, on the whole, meant it. I tried to convince myself that fiction was my true calling, but the truth is that prose and I aren’t exactly the best of bosom buddies. But poetrythe language of the soul, the expression of abstract shapes such as emotion and why the littlest moments matterthis is what I am truly called to do. I need this chance to prove myself. I will not let it go to waste.

Where are you at in your writing career?
I’m sort of at a lull. Through the grace of the good people at New Times I have been publishing columns of news interlaced with opinion and humor for several years now, but that is not how I see myself spending the rest of my days. I am having a bit of a crisis and this feels like the right way to approach it.

Why writing? How and when did you first discover your passion for words and storytelling?
My goodness, so long ago. My family insisted on reading to me every single night, and encouraged me to help them read along. I have early memories of my mother surprising me by having books appear magically under her pillow, and when my family read to me less and less the hunger never dissolved. I began picking up from where they left off in novels. I wanted to give back to the universe where it had been so generous for me.

Tell me a little about this poetry book.
I do not know yet the title of the book, but when it comes to me I will probably feel goosebumps. There are a great many themes at work in my writing. But I feel Daft Punk would put best why I do what I do: “If I had my way I would never leave/Keep building these random memories/Turning our days into melodies/But since I can’t stay/I’ll just keep playing back/These fragments of time/Everywhere I go/These moments will shine.”

Capturing the nonphysical, describing the indescribable. We’ll never get it just so … but it’s the attempt that matters. I have lost count of how many I’ve written. Many of my earlier ones would not hold up today. I hope to publish over a hundred poems before I die … one hundred sixteen, if possible.

How does something like NanoWriMo solve a challenge particular to writers?
When attempted successfully, NaNoWriMo is a pledge to take time you’ll never have and use it anyway, with the only interest on that credit being your own natural birthing of whatever bizarre and wonderful creation is inside of you. Writing, on the whole, is a time-consuming promise that people make more than they keep, and by making it an event and setting a goal, NaNoWriMo aims to stick the promise to them.

Once you do finish this book of poems, what are your plans?
Publish it, then cry as it sits in my hand. But after that, I’m not sure. Keep writing, I suppose. The work of a bardess is never done.

You mentioned in your fundraising campaign that you are a transgender poet, which leads me to believe that the fact of being transgender has an impact on your writing: Is that accurate and, if so, what is that influence?
My gender identity and its clash with what society believes should be normal is a very large part of my human experience. This directly correlates with my goal of helping others through exploring what I myself have had to deal with. If I could help even one other transgender individual by putting into words the struggle they think they are alone in, and then infusing that with hope for the future … that is all I need to say I have done when I pass on. The truth is, an alarmingly high rate of gender non-conforming individuals, myself included, struggle intensely with thoughts of suicide. But there’s a term I am proud to have coined that I would love to see usage: Voldemort syndrome. The more we live in fear of his name, the more power we allow him over us. Likewise, the more we talk about our mental health’s peaks and valleys, the more we can work past the stigma and find the help we so desperately need, not only for ourselves, but for others. It’s tough to talk about, but we MUST.

Do you have a deadline to raise the money?
I do. Technically late November is the absolute latest but the event sells out rather fast and apparently is doing so at record times this year. What I have not yet spoken about is that I intend to bring a second person with me to this event, a wonderful individual whose writing is brimming with such intense creativity that it can’t be contained. Her novel’s universe has been such a massive part of her life for years and she’s trying very hard to get it down. Please help us both make good on our true callings. Time is running out fast.

Who are your literary influences?
I have a great many for each type of writing I attempt (such as Roger Ebert for nonfiction), but we are speaking of poetry here.

Imogen Heap: Let’s begin with my favorite poet of all (and favorite musician, to boot), Imogen Heap. This incredible writer weaves tapestries of white noise into meaning, is able to imbue each word she writes with such meaning … Less is more in poetry. She never wastes a word.

Edgar allen Poe: It is a great shame of mine that, despite owning most or all of his works, I have barely read more than a small few of them. But sometimes a single piece of artwork leaves impressions for a lifetime. This is the case of his famous masterpiece, “The Raven.” While I am not terribly gifted with the sight to envision an entire novel, short bursts of creative storytelling, in poetic form, are to me a dying art. From the atmosphere of the work to its beautiful rhyme scheme, I am in awe of the work to this very day. Similar shoutouts go out to Lewis Caroll (whose Jabberwocky was my world from a young age), and of course …

Dr. Seuss: This man is truly the master. Composing fables of various sorts in a complicated meter as if it was child’s play, then illustrating them himself. I could pick up any of his works today and not be bored.

a.a. Milne: Somehow, this man managed to capture all the humor of childhood and put it into terms that even those still within its grasp could love. I also gained his propensity for capitalizing Important Thoughts.

William Shakespeare: Were it not for the enticing challenge of imitating the Bard’s meter and rhyme scheme, I may never have gained enough experience to attempt this challenge. Most of my poetry follows his Sonnet style, including ending on a couplet that sums up the driven-home point.

Is there anything you’d like to add?
For reading this long interview, I’d like to share an extra poem of mine as a free bonus, just as there is one on the fundraising page (in fact, that one is even more indicative of my usual style). Thank you for your time.

My glass door was open for you
Without needing to even touch a handle, I could feel my words
warm words
comforting words
words you bring out the best of
fall out of my lips and onto you
as they did, I listened
I could hear them fall upon you and around you
in soft murmurs, a backdrop of loving static
in notes that wished only to harmonize with you as you sang
But you did not sing
you hummed, and fell asleep
And so I continued to pour my words out.
Maybe some of them made it into your dreams without your even realizing
all I know is that
as long as you continue to be
the you that I opened myself for
the longer I will remain open,
and I will not care if the floor gets wet
if I at least said something you will have felt.

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