How I am

(on 19 July, 2016 & with 17 Comments)

I am in Virginia now, surrounded by fellow writers. The weather is lovely. I am heartbroken for many reasons, but also hopeful for many more. I am creating, creating, creating. I wear red lipstick often and receive compliments which make me blush, though this is not the reason that I wear red lipstick. I carry a notebook around everywhere I go and usually am shoeless. Yesterday I met a cat outside who sat on my bare feet as I wrote a poem about sadness. I read the poem to the cat, and the cat purred, and I felt better.

This is how I am.

I have been published in many places lately, and I realise I have not shared these things with you as I try to do. So here they are, all at once:

My poem “Love in Goddess-Speak”, centred around Indian culture & girls who love girls, was published in Some Safer Place, an anthology tied to adolescent intersectional narratives.

“Kumkum Powder”, about Diwali & hope, was published in The Life of Colour Project, a gorgeous new journal dedicated to sharing pieces that promote warm experiences in women of colour.

“Sacrifice Speaks”, about cat-calling & delicacy & fury, was published in The Mira Project, which aims to promote the voices of marginalised women.

And finally, I was interviewed by Abi Pearson about what I create & why I do it & how to support me.

This is how I am:

I have tried my hand at reading tarot and am loving it more and more. Often I and my friends gather in the evenings so that I may pull futurisms out of cards, and it is wonderful. I received an air plant as a gift; it is small and hopeful. I am going to many thrift shops and marathoning That Song as I do, picking up hoodies, graphic tee shirts, floral dresses alike. I would like to have a cohesive wardrobe, but alas: I am too many girls. I am too many infinities.

I watched this video, and it made me cry, and I waved my roommate over and made her watch it, and she also cried, although she does not label herself a “crier”.

I am reading The Future of Lifeby E.O. Wilson. It, too, has made me cry. Mostly in public, where I receive odd looks from passersby and generally embarrass myself. Next on my TBR list is Internecineby Claire Na, and this will also make me cry – there is no doubt about it. (Truthfully, I am sort of tired of crying over gorgeous media, but what is one to do?)

Americans are odd. Lovely, but odd.

Half Mystic’s Issue I orders are pouring in. Many writers from camp are interested in buying their copy, and soon we shall be sold out once more. This delights me. (P.S. order yours now.)

We are accepting submissions for Issue II: Saudade at the moment, and exciting partnerships with gorgeous organisations + artists are brewing. I already cannot wait for you to read this issue. I thought that allegro was our pinnacle, but clearly I am wrong.

I performed at a small poetry open mic a few days ago, and it was a delight. I do not have the video yet, but as soon as I am able to access it I shall share it with the love letter list. It will be wonderful.

A good thing: “When I ask myself why I collect books, I think of a review [Walter] Benjamin published in 1930 in which he imagines the writer as ‘a ragpicker, at daybreak, picking up rags of speech and verbal scraps with his stick and tossing them, grumbling and growling, a little drunk, into his cart.’ It is always daybreak somewhere along my shelves.”

It is always daybreak. It is always daybreak. It is always daybreak.

This is something my obsessive-compulsive, perfectionistic self must know. I wrote it down on a post-it note and now it lingers on my shelves, a kind of hope, a remembering.

Here is a small playlist I made, containing songs I adore at the moment. There is lots of John Mayer and Vance Joy and Sam Smith and John Legend, because that is how I roll. (If you enjoy my taste in music, here is another gift for you.)

I have not picked up any clients for a long while – design or writing or business or otherwise – but I have fallen into working with one of my dear friends here to design and build her new business. We create hard and laugh often. It is a good, soft thing. And I am excited to see what we create together. Perhaps I may begin working with more clients again. (A question: if I did, would you be interested in working with me to write things for you or edit your own work? Please email me if so.)

Often I am sad here, but also often I am happy.

Here is Lemony Snicket’s advice on writing a thank you note. This, I think, is why I adore him so. (Related: the Empire State Building’s souvenir postcard.)

As with music, it takes a lifetime of practice to be kind to yourself. Make space for that practice, and the harmony will emerge.” I am trying to be kind to myself in the way a treble clef holds the staff close to its enormous curvature, this spiralled heartbeat, an exercise in tender.

I admire minimalism. I try to practise it.

Heaven or This is now at 5000 downloads. There are many gorgeous reviews. I receive emails daily from its readers, and every time I am awed anew. In case you missed it: currently I am answering questions regarding the book on Goodreads, so you may ask whatever your heart desires.

There has been wondrous dialogue happening with my Patreon fireflies. I am sharing much unpublished poetry with them, which is terrifying and beautiful. If you have the means, please consider showing your support.

Two days ago I was in my dorm, and it was dark, and the faerie lights were on, and my roommate, who is a songwriting major, strummed her guitar and sang soft sad songs about her ex. It smelled like peace and fabric softener. She paused and turned to me. “Am I keeping you awake?” she asked. And I said: “Yes, but don’t stop.” And she did not.

This is how I am.

And you?


17 Responses to “How I am”

  1. Oh my gosh Topaz I haven’t been on your blog in a while (I’ve been away and just recently got back) but I’ve missed your soft and lyrical way with words, it’s so beautiful and calming. I’m off to read your poems now but I just wanted to say congratulations on all your achievements so far, it’s so exciting! Every time I read your blog and see how much you’re accomplishing it makes me even more motivated to try and succeed at my own things! (trying, and failing – so far.)

    • It is always a delight to see you around these parts, Hawwa; the dragons have missed you, you know. <3 Thank you so very much for your infinite kindness. I wish you the best of luck in your own endeavours. I know there is enough stardust in you to succeed a thousand times over.

  2. It seems like there are some quite incredible things happening to you at the moment, lovely, and I am so happy for you.

    Congratulations on all of your recent publishing news, and for Half Mystic’s first volume being purchased, and Heaven or This being downloaded, and for having a kitty sit on your feet while you write a poem. They are all special things that you, as a special person, deserve. <3

    However, it saddens me to know that you are heartbroken and sad, but I can only hope that the lights you have written about in this post keep you buoyant at times, and simply floating at others. *hug*

    • Thank you so much, my sunflower. It means the universe & more. <3

      Alas, sadness seems to pervade so much of myself lately - but I too hope that the light might shroud it at times. I am taking it one day at a time, as always. Let us hope that loveliness lies around the corner.

  3. Look at all the pretty links. Links links links links links. It’s good to hear about how things are going for you, and I hope that you continue to have awesome things going for you. :)

  4. That’s so cool you’re in Virginia! (I live in Virginia.) I hope you have the best, most wonderful of experiences in America. I’m sorry that it’s been so awful here lately, so sad and so hopeless-seeming and so violent. I wish it were a safer and happier country.

    Your poetry is beautiful, as always. You are one of my favorite poets.

    I’m so happy Half Mystic is doing well! You inspire me.

    I’m sorry I haven’t been commenting on your blog lately. I let the sad part in me win for a while and stopped talking to everyone, but I think that I am getting better at fighting now, and I’ve missed reading what you have to say.

    • Oh! How wonderful, friend! Alas, I wish we could have connected earlier – I would have loved to meet for tea. Perhaps the next time I am in this beautiful state.

      Your words make my heart sing. Thank you so much for all of your kindness and honesty. There is no apology that I will accept – it is less important that the sadness won over for awhile and far more important that you triumphed over it in the end, as hope always must.

      Your warmth and courage inspire me daily. I hope that my words may help with the sorrow as much as they can – and you know that my inbox is always, always open. Infinite love. xx

  5. shar

    This is wonderful, Topaz. Best of all is the being–I love how this post isn’t about the happiness or the sadness, or even one thing in particular, but the being. You are fabulous, and you are there, and that will always be enough (but hey, extras like summer school won’t hurt, hey?)

    • Thank you so much for your infinite kindness, Shar. It is all about being, I think, and the peculiar loveliness of that even amongst the horrors of today. I try to celebrate it. I believe it is something we must all try to do.

  6. pavedwithbooks

    This is a lovely post, Topaz. I hope it’s wonderful being surrounded by writers and getting to create so many pieces! Congratulations on all the publication, and I hope you keep going with the tarot cards – they’re such fascinating things. May you have more hope than heartbreak in the following days <3

    • Oh – thank you so much, my dove, for your kind wishes and your congratulations alike. Truly the workshop is the most beautiful experience I ever could have hoped for; I dread the end only as much as I relish the moment. The loveliest combination, I think. xo

  7. Being with a writer’s community sounds so lovely!
    Congrats on getting poems published! That’s so great.
    So cool to hear you getting into tarot. I love it. What deck do you use? I’m using an oracle deck techincally.
    Damn that video, I couldn’t watch all of it, I was getting too emotinal.
    I’m adding both books to my TBR right now. Lol Americans are odd! :D
    Oh Lemony Snicket, what a man. His words never fail to make me laugh or think.
    Congrats on all the Heaven or This downloads!!

    • Dearest Abi, it is a pleasure to hear from you! Thank you so much – the writing workshop is utterly beautiful, and I’m honoured to have been published in such soft lovely places. Regarding tarot, I use the traditional Rider-Waite deck; I find it is pliable and versatile enough to work beautifully for a beginner such as myself.

      True indeed – the video was unfairly tear-inducing (as both of the books are; I cannot wait to hear your thoughts on them!). Lemony Snicket is perhaps my favourite human being, after Einstein and Malala. And: thank you very much for your kind wishes, my friend. They mean the universe & more.

      (P.S. I received your email as well. Responding ASAP. <3)

Courage, dear heart—