with B. L. Bruce
Last month, I sat down virtually with Blogespresso for an author interview to discuss my latest book Measures, my writing process, and what feeds my creativity.
Can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.
My name is Bri Bruce (writing under the name B. L. Bruce), and I am a writer, award-winning poet, graphic designer, and marketing executive from Santa Cruz, California. To date, I’ve written four books, with two more in the works. I also dabble in photography and painting. I work in the solar industry as a marketing director by day, and moonlight as a graphic designer and publisher, as well as the editor-in-chief of literary magazine Humana Obscura. In my free time (very rare these days) I enjoy surfing, being outdoors, practicing yoga, and spending time with family and friends (also very rare these days).
What were the key challenges you faced while writing Measures?
I wrote the majority of Measures during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic’s shelter-in-place. I was struggling with my own mental health as well as with insomnia. The constant barrage of terrible news, both in my personal circle and of the state of the world, was weighing heavily on me. To be honest, many of the poems are a blur. I tend to go into a sort-of trance-like state when writing, and coupled with the insomnia I was experiencing, there are a number of poems in this collection that I just don’t recall having written or had forgotten about until it came time to compile the collection. Despite its challenges—of still finding creativity in such a tumultuous time in history, of being vulnerable in writing, and of shouldering through the worst period I’ve experienced—Measures was my silver lining of 2020. It gave me purpose. I’m proud of this collection.
What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
Having studied post-modern American literature with a poetry concentration in college, I was introduced to a number of poets that were part of the Beat movement. Writers like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Richard Brautigan influenced a lot of my early writing but it wasn’t until the end of my schooling and in my early adulthood years that I found my reader’s niche in nature poetry. Mary Oliver is—and will always be—at the top of my list as far as authors whose writing influence and inspire my work. I discovered and continue to enjoy the work of May Sarton, Maude Meehan, Ellen Bass, and Robert Hass. I’ve also come to enjoy the work of haikuists and short-form poets like Issa, Basho, Tu Fu, and Li Po, among others, which has me experimenting with the American haiku form, and am working on a collection at the moment that I will be releasing in the near future.
What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?
Northern California. I grew up visiting places like Mendocino and Fort Bragg once or twice a year with my family. My parents instilled in me at a young age a love for nature, and for me this region is always a reminder of that. We’d camp on the beach and go diving in the frigid waters. I hated it as a kid and was always cold, but it’s become endearing to me, invigorating even, and is a place dear enough to me to almost call home. There’s something very arresting about the remoteness and the rugged coastlines. It’s rarely sunny, so the weather lends a moodiness to the atmosphere that I revel in, especially for writing. It’s gets the emotions and the thoughts flowing. I once spent a month isolated in a very remote cabin along the coast south of Mendocino to do nothing but write. It was a difficult time for me in that I was attempting to be very disciplined and grappled with my own expectations of myself, but also enriching. I wrote two books while I was there, The Starling’s Song and 28 Days of Solitude, a memoir of my time during that month.
Is there lots to do before you dive in and start writing a book?
Diving in to write comes easy. I try not to force my writing, and instead allow myself the time and space when inspiration strikes just to get out everything I need to say. I find the hardest work is done during the editing process. Trying to make order of and polish my own work is something that I struggle with. I’m a perfectionist, and as such am very self-criticizing. Though in the end this helps me become a stronger writer (and a better editor) it can be self-destructive at times when I’m too much in my own head.
How long did it take you to write The Weight Of Snow?
I wrote The Weight of Snow over the course of a few years. Some of the earlier drafts of the poems in the collection were parts of my senior project in college where the assignment was to write a chapbook of poetry. Of course, the final poems that ended up in the collection were redlined or re-written. Lit majors in a workshop setting can be a pretentious and critical bunch. I poured my heart into this first collection, and when it was so well received and earned a number of awards, it was very re-affirming for me that this wouldn’t be my last.
On what platforms can readers find your books to buy?
My books are all currently available on Amazon. If readers are interested in getting a glimpse of my poetry, give me a follow on Twitter @the_poesis or on Instagram @thepoesis where I am regularly sharing bits of my work.
Tell us about the process of coming up with the cover and the title of your books?
The titles of my poetry books all come from either a line in the work itself or the title of a poem. In the case of my memoir, it was a little play on Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (I jokingly say my 28 days felt a little like 100 years) and May Sarton’s A Journal of a Solitude, in which Sarton explores similar tropes about writing in self-isolation and how this can be a mechanism of sorts for writers.
As for my covers, I used to work in publishing and am a graphic designer by trade, so I actually design and layout my own books, including getting them ready for print production. It’s something I enjoy, and even a service I extend to other authors looking to independently publish. I absolutely love book covers, and think a lot can be said about a cover. One of my favorite things to do is visit a bookstore and just admire the book covers.
When writing a book, how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?
Each book begins to take on a life of its own. I strive not to write about the same subjects over and over, or even use similar imagery or words in an effort to continue to stay fresh while also challenging myself to think and perceive in new and different ways. I draw on a lot of personal experiences when writing, so one way that really enriches my writing process is changing my scenery, whether its writing in a different spot in my house or visiting somewhere new in nature. Traveling is very creatively triggering for me, and you’ll never find me going on any trip without a notebook and pen.
Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?
It wouldn’t be a secret if I divulged it! Get your hands on a copy if you’d like to find out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. If you don’t take my word for it, check out the rave reviews it’s receiving on Amazon or Goodreads.
By Award-Winning Author B. L. Bruce
“As its poems tread through forests, over mountains, and along the water . . . Measures captivates.” — Clarion Reviews
In Measures, B. L. Bruce’s third collection of poetry, the author deftly explores the visual measures of time and the nature of change in her celebrated, nuanced verse.In this latest collection featuring nearly sixty new poems—including works in new formats like micropoetry and American haiku—award-winning poet B. L. Bruce again echoes the lyricism and rich imagery that readers have come to praise.
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