Carly Jennings | Author of 'I See in Words' | Inspiring Interviews

Carly Jennings | Author of 'I See in Words' | Inspiring Interviews
Tell us a little bit about yourself…  
Hi, I’m Carly and I live in Kent, right by the beach, which I am so grateful for as I feel more at home and at peace by the sea than anywhere else.
I love lots of things - like my family & close friends, a mix of deep conversations & light hearted giggles, being an Aunty, my slightly crazy French bulldog Marli, watching the sky at dusk, laying in the sunshine, sipping peppermint tea out of pretty mugs, and SO much more… including writing, of course.
Yet, it’s hard to introduce myself without also sharing a little of my story of living with chronic illness for the past 25 years, simply because it has been quite severe and and restrictive, and whilst it definitely doesn’t define me it would be untrue to deny that it has shaped my life and choices. To say I am not where I thought I would be is an understatement.
But I believe in working with where we are at (when this is possible) and my recently published book i see in words could not have been born without the wisdom and inspiration I have gained from this challenging journey. 
Last year you launched ‘i see in words’ – congratulations! What led you to writing your own book? 
Thankyou! I think that I always knew I wanted to write, although as a young child that was mainly focused upon personal journals and I didn’t really have a concept of it being my purpose or my potential career. Mostly I loved to read books, but there was definitely a calling towards seeing my own name on the front cover the older I got, and particularly once I got very unwell with ME/CFS and associated conditions.
I was diagnosed in the incredibly judgemental era of the 90’s (at age 16) which meant that I experienced the collective & societal shame and stigma around the condition. In practical terms this meant that I mostly kept quiet about my illness and symptoms (especially at the start) and tried to push though as I continued my education. I didn’t feel able to share, simply because I knew it was not a time where it would be met with sympathy, solution or understanding.
It was, and largely still is an invisible illness, for so many reasons which I discuss further in the book, and I guess for me it got to the point in my early 20’s (when I became bed-bound) that I needed to share. It wasn’t so much about educating others, it was more a personal urge to release the truth and be seen. It was also about saving myself in a way because at this particular point I was in a constant state of high anxiety/panic and picking up the pen (whenever possible) gave me a focus/outlet.
I played around with an initial manuscript on and off for years but in hindsight I look back and realise there was too much agenda attached. It was a story I desperately wanted to craft into a recovery book, a how-to-get-well if you like. The only problem was that I was not recovering, and in the end I had to let it go, which was heart-breaking.
I continued to dabble with writing alongside my quest for healing, but there were many long interludes and it was only about 5 years ago I properly began again and started a blog, It was a huge and vulnerable step to take but I just knew I had much to offer and that this opportunity was one to embrace. In this new online space I organically opened up more and more, and I feel this period was very much a process of personal growth.
The specific idea for i see in words was born quite out of the blue from here.
But basically a book was always in my heart waiting until I was ready (and the world was ready) to simultaneously express and receive that which was meant to come through and be born. It was a little bit of a mystical process and is something I share more about in the book.
You self-published ‘i see in words’ which is a huge achievement in itself, as well as writing content for the book! What challenges did you greet along the way in self-publishing and what advice could you offer others who are inspired to do the same?
Being honest I hoped that all I had to do was write my words and that a beautiful publisher would snap up my manuscript, and that would be that. Haha. But that didn’t happen… and to be honest I think I only half-heartedly emailed a sample over to one publisher anyway. My lack of effort in this regard told me something, and tuning in I realised that She was meant to be self-published. 
To be honest I didn’t stress too much about any aspect as my energy was so low that all I could do was take each stage as it came, and it therefore simply became a step-by-step process. But also the poems ‘arrived’ with such ease and grace that it all flowed nicely and felt like a gift in many ways.
However, saying this, things did shift a little once I reached the the final editing/production/publishing stage and I knew I had reached my absolute capacity, so this is where I delegated.
 I reached out to someone I knew who did VA work and we worked together to get the manuscript uploaded onto Amazon KDP. I also hired a graphic designer to create the cover which was such fun,;and together these lovely women both took the reigns from me and transmuted my book into physical format.
In this regard it was very important to me to collaborate with like-minded people. Your book becomes such an integral part of you that you have to trust those you invite in. There was a part of me that would have liked to have done it all being honest, and yet She became so much more for me reaching out to others, including the friends I asked for feedback and proof reading. It slowed the journey down, but in a really good way which allowed evolution - both creatively and personally.
Therefore I think the best advice I can truly give is to tune in to what feels right for you and your creation, but to also allow carefully chosen others in when appropriate. I would also say to pause often because there were many points at which I felt ready to sign my book off, unbeknown to be that I wasn’t even close. It was fascinating actually and I am so glad I let it all take as long as it needed in order to become the book She is now.
But equally your journey may be completely different to mine? And that’s the magic ;-).
In a nutshell, what is ‘i see in words’ about?
i see in words is in essence a poetry book which speaks a truth so many of us can relate to. It is the things you often feel but don’t say, or cannot quite articulate. 
It is also more than this though and Part 2 contains beautiful mini chapters on healing, creativity, spirituality and living brightly. It is my writing story, my health story, my mindful musings and so much more. It is your story perhaps too?
It will certainly attract those who live with chronic illness and challenges, those on a soul path, and those who crave creativity; but also it appeals to a far wider audience too. I’m told that She holds a kind of magic and has a knack of presenting the right poem to you at the right time.
Every writer can take years to find their own writing style. Yours is distinctive in offering beautiful stories within a line to a few paragraphs. How did you find your writing style and what advice can you offer an inspiring writer to find theirs?
Thank you, thats so lovely to hear but honestly I didn’t find or look for my writing style. It is just the voice in my head and I don’t think it needs to be any more complex than this. More than anything the process and lessons of the book taught me to surrender to who I am and to open up and receive what comes through me. 
I guess it’s a natural process but also one which requires courage and practice. I certainly worked through vulnerability issues especially as I drew close to publication. But ultimately I knew that I wanted this, and that this book was in a way bigger than me, which helped.
It’s also very funny because I had never written poetry before, and never intended to. I didn’t even really like poetry! But that was before I understood its power, emotion and magnetism…. Basically my best friend randomly sent me a poem one day and something happened. Quite suddenly I picked up a pen and poured out my own verse. It was as though a portal had opened and from here they kept on coming. (Again I explain more about this process in Part 2 of the book.)
So in summary I would say that your writing style is already something you know intimately, it is the conversations you have with yourself every day, and perhaps it’s more about the confidence to truly express this inner voice which takes the greatest practice. 
But it’s always useful to play around with ‘writing’ and for me I honed my craft in journals and later on within my blog, but it has definitely evolved and perhaps it always will. I don’t know yet.

Everything you’ve written in ‘i see in words’ feels very authentic and real to your experiences. Did you build up the pages for your book naturally or did it take some planning?
It was completely organic and natural but I am intrigued to know if my future books will evolve differently? I don’t think there is ever one way to do something but I probably imagined that I would plan out a book, so this took me entirely my surprise. I think the universe knew that unless it happened with simplicity I would not have the capacity for it. But is has also been a valuable lesson in letting go of expectation. All I know for certain is that to write a heart shaped bookI’ need to soften into a state of feminine flow - this is how I create, this is how the words come. 
Having said this, the editing stage took a little more thought and required me to briefly step into my masculine, which at first felt jarring. But still it was a natural transition and after the initial hesitation I really enjoyed this part too. 
 The end result of i see in words was quite different to the first draft, but I know that each alteration was meant to be to produce a book I felt completely happy with.

What do you wish the reader to feel after they have read ‘i see in words’?
I would love the reader to feel understood in a way they perhaps haven’t yet been. I would love the reader to feel supported and validated, especially if they are living with chronic illness or challenge, but mostly I would love the reader to feel inspired by the magic of a process which unfolded without a plan.
 I hope that the reader feels empowered to create,, knowing that baby steps are allowed and that truly valuable things take time to come to fruition. I hope too that each reader knows the gift they have within them - to offer to another and to themselves.
I hope you want to pick up a pen and grab a blank sheet of paper…

How did it feel on launch day to release your debut book, ‘i see in words’?
Tiring and overwhelming to be totally honest! I had lived and breathed her for so long I was just ready to let go. But I was very proud, excited, and also a little bit nervous. My heart was happy but my body was shattered and so I was a little all over the place. Since then though I feel grateful and content that I am a real author and that I have built this foundation.
Entrepreneurs become very used to the many challenges, ups and downs, twists and turns of any journey they take on. What have been the most challenging days and what important lessons have you learnt as a result of writing your book?
If I’m being really honest I would say that ‘life’ and ‘healing’ are far bigger roller-coasters than writing a book, and the challenges throughout were always energy/health related for me. I guess I had to apply the lessons I’ve learn’t from my health journey; that is to simply honour what is physically possible and feel any frustration (or emotions) which arise.
I have also learn’t that I have to be true to my heart (and voice) and write primarily for myself rather than for anyone else. 
It’s all a work in process. It’s all a journey. I’m open to it altering.

What’s your best piece of advice to someone wanting to write a book but not sure where to begin. How can they start and what can they do when they feel discouraged to keep going?
If your heart wants it then keep the dream alive, but tune in as to whether you are forcing it or if it genuinely feels right, or right fro right now. Sometimes you do have to let projects go in order to create the space for new ones to enter, and it can feel like a unavoidable void.
Maybe just knowing this can help? Knowing that although you dream it, you don’t know for sure if it will happen, how it will happen, but that it can suddenly take you by surprise and you’ll smile as you realise that you didn’t even need to work out a plan after all?
Looking back to the time just prior to starting this book though I remember consciously committing to my journalling writing practice. The urge to create something tangible had flared. I remember writing out my story (again) for no other reason that not knowing what else to write about, unsure of where it would lead, but fulfilling a desire nonetheless. And in the end those scribbled words led nowhere… yet they were possibly a necessary warm-up.
So I would say just write, Just create. 
And when it all aligns you’ll be ready.

In a sentence, what’s the best piece of advice you could give to another who needs some encouragement on pursuing their dreams, whether it be a business, a life change or forming a new company?
Take a baby step from where you are, it will never feel perfect, but you’ll know if it feels true and if it’s worth experimenting with. Take the pressure and agenda off, honour your physical and emotional wellbeing and trust your heart.
But equally everyone is unique and what works best for me may be entirely different for you, so ultimately I would say - be you, do you. (And if you don’t know how that looks/feels then this is how you find out.).

Follow: @carlyjennings3
Purchase: Amazon 'i see in words'