News on my Third Collection

I had been modeling my previous collection formats by very excellent, well known Poets published by big name companies. As a new, small time, self published poet, that’s really not the best idea! Big publishers want more material from their poets, that’s not necessarily what the readers want. The industry is focused on markets and money. That’s not where my focus should be.

I ran a poll on Twitter and changed things up!

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So my third collection started off about 170+ pages and I’m now working towards getting it under 100 if I can. The idea now is to really split the collection into 2 different books. I’ve done some crazy editing to cut the book down.

With this new concept, I’ll be reconfiguring my title and cover as well as sequence of the poems. In short, this third collection is getting a massive remodel, which right now is mainly tearing down the old walls till we’re down to the studs. I’m not worried about my third release date so this construction schedule suits me just fine.

We may have another collection this summer! More updates to come!

The choice to self publish

The dream for me had always been to be picked up by a big publishing company in the future of my writing career. I knew that would not happen right away and self publishing some books would almost be like building up a resume. I could grow my own fan base, I would be showing that I’m not just a one hit wonder, and I would show that I have the passion and commitment to continue on for many more years. 


There’s definitely stress and frustration that comes with putting a book together but I do love having control over every decision and making my collection EXACTLY how I want it. As I’ve never been traditionally published, I don’t know when the hand off happens exactly. But I’m sure there’s Cover Designers and Illustrators that can give your collection a complete makeover – a makeover you may not want. You can be included in the conversation but how could you disagree with the professionals if you didn’t like the design?


A big plus of signing with a traditional company is the marketing resources that can be dedicated to getting your book to consumers’ hands. When you self publish all the marketing and promoting falls on you. The thing is I’ve seen some collections that were published by traditional companies but barely have 50 reviews on Amazon. I know reviews don’t equal sales but one of the big 5 publishing houses should have enough resources to ensure their books are being promoted well. 


Traditional publishing companies have been in the industry for a long time, they have a lot of connections, and they know all the ins and outs to get your book in front of the right people. But will they use that knowledge on you, that’s no guarantee as this recent thread on Twitter speaks to. 


After publishing my first two collections, I’ve learned I want control of all creative decisions and I want as much promotional help as possible, it seems there are plenty of examples in the industry that traditional companies don’t help me with either of those things. 


Being picked up by a publishing company could be the greatest thing to ever happen to your writing career. It could be the greatest to happen to mine as well, I’m just saying that I no longer feel that hungry desire to chase after one of the big 5 houses. I’m happy self publishing. It’s difficult at some points and I know traditional would have it’s own difficulties as well. Self publishing has been making steady strides in this industry for years and I am here for it’s next step.


Interview with Poet Alice Fawn – Installment 8

Alice Fawn is bursting with creative talent from her poetry, singing songwriting, writing, and even teaching yoga. Alice carries out her day in an art form with grace. She heals your body, mind, and soul through all of her creative work. Let’s dive into some of her many projects now.


How would you describe ‘Soft Fairytales’ in one sentence? 

The fairytales I’ve written are dreamy, soft and empowering. They are pleasant magical journeys wherein the message is always the same: You have a purpose. Powerful beauty is already within you Kindness and compassion matter. 

This is unconventional for a fairytale. Classically, they are generally a bit dark and dramatic. 



How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?


I am open to whatever expression wants to flow through next. I had no idea that I’d be writing poetry, fairytales, or even children’s books! I thought I was just a singer who made up lyrics. If we take away labels and expectations, we can be surprised at what comes out!


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from Alice’s Instagram, linked below


What do you hope readers will take away from your children’s book, Ginny’s Cloud?

I hope readers delight in the whimsy of the story. I aim to inspire children to have heart based connections with others.



What is your background in spirituality & yoga? how does it influence poetry/ creative process?


I am a yoga teacher and healer, and I tune in every morning with a brief meditation. This helps me to stay elevated and more calm throughout my day. The quieter my mind, the richer the ideas! I am open to receive. Sometimes a phrase will drift into my consciousness seemingly out of nowhere. I believe this can only happen when I am still. 



Why is writing important to you?


Its nice to have a solitary creative outlet. It often feels like a form of meditation. I hope to uplift and empower people through my work. 


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photo from Alice’s instagram, linked below


When did you start singing? How did you make the jump to starting this new project?


I remember singing and humming as a child. In a rock band, it’s hard to sing pretty the whole time, and lyrics get lost. My current project, Aurora Aura , came about because I realized that my lyrics were important, and the ethereal quality of my voice needed to be heard. Aurora Aura has guitar looping by Dustin Sebes and melody/lyrics by me.  


If you’d like to see more of Alice, connect with her here!

Musical Instagram

Poetry Instagram




Blog Tour Interview: An Interview with Poet Megan O’Keeffe — The Literary Librarian

What gave you the idea for Where I Ache? Or what inspired you to write it?

Where I Ache focuses on various aspects of mental health, such as depression and self esteem, which are definitely important to me and my writing. Mental health can be such a delicate topic and often gets avoided because of that. In fact, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to publish this book because I didn’t know if I could put that vulnerability out there. But then I reflected that because of the silence, people with mental illness feel even more alone, so then I knew I wanted to publish this collection, so that the readers could be their own little community of support and unity.

Interview: An Interview with Poet Megan OKeeffe

via Interview: An Interview with Poet Megan O’Keeffe — The Literary Librarian

Blog Tour: Here is my interview with Megan O’Keeffe (AuthorsInterviews)

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Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

MO: I guess I started to consider myself a writer when I launched my blog Debatably Dateable. Before that I wasn’t consistently sharing my work and had actually tried to stop writing a few times.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

MO: All the positive feedback I was receiving from my blog really encouraged me to put a collection together. I wanted the collection to tell a cohesive story and was inspired deeply by love and love lost. Love poems are really a cornerstone of my writing but I’ve been evolving into various topics.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title of your new book?

MO: The book Where I Ache focuses on depression, self esteem, grief, and self love and there’s a lot of mental and physical pain here. The chapters refer to different parts of the body (head, heart, spine) focusing on different parts of where the speaker is aching.


Read the rest via Here is my interview with Megan O’Keeffe

Thanks so much for the interview Fiona!



how to come up with a Book marketing strategy

Marketing your book is tough business and your book’s success depends on your ability to get it right. I’m going to tell you how to implement a book marketing strategy using the 5 month timeline of my book release. Just a heads up, most research would suggest marketing 12-6 months out.


Beta Readers / Marketing Research

Early february – Beta readers play two important parts for an author. First, they are a fresh set of eyes that can find any last minute mistakes. They’re a great tool for marketing too since they’re your first focus group on your new project. Their initially feedback will help you learn how first time readers will interpret your book. This will help you decide how you will want to market your book and what you want to draw a reader’s attention to. You can ask beta readers (focus groups) specific questions that may be concerning you and they may bring to light questions you hadn’t considered.


Blog Tour

Mid march – Blog tours are a great marketing tool where different bloggers will reviews your book, interview you, or just share information about your book. Blog tours are a big scheduling task though so getting it organized early will save you a headache later. For my release, I’ll be contacting poet interviewers now and hopefully start the tour in early may and have it finish the week before the release date. Since I’m leaning towards interviewing, the more time I have to answer questions, the less stressful the marketing release process will be for me.



April – By Late February you have the feedback from your beta readers and you’ve made your final changes to the collection. Now you’re ready to send out ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) to book bloggers, fellow poets, and anyone else that will help market your book. Free ARCs are given to readers in exchange for their honest review of your book. If you’re selling on Amazon, it’s super important to have a lot of reviews close to your release date to boost your book in the rankings. The higher in the rankings you are, the more people will see your book and consider purchasing it.


More Frequent Posting

May – We’re 6 weeks out from release date and it’s time to pick up the marketing. This is when my blog tour starts, this is when you’re highlighting reviews that have been coming in due to your ARCs, and when you’re posting on all social medias so that everyone knows when and where to buy your book! Support and momentum are really important during the weeks surrounding your release date!



Release Date – June 10th! You’re book is officially released! Time to shout it to the world and celebrate!! You’ve just accomplished something super amazing! Continue to love on your book, but try not to drown your followers in too much noise. Congratulations and best of luck to your book!


25 before 25 list

It’s time to see how I did on my list of 25 before 25.


1. Go on a caribbean trip

6 month check in: I’ve finally booked a trip for February!

Totally lied lol, we ended up using that money to go to California instead!


2. Figure out how all this self hosting works (how can I find my view sessions?! lol)

6 month check in: It’s a work in progress.

It’s actually going well!! Last month, I reached my highest monthly view yet! I also became a member of a few affiliation programs and made $12 from Google Adsense, so slowly but surely I’m figuring it all out!


3. Breakeven on my self hosting investment

6 month check in: That is definitely not happening lol

One of the things I often discredit is that my books are actually products so the money I make there could be used to counter my self hosting costs. First year, I did not make money, but maybe I’ll breakeven this second year.


4. Sell 100 copies of my debut poetry collection Cracked Open in its first 6 months

6 month check in: haha definitely not… but I have made over $100 so I’ll take what I can get

Cracked Open is a year old and I am definitely not near 100 sold copies but I do have high hopes that Where I Ache will do much better than my first collection. Fingers crossed!!!



5. Go hiking regularly in the warm weather

6 month check in: I didn’t get out much as I wanted it

I’m hopeful I can get back into hiking this Spring/Summer!


6. Advance my career

6 month check in: Still hoping to

I’m actually switching career paths! I’m very excited to be heading in a new, happier direction.


7. Write 125 new poems

6 month check in: I’m at about 50 so I’ll probably only get to 100

In addition to this 50, I also wrote over 50 exclusively for Where I Ache! But I fell short of 125 by a few since I’ve been using my older poems on the blog.


8. Create some healthy eating habits

6 month check in: Some weeks I do, some weeks I don’t

I don’t have the self discipline for this… lol


9. Be more active with my dog

6 month check in: Definitely taking my dog on more walks

Had to slow down with the winter weather but I’m planning some doggie park adventures!


10. Go kayaking

6 month check in: Didn’t get to it this summer

I think I’ll try something else this summer, leave some suggestions in the comments!


11. Go to a concert

6 month check in: I didn’t this summer but who knows with the holidays

I went to a Post Malone concert on New Year’s Eve with my boyfriend!!


12. Publish 200 new posts

6 month check in: I post 3 times a week and with 52 weeks in year, I’ll be about 50 short. (should have done some better math before making this goal lol)

Still fell short but I actually have switched my posts from 10 times a month to 12-13 monthly so I am posting more content!


13. Dye my hair a new color

6 month check in: Indeed I did! It’s blonde now

Check out my different hair colors through the years!


14. Start organizing for my next poetry collection

6 month check in: You know it! I have over a 100 poems ready for this one.

WHERE I  ACHE COMING OUT JUNE 10TH!!!!!! Guys I am soooo excited!! I’m so happy that this collection is longer than the first and features a lot more diverse content. I’m also so so happy that I got to work with my boyfriend for this project!! Grab your copy of Where I Ache to see his amazing illustrations!!!

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15. Surprise my boyfriend (no more details incase he reads this)

6 month check in: I surprised him with a dinner cruise for our 1 year anniversary!

This reminds me that I need to do something nice for my boyfriend! He puts up with a lot from me haha


16. Grow Blog and Twitter following immensely (hard to put a number on it right now)

6 month check in: I’ve been working hard at this one!

From April 2018 to this April my blog gained 1,810 followers

From April 2018 to this April my twitter gained 2,595 followers


17. Get another tattoo

6 month check in: I’m not in a rush and I’m still thinking about what I might want

Since I’m changing career paths I need to be more financially conscious so this is on hold for a while.


18. Attend a sporting event

6 month check in: My boyfriend took me to a baseball game.

I also saw a college basketball game!


19. Have half of the finances needed to buy a house

6 month check in: I think I’ll reach this goal

Starting on a new career path is going to push me back a few years unfortunately.


20. Visit another state

6 month check in: I think I will be, still working out the details

Went to California with my boyfriend over the winter!!


21. Visit 20 new places

6 month check in: I’ve been to quite a few new restaurants and local attractions.

I think I’ve reached this one!


22. Go to the golf range more often

6 month check in: Nah didn’t happen

I’m not as interested in this goal this spring.


23. Go on a boat ride

6 month check in: You bet I did!

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24. Get stronger so I can start seeing my chiropractor less

6 month check in: I am seeing the doctor less

I haven’t seen my chiropractor at all this year and I’ve only had a few shoulder flare ups!


25. Have some adventures this summer – fun and carefree!

6 month check in: I definitely got to do some new things and see some new places!

Summer is around the corner yet again, I can’t wait to get a tan and spend time with my family!! Lots of celebrations coming!


Personal Thoughts on Poetry

Through reading, writing, and studying poetry over the years, I’ve formulated some personal opinions on certain poetry components and trends I really like and dislike. There’s plenty I still have to learn about the craft and the community but for now, here are some of my feelings on some poetic aspects:



I love that my collections have chapters. I understand chapbooks not having chapters due to their shorter lengths or not including chapters as a personal choice and preference. There is in fact a downside to categorizing poems as lumping similar themed poems could end up seeming repetitive to a reader. That’s something I’m becoming more conscious of while working on my second collection Where I Ache. But overall, I do enjoy seeing how certain poems can relate to one another. It’s so cool to see one theme through such a wide range of perspectives in chaptered collections.



I personally prefer poems that have titles. I’ve seen plenty that don’t and I understand everyone will have their own creative ideas and reasoning. Titles to me add something to the poem. They might help give the poem an overall theme, emphasis on a particular word or feeling, or additional information. I like titles to give me a hint about the poem I’m about to read rather than just being thrown into a narrative. Titles set a tone or mood, a time period, or reference point. A creative aspect I enjoy about titles is when they’re used as the first line of the poem.


No rhyme or reason

I don’t think poetry needs to rhyme. I think types of poetry work better when it rhymes such as songs and children’s nursery rhymes. There are plenty of forms that require it and plenty that forbid it. I think people unfamiliar with poetry would assume it always rhymes when in fact a large number of poetry presses request that submissions aren’t rhyming poems.



I like the term poetess – it reminds me of male lion vs female lioness and lionesses are super badass running their prides and being the hunters of their species. They’re strong and fierce, what’s not to like. Leaning on that idea and calling yourself a poetess seems very cool in my opinion.  


Insta poetry

I understand that social media is so huge in today’s society and I completely understand artists wanting to reach their audiences on all platforms. The world is moving at a fast pace, technology is fast, and therefore you never want anything taking up too much of your time. So short and sweet ‘instapoems’ have become quite popular. I’m all for being smart with how you use your page’s real estate but I think poems with more than just 4 lines are more powerful and moving. I’ve written instapoems myself, they’re just not the only poem length I write.


Indie Presses

Essentially every poem I write, I then publish on this blog. This makes all those poems ineligible for most printing presses since they wouldn’t be exclusive to that publication. I never really understood why poets took the time to publish to indie presses until I realized that some poets don’t have blogs or just might not publish to online forms/sites. When I write a poem, I want to share it with strangers so of course, if I wasn’t publishing them online I would absolutely be submitting to indie presses in order to get my poems into print! I also very very briefly submitted some work and I don’t know how these Poets continuously handle the rejection. 


Interview with Susi Bocks – Installment 3

Susi Bocks is so inspirational to the poetry community. She works on her craft everyday, finding the unique and beautiful all around her. The poetry community is about challenging each other and pushing each other up to reach higher. That’s exactly what Susi does every week with her weekly Haiku Challenge on her blog, IWriteHer, as it’s her favorite poetry style. Thank you so much, Susi, for taking the time to do this interview and giving me some extra motivation I didn’t realize I needed.


How do you find the motivation to write something new every single day?

It feels like the urgency and the drive to write is always sitting right below my fingertips. Not sure if this relates back to when I first learned to type and fell in love with pounding the keys. Let’s hope it’s more because I think I have something to say. Haha! But couple that desire though with any number of catalysts which present themselves to me daily and there isn’t a day which goes by that I’m not writing. It could be about anything.

For instance, having profound thoughts about a piece written by another author which has impressed me, an evocative image, answering these questions, wanting to be engaged with a writing prompt/challenge, or me needing to be understood about something particularly relevant in that moment. I do have a need to be heard. And it probably stems from early childhood where my voice was frequently drowned out or dismissed by those who should have been listening. Add to that, I’m very driven to check off that box at the end of the day. So not writing would certainly leave me feeling like it wasn’t a productive day.


What did you learn after publishing Feeling Human that you implemented for Every day I Pause?

The biggest challenge with Feeling Human was that it was the first one! There was so much I did not know about self-publishing and had to learn which helped me tremendously with the second. Formatting Every Day I Pause was still an arduous task considering the number of pages this one contained but it was made much simpler by knowing the basics. It also took much less time pulling it together because I was better organized better. I think knowing how to set things up and understanding the preparation required to publish another book made it so much easier. So the next book will hopefully be a piece of cake!

What’s your favorite style of poetry?

2018 was the year for me to discover and learn many forms of poetry, and it was the reason I posted once a day. I felt it would help me understand more about poetry itself but also help me find what was actually most preferable. After I was pulling together all the poetry for Every Day I Pause, I discovered that roughly thirteen percent of the poems written were in the style of Haiku. This showed me, like with most things in my life, I’m attracted to brevity. I recently posted about it called Concise Thoughts https://iwriteher.com/2019/01/21/concise-thoughts/
It’s a wonderful feeling when I think I can say so much in only three lines. And I love reading another writer’s work when it can so quickly and easily take my breath away. That level of quality is impressive.


What made you decide to publish your work?

I think it goes back to that feeling of wanting to be heard. Once I realized I was committed to writing, it just came natural to me that the next step would be making my thoughts known publicly, whether on the blogs I’ve had over the years or in book form. Feeling Human ended up being a very different book than I had imagined my first one would be. Back in 2014 or 2015, I had wanted to write about my dysfunctional family primarily because both my parents had died. Three months into it I had to put it aside because it was just way too depressing.

Then I made the best decision ever, took a trip to see my best friend on the East Coast. While I was there, the idea to collaborate with her was born. See she is an incredible artist and her work added so much value to the book; there was no way I could do this without her. Every chapter was prefaced with her beautiful interpretation of the emotion I was trying to express through my writing and poetry. It was an honor to publish this initial book with her, plus she gave me the courage to see it through. Now, that I’ve done both books, I just feel spurned on to do more of the same.


Please tell us how you got from “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up to being a published author of two books – one predominantly poetry – in your mid-50s.

Never in a million years did I think I would be writing poetry but here I am! It really feels like home. A place to understand myself better and find creativity within that I didn’t know I possessed. And it’s such a positive place to be when for most of my life, I’ve felt like I was surrounded by negativity. It’s odd but wonderful to feel satisfied and validated but that is what writing ultimately did for me. Sometimes, I wish I had come to that conclusion sooner but maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated it as much as I do now.


What do you feel are the characteristics about yourself that you are most proud of?

Dependability, honesty, strong sense of justice – and I hope that comes through in my writing as well.


What pivotal moment did you realize that you wanted to write?

In November 2010 I attended a convention. There were so many young, talented people in their 20s and 30s surrounding me and I had to ask myself “here I am at 48 and what am I doing?” I took about a month to really evaluate what it was that gave me joy and satisfaction. The common thread of everything that I loved – reading, lyrics of music, what I adored in school (book reports – oral and written, literature), what I enjoyed at home (reading, debating, talking) – was words.

I loved words and I especially had a desire to be heard using those lovely words I knew so well. I started my first blog – Susi’s Soap Box, and this is where it all began to fall into place for me. It eventually evolved into a more serene place called PhiloSusi. This is where I started dabbling in writing poetry. Then came the first book – Feeling Human, and my blog – IWriteHer, and recently Every Day I Pause.


Get in touch with Susi and Her Books:




Interview with Poet Christopher Perry – Installment 2

Christopher has three poems published in a NYC publication of short love poems that have been translated into Farsi with the translation being printed alongside the original English. He’s such a dedicated writer and he has plenty of knowledge to share with you so let’s hop into this interview! And for more of Chris’s work, you can find his blog here).

I see you have a section on your website dedicated to Haikus. What made you fall in love with the form? Do you prefer strict form or free verse?

Writing haiku is at first glance a simple task, a bit like following a yoga routine every morning to set your mind right for the day ahead. Like a yoga session it is a challenge to focus the mind on the form. I do love writing haiku; particularly the discipline required to utilise the 17 syllables in such a way that there is a twist in the images being created in so few words. It is a test of vocabulary and phrasing to produce maximum effect. It also teaches you to struggle with word choices and word order to get maximum value within the box.

I work particularly hard to form a three word phrase from the first words of each of the three lines that make sense if taken alone. It is very satisfying to do this when the phrase adds to the moral of the 17 syllable form and a real hit when the first words
of each line and the last words of each line can be written to create this effect. A friend of mine has called this form of haiku the Haiku-o (Haiku-tail). It is like a word suduko and hours can disappear working at such a puzzle.

With regard to free verse or strict form I feel that free verse is great for drafting longer poetic ideas. However, when redrafting I consider whether specific word choices, or the number of lines used and the stanza lengths can be drawn into a pattern of some form, but this rarely ends up in a strict form of poetry.


I really enjoyed reading your poems in the NYC publication, how did it feel to have your work in front of such an audience?

Thank you for saying that you enjoyed reading the three short love poems published in Persian Sugar in English Tea – Volume 3. These were my first published poems and from my first ever submission. I thought that getting poetry published was easy when I got the acknowledgement, but then I was reminded that I had not submitted enough work yet to make such a judgement!

Now I am very grateful to have had something published, particularly about love, a subject that every poet on earth writes about. Possible Side Effects was written in 2008 and had only previously been shared with the person it was written for, so it was good to see it out there. In the Garden had led to my selection as poet of the day in the NaPoWriMo (National Write A Poem A Day Month – now a global writing challenge) in April 2018.

That was written on April 5th and selected over-night for that honour. Again, it was very flattering to see recognition of a spontaneous love poem in hard print. The third poem True Love was written on my birthday last year as a gift to my best friend, so she was thrilled to see it published, which made me very happy too.


A fair amount of the poems on your blog are inspired by Nature, what else inspires your writing?

The inspiration for all of my writing is movement and change. I am always (we all are) on the move and life is movement as nothing stays the same forever.

It is easy to be critical of change and to hold nostalgic feelings for the way things were. It is equally possible to presume today is an improvement on yesterday and that tomorrow will be better still.

As I travel through life I try to keep my eyes and ears open and write about what is happening around me and make connections with things I have seen and learnt. I am outside a lot which brings me closer to nature and the nature of people – the staples of poetry writing.


What made you take to writing seriously in later life?

When I was younger the stories of Graham Greene held my imagination and inspired me to think that I might have something to write about. I then spent my time getting an education, chasing a career, paying a mortgage, raising a family and spending 15 years teaching in a large secondary school. I was quite busy and always thought that I would like to be a writer when I get the chance, whenever that might have been.

I always write travel journals during holidays and started one or two page-a-day diaries, but never took it seriously until I attended a poetry reading at Books Books Books, (the English bookshop in Lausanne run by Matthew Wake). The reading was organised by the Geneva Writers’ Group. There I was told by one of the organisers that I should stop saying I would like to write and start calling myself a writer. As in a haiku, changing the words a little can have a huge impact. This was the moment I became a serious writer.


Which poets have influenced your writing?

When I consider my literary education I remember specific moments of insight that came from reading Pike by Ted Hughes, hearing a class-mate reading The Day My Pad Went Mad by Dr. John Cooper-Clarke and To His Coy Mistress by John Donne. All very different and all equally inspiring. I think that I was very lucky to have been born at a time when the Beat Poets had laid down a new pathway for poetry.

The greatest influence of all has been the lyrics of Bob Dylan. His story-telling captured in his album Blood on the Tracks is the ultimate poetic trip for me. It is not just what he says, but what he leaves out that allows the listener to fill gaps with his, or her own pictures that I find so brilliant.

It is impossible to tell how much one is influenced by individual writers. Every poet tries to speak with an original voice, so I just hope that what I write is distinctive enough to be worth the reader’s attention and gives some pleasure.


Why is writing important to you?

What a difficult question! I think that writing helps me make sense of the world I inhabit. Writing is a way of engaging with others. Writing is also an entertainment for me that costs nothing, which when done well, can also give pleasure to others. For example, I get a particular buzz from taking part in poetry open mic sessions. Finally writing is important because I am not passing through life passively, but taking part in life.