Favorite song to dance to? How about to cry to?
Miles Davis Quintet – It Never Entered My Mind
Yann Tiersen – Loin des Villes
Describe your personal hell.
Feeling completely lonely when you’re surrounded by people, and like there’s no end in sight.
Who or what always makes you laugh?
The film, What We Do in the Shadows. Kids in the Hall. My sister.
Watching action/adventure/fantasy films in theatres. Eating ice cream.
What’s a gif or meme that you relate to?
Because I can be a little mischievous.
What were you like in high school?
Super shy, super goth.
Most embarrassing Internet username you’ve ever had?
I had a lot of The Cure-related usernames. I think I had a Deadjournal with the username Twiggy at one point.
Where do you find inspiration lately?
Everything and everyone. It’s a matter of perspective, but there’s a story in every place and person and thing and plant. You just have to be open to seeing.
Where did you write most of your book? Why?
Well, for the anthology, A Shadow Map, I wrote the forward in various coffee shops in Brooklyn, at a former apartment, and a former job. I edited much of it in these same places.
What was something surprising you learned while writing this book?
We all struggle, we all want to feel loved and be love, we all want to be seen. We all just want to be happy and fulfilled. And we all deserve that. Abuse is also nuanced, and there’s no “one size fits all” narrative or story – and we need to be aware and open to this. We need to listen to each other and support each other. There’s also no “one size fits all” kinds of abusers. They are your friends, partners, coworkers, inspirations. This is hard for people to reconcile, but we need to break down stereotypes on all sides in order to help each other. We need better systems of support and rehabilitation.
Describe your struggles and strengths as a writer.
I’m super weird and curious and always want to learn and connect to other. This is a strength. My weakness is my impatience. It’s hard to be patient in general.
Tell us a bit about your writing process. What works and what doesn’t? What doesn’t, but you keep trying it anyway?
I’m like a chicken waiting for my eggs to hatch, often thinking and writing notes down before I sit down to compile it all. I don’t stress out too much about what works and doesn’t. I just enjoy the process of being and making art. I do a little something everyday; it’s a joy for me. It’s a way I feel myself, and process the world. Overanalyzing it, in my own experience, causes anxiety – and no one needs that. That defeats the purpose of art. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t schedule time for it, but it should be a time of joy even when that joy is met with frustration.
When did you realize you were a writer?
I was always an artist, but I started writing when I was 11. My first poem was about the moon, of course. I still love and worship the moon.
Any suggestions for fellow writers?
Stop comparing yourself to others. You aren’t meant to be or sound like anyone else. Have inspirations but don’t let those inspirations define your words.
JOANNA C. VALENTE is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. They are the author of Sirs & Madams, The Gods Are Dead, Marys of the Sea, Sexting Ghosts, Xenos, No(body), and is the editor of A Shadow Map: Writing by Survivors of Sexual Assault. They received their MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is the founder of Yes Poetry and the senior managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine. Some of their writing has appeared in The Rumpus, Them, Brooklyn Magazine, BUST, and elsewhere. Joanna also leads workshops at Brooklyn Poets. joannavalente.com / Twitter: @joannasaid / IG: joannacvalente / FB: joannacvalente