Nikita Gill is one of the most popular Instagram poets and also one of the most serious and talented writers of our generation. She is a regular Thought Catalog contributor and Collective World member. In my interview with her, I focus on learning more about her book, Your Soul Is A River, and writing process.
With poetry, what is one thing you want people to feel after they put it down? Hope. Just simply a feeling of validity…and a feeling of hope.
What can you tell us about your best selling book Your Soul Is A River? The book is catharsis and healing and survival all packed into 160 poems. I wrote it to remind myself that there is a lot of beauty in the world. That in the grand scheme of the universe, I am simply a blip, so that means my problems are miniscule. And finally to know that I can survive anything. I put it out there hoping that some of the poems in there can help others too.
How would you describe the theme/genre/style of the book to someone completely unfamiliar with your work? The poetic style utilised is free verse and the genre of the book can be classified as confessional/self help. I want this to be a book for anyone who has found themselves, hurt, damaged or broken and is struggling to survive. The poems themselves are easy to digest and are meant to evoke emotions in just a few words.
Where did your inspiration for Your Soul Is A River come from? I often found myself overwhelmed with feelings growing up and being told that I felt everything too deeply and that this was wrong. I would go for long walks into forests by myself, sit under the stars and let my feelings go in the quiet there. That’s where this book came from.
What is/was your writing process like? I write best at night. There is a very comfortable chair in my room I have covered in three of my coziest blankets. I sit in this chair with my notebook and that is when I write. I also have different notebooks which I write in according to my mood. I refer to these books and the poems I like the most, I put in the book. I also wrote a lot of it whilst camping out in the forest next to my house.
What is/was your editing process like? I leave the piece I have just written alone for a long time. Mainly because I need to make my eyes fresh for editing. When I return to it, I try to return without as much of an emotional attachment to the piece. I try to read it as someone who has never read the poem before. I ask myself difficult questions, like does it make sense, is it just bad, is it far too personal? And I make out my thoughts in red.
If you could do anything differently, would you? Why or why not?” I would pay more attention to my editing and ask more people to go through the book for me. That was something I felt like I didn’t do enough of. I would also make the book a big longer and play more with the language. Since then, I have been reading a lot more and trying so much to experiment with my technique and language. These are things I would change about the book.
What do you hope readers take away from Your Soul Is A River or anything you write, really? Hope. Things will get better. That you are stronger than anything life throws at you. That there is always hope for you, and happiness will one day come to you.
Lastly, what sort of advice do you have for any writers who want to write a book, but aren’t sure where to start? The thing with writing is, you need to just do it. You can’t hope for inspiration to hit you or for the first poem of a book to be exactly that when you first write it. Make writing everyday a habit. Once you do, you will find yourself with the bones of a book on your hands faster than you can imagine. [cw-mark]