"Let the words become salve." Q. Gibson includes this quote in her email signature so each piece of correspondence between us reminds me so eloquently, so beautifully just how powerful words and story-telling can be. One of the most amazing powers of writing, speaking, expression is the ability to heal, to nurture, and Q. Gibson is a woman who understands this deeply and fully utilizes this potential. "Give yourself credit for falling then rising. The sun does it each day and does not fret." With simple, yet incredibly poignant words such as these, she writes of self-acceptance and love juxtaposed against the many struggles and hardships of the modern world. Her first published work, The Flowering Woman: Becoming and Being is available for purchase now, and we have another collection to look forward to - The Sweetness in Soil, which will be released this fall.
First off, can you tell us when and how you first discovered writing was a passion of yours?
Sure. I've always enjoyed writing. It has always been a creative outlet for me but I didn't always take it seriously. I would write in my own space when I was younger, enjoyed collegiate creative writing classes I took during my last few years as an undergrad and would write long stories and short pieces thereafter, but I never thought to have any of it published. I don't think there was a particular event that allowed me to discover that it was a passion, I guess within these past 3-4 years of my life I really just decided that I am going to write more, create more, and be more of myself. So last year I took the leap to finish my first small collection of poetry and prose. It was a very freeing process for me.
You earned your BA at the University of Toledo - can you describe how this "formal" training informed your writing, and what other "informal" influences have shaped you as a writer?
My education itself was actually quite informal if you will. Although I gained my B.A. I was in an interdisciplinary program with a focus on women's studies and digital media. I started out in a Respiratory Therapy program, which if you know me at all, I don't have any knack for medical anything. I'm a germophobe and after the first day of anatomy and physiology, I was just about freaked out. When a friend told me about the Interdisciplinary program I wrote a proposal and planned out the focus with my advisor and went from there. I took a lot of computer applications, writing, journalism and digital media courses. A few women's studies courses were intermixed in. The program honestly allowed me to shape myself and now I work in digital marketing full-time aside from writing. I've thought about going back to school, but I am still on the fence, there is so much I can learn on my own and I have been very well vested in taking that route lately.
Informal influences that have shaped me as a writer is an outside love for reading. Books of all types honestly. I also am an avid learner. I am not too stuck in formal education although I've always excelled in academic settings, I'm much more interested in learning the things I am interested in, mostly on my own timing. I am into a lot of E-courses so I've taken a lot of online skillshare, Yale University and other classes that are free to the public to help shape me continuously in my writing. I am influenced daily, from music, to the people around me and so much more. Each new day honestly has held an influence for me, and life itself has given me a lot to write about.
Please tell us all about your debut book The Flowering Woman: Becoming and Being, which you recently self-published last year, correct? How has the response been? Can you share with us one of your favorite excerpts?
Sure thing. I actually self-published it this year, February 2016, and the response has been greater than I can imagine. I am not huge on social media nor do I have a ton of outrageous followers, but all of my readers have been dedicated and along for the ride. Each month's book sales have been pretty steady, and I have been reaching more women and areas of the world than I imagined. I can only be grateful that the words have touched so many lives in such a short amount of time. I've been able to connect with so many other writers, artists, women and people in general due to me finally taking that leap of faith to putting it out, and I am looking forward to what is to come. Here is one of my favorite excerpts. (Some of the pieces are super brief and others are longer in nature):
Do not spoil yourself dying to be
everything this world expects you to be.
Sweet thing, this is how you preserve yourself.
I also read that you're releasing a book of short stories this November - wonderful! What can we look forward to in The Sweetness in Soil?!
Yes, I am. Thanks so much. It is actually a hybrid collection if you will. It is laced with poems, short stories and prose writings focusing on the narrative of growing up in the inner-city. There's a lot to look forward to. Hopefully I've grown even more as a writer and made it evident. I wanted to share the traditions, the aches, the light, the stories in the often mundane and everyday parts of growing up in the inner-city with a certain fervor. I wanted to make the stories heard, I wanted to show how the ugly can be beautiful and the beautiful ugly. Each piece and each story are set with the young girl from the inner-city in mind, who I once was and in many ways, always am. There are so many small stories that happen every day and because they have become all too common, no matter how grizzly or outright wonderful they are, they often go unnoticed. I wanted to share that.
In addition to writing and self-publishing, you also work full-time in digital media and are mother to a young son, correct? How do you balance it all?
That is correct! Jonah is three now and yes I definitely still work full-time while writing. It has taught me so much about myself. I have always been married to my creative passions and honestly can not function without being able to create something and to get my ideas out there. That's balance for me. As of lately, I've been really into self-care much more and it has really helped me in areas of motherhood, writing, and life in general.
You live in Cleveland, OH where I read on your blog you've hosted free Soul Care Sessions this summer as part of the Black Joy Series. Can you tell us more about this event and any future plans for similar events?
I actually live in Reynoldsburg, a small town outside of Columbus, Ohio. But I am from Cleveland and often there a lot. Black Joy Series was just a free photo opportunity for African American folks to come out and take pictures shot by me. I plan to use them from time to time alongside inspirational pieces, stories and on my social media. In the future I hope to keep switching up the topics- ie: for women, some for strictly men, etc. whatever I am inspired by at the moment. I will continue to host those small sessions freely just to create imagery and spread some empowerment visually is the idea.
Who are three womyn who have inspired/influenced you creatively and in general in your life and how have they done so?
Gosh it's so hard to narrow down three. I have to cheat here a bit but here goes.
1. My Mom & Sisters. It was super exciting, scary, crazy, wild growing up in a house with 5 other women. I have four sisters and my mom, these women inspire me daily to make them proud.
2. Toni Morrison. I don't think there is any other writer who has had as much of an influence on me as she. Her work is so profound, I can study it forever. She is just also super graceful and I admire that.
3. My second-grade teacher Kimberly Smith. I haven't spoken to her in a few years, I actually need to seek her out. But we'd always see each other here and there. She inspired me to really just kind of take control and responsibility for my gifts. During my first grade year of school I was tested out into what some used to call a "gifted and talented school". My first year in second grade I was put into her class and since I already knew math so well she would always get with me after school to teach me multiplication and other things on her own time. My mom would always take me to school to meet with her and to get ahead and it just really empowered me that she cared so much to see me excel beyond. She really empowered me a lot now that I look back on it and second grade was honestly a very pivotal point in my life and me accepting my strengths.
What are you currently reading??
Aw man. Currently, I am reading "The Fire This Time" edited by Jesmyn Ward and it features poets and other writers like Claudia Rankine and more. I can't even put the impact into words right now, but once I sit down to leave a review and thank them for that work I surely will be able to. It's so timely, it's so refreshing, it's so focused on reminding us of ourselves (Black people) and reminding the world that we exist. I'm itching to finish it and may read it over a few more times before passing it on for someone to borrow.
Lastly, can you tell us what feminism means to you?
Feminism to me means the empowerment and protection of women. I think in today's age it can be seen in many ways, often times as a negative, and sometimes as the crutch to some people's egotistical rants. I think it's all about owning our worth and not being afraid to be worthy and to speak up about our rights, our gifts, our abilities and what we deserve. Feminism carries a lot of good weight and I think the more we shun the separation that lies within it and the negative views of it, the more it will serve us.