Brandi Spering is a writer and artist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She focuses her writings on nonfiction and poetry, often combining the two for her unique style. She also enjoys making visual art through painting and embroidery. Right now, she is focusing on the release of her first book, This I Can Tell You, which is open for preorder through Perennial Press. We spoke to her about her process, inspiration, and journey as a female writer.
Can you tell us the journey of your time as a writer?
My journey began when I decided to major in creative writing in high school. Being exposed to different genres of writing as well as growing with the same group of peers, helped mold me as a writer. I continued studying in college, where I eventually found my footing— again thanks to the influences I had, in both professors and fellow writers.
I started to perform at open mics and readings, where I always felt like a writer, but I also grappled with whether or not I was one, as I equated my validity as a writer with whether or not it paid the bills. This thought was contingent on the amount of student loan debt I had (and probably will always have), but at the end of the day, I’m a writer because I write. This year has also felt like a beginning, though, as my projects are coming to fruition in publication, especially This I Can Tell You, which was originally written about six years ago now. [However] You don’t have to be published to be a writer, but it can be difficult to fight the sense of discouragement that comes from constant rejection letters. But every writer/artist/person comes to deal with that in some form or another. It all comes in waves.
Describe your writing process and how you would describe what you write.
I like to blend nonfiction and poetry because it allows me to stumble gracefully as I maneuver scattered thoughts into a concise thread. This is particularly helpful while writing through themes of memory and trauma—and especially with writing This I Can Tell You—as I write as a way of reflection, or to process. I try to jot ideas down as they come to me, but rely heavily on editing my work as well as seeking critique from writing groups. I also like to read what I’m writing out loud; I rely on sound a lot, too. I like to think that the themes I write within will rotate over time, but so far the approach and tone is what varies.
How do you choose to inspire yourself?
By reading or having long conversations, finding similar threads amongst memories and thoughts of those around me. Reading a good piece of work whether it be for critique or enjoyment, always gets the brain worms going. I particularly find inspiration in my friends’ writings.
Is there a woman author or a piece of writing you hold close to your heart? Why?
Laura Elrick, because I had the privilege of being her student and was able to experience her brilliance first hand, hoping some would rub off on me. I’ve learned so much from her, so having the chance to read her work means a lot. Check out her newest book, What This Breathing (The Elephants, 2020).
What part of the writing process do you find most difficult, why?
Normally, it is the first draft that is most difficult for me because it takes me a few tries to figure out what I am trying to say. I become more cohesive with editing but am impatient for it. It is also difficult, with writing nonfiction, to ensure I am writing the truth, since memory is selective. It isn’t always possible to be completely transparent, when considering the sake of others’ privacy. I always thought I would be an open book and for the most part I am, but so far the hardest has been learning how to be respectful with stories that aren’t only mine.
What would you say to young women who would like to become an author?
Sit with your work, take space from it, share it, print it and read it out loud, to yourself and to another person. For young women specifically: stop apologizing out of habit, particularly when it comes to your work. Support other women/writers. Find your community of people to edit and share with. Submit your work (if that is your wish) until you find the right home for it.
Do you believe women are well represented in your industry?
Since getting involved in independent publishing communities, I see immense support, but that doesn’t mean misrepresentation is abolished, especially for all women. There’s room for it in every aspect of life, unfortunately, and not everyone is going to have the same experience/treatment. I personally feel extremely well represented with Perennial Press, in a way that surprised myself and my family/friends. I suppose the answer is in our general expectations of the publishing process. And perhaps that is why I naturally gravitate toward working with women.
Your new book is coming out soon, can you tell us what to expect from that?
I can tell you that it is not a collection of poetry nor straight prose. It is a narrative that blends the two forms. This is all about perception and memory, the fragility of both especially in consideration of each individual’s truth, and in the context of family dynamics.
The book description: This I Can Tell You walks in through the front door and looks under the sofa. It measures the length of the wall, taps to find the beams. It removes the hammer and the nails from the toolbox, places them in a line to find the difference. This is a poetic narrative that examines structures within a home. It navigates Spering’s muffled timeline due to the fragility of memory as a result of trauma and the secrecy maintained within a family, like a well-groomed dog.
Watch the trailer for Brandi’s book “This I Can Tell You” here:
Brandi is another one of the inspiring, intelligent women we got to interview this month. Her art and writings can take you on a journey like no other. We recommend looking into her work if you like nonfiction, poetry, and especially a combination of the two!
Check out her upcoming book, as well as it’s reviews and trailer, below!