Home Arts & Culture How I Published My First Poetry Collection Before Age 20

How I Published My First Poetry Collection Before Age 20

by Gianna Valdez
inside the mind of tragedy

I once wrote, “And just like emotions, what good is having wings if you don’t know how to fly?”, which is a question that will always travel through my mind. For so long, emotions have been my greatest friend and worst enemy. They have lifted me up to heights beyond my imagination and dragged me to rock bottom. Despite that, they have saved my life and helped me find an outlet through writing. I am Gianna Valdez, a 15-year-old published poet, and this is my story of writing “Inside the Mind of Tragedy.”

Finding My Love for Poetry

Childhood is a beautiful thing, however, I have always felt as though mine was taken from me for one sole reason. Depression is a mental illness that affects millions of people and I am one of them. Seeing as it developed when I was only 10 years old, I felt ripped from happiness. When battling my mind, I knew that there were healthy and unhealthy ways to cope with my problems. Ultimately, I found solace in putting a pen to a page and letting my thoughts bleed through ink.

I never had a strong calling towards fiction, fantasy or any other genre, except for poetry. Poetry, the stringing together of words that are delicately chosen by my soul, became the only thing that I used to express myself. I was no longer alone. My words comforted me and I wrapped them around me in an effort to recreate someone’s hold. At 11 years old, I knew that my first poetry collection would be titled, “Inside the Mind of Tragedy,” due to my desire for understanding. I craved so badly for someone to look within my mind, view my tragedies and simply understand them.

inside the mind of tragedy

Photo by Gianna Valdez

Growing Up With Depression

For three years, my depression and anxiety fluctuated, making me feel fine at times and completely broken at others. I used my pain, though, and turned every tragic situation into words that inspired me to keep striving forward, no matter how difficult my life became. I have seen the walls of rock bottom and the beauties of a serene state. From suicidal thoughts to the sudden death of my dog, Lulu, I have walked on a tightrope above death and used all of my strength to remain fighting. All that my mental illnesses and life experiences have taught me is not to see life through a negative lens, or through rose-colored glasses, but rather a middle ground and place of dialect.

Throughout those years, “Inside the Mind of Tragedy” changed as much as I did. At one point, I had planned it all out, which I had also done with my life. However, it was completed at a pace that matched my healing process. I couldn’t be happier with the result. Only one poem from the original draft survived to see the final collection. This is a symbol of how the darkness I began with did not remain, and I found pieces of hope embedded in the years it took me to complete the book. There was also love, heartbreak, betrayal and grief. There was a love and hatred for everything that has happened to me.

inside the mind of tragedy

Photo by Gianna Valdez

Publishing My First Poetry Collection

From the beginning, I had a concrete vision for what I wanted “Inside the Mind of Tragedy” to achieve. I needed a life to be touched by my words. So I did a complete 180 and my values had changed. I no longer needed to be the one who was understood. Now, I needed to be the one doing the understanding and being that beacon of hope for someone else. I told myself that if I helped one person see the light in the darkness, then all my sadness and pain would have been worth it. Because I knew the value of feeling like you’re not going through something alone, I had to make someone else feel that way.

Writing “Inside the Mind of Tragedy” and investing pieces of myself into its four sections—Life, Emotions, Death, and Hope—allowed me to find a piece of myself that I thought I had lost forever. I found youth, happiness and gratefulness for all that life has given me. Hope and reasons to not let the darkness capture my soul. I never felt better than when I wrote paragraphs and poems that I was extremely proud of and that had the ability to alter someone’s world. Although I never planned on adding the section “Hope”, when I was wrapping up the creation of this collection, I realized how important that four-letter word was. I discovered the hidden meaning behind it and why some people live by it. It struck me so deeply that now, I live by it.

What “Inside the Mind of Tragedy” Taught Me

Ultimately, “Inside the Mind of Tragedy” saved my life and I owe every breath I have to my words. They conquer every dark feeling that still enters my mind because the truth is that every difficult situation gets better, though the process is slow. The wound within your heart does begin to heal itself, day by day. As someone who still meets hard times, I can say that the beauty of it is to find something that turns the darkness into light. For me, it was writing. For others, it could be art, running or simply helping others. To you, who feels lost in this world and is suffocating in pain, you will find your outlet and you will find the infinite light in your darkness. Remember that our emotions are our wings and we can let them drag us down or lift us up. You may be too scared to even fly, but you will never fall if you have hope.

You can preorder “Inside the Mind of Tragedy” here.

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