Author Virginia Davis Shares How She Healed From Past Relationships in Her New Book
1. Tell readers about your new book?
My newest book, The Mending, is a compilation of poems that capture my turbulent, poignant, and triumphant journey from heartache to continuous healing. It depicts my personal experience of grappling with the complexity of emotions that come from withstanding breakups and breakdowns in relationships. I wrote most of the poems in The Mending after experiencing a vastly tragic ending of a courtship that reopened a multitude of old wounds from which I thought I had recovered. While battling the heartache, grief, and anger I felt from the demise of the relationship, I began to think that I was broken and felt perpetually defeated, so I did what comes naturally to me while dealing with any tragedy or hardship — I wrote. I wrote when I was angry; I wrote when I was sad; I wrote when I was confused. I kept writing until I was able to find perspective and peace around what was happening. And, after some time, I realized that I had written myself from that depleted, painful place to a new, enlightened, and liberated version of myself. This version of me loves herself unconditionally and celebrates the fact she was able to find joy and hope in such an unfortunate and calamitous situation. For me, The Mending is the epitome of choosing to take my broken pieces and transforming them into something beautiful — art, and in its most honest and glorious form.
2. What do you hope readers will take away from your story?
I hope that readers, especially anyone dealing with heartbreak, find that it is okay to embrace and honor your emotions, no matter how intense or gut-wrenching they are. In The Mending, my poems shed light on every single feeling I experienced while traveling down the tumultuous road of heartache — from sorrow, anger, hopelessness, jealousy, acceptance, peace, etc. I allowed every emotion that presented itself to flow through me, and I didn’t reject any of them or try to shun them away until I knew that they have run their course. I didn’t allow myself to live in a permanent place of defeat and heartache, but I accepted my emotions for what they were and worked through them accordingly and responsibly, and I still practice doing that today. I think a huge aspect of healing is granting yourself permission to feel, no matter how uncomfortable the process is. I think it’s important to remember that regardless of how devastating your feelings or thoughts are while dealing with something traumatic or extremely painful, those thoughts and feelings are an intricate part of your healing journey. You owe it to yourself to feel what you feel and do so unapologetically. You also owe it to yourself to know what those less than cozy feelings are and do the necessary work to heal from them. I hope that my readers acknowledge that just like it is okay to have happy and joyous emotions, it’s perfectly fine to own those draining, toxic ones, too. And once you do, true healing can begin to commence.
3. What do you feel separates your books from others?
I don’t want to say that it separates my books from others, but I try to write in a way that is extroverted and transparent. I strive to make sure that my readers are fully let into my world and truly experience what I am thinking and feeling while I am writing. Even in my fictional novels, I often write about a sensitive topic (like racism, discrimination, homelessness, rejection of family members, etc.) , and I try to be as honest and forthcoming as possible and get my readers to understand my thoughts and perspective on the matter through the actions, thoughts, and dialogue of the characters in my story. I see my writing and my books as limitless avenues to express myself and the courage to say what is sometimes unsaid or lost in translation. I love being able to give the people who read my work front row seats to that.
4. What part of writing do you personally find most satisfying and most challenging?
The part of writing that is most satisfying to me is, well, writing itself. I LOVE to write and have since I was a child and first started journaling and writing poetry. Writing is therapeutic for me, and there’s nothing more liberating than witnessing my words, thoughts, and creativity live and thrive on paper. Whenever I finish a poem, a journal entry, blog post, or even an outline, I feel a divine sense of accomplishment and power even.
The most challenging part of writing to me is worrying about what people may think of my content. I believe in sharing my gifts with the world, which is why I choose to publish my work when it’s ready for that. However, it is not easy. I try to put on a brave face, but sometimes after I publish my work, I find myself plagued by anxiety and fear of what someone will say, think, or criticize about my work; sometimes to the point that I fear reading my own reviews, but I am shedding myself some grace and remembering that as an artist, it’s normal to be sensitive about your work. I also believe that the more I publish, the easier it’ll be to overcome those troublesome fears and anxiety.
5. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
My advice to aspiring authors is to write and do so authentically. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in comparison or trying to emulate someone else’s style or ideas, which can be tempting because there are so many amazing writers with some pretty awesome imaginations out there in the world! I would say, do YOU, and most importantly, BE YOU. Your readers and fans will appreciate you and your gift for its authenticity and so will you.
I also advise other writers to read and as often as they can. For me, reading is eye-opening and an inspiring experience. Whenever I find myself dealing with writer’s block, I pick up a book by someone whose words move me to my own creativity — usually a Toni Morrison or Jacqueline Woodson novel. In my opinion, a writer should read just as often as a writer should write. So, my main advice to aspiring authors — read and write.
6. What is your favorite album?
My favorite album is “A Seat at The Table” by Solange, hands down. I got a lot of writing done to that album, including some of poems in The Mending.
7. What would millennials be shocked by if they were transported back to the 80’s?
Great question! As a millennial, I think if I were transported back to the eighties, I would be shocked and made uncomfortable by having to live in a pre-heavy technology era. I can’t fathom leaving the house without the convenience of having my iPhone and having unlimited access to anything I want to listen to, anyone I want to call/text, pretty much anything I want to buy, and anything I want to look up on Google, lol. I also think living in a world without social media would be hard for us, though I don’t think being without it would be all bad. But, for millennials, we’ve lived through such a vast variety of social media and conversational platforms — AIM, MySpace, Black Planet, Instagram, and Facebook; I think the transition to life without having those type of systems would be a challenge at first for many of us.
8. If 2020 was a book, what would its title be?
Whew! I am going to try to keep this answer short! If the year 2020 was a book, I think it would be titled The Year of Eye-Opening. From beginning to now, 2020 has done a true number on us and has thrust tragedy after tragedy upon humankind. I remember on my birthday of last year, I prayed for 2020 to be great and prosperous and as naïve as it may sound, I find myself wondering if I should’ve prayed a little harder that day and the days leading up to 2020. I mean, seriously, a lot of us probably think we should’ve prayed longer and more fervently; not that anything that has happened this year is completely in our control. Who would’ve thought that three months into the year, the world would suddenly shut down, and life as we knew it would be no more and for an indefinite amount of time? Who would’ve thought that something as simple and ordinary as going to buy groceries would now be life-threatening if we don’t exercise the necessary precautions; who would’ve thought that our graduating seniors would not get to experience a regular graduation or prom even? The pandemic literally robbed us of the opportunities to do so many precious things that I think we sometimes take for granted — going to visit and spend time with loved ones, hanging out with our friends, having and attending a baby shower or a birthday party, a hug from someone you love who doesn’t live with you. I think that 2020 has really opened our eyes and helped us realize how much the small things like the ones I mentioned mean and should be valued.
The other aspect of the eye-opening, has been the senseless and heinous murders of Black people that have taken place — from Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Arbery, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and others, I’m sure. We all knew that racism and extreme and murderous hatred towards Black people exists; we didn’t forget about the murders of Trayvon Martin and the countless others, but 2020 has really shook us to the core and has unearthed just how much of a stronghold unadulterated contempt towards Black people has on this country.
9. Name one thing that you changed in your life since the pandemic started?
One thing I’ve changed in my life since the pandemic is being intentional about exercising gratitude and doing so on a regular basis. The pandemic drastically and negatively impacted the lives of so many; unfortunately, some people lost their jobs and some lost their lives and family members. I am grateful and blessed to be here surviving and healthy and still doing what I love — writing and educating. When I find myself stressed out about something minute or grand, I redirect my thoughts on everything I have to be grateful for. That’s a practice that I will keep for a lifetime.
10. What is one thing that you kept putting off and finally got done?
One thing I’ve finally got done over the course of the past few months is finishing my first draft of my next book. I started this novel back in the fall of 2017, but life happened; I had a baby and started and finished another book, so I am proud that I went back to finish this one, and I can’t wait for my readers to check it out!
11. If you could go back to one historical event to witness it, what would it be and why?
A historical event that I wish I could go back and witness is the Harlem Renaissance era because I love how it was essentially activism through art. Some of my favorite writers were involved in the movement (Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston). The Harlem Renaissance was a freedom of expression; a freedom of culture, dance, music, dress, poetry, and words in general for Black people who were in search of liberation at that time. It was their chance to be and embrace themselves, and they did so fearlessly. I don’t think it’s often discussed, but though the writers, artists, singers, etc… of the Harlem Renaissance didn’t protest or plan marches, etc., they laid the foundation for all of the other movements against racism and the stifling of Black culture, including the Civil Rights Movement, and I wish I had been there to live and protest creatively through poetry and music in those times.
12. How can everyone keep in contact with you on social media?
I can be contacted on social media via Facebook: Author Virginia A. Davis
and on Instagram: @locs_ and _lit