My Featured Blogger this Month is author D.L. Finn.
D.L. Finn is a native of the Bay Area who now lives in Nevada.
Her work includes children’s books, poetry, fantasy for young
adults and adult paranormal romance.
Her latest work is a book of poems, ‘Just Her Poetry, Seasons of a
What was it like to grow up in the Bay Area 70’s and 80’s?
It was an awesome time and place to grow up. I was born and raised in Castro Valley, which then still had some open land with horses and farms. I was within walking distance to town and the bus. So, I could go anywhere my feet, or the bus took me. It was great to live by The City, San Francisco, and visit Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Union Square, Golden Gate Park, etc. I also was a big fan of the ocean, redwoods, and Berkeley. As a teenager, I appreciated the music and local bands that included attending many Day on the Greens. Sports were always a big part of my life, too. My grandparents took me to baseball or hockey games in Oakland; football was deemed too rowdy for me. I was never bored. Now it’s a place I visit but it will always be close to my heart.
When did you start writing?
I always enjoyed writing in English classes, but when I took a writing class in high school, I was able to explore writing more. The teacher of this writing class accused me of copying a writing assignment out of a magazine that I had spent a great deal of time working on. It was a questionnaire for teens on dating. In a very strange way, it was a compliment, but I could never convince the teacher that I had written it. She had both of my parents as a teacher, so I suppose I was pre-judged. I was a very rebellious teenager and being told I couldn’t do something, only managed to encourage me. I didn’t write much out of high school, but in my mid-twenties got back into writing again. Then, I just kept building on it and learning.
How does a poem come to you?
I usually decide I’m going to write a poem. I grab a notebook and write what comes to me. I relax and pour out what I see or what I’m feeling. It’s different than writing a story where the ideas come to me first, and then I write. Here I write and the ideas come through. At first, it may be a few odd lines, but then it begins to flow as I go on. I love sitting out front and feeling the landscape through words.
You write that you use poetry to vent your frustrations. How do you decide to share a poem?
My poetry book was twice the size when I began. I took out the ones where I mainly got off my chest how someone made me feel angry. One poem might have been all swear words…lol. The ones I removed were what I decided had no point or value. I also had several on my feelings about the current divide in our country. I felt adding those would only add to the divide that currently is frustrating me. What I wanted to do was mostly nature, but found I had other things to say. There were some I went back and forth with and decided to share how I felt dealing with illness or weather-related issues with the fires and the shootings, or death. I guess I took my darker poems out and left the ones I felt offered some hope in the darkest of situations. I did talk about abuse, which was in my books, but I always want to leave it open for hope. I’m very conscious of the words I put out.
How did you come to write the motorcycle poems?
I got the idea to write poetry in as many different places as I could when I decided to do a poetry book. I’ve always felt free sitting there with no walls around me, and that made it the perfect place to do it. The first time I took a pen and a couple of sheets of paper and gave it a try–it worked. Later, I was given a wonderful gift of a small journal by an amazing fellow writer, and that made it much easier.
When you say embrace your inner child, what do you mean?
When I think of that inner child, I think of that innocence we all come into the world before we learn what hate and judgments are. It’s that pure way of looking at the world through your soul. It’s a hard place to hang on to in this world with instant information and so much discord, but worth it when we can.
What sparked your interest in the paranormal?
I’ve always loved a good ghost story. I would watch “Creature Features” with my grandmother when I visited her. Night Gallery caught my interest as a young girl, too. I do believe there are things we don’t understand around us. I’ve seen things I can’t explain over the years. Some of that gets channeled into my writing and poetry.
My main intent in writing that book was to talk about my experience at 14-years-old when I was in a coma. I had tried to kill myself, bad home life, and ended up floating over my body and being told “You’re not done yet. You have to go back.” I’ve always felt pushed to get that message out. I struggled writing that book and decided to present myself as a princess. Later, I went to my voice and finally added in poetry to finish showing who I was.
How much if your personal history goes into your writing?
There’s a lot of me in “The Button.” I’ve used what I’ve seen or experienced with others in my writing. “This Second Chance” was based on a good friend and what I watched her go through. I’m always looking for a happy ending, so my books do the same thing. My love of sports came through in my children’s books, along with looking for that magic that I experienced in the coma. I throw little things in each story for my family and friends to
What advice do you have for new writers and bloggers?
If this is your calling, then learn the craft, believe in yourself and above all never give up.
You released a new book of poems in late April, will you tell us a little about it?
After writing “No Fairy Tale” that’s a half memoir and half poetry book, I got some good feedback on my poems. So, I began thinking about doing just a poetry book. That’s where I came up with the title. I have always been drawn to nature, and that came out in my poetry. I was going to do a book of that, but other things came up in the two years when I was writing it. These poems became a part of the book and why I added in part two.
Will you share a poem?
THE JOURNEY is a favorite of mine. I was on my elliptical watching a storm rage when I spotted a small bird. The bird’s struggle got me to thinking about my journey.
The tiny brown and white bird clung to the cedar’s bark
The corn snow fell heavy and hard around it.
Then, the bird slowly began its journey by climbing upward.
A few feet up the tree, it was knocked back down to the ground
It paused for only a few seconds and tried again.
Deliberately, it made its way back to where it fell
The tiny bird carefully passed that point without stopping
It moved higher, toward the promised shelter from the pounding chaos.
Wings open, it faltered a few times, but hung on…
It kept rising until it reached the first bare branch.
Tucked underneath, the little bird found limited shelter
But it wisely did not linger there as it continued the climb…
Finally, the brave bird is immersed into the green branches
Now it is safely nestled in the cedar, as the storm rages around it.
Gone from my sight now I contemplate its journey.
When the bird was knocked down it got up and tried again
It passed the point where it had been impeded
There was no hesitation as it kept advancing.
Not looking back, it climbed higher and higher.
It didn’t accept the first offer of partial protection,
Instead it kept climbing until it reached its goal…
Until it found sanctuary from the pelting ice and winds.
And, having watched this journey—I was just a bit wiser for it
Because I knew whatever life threw at me, I needed to pick myself up
And keep climbing, no matter what the odds, until I reached the top
Exactly like the wise and brave bird did on its journey in the storm.
When I saw the name of the award my first thought was, ‘an award for being disabled?’ but based on the nominees it’s clearly an award for people who strive to transcend their disabilities and give meaning to the pain. It’s an honor to get this award. Thank you, Melinda.
The rules are to display the award badge, answer the questions, choose your own nominees, and develop your own set of questions. Melinda’s questions are so practical I’m going with hers.
What was the first sign of your illness?
My first symptoms appeared when I was a child and found the name ‘Antonio’ scrawled in my schoolbooks. I was confused about my age, name and gender, which set me apart from the other children.
What is your worst symptom and how do you cope with it?
The symptoms of depression and dissociation affect memory and concentration, which makes it difficult read and write.
I often go back to a published post to discover typos and glaring gaps in logic. I cope by writing shorter pieces and relying more on photography and abstract designs for creative expression.
I’ve also stopped judging myself when I find mistakes in the work I post, although it’s frustrating to discover a flaw I would definitely have noticed a decade ago.
As for reading, I do a lot of reading I can’t remember.
This is even true of my work.
I often think I’m reading another bloggers post for the first time and discover that I’ve already liked and re-blogged it.
It’s confusing and frustrating.
What one thing about you has changed because of your struggles?
I miss reading and writing longer, more complex, stories, but I’m learning to be patient with myself, and to set more realistic timelines for achieving goals.
I am more compassionate toward other people.
What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone else suffering?
I’m changing the last word from ‘suffering’ to ‘disabled’, because suffering does not have to define life with a chronic illness.
My advice is set goals and let go of the way you defined success when you were healthy. Give yourself plenty of time to complete those goals.
Never compare your achievements to the achievements of people who aren’t ill.
Learn new skills and practice them.
I knew absolutely nothing about photography when I became permanently disabled. I still know nothing about photography. but I’m better at it.
Name one good thing that has come out of having a chronic illness.
Now that I have the right diagnosis and treatment, I have a better understanding of the forces that shaped me as a child, and a better understanding of why I made certain self destructive decisions as a younger man. I’m forgiving because of it.
What one thing do you disagree with that is widely accepted as true about your condition?
I obviously disagree with the idea that Dissociative Identify Disorder doesn’t exist. If I go to a shrink and tell her I think I have other personalities and the craziness of it is wrecking my life, I expect her to believe I believe they exist and to treat me accordingly.
I wish the United States had mental health system that wanted to treat the brain’s mind.
If you could change only one aspect of your illness, what would it be?
Some days I get sick of feeling like I’m running in place. I want the illness to go away.
Name the one thing that works best for you for symptom relief.
I get relief from photography or throwing myself into a project. I also try to eat properly, exercise, and get a solid night’s sleep.
Based on your experience, what is one thing that you would tell someone newly diagnosed with chronic illness?
Learn as much as you can about your illness and become your own advocate.Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging to advocate for better medical treatment for people with mental illnesses.
The blog began to shift focus in 2016 and is now more focused on art and politics., but I haven’t forgotten my roots.
Most of the disability bloggers I know have gotten this award from Melinda.