Q. Gibson writes what she knows – and feels. Her powerful, heartening words speak hard truths and resonate with a global community of readers who are in search of comfort, healing, and inspiration. Gibson brings it from a place of love and tenderness, a place many of us are delving deeper into amidst the unknown of our current world situation. Below, Gibson shares with us her take on the importance and power of words, what and who inspires her work and how we can find peace and hope through what evokes emotions to rise in each of us.
What is your writing process like? Is there a set purpose, or do the ideas and words come to you via experience or connection?
I write with intention. Lately, as I’ve begun to explore the purpose in my writing, I’ve found that my intent has always been to provide some form of healing through words. Many of the words do come to me through experience, which is why I believe the words can resonate with so many people. We are all connected. I like to think my work speaks primarily to women, especially those who have dealt with the emotions, thoughts, or circumstances I write about, which is all part of being human.
The writing process comes very naturally to me. I wake up and pray and meditate. I then begin writing at 7 am. This ritual grounds me. It centers me before I have to interact with the world. What’s interesting is that I no longer hop on social media first thing upon waking. My mornings have become sacred time, and I appreciate the routine I’ve created. I’ll have a cup of tea, my notepad or laptop, and a playlist I enjoy listening to while writing. I’m either out on the balcony or in bed, and I give myself at least an hour to write. Mostly it begins as a thought or if I’m outside, something in nature like a tree or the sun sparks influence, and I just let the words flow. This has been what works for me as my son sleeps, the apartment is peaceful, and my first thoughts are being given to my writing. Typically, I get a few small pieces out of a session and just store them away. If what I’ve created in that session resonates, I share it as part of my daily inspiration posts on Instagram.
At what age and stage of life did you start writing? Can you remember the first thing you wrote? I recently found a “newspaper” I wrote at age six. It got me thinking that I was destined to write…do you feel the same, and can you re-all a similar experience from your childhood to share?
That’s interesting. I honestly don’t remember what age I began writing but now as I have begun to settle into my life as a writer and claim it, I do believe I was destined to write; that’s how destiny works. I can’t remember the first thing I ever wrote or shared but my mom always tells me I began reading at the age of two. She had no clue who taught me how to read, from her story she just one day saw me sitting down reading. She looked at the book and realized I was reading at age two. Since I don’t have a recollection of my first time writing it’s interesting to see people who do remember me writing. I have friends who still have poems or writings from me that I wrote for them in second or third grade, one recently shared on Instagram. My mom and grandmother have old poems and cards I’ve written for them when I was very young. It’s wonderful to have a visual representation of the memories in that way. I say I was destined to write because I have always been writing and reading – I just never set out to be a writer from the start.
What inspires you?
Women are who inspire me. Our resiliency, our courage, our nurturing spirit, our hearts. I grew up with four sisters and have always had a lot of friends, led teams and women’s organizations. I’m inspired by the versatility in our lives and in our stories yet somehow, we are always finding intricate connections to one another. What inspires me is life itself. We experience so much, and life is always uncertain but it’s so interesting to me that many of us can go through life and still find some sort of beauty and desire for living. Even when we can’t, I think life has a way of really forging new stories, introducing us to new people, or experiences to shake things up. There are always new beginnings and endings.
Who do your readers tend to be? In this digital age, are you able to connect with your community of readers?
My readers are primarily women; I intentionally write to heal and serve women. On an even deeper scale, a lot of Black women can relate to my writing though a lot of what I write is emotionally universal. I connect with my readers often, whether it’s through my weekly newsletter “Sunday Sugar” or on a monthly writing workshop I host called “Night of Write.” My community and readers that I have the honor of connecting with are always reaching out to me not only to share how much they appreciate my work but to encourage me as well. Women are always reaching out to me for comforting words, whether it’s via email or direct message on social and I don’t take it lightly. It can be that they’re having a hard time with grief/loss, or even having a financial/home related struggle especially during the pandemic. I enjoy being of support, giving, or just being a listening ear. I truly believe their comfortability in reaching out to me directly comes as a reflection of the depths of my writing, so I welcome it.
You’re a mom to Jonah. How old is he? How has being a mom influenced your creative process and what you write?
Jonah is seven. He’s been a huge inspiration in my writing and creative process. With my first self-published book, I wrote about postpartum depression and a bit of things I experienced emotionally after having him. It was important for me and still is important for me to write through and be my best self for him. I think as a mom, it’s my duty to navigate my emotions, dismantle the effects of trauma or hard experiences so that I can be the best for him and not contribute to generational hardships, most importantly the internal kinds. As far as my writing process, I wake up early to write while he is asleep. So, I can say my creative process is influenced by him. Being able to have a free time slot to myself to write without much interaction is necessary for me. He has influenced me a lot to write through my journey, learn to cope better, learn to release tensions, and to be an all-around better woman.
You’ve published three books of poetry and a book of “other writings of brevity.” Can you please explain the latter and how that process differs from poetry? Are your books organized by theme?
When I was in the process of writing The Sweetness in Soil, that year I had lost a cousin to gun violence. Also, that year – 2016 – we had all witnessed the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling by hands of police circulating the news. So, I wanted to write about the sadness, grief, loss, and even some of the joy I experienced growing up on America’s soil as a young Black woman. The process was very different. My work post all of this has been a lot about seeking joy and transcending beyond the perils of society, so the writings in that book were very much different. It was, for me, about encompassing all those hard memories and emotions in a way that was brief and cutting for me. I played around with as much as single sentences to reflect on a thought and looked at how I could get certain points across as briefly as possible. There was not one type of form I committed to throughout that book. Personally, it was cathartic for me to release that tension and sit in a lot of those memories, sharing in a way that was short and kind of gripping.
My books are all organized by theme for the most part. The Flowering Woman really being about blossoming into who I was and womanhood in general at that time. The Sweetness in Soil was about acknowledging the ugly and beauty of the soil I was raised upon, it is not one of my warmest books, but I love it because of its truths. The last two, Sunday Sugar and Peeling Fruit, are more of my explorations of joy and uncovering what that means. As I continue writing and progressing, I’ve been focusing on the concepts of joy and peace and how it can be attainable amid the world.
How can words help us heal?
Words are a tremendous healer, and I believe that’s where I see my purpose. More of us should embrace the possibilities that words have for us to heal and soothe our wounds. Words are powerful tools that can either harm or help us, it's my duty as a writer to play a part in the latter, allowing the words I create to edify others is part of my path. Even through my monthly writing workshop, I often encourage personal journaling. Writing down your thoughts or writing through a tough situation can help us clear our minds, lighten our spirits, and release emotional obstacles that we don’t speak about. Writing has been proven to increase well-being. As a collective, sharing words with each other is also a great way to heal. Whether it’s openly communicating yourself to someone or being in conversation with others, sharing words can be profoundly therapeutic. I wholeheartedly enjoy being in community every month with the ladies who attend Night of Write, you can physically see and feel the healing taking place, even if it is just sparking reflection in someone or opening a thought about an experience. When we collectively write, journal, or communicate, I find that a lot of the women are more comfortable and relieved to share about their struggles. I also find that there is a lot more communal soothing taking place, a kind of edification we don’t get when we self-soothe. I enjoy that community, where we share words and conversation. Often a lot of the conversation that takes place in that space each month is conversation you can’t get just from a therapist; it’s a reassurance of humanness from being in conversation with a collective. Words are astonishingly powerful to me, and I don’t take their ability to heal lightly.
Photos by Benhur Ayettey
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Beka Shane Denter is a Canadian features and content writer currently based in the beach town of White Rock on Canada’s west coast. She has used her knowledge, passion, and nomadic lifestyle to fuel her career as a writer. This has led to several inspiring collaborations with publications including FASHION, ELLE Canada, BUST.com, Women’s Surf Style Magazine, Mind Body Green, Today’s Parent, The Inertia, Ottawa Wedding, and LUXE. Beka is at work on an inspiring women-focused project highlighting the creative talent of British Columbia. Visit her website at https://www.bekashanedenter.com.