Today we’re joined by Shelby Eileen. Shelby is a phenomenal poet who has recently released a book of poetry entitled Soft in the Middle. She uses poetry to express herself and has an amazing dedication to her art. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist with an incredibly bright future, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
My art, currently, is poetry. I have one self-published poetry collection titled Soft in the Middle and almost all of my WIPs are also poetry. Writing is something I’ve always, always done and poetry has long been my preferred way to express myself in writing. I think my art has always had a lot to do with communication even if I didn’t always know it; trying to communicate better not only with others but also with myself. Picking the right words and putting them together in such a way that I feel I’ve finally made sense of something is the best thing about what I do.
What inspires you?
The thought that there is really nothing that has already been created that is exactly like what I have the potential to create. I don’t know if it’s naïve or self-centered to think, but my own individuality inspires me. Other asexual artists inspire me. Self-published poets inspire the absolute heck out of me. There’s something so pure and immeasurable about their success- they are literally the embodiment of that “she believed she could so she did” sentiment and I think that’s so badass.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Yep, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Even before that though, I’ve always wanted to be an editor. Reading got me into this whole world and I’ve never felt like I was meant to do anything else but work with authors and be an author myself.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
I don’t think I do, or at least, not yet. I haven’t been at this long enough to figure that out. I would almost prefer to have readers pick up on a “unique signature” on their own, whatever that could be, without me actively trying to tie all of my works together. I find myself focusing a lot more on the differences between my projects than on the similarities anyway.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Make friends with people who are already doing what you want to do! Social media is a great way to do that.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I’m asexual. Since figuring out that I’m ace I’ve grown to absolutely love that part of myself. The label brings me a lot of comfort and peace. I also identify as queer, bi, and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Online and in the poetry/writing community, no. I have yet to see anyone criticize my work specifically for reflecting my asexuality. My family and many of my irl friends haven’t ever commented on my asexuality though, and seeing as I explicitly state that I am asexual in my work, it definitely feels like they avoid it because they’re confused or made uncomfortable by it. Silence and passivity on the matter can hurt just as much as outright objection or disapproval. That doesn’t feel nice but it’s not the absolute worst reaction I could get, I suppose. I handle it by constantly reminding myself that my work is first and foremost for me and no one else. Even if I don’t show it or admit to it often, no one is more proud of me than me for what I’ve accomplished so far- as long as I feel pride in what I do, negative reception is easier to deal with.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
Oh god. That asexuality and the mere concepts of sex and intimacy can’t overlap at all. That asexuals are just straight people weaseling their way into the LGBTQIAP+ community. Asexuality as a sexual/mental health issue. Asexuals are broken. Asexuality isn’t real. Everyone is demisexual. Asexuals can’t have relationships. It’s disgusting how common it all is.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
It’s REALLY okay to question stuff and be unsure or even unhappy with where you’re at in regards to your orientation. You’ve come this far on your own and that’s something to be proud of. You should never hesitate to investigate, dissect, confront, and share all of the feelings you have. I dealt with orientation struggles/ general unhappiness by seeking out a bunch of books with asexual characters. A lot of them made me feel so much better about myself- quite frankly, it made me feel like less of a freak. Getting swept up in stories with characters that you can relate to that get a happy ending is great medicine.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Amazon buy link for soft in the middle! http://a.co/fLDIzIw
Goodreads page! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36812982-soft-in-the-middle
Thank you, Shelby, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.