Whitney Hanson Talks Her New Book Climate and More
Whitney Hanson, Photo By: Maddie Baldinelli
Whitney Hanson is the best-selling author of poetry collection Home. Hanson released her second book Climate on November 10th. When it comes to writing poetry, Hanson has a natural talent with the words she puts onto pages. I recently got to chat with Hanson about growing as a writer and her two books. Keep reading to get a look into the mind of the brilliant and self-publishing author, Whitney Hanson.
Where are you from?
“I grew up in rural Montana. So that’s where I call home, but I go to school in South Carolina right now.”
When did you first start writing?
“I started writing poetry specifically around sixteen-years-old. I read a book by Rupi Kaur and that gave me the perspective that poetry could be anything I wanted it to be. It gave me a lot of freedom to put my thoughts on paper. That was something that was inspiring for me, but I always loved to write.”
Is poetry the literary genre that you have always wanted to take part in when writing?
“I think poetry has always been something that’s really natural for me. I have ADHD so I feel like my thoughts kind of come in small bursts of inspiration rather than one novel of inspiration. And so I think that’s part of the reason that poetry comes more naturally to me. But, it wasn’t something I was really pursuing. Being an author wasn’t something that had been a life goal for me. It was a side passion project that I always worked on, It was a way of coping with things. It became this thing where I don’t really know how I got here.”
What is your favorite book?
“My favorite book, and it’s not poetry, is The Little Prince. I just love that book because it gives a lot of perspective to our humanity.”
What advice would you give someone who is having writer’s block?
“I think one thing that really helps me is doing flow of consciousness writing. So that is when you just write exactly what you are thinking. Sometimes that just turns into something and sometimes it doesn’t, that’s okay too. You’re not a machine to just produce inspiration. Inspiration comes and then you create something so don’t force yourself to write something. It doesn’t have to be perfection every time you put pen to paper.”
What is the story behind the title of your first book Home?
“When I started writing it I was lost in so many areas of my life. I had just gotten out of a romantic relationship, so I was in a really rough spot with heartbreak. But I was also really unsure of my direction in life, what I was pursuing, and unsure of who I am. I think part of that was going to college and having to redefine my identity on my own terms. Home was kind of me finding myself again after all that I’d been through. That’s why I titled it Home.“
How did your writing process change after your first book was published?
“One thing that I’ve had to work through and work past is that when I wrote home I was pretty much entirely writing it for myself. This was a method of coping. Now that I have this audience, it changes the way that I perceive my writing. When I’m writing and thinking about this audience reading these things it can sometimes mess with my authenticity and creativity. I’m trying to connect with people and meet all these goals. I think the real way to do that is to just write authentically. It’s been hard to adjust knowing that all these people are going to be reading my work. So, I think that’s probably changed my writing a little bit, but I’ve tried to keep it as authentic as possible.”
What inspired Climate?
“So, with Home I kind of reimagined the body and the self as a beehive. All of these emotions like anxiety, loss, and heartbreak are the bees. Some days the bees are very unsettled and some days they’re not. With Climate I wanted to do something similar, but this time I reimagined the mind as weather patterns. Climate has four different sections: “Stormy,” “Foggy,” Sunny,” and “Climate.” The idea is just that all of these different types of weather make up the climate, in your mind and body. The point of the book is that the sunny days are just as important as the rainy days. All of it is a balance.“
What do the four parts in Climate represent?
“Stormy is when the storms are unleashed within you. This section is sadness and heartbreak that accompanies lost love. Foggy is about losing your identity. The storm may have passed, but after heart break we often go through a process of redefining ourself. Sunny is a glimpse of joy and new love. It is the feeling of butterflies in your heart and sun on your skin. Climate is a reminder that all of the weather we encounter creates this beautiful experience that is life. It is a section of appreciation for both the rainy and sunny days.“
What is something you learned about yourself after writing these two books?
“I’ve learned the power of vulnerability. I feel like I grew up always hiding my feelings and that’s probably why I ended up writing them all down. I never understood how important it is to be vulnerable with people. It connects you to the whole world to be vulnerable with other people.”
Do you find it harder to write when you’re not going through a difficult/emotional experience?
“Yes. That was also part of the struggle of writing Climate after writing Home. Home was from such a raw, emotional place that the words just fell onto the page from my heart. With Climate I was struggling with my identity as an author. I was wondering if I am an artist or if I’m just an artist when I’m struggling with something and going through things. That’s part of the reason I wrote that poem. I find a lot more inspiration when I’m in a dark place in my life and I don’t want that to be the only time I feel inspired. But sometimes that’s true.”
Do you have a favorite poem from Climate?
“I really like that one because of what I said earlier about learning to be vulnerable and realizing that your pain is the reason you can connect with people.”
Looking back now, what is something you would tell your younger writing self?
““I would just encourage my younger writing self to start sharing my poetry with other people because I really didn’t share very much when I was younger. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I started an Instagram account for my poetry. In high school it was always just me writing to myself. I didn’t share it out of fear. I didn’t want anyone to judge my feelings or anything like that. It’s done so much for me now that I have shared it.”
What is something you would like to leave your audience/readers with?
“To not be afraid to be vulnerable in any way that feels natural. Whether that’s in painting, writing, in any creative way that they express themselves. Other people need you and you never know when your story is going to impact other people. I really had no idea that this would and I thought I’d sell like 10 books. I didn’t know how important it was to share my story. So I would just encourage other people to share their stories and to be vulnerable.“