Community Spotlight is a new format here on Team Whi, which showcases exceptional artists, upcoming designers, and gifted storytellers. We are overwhelmed by the number of talented users that come across us here on Whi every day and can’t deforce from sharing those who inspire us the most.
To kick-start the project we interviewed @Clairel_Estevez to provide you - the community with some inside information on her passion for writing poetry, her creative process, and her inspiration.
Clairel is a writer and currently located in New York. You might already know her for the beautiful poetry which she has shared here on Whi in both English and Spanish.
When did you discover writing as a passion? And how did you explore that art first? Tell us a bit about your story with words.
I can’t remember how and when poetry was first presented to me. But it all goes back to when I was in 4th grade or so. I used to talk about poems with my friends at school; we used to write letters to each other. At some point I started forming my own rhymed sentences, my friends noticed, they liked it, and always asked me to write something for them. Back then, my writings were just that, childish words; nothing more.
During my teen years, I became more aware of my love for words. I was constantly creating and saving my work on notebooks. Still, do you think at that point I knew I was creating some form of art? No.
I grew up in different places; small towns with no library, nor internet. The only books we had in the house were a bible and school textbooks. The only way of sharing my writings with others was friends and classmates borrowing my journals.
The first years of high school poetry was mentioned, but only to talk about the life of well-known poets/writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marques and Pablo Neruda, that I can remember. I was never introduced to poetry as an art; as a literary work that I could pursue into something much deeper if I had it within me. I truly wish I discovered the meaning of my bond with words, sooner. To explore and develop this art, because I did have within me. It was not meant to be back then, I suppose.
Tell us a bit about poetry. How did you find your writing style and how did you know that form of literature speaks to you the most?
I am definitely a late bloomer in this matter.
I grew up wanting to be one of those people that write ideas for TV advertisements. I got into college, took a “short break” but lost my way back in. After that, I had many carrier goals but none of them really happened. I didn’t notice until a while ago that they all involved writing.
Whenever I feel like I need to get something out of my chest, I write it down on a piece of paper and it all feels better. And it was one of those bad days when we question everything about life and our own existence, I was in my mid-20’s, I had a piece of sheet and a pencil; the question, “what’s my calling in life?”
The answer hit me like a lightning.
I write! I’ve been writing since I remember.
Books, movies, songs, and almost everything is written by people. When it comes to being creative with words, it is poetry that comes to me the most natural, like a whisper wanting to lay down on paper “I think I can write poetry books, I can write children stories” I thought.
Since that day, everything has been a process of self-discovery, learning, failing, trying again, improving, and repeat.
If you stop and look around, there is inspiration everywhere. Inspiration can be heard, too, just close your eyes and listen.
Your work is always bristled with stylistic devices. Have you enjoyed an education in that field or are you an autodidact?
Where I come from, and where I am standing today, it’s a long story. I had to learn many things on my own; my writing and bettering my style is no exception.
I never took a class to learn about poetry or its foundations. I have never read a guidebook or that sort of things. In fact, when I decided I wanted to put my work on the internet, it took me an entire year to post my first publication. All thanks to my doubts about not being good enough and the fear to make mistakes. I thought I needed to be at a professional level. At the same time, I was convinced that I had a special something with words, that writing was “my gift”, and it deserved to be shared with others.
Social media is, without doubt, a great medium for sharing arts. But sometimes, it can be poisonous for creative people. After several publications, it didn’t take long for me to start questioning every inch of my poetry and style, in a negative way. Thankfully, I broke free from that vicious circle, my mistakes became lessons and I turned those fears into motivation; all my art needed was for me to be myself, no one else. My compositions offer all the things the readers may be looking for; healing, empowerment, inspiration, love, and much more; I just have a different way of presenting my vision.
One thing I noticed, though, is that my stanzas were poorly constructed, and my vocabulary was too simplistic. Although it’s not my intention to complicate the reading experience, I do want my work to be poetic and have a sophisticated feel; that’s just how I am. I really wanted to enhance and to and beautify all my future compositions. So yes, some improvements needed to be made. Therefore, I put aside many of my hobbies and distractions and became devoted to getting to know my art, explore my style, and to educate myself in many ways. I can see the results, and it makes me very happy.
How would you describe your art and what drives you most?
My writings are very diverse. I write about love, about life, I write for children. Imagination plays a huge role in my writings and poetry, yet, I don’t think of my art as unrealistic. 98% of the time I do not write about me or my personal life. And yet, all the emotions in my compositions are real. Sad or happy, I feel them all. When the words come out, line by line, I am that person in the poem, I am that woman, the man, the child, the bird, the tree, or the flower in that poem. It is weird to explain, but it is like, the feelings of a vision possess me.
When you watch a sad movie and you cry; are your tears fake? Or in a happy scene, is your smile fake? No, they are real emotions, you feel it.
I enjoy writing about many things, not only poetry. Children stories are something that I really want to grow into. And I am faithful to the possibility that with dedication, and if life allows me to, I can accomplish my goals. Am I talking about a Lord Of The Ring kind of thing? Could I write a trilogy? Absolutely … Eh … NO.
Would you say your writing skills have evolved over time and how does growing older, changes in life and specific occasions influence your work?
Absolutely. When I go through the pages of my almost-antique notebook, I can see a teenage girl writing illusions, silliness and cheesy stuff (HINT: writing about boys I liked); my personal feelings are shown. Many of them are pretty good considering the lack of experience in love and life.
Comparing my younger compositions and my work today as an adult, my art has truly evolved in every aspect; the difference is the size of the sun. I am very proud of that, in the humblest way.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
If you stop and look around, there is inspiration everywhere. Inspiration can be heard, too, just close your eyes and listen. That’s what do. I love to sit in silence and listen to the wind, the trees, the birds, and music with no lyrics. I love to contemplate the night sky, I am always stalking the moon, the stars; I love the rain and cold days. I also enjoy looking at whimsical illustrations, concept art, fantasy art and nature photographs. I have declared myself a collector of words, I am always on the hunt for new words. Often times, I end up writing an entire poem inspired by a single word I also read many books in my favorite genre; fiction, fantasy, fairytales, and mythology. Books are great teachers.
These are things that make me happy and fuel my imagination. And you know what they say; “A happy mind is a creative mind”. Is that really a thing? I think I made it up!
How do you find the time to be creative in a busy world? Does being creative put you under pressure sometimes or do you see your art as an outlet and as a balance in life?
I currently have lots of free time on my hands. But that is as bad as having none. Free time is an open invitation for distraction, self-doubts, and overthinking. Those are obstacles I am learning to overcome.
Creativity is part of who we are, it’s a blessing; never a burden. Nevertheless, there is always a little pressure or frustration. If it's in my power, I tend to avoid anything that could cause me pressure. A relaxed mind and a quiet atmosphere are very important for me when writing.
How do you deal with a writer’s block and do you have a tip on overcoming it? What would you tell a young writer who is suffering from it?
I think writer’s block is a misused concept among writers. And the more you think about it, the deeper you get trapped in it, the more frustrating it becomes. I personally refer to it as a mental reset.
It is an unplanned and undesirable phase in the creative process, but necessary, I believe. The mind has the right to rest, ideas need to regenerate. We must let them.
If you are truly a creative person inspiration is always within you; it will never abandon you. If it disappears for few days, do not force it, let it comes back naturally.
When it happens to me, I just let it be. I watch movies, series, or amines I like. I listen to music, I continue reading one of the many half-read books I have. Or do anything else that brings me joy and tranquility.
Creativity is part of who we are, it’s a blessing; never a burden.
And last but not least, what advice would you give the community on pursuing their dreams and goals in life?
I believe that we all have a special talent. Once you discover yours; go for it. If you intend to do something for richness or fame, you are in the wrong dream. The world and perhaps circumstances in life may try to convince you otherwise, but whatever you do, you must do it with heart, honesty, and transparency; you must be you.