You guys! Today I’m excited to have an interview with my friend Marlen from Messages on a Napkin! She has recently released her poetry book Ugly People Beautiful Hearts, and she’s here today to talk to us about style, writing, and pursuing those creative passions :)
Let’s start by getting to know you! Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Marlen (read it like “Marilyn”- my parents are foreign, I have to deal) and I’m a writer in Chicago. I’ve had a subscription to Vogue since I was 16, so that gives you a bit of an idea how much I love fashion :) I don’t know if it’s the writer in me, but I’ve always loved the way that clothes help create stories. How a maxi dress can whisper around your ankles while you walk and give you romance, or how a certain pattern can catch your whole personality as you put it over your head. It’s a really cool thing, to know how to invite people into your self by picking out what you wear.
Why did you start blogging? Was it more for sharing your style or as a writing outlet?
At first it was all about writing. I’d put up outfits I wore but I’d mostly try to write funny stories about my day, getting comfortable with how to order around words. But after awhile, the fashion took over. I really, really liked developing my style, and I wanted to help others muck through that tricky stage, too.
Your series “What to Wear to a” is one of my favorites- the looks and activities are so creative! What is your process for creating these looks?
I usually start with one vintage item and go from there. I try to look at the dress or the skirt and imagine where I’d like to wear it if I had it hanging in my closet right now. Would it be fun to sip jalapeno margaritas at a beach bar in this, or is it more for a book swap on a Saturday?
It’s kind of like when you’re getting dressed to go out: Sometimes one specific dress is just perfect for that taco dinner with friends, or would make you feel right at home at a Bavarian brunch. After that I start building the look with modern, trendy pieces, showing how easy it is to mix vintage with our different styles!
Would you say your personal style and/or view of fashion has evolved while blogging?
Blogging has led me to be more playful with my style. Before it’d be sort of a stressful thing, figuring out how to create a pretty outfit. I’d worry over the fact I didn’t have the right shoes, or wish I had a better jacket or the perfect knit scarf. But it’s not really about that. It’s about playing. Think back to when you were a kid and you’d dive into your mom’s closet, putting on her evening dresses and her cage-net hats. Each piece was special, and it was so exciting to put it on your shoulders. That’s what it’s all about- finding looks that make your heart happy. That’s at least what I came to figure out :)
You recently released your book Ugly People Beautiful Hearts, tell us about it!
So this is that passion project I’ve been talking about! It’s a poetry ebook with over 70 poems and verses moving between the feelings of loving someone, feeling loss, trusting the night sky, losing your light, resolving that hurt is beautiful, and finding compassion in a stranger’s smile. It’s all about the two different sides to us: We’re all a little bit selfish, a little bit mean and uncaring. But then we all have this wonderful light. We’re kind and open and just want to find a little bit of beauty to hold on to. We have this light we want someone to notice, and we wait for that moment when you can share it. Each of the poems touch on that, swinging from happy moments to sad, lonely ones.
If you want to get the first ten poems as a mini ebook to check it out, just sign up here!
What do you like about writing poetry?
Before this book, I actually wrote a whole novel. A whopping 350 pages. And…I hated every single second of it, haha. I had ideas and pretty paragraphs, but it was torture trying to spin them out into chapters or pages. There were dark moments where I thought I wasn’t meant to be a writer because I would dread coming back to that white paper. But poetry? It just flies out. I don’t have to unravel anything: It’s quick, and honest, and cuts and kisses where it needs to. I absolutely love it.
Most of us with creative pursuits struggle with bouts of creative block, or even just getting started on our projects! What helped you when writing your book?
This was a long time coming and I literally put it off for years. Years you guys! But after awhile, I decided to be honest with myself. Being something creative isn’t easy- there’s a lot of struggle and competition and almost no one cares about your work. Not in the beginning, anyway. But if you waste any more time, it’ll only take longer. So I decided to push myself and just start, no matter how big that task felt.
And honestly, I just did it in baby steps. I’d make myself write just one poem a day, and I wouldn’t let myself think of the finish line. Just one poem a day. If I didn’t feel creative or didn’t want anything to do with a pen and notebook that day, I’d tell myself to do it for five minutes. Just five minutes and I could cross off the task. It’s a nice trick because in the end yo usually get in a solid thrity if not more. Starting is always the hardest- that’s really the only hurdle you need to jump.
Ernest Hemingway had the Mojito, Truman Capote the Screwdriver- what is your cocktail of choice?
Haha ok, best question ever! Mine is the Pimms Cup, for sure. Is that too girly? Whatever, I could drink a pitcher of that happily.
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