Star LaBranche was been writing since she could first put words on paper. She has never stopped. A graduate student at Old Dominion University in the English MA program, Star’s dream is to live in the desert with a rescue corgi.
Fem: You cover a lot of topics on your blog, from animals to mental illness. At first glance, I expected to find general information on each of these subjects but instead, each post not only educates the audience, but also reveals something that you are dealing with personally. How important is honesty when you’re disclosing personal experiences? How do you decide what to share?
Star LaBranche: For me, honesty is key in sharing personal experiences. I don’t have an infallible memory, but I try to be object and write clearly about what I’ve been through. When it comes to choosing what I write about, I try to strike a balance between what I’m comfortable with and what will also help others. I write like no one is reading my work and when it comes time to post it, I sometimes get antsy about what is about to go up on the blog. I always tell myself if it helped one person in any way, it was worth it.
F: What is your goal with this blog?
SL: I’m moving to a new website and blog soon. My goal with Scrapbook of Truth was to write about the human experience and for five years, I did. Now I’m looking to write professionally and I want to keep my site and my new blog both tasteful while still being expressive and helpful.
F: What genre do you enjoy writing the most? How did you get started?
SL: I don’t stick to a genre and some people consider that my biggest weakness. However, I consider it my biggest strength. I’m able to move through poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, sometimes using all three in one work. I love variety and I think it makes for a more interesting narrative for there to be different types writing in a single piece.
As for how I started writing, I’ve always been writing. I’ve always felt there was a story inside me and I needed to get it out. I read a lot as a child and that showed me how you can express yourself with words and taught me about plot and character and narrative.
F: Can you describe your three books?
SL: My first book, Dreams, Dilemmas, and a Dragon Named Charles, is a collection of poetry. I published it when I was 19 and although it shows I had a lot of promise and drive as a writer, I wouldn’t call it my most polished work. I’m very glad I published it, though. It gave me a great experience and a chance to see my words in print, which was very rewarding.
My second book is called Into Love and Out Again and it’s a multi-genre memoir about falling into unrequited love. I wrote the book in real time, so from one piece to the next, neither I, nor the reader, know what’s going to happen. It was a very strange experience to write a book like that, but in a way, I knew I had to do something productive with all of the pain I was feeling and it felt natural to write it all down.
My third book, What the Fresh Hell is This, is about my spiritual journey. I was born and raised Catholic, but had massive problems with Catholic ideology due to the treatment of women, sexuality, and gender, among other things. I moved away from the faith in my late teens and started exploring what I believe. I became a member of the Unitarian Universalists in 2015.
F: Who inspires your work?
SL: Writers who inspire me are Anne Sexton, Dorothy Parker, and Kathryn Harrison, to name a few. As for what inspires me to write, everything does. Sometimes I get an image in my head and turn it into a poem. Or I come across a concept and write a short story about it. I use everything I’ve learned and everyone I’ve come into contact with to write human experiences.
F: What are three things you wish someone told you about writing?
SL: (1) You need to network. You can write by yourself, but when you want to get your writing out there, you have to know people or know where to find people. Go to poetry readings, join local writer’s groups, meet people who will support you and nurture you as a writer and a person.
(2) Don’t get stuck in your own perception of your writing. You have a very close relationship with your writing, for obvious reasons. Don’t get married to a piece only to find out that you’re the only person in the world who understands it. Also, don’t discount a piece when it could be an example of your better work. Get honest feedback on your writing from someone you trust to help you edit and polish.
(3) Don’t take rejection personally. Everyone tells you this, but actually being in the situation is very different. It’s hard when you get rejected by a publication for what you think is your best work. The key is to keep moving forward and use everything you’ve learned to become a better writer. Don’t let rejection dull your shine.