Cassandra Chaput is a poet, editor and coffee addict. Between cups of sweet iced coffee and a few odd americano’s, she’s published two poetry collections by the names of Rooted and Rooted II.
Cassandra wrote all her poems between 2017 and 2021. Originally, she wrote most of them with pen and paper. But she also used Google Docs to compile and share her poems. There’s a total of about two hundred across her two collections and they are ordered more or less chronologically. She did reorder a few, however, to avoid too much of the same together and to divide the illustrations by her friend Ryley Surgent evenly.
For her third collection, however, she wants to divide the poems by the seasons and see how this impacts her feelings and imagination. She also wants to mix up the structure of her writing because now she tends to write mostly in free verse. And she would love to incorporate different styles and formats in her future work.
Reading Escaping reality one page at a time
Growing up, Dr. Seuss was a true hero for Cassandra as she devoured poetry collections. It amazed her how people could express such strong emotions and vivid imagery with only words. And she soon fell in love with writing poetry herself.
Even now, reading other poetry is a great source of inspiration. Some of her favourite poets are Amanda Lovelace, Parker Lee, and Courtney Peppernell. Inspired by them, she uses very little punctuation, for example. But also the structure of her poems is inspired by these poets.
The content, however, always came from within. Eventually, when she started facing stronger emotions herself, she found an outlet in writing. Poetry was always there for her when she wasn’t sure who else to go to.
Those emotions are still present in her current poetry and play an important role in her collections. But the name rooted, refers to confidence and the firm ground she gained from writing about her own experience with mental health/illness including depression and anxiety, and the process of learning self-love and acceptance. Secondly, it refers to the symbolism around trees in her work.
Untitled 1 I need not prove myself to you or explain myself at all I am who I am Accept it Respect it Because it’s not going to change I’m perfect the way I am My worth does not lay in your hands.
Since her poems are so personal, sharing them with others was the biggest challenge. Despite this fear of sharing her darker feelings with the world, she decided to onboard a few friends as beta-readers.
Fortunately, over time this has become easier. Moreover, she says that she’s never had any awkward encounters with friends or family who’ve read her poems. They’ve never questioned any poem or called her out about it.
The biggest publishing challenge was formatting the poems to be published. This was particularly hard because she wanted each line to flow well on its own but also form an image as a whole!
Strength Within Remain as soft and gentle as a trickle of rain But know that deep within You have the strength to be a perfect storm
Experimenting with self-publishing
Cassandra launched her first collection with the help of an author whom she did beta-reading for. That author had branched out to create her own self-publishing service, so Cassandra received help with formatting, cover design and some other admin.
For the second collection, however, she did more work herself and reached out to her connections for some help. Her best friend made the illustrations for the collection and she hired a friend from Twitter to do the formatting. She also helped with uploading everything to Amazon’s KDP.
It was a challenging but fun experience and so Cassandra is determined to self-publish her future works as well.
Becoming an editor
In 2017, an indie author invited Cassandra to beta-read a novel. She enjoyed the process of reading something unseen and sharing her feedback so much, she signed up to beta-read a few more novels in her free time.
By 2019, she had lots of experience with beta-reading and so she started offering her services professionally.
She created a website and started comparing rates from other freelancers. Knowing how hard it can be for an indie author to find an initial budget, she decided on prices she would also be able to afford without selling herself short.
Besides, as she’s only editing part-time, she doesn’t find it necessary to charge too high fees for now. But eventually, she wants to move into full-time editing and she will need to raise her rates to reflect her experience as well.
Depending on her other job’s schedule and the required work, the general turn-around time for an edit is between one and two weeks. A developmental edit will take longer than proofreading—unless there’s a lot of errors, of course.
Live for Yourself With your limited days, you don’t have time to waste on pleasing others and disappointing yourself. Live for yourself Do what you want to do It’s more rewarding that way
Cassandra Chaput’s poetry writing tips
- Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. It’s hard to share your work and to work through your feelings, but if you don’t hold back, it’ll improve your writing and who you are as a person.
- Step out of your comfort zone! Try different styles and formats in your work.
- You are your worst critic. Don’t worry so much about what other people think of your work, or how long it takes you to write something and get it out there. No one cares, and no one is judging you as hard as you’re judging yourself. We all work at a different pace.
Cassandra still works part-time as an editor. Next year, she’ll be working on her third poetry collection. And she has two young adult works in progress.