Building your Platform as a Writer: 5 Questions for KB Brookins

“Write what feels true to you and worry about everything else – audience, readability, etc – later.” KB Brookins

KB Brookins’ chapbook How To Identify Yourself with a Wound won the Saguaro Poetry Prize, a Writer’s League of Texas Discovery Prize, and an ALA Stonewall Honor Book Award. Their debut poetry collection Freedom House was called “urgent and timely” by Vogue and won the ALA Barbara Gittings Literature Award for Poetry. KB’s debut memoir Pretty releases on May 28, 2024 with Alfred A. Knopf. Follow them online at @earthtokb.

On Saturday, March 9, KB Brookins is teaching a class for the WLT called “Building your Platform as a Writer. In this class, you’ll learn more about what goes into creating an author platform and what having a platform can do for you.

Here’s what KB had to share with us:

Scribe: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you write? How did you come to writing?

KB Brookins: Yo! I’m KB Brookins, a Black queer and trans artist, writer, and cultural worker based in Austin, Texas. I write poems, essays, and things that move in the liminal space of those two genres. I’ve been a “writer” (in the sense that I’ve journaled my thoughts) since elementary school. I started creative writing in 9th grade and have been doing it since then (and have been consistently writing and performing since 2019).

Scribe: In your own work, how do you approach overcoming the challenges that come with writing, be it writer’s block or craft or business-related challenges?

KB: I learned in a workshop with Jericho Brown in 2019 that writer’s block isn’t real. I see what is known as “writer’s block” more as periods of being uninspired or scared of writing “poorly.” To get over these things when they come up, I read like a writer (as in picking up a book of any sort and studying it like it’s a textbook). I underline words I like, put squiggly lines under words I know but haven’t used in my own work before, and write things that are sparked by the things I’m reading in the margins. Sorry– I guess this is me outing myself as a person that writes in books. I also try and actually *live* my life, yunno; go swim, or people-watch at a local coffee shop, or go to a museum, or learn more about the plants and animals that exist around me, etc. Those things give me more to work with when I do return to writing. To get over that fear of writing poorly, I try to attend a workshop (or create one amongst my friends) where we *have* to write something to a prompt – either from the Internet, or something that I’ve heard in another workshop, or something I make up. Then ta da! Writing happens. I try to remind myself as well that good writing isn’t mandatory in order to write; that’s what editing and revision are for.

Re: goals or business-related challenges, I try to remind myself of the reason why I write, why I share some of my writings publicly, and what I want to be changed in the world due to my writing’s existence. These things usually make all the other stuff seem small. If that doesn’t work, I suggest reading/listening to DEAR SENTHURAN by Akwaeke Emezi.

 Scribe: Has there been a moment of epiphany in terms of your work, when you thought, “This is it! Now I know what I’m doing?” How long did that feeling last?

KB: Every time I write something down that surprises me, it is an epiphany. Sometimes, it lasts long enough for me to finish a draft of whatever I’m working on (which is great!). Often, it lasts for a second, and then I chase that feeling until I actually finish something. In a way, one of the reasons why I write is in order to feel this feeling. It is magical, and fleeting, and worth all the attempts.

Scribe: What piece of advice do you find yourself giving to writers again and again?

KB: “Good” writing is subjective. Write what feels true to you and worry about everything else – audience, readability, etc – later. Get the editor out of your head while writing.

Scribe: What is one thing that people will take away from this class?

KB: My hope is that this workshop will help folks learn how to strategically increase their readership while, throughout their literary lives, hold at the center their purpose for writing.

Thanks, KB!

Click here to learn more about KB Brookins’s upcoming class.

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