As Jamie Tworkowski's first book, If You Feel Too Much, hits the shelves, the writer comes to Houston for a reading and signing at Brazos Bookstore on Saturday, June 6 at 7 p.m. ($5 or free with the purchase of Tworowski's new book from Brazos).
Tworkowski is the founder of the TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS campaign, now a nonprofit organization aimed at helping those who suffer from depression. The book is an anthology of the author's blog writings spanning close to a decade. We spoke with him via email about the book and TWLOHA ahead of the reading.
Houstonia: You always use a lowercase 'i' when writing in first person. Is there a reason you refer to yourself in a lowercase?
Tworkowski: Just something i started doing years ago. i may have stolen it from Jon Foreman of Switchfoot but to be honest, i'm not sure. i suppose it's an attempt at humility.
Your writing has a very poetic quality to it. Reading it almost feels like reading a song or poem instead of prose. Have you written poetry before, and do you try to involve poetry in your prose?
This sounds terrible, but to be honest, i don't read a ton. i have to really love a book to stick with it. i don't read much poetry and i wouldn't say i've written much poetry, but i definitely hope my writing is poetic. Music is probably the biggest influence on my writing. i love music, and song lyrics of course tend to be poetic. With writing, there's what you say and there's how you say it. i think both are super important
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In the beginning of your book, in the section titled "To Whisper Against This," you write about having come to Houston in the wake of Katrina. Have you been to Houston since? Do you have any strong emotions about coming back to the city this summer, almost 10 years since Katrina hit?
i've been back to Houston a couple times over the years. i think the last time was on our (TWLOHA's) HEAVY AND LIGHT tour in 2013. We were at House of Blues that night. i like this question because it's something i've thought about. "To Whisper Against This" is one of my favorite pieces in the book, and it will be special to read it at the Houston event. The essay certainly represents an experience that meant a lot to me, and in a way it serves as foreshadowing as to how my life was about to change. Because i wrote the TWLOHA story and ended up quitting my (Hurley) sales job a few months later.
Your work with TWLOHA has been influential across the entire country, and is how this book began. What is the next step for TWLOHA? How can people get involved and help the program grow to spread love and support in their own community?
There's never been a five or 10 year plan. i've always treated it as a creative project. The primary thing we do is communicate. We communicate a message of hope and help, and we try to do that in ways that are creative and compelling. As the years have gone by, we've been able to create more and more ways for people to get involved. We just launched a new website and there's an entire section dedicated to getting involved. It can be as small as buying a t-shirt and as big as moving to Florida to become an intern.
You mention in your preface that another book could be in the future—a novel of new work. What do you think readers can look forward to in that? Have you thought about what your next large writing project will be?
i don't think it will be a novel, but i definitely want to write more books. i haven't given it much thought because so much of my focus is on IYFTM at the moment, but i know that i'm enjoying the process of releasing a book, and i feel like writing is something i'm supposed to do. i don't know exactly what it will look like or what it will be about, but i know i want to keep telling stories from my life. i like having the freedom to write about a lot of different things, but it's safe to say i tend to write about the intersection of pain and hope. i want to keep being honest and i want to keep encouraging people.