Featured Local: Melanie Balderas

Samantha Chamberlain

What would you say you do, creatively speaking?

I am a writer. I play with words and create rhythms that I enjoy. Most often, this manifests as poetry, though I would like to try prose again.

 

When and how did you start?

I was without words until the age of almost 4 because I couldn’t hear. Once the problem was identified and fixed, I began speech therapy to practice my words. I like to think I’m inclined to write because I spent those early years alone in my head.

I have been writing since I can first remember. In middle school, I wrote a few chapters of what would have been a book about a girl caught in a heavenly war. It was terrible, but I had fun! While I’ve always written, I have very rarely shared. I would say my newest “start” is viewing my writing as art and putting it out, moving it beyond my pages.

 

Who all has supported you?

My friends have supported me, especially my best friend. She’s told me since high school that I should publish. I’ve only recently begun to take that suggestion seriously (perhaps because I’m stubborn).

 

Who or what has inspired or influenced you?

Stylistically, Edgar Allan Poe and Margaret Atwood are my greatest inspirations. Poe is the master of mystery and macabre, to which I have always been drawn. Atwood, on the other hand, has a gift for writing in a conversational voice. She has a way of pulling you in as though you are sitting together in a reading room or on a sunlit porch, discussing life’s intricacies as old friends.

 

Have you ever wanted to give up?

Absolutely. For a while, I did. My heart was broken the worst it’s ever been two years ago. I had no friends. I was stranger in my hometown. There was no love, no hope in my heart for a long time. The things I wrote at the time were disturbing – pure depression. I wrote about dead dreams.

 

What keeps you motivated to continue?

Writing is just how my brain works. All of my thoughts about existence and meaning demand expression. I’m motivated by curiosity now; I’ve never published or identified myself as an artist before!

 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin selling their work or putting themselves out there?

There is nothing more important that granting yourself a little grace. I told myself for so long that my words would never matter, that no one would gain anything by reading what I have to say. But we all have a story. You may not know it yet, but your artistic expressions could very well be part of someone else’s healing. Be who you are, and heal as you will; the rest will follow.

 

Is there anything you wish you would have known when you first started?

No. On one hand, as a loosely spiritual person, I think the universe wanted me to learn and grow naturally. On the other hand, as an absurdist, my life and its elements are fascinating and sometimes even funny. Both interpretations are like theater. I don’t have all the answers yet, but I’m discovering more about my purpose every day.

 

You can find Melanie's collection of poems titled "The Greeks Had 8 Types" at El Local Collective pop-ups, on our website, and for sale at Commons in Downtown Corpus Christi beginning in May.



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