A long-time dream became a reality for Jen O’Shea, a Liberty Elementary paraeducator, who recently published her very own book of poetry.
“From thoughts to dreams to vision boards, it has been a manifestation that has finally come to fruition,” she said.
The book is titled Alchemy of Words and Light, and it’s release marks O’Shea’s first time being the sole author of a print publication. For the avid writer, the journey to publication was a long time coming, and a goal she has been eyeing for a while.
O’Shea first began writing as a hobby in her early 20s, starting mainly writing song lyrics and children’s stories. Her interest in poetry sparked a few years back, while she was on a trip up north with her husband. “Being by the water has always inspired me, stirring up feelings and then words,” O’Shea said.
While she didn’t bring a notebook on that particular trip, she happened to stumble across the perfect one on an outing to an antique store: she called it a blank white “canvas of possibilities.”
“Over that weekend I began to fill up the pages and stirred the embers of the fire that burned inside to express my thoughts and visions,” O’Shea said.
O’Shea continued to write poetry long after the trip ended. “Since then, I’ve become inspired by any number of things that cause me to jot down notes to explore later and turn it into a new thought or viewpoint,” O’Shea said. “Like many I’ve talked to, it’s times in the shower or in the quietness of the bedroom when the best ideas want to sprout!”
In early 2022, O’Shea decided to start seeking out platforms to share her poems publicly. She started mainly submitting her poems to various Facebook groups. After awhile, she learned about opportunities to submit work for publication in anthologies, or collections of work by various authors, and decided to give it a shot.
After a few initial declines, her poem “Full Moon Bath” was published in an anthology by Southern Arizona Press. By the end of February 2023, O’Shea had several works published in 5 different anthologies.
“Somewhere in all of this I decided one day that I’d like to publish my own collection of poems….someday,” O’Shea said.
That someday presented itself at the end of 2022. Southern Arizona Press initiated a new promotion, and invited its previously published poets to publish up to 50 books.
“I saw this as the chance to do what I’d been hoping to do in the future–except the future was now,” O’Shea said. “I felt a sense of urgency to quickly figure out how to put a book together doing all of the editing myself. It was baptism by fire, but I already had enough work to make a collection, so it was just wading through the details at this point.”
Soon, O’Shea got to reap the rewards of her hard work. “By March 1st, I was opening an Amazon package and pulling out a book of poems with my name alone as the author,” O’Shea said. It was exhilarating!”
O’Shea said that seeing the book come to life was a dream come true, and she encourages others to go after their dreams and to not let fears and doubts stand in the way.
“I encourage anyone who has personal passions that seem out of reach and impossible to attain to go for them anyway. One step in that direction is the way to make it a reality!”