The Face of Fanm Djanm is a monthly feature, which highlights a woman that epitomizes strength, passion, and confidence. We share her story in hopes of inspiring other women to express themselves, pursue their passions, and never step down in the face of adversity.
Tell us about yourself. What do you do? Why are you passionate about it?
Hello! My name is Isabelle; I'm 23-years old, and I'm a writer. Writing has always been important to me. There's something powerful about taking your own experiences and feelings and expressing them in a way that is relatable and can make someone think critically in a way that they maybe hadn't before. The idea that I can share my own thoughts and experiences on my blog, and someone else may resonate with them, and then feel inspired to share their own story, is so incredible to me. I don't think I'll ever get over the magic or beauty of that.
Where do you live? How long have you lived there?
I currently live in NYC and I've been here for about two years. The city has taught me so much about myself. In certain ways, it forces you to be tough, learn quickly, and get to know yourself thoroughly. I'm actually moving to Atlanta at the end of May, and I'm excited to see what I'll learn in addition to the lessons I've picked up here.
What did you study? When did you know that you wanted to be writer?
I studied English Literature at Brown University. Actually, I knew that I wanted to be an English major as early as elementary school. I spent all of my free time reading and writing, and I knew writing was something I would do for the rest of my life. As an 8-year old, I thought I'd be a world renowned published author by now, but, you know...baby steps.
What are the words you live by?
Octavia Butler's quote, "Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself."
What are the first three things you want someone to know about you?
I'm endlessly curious and always seeking new ways to learn and grow; I'm an absolute goofball; I have a book or my journal (or both) in my bag at all times.
What are your inspirations? What motivates you?
I'm a voracious reader and a firm believer that a good writer is a good reader. I'm heavily inspired by the books that I read. Some of my favorite authors include Toni Morrison, Marlon James, Junot Diaz, Zadie Smith, Roxanne Gay, Jhumpa Lahiri, Edwidge Danticat, Octavia Butler, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. There's more but I should honestly stop here - I could go on forever. As you can probably tell from my list, I'm inspired by, and read the work of mostly WOC (women of color). To me, our stories are brilliant; our identities are intersectional and inspiring, and give light to the many narratives taking place in our world.
What is your creative process? How do you know when a work is finished?
I write all the time. I probably write something every day. I've actually been using my Twitter more just so that I can push out any small thought that I have and may want to come back to, and the notes section of my phone is full of fragmented thoughts and stories. I try to remember that we all have our ups and downs and good and bad grooves, but at the end of the day, writing is how I best express myself and is what I'm meant to do. When I'm being more intentional about writing, I usually light a few candles, a stick of incense, and hand-write in my journal. My space is important to me and directly inspires my creativity. Additionally, for me, there's no hard and fast indicator to when a work is done. Most of the time, it's just a feeling.
What do you tell yourself to keep yourself going every day?
I remind myself that everything I do is valid and beautiful. That growth is often painful, but always worth the challenge. That I am on the cusp of blooming and so it is important to continue to nourish my mind, body, and soul, in order to achieve all that I want to achieve.
What influences your work?
I'm heavily influenced by the work that I read and the stories that are both told and un-told. I love overhearing conversations in a grocery store, or on the train, and making up small stories about those people - who they are, what they're talking about, what brought them to that specific place at that specific time. I love knowing that there are so many perspectives and so many ways to look at a situation or experience.
What would you say to a young person who wants to move to a brand new city to pursue their dreams?
Save your money first. I know that's not a very fun answer. But you don't want to put your dreams on the back burner because you're exhausted from working 24/7 just to make rent. (Been there, done that, and trust me, it's not great.) Figure out what you want to prioritize, and then think critically about how that might have to look logistically. Once you've thought it through and come up with a plan, or even just an outline, go ahead and jump in!
What is the most important thing to you as a woman?
As a woman, the most important thing to me right now is making sure that I'm using my voice. Whether that's to uplift my own story or uplift the voices of others, it's extremely important to me to tell these stories. Our experiences are valid, and intersectional, and beautiful, and need to be heard.
We already know that you're a Fanm Djanm; in your own words, tell us why you're a FanmDjanm.
I am a Fanm Djanm because I listen to myself; I listen to my gut feeling; I pursue my dreams. I am a Fanm Djanm because I am constantly curious and endlessly trying to figure out what I want to learn next, what I want to be next, and how to better myself and the person that I am today.
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