By Brianna Wiest
Even if you haven’t heard her name yet, it’s likely that you’ve read her words. While it’s rare for a writer to compel an audience of multi-millions with their first published work, ‘How To Ruin Your Life Without Realizing You Are‘ defined Bianca Sparacino as an artist you want to keep your eye on. She does the work that so many attempt and so few master – narrating the intricacies of what makes us human in a way that is as poetic as it is revelatory. It’s the recognition readers find within a writers’ work that make it compelling, and on this front, Bianca is a force to be reckoned with. In honor of her latest book release, “Seeds Planted In Concrete,” we asked her our 20 Questions, and her answers were just as beautiful as you’d imagine.
1. What is the most liberating thought you’ve ever had?
I remember the day it clicked, the day I thought “Wow. We truly are all in this together. We are all the same.” It was as simple and as complicated as that. I had lived my life thinking that I was alone in my emotion, that no one felt like I did or had the same fears or dispositions. It is freeing and unbelievably comforting to accept the world into your arms, to open your eyes and see that absolutely everyone you cross on the street, and every stranger you meet, has the capacity to understand your struggle or your joys because they too have experienced them.
2. What did it liberate you from?
It liberated me from a life of misinformed loneliness. It liberated me from closing myself off, from being ashamed of a struggle or a sadness that lived inside of my bones. One day it all made sense – that we have all endured in life, that we all have a story to tell. Now, strangers aren’t strangers. I see them for who they are, I think about how they have wept like me, or felt resounding levels of joy like me. People dream like me, fail like me, and no one has it all figured out. We are in this together, no one is misunderstood, no one is alone. There is such connection in that.
3. What does it mean to live a good life?
Though I can’t generalize this, as everyone is different, I truly believe that leading a good life is all about being honest with who you are. It is about finding a job that truly inspires you, being with someone who loves you the way you deserve to be loved, and loving them the way _they_ deserve to be loved. A good life is one that is lived confidently, even if it does not meet up with traditional definitions, guidelines, or social norms. Living a good life is simply taking it into your own hands, molding it with your desires and your deepest hopes, and following your heart like a compass even if it doesn’t always point North.
4. What poem are you most proud of having written?
This is so difficult. A lot of the poetry I write occurs in moments of complete honesty with myself. Sometimes it is hard to face those truths, and the heaviest poems I have ever penned have occurred within those spaces of unavoidable integrity. “For Seven Minutes My Heart Stops, And I See You” broke my heart all over again. However, those words needed life, for I had never truly said goodbye to that person, I had never truly coped. I am proud of poems like that, I am proud of the prose that is bred from flashes of confronting courage.
5. If you could go back and whisper in the ear of your 16-year-old self, what is the one thing you would tell them?
“Stand tall. Do not shrink yourself or your words to appease others. Always remember that you have every right to be exactly who you are, that you don’t have to apologize for your differences. Remind yourself every single morning that you do not have to be perfect in order to be loved.”
6. What does love feel like? (Real love, not hormonal love or I-like-the-idea-of-you-so-I’m-on-a-high love).
Real love is chaos and beauty all mixed into one wonderful package. It is Russian roulette with two emotional extremes. It is constantly having something to lose, constantly having everything to gain. It is the feeling you get when you put your very heart in the hands of someone who could easily break it, bruise it, discard it, while genuinely trusting them not to do so. It is the commitment that comes with seeing someone outside of the highlights of life – seeing someone’s inner struggles, their insecurities, their flaws, and accepting those human parts of them. Love is believing in another human being not only for who they are, but for who they can be.
7. What does your daily routine look like?
Though my daily routine often changes, I have found that there are quite a few recurring elements.
- Coffee: There is the loveliest French bakery across the street from my apartment and I always grab a morning Americano from there.
- Walks are always incorporated into my days, whether it is a walk around the park that is close to my flat, or a walk through the downtown strip, my mind and my body always crave being outside.
- I am constantly writing throughout my day – in a notebook, on a napkin, in my ‘Notes’ app, etc.
- I am constantly reading throughout my day – I love Brain Pickings and perusing through the many books I have in my bedroom.
8. What’s your favorite thing to look at?
This is such a lovely question. I love looking at people in coffee shops, restaurants, and other public places, and wondering what their lives must be like. I often wonder if they have ever seen traumatic things, if they have dealt with heaviness. I wonder if they have felt resounding love in their life, if they are confident in their own skin. I wonder what their day job is, what they like to eat for breakfast. I think: “That man over there looks like a sailor, he has probably been all around the world! That woman had a high school sweetheart that she still thinks about to this day! That child is going to grow up to be the next President.” I wonder, and wonder, and storytell, and it is my absolute favourite thing to do.
9. Describe your perfect weekend.
I love traveling to new places by car and simply getting lost on the road. Therefore, a perfect weekend would consist of a road trip. It wouldn’t have to be anywhere special, as I am often fascinated by little dilapidated towns, and forgotten areas of the world. There would be delicious food packed away, a wonderful mixtape filled with new and old music in the CD player. The weekend would be spent with the windows down, cool air would play with my hair, my shoes would be off. I would be with someone I love – someone who could laugh with me, and be still with me, someone who could dream up stories about old general stores and boarded up farmhouses with me, someone who would appreciate the beauty of simply getting in a car with no destination in sight, and so on.
10. What do you worry about the most?
I want to be everything for those I care about in my life. I want to love everyone the way they deserve and want to be loved. Sometimes circumstance makes it difficult to be there for someone, sometimes I don’t have all of the answers, and I worry about that. I know I shouldn’t, but there is a depth inside of me that wants to be a fixer, a mender, a form of strength for those I care about. I want to be enough in regards to having enough wisdom to help, in regards to having enough love inside of me to inspire someone to try again.
12. What makes you cry?
The idea that there are people in this world who do not feel worthy of love is a thought that tears through me. It absolutely dismantles me. I think about the innocence and blind faith of children, and I think about how it gets shutdown sometimes. How there are mothers or fathers who do not know how to love raising children that need it critically. I think about the developing hearts out there who feel too big, too emotional for a world that has never really appreciated them. I think about the children who grow up being told that they are unintelligent, or a mistake. I think about the minds that feel truly alone in this world, truly isolated and uncared for. I think about all of them and it splits my heart into fragments. I only wish I could envelope every single one of them in my arms.
13. If you could choose one, what would you say is the best passage from your new book?
[We used ‘‘I love you’’ like an apology for all of the things we knew we were doing to wound each other, like a final attempt at keeping the fire from burning out, like two beggars just gripping at each other’s limbs.
I love you—despite hurting you.
I love you—despite judging you.
I love you—despite being incapable of loving myself.
It took us years to understand that love was not meant to justify hurt; that love alone was never meant to be used as a means of vindicating the problems we didn’t fight to change. In the end, we thought that love would save us from ourselves, but after ages of misuse, the only thing that needed saving was love itself.]
14. What is the most serendipitous thing that has ever happened to you?
I could get into such a long story about this, but alas – as a writer that is dangerous territory. I met someone who holds such an important place in my heart on a day I was never supposed to be where I was. Funnily enough, he also was not meant to be in that environment, and yet we both ended up there. I also never would have met him otherwise, due to him going back to school thousands of miles away. What started out as a simple conversation, and a chance meeting, ended up gifting me this awe-inspiring human being, who is still to this day one of the main reasons why I believe in moments of smaller magic.
15. How did your biggest struggles become the pathways to your greatest success?
My biggest struggles were always my largest motivators. I always told myself that resenting my mistakes, or flaws, or hardships, was only going to further push me deeper into a negative mindset. Instead, I used them as fuel. I started a fire inside of myself that grew with every downfall. Not only did I want to succeed, I wanted to prove to myself that I could overcome, that I could heal and move forward despite a heavy past. My struggles created words inside of me, stories, and by speaking that prose and writing about it truthfully, I managed to attract the opportunities that lead to a potential career, and a book.
16. Why do you think people have such a difficult time with writing?
I believe we all express differently. I know someone who has so much love inside of him, but he cannot write it down. He tries, and he tries, but he simply cannot find the right words. However, when he holds you you can feel it all within him; you can see it swelling within his eyes and his chest, you simply know it exists within his bones. There are those who are going to live life expressing through literature, those who will use music to express, touch to express, etc. and they will do it beautifully because it is within their own wheelhouse.
17. What do you wish you had more of in your life?
Words. Hah! What I mean by that is – I wish I had more words to describe the stunning or indescribable moments that occur in life. For example, the Japanese have “komorebi” which refers to the way the sunlight looks when it filters through trees. The Swedish have “Mångata” which refers to the road-like reflection of the moon on the ocean. Language is so painfully beautiful, and I wish there were more words to describe these celestial moments in life, like a word to describe the way tears slowly well into the eyes of lovers when they say goodbye for the last time, or a word to describe the overwhelmingly childlike feeling you get when you are brimming with excitement towards the new prospect of falling deeply in love.
18. What do you find to be the most genuinely beautiful thing in the world?
I live for those moments when you are with someone you profoundly love or care about, and you simply stop and digest the scene, thinking to yourself, “Wow. This is all so perfect. I am so thankful for this person.” It’s as if happiness itself is surging through your entire body, filling you with gratitude. I admire how it happens so suddenly, as well. One moment you are talking, enjoying yourself, laughing loudly, and then it hits you, as if you leave the scene for a single second and experience the beauty of the moment from the outside. It is so pure and inspiring.
19. If you could be free of one thought or fear, what would it be?
I sincerely believe I would not want that. Fear, to me, is fuel. I always tell myself to follow fear rather than flee from it. If I am scared of something, or avoiding something, I must face it. Fear is the type of seed a human being should never swallow, because it grows like weeds. It takes over. Instead, I believe that fear should be embraced because it is truly a compass, pushing us towards a life lived outside of boundaries and inhibitions.
20. If you had the chance to tell every single person in the world just one thing, what would it be?
It is never too late to be who you want to be, and to do the things you have always wanted to do. You are not bound by your past mistakes, or your downfalls. You have a chance to leave it all behind every single morning, you always have a chance to make your life your own. So do it, and do it boldly. Stand up for what you crave, for the person you have always hoped you could be, and simply be that person, simply lead that life.