Bethany Flanders is a writer from northeastern Pennsylvania, and we discovered her poetry when she started following our Poet Possibilities Instagram page. Bethany is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Bioethics program, and her research and written works are dedicated to the fields of medical ethics, moral philosophy, and public health policy. However, one of Bethany’s greatest passions is creative writing, especially writing poetry. Her poems offer a unique and often philosophical depth that is inspired by a number of subjects she finds meaningful—faith, family, relationships, memories, music, and an overall exploration of life, love, and existence. Here is our interview with her:
When did you begin your writing journey?
My writing journey has been an eclectic one in many ways, and my style has always been heavily philosophical (which is how I thought of my pen name “The Eclectic Skeptic”). I have been writing poetry, off and on, since grade school. However, it wasn’t until my early twenties that I found myself writing more consistently (usually between the hours of 1 and 3AM) as a way of reflecting and thinking about people, places, memories, and life’s grand questions. For several years, I didn’t share my poetry with anyone. I simply didn’t think that others would find my poems interesting or relatable because of their subject matter, philosophical undertones, and abstract style. (Plus the fact that I’m extremely introverted!)
Why did you decide to start sharing your words on Instagram?
I finally started sharing my poetry with my family. They are definitely the reason I began my poetry Instagram in early 2020, after convincing me that others would find my words meaningful. I didn’t really believe them, but I decided—why not? How wonderful would it be if even one person could find value in my words? That alone, I realized, would make sharing my poetry worthwhile.
You’re publishing your first poetry book this year! Congrats! Can you give us any details about it? The title? Ideas behind it? How many pages? Etc
Yes! The title of my first poetry book is “Illuminate.” The goal is to have it released this spring, and it will be available for purchase on Amazon in both paperback and eBook formats. The manuscript is complete, and I am currently working with an illustrator who is creating some beautiful artwork to accompany my poems. The book will likely be around 50 pages—if I don’t keep adding new poems to the manuscript, that is! I don’t want to provide too much of a spoiler, so I will share one poem from the book with you. This is the poem which inspired the title of the book:
Which platform are you using to self publish? Have you come across any challenges so far?
I am using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I learned a great deal about the KDP process through the Poet Possibilities Master Class, and I decided self publishing was the right choice considering the vision I had for this book. I’ve been writing academic papers over the past nine years for college and graduate school, so it was time for some unstructured creative writing—free of parameters, stylistic conforming, and the pressure to stay within the mold of the expected. Also, no deadlines—except for the ones I set for myself! So far, I haven’t encountered any major challenges, but I imagine the process would have been much more time consuming and involved had I not prepared with the resources offered by Poet Possibilities.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to poets navigating the self publishing journey?
Practically, I would say it’s completely worthwhile to set aside a little bit of time to educate yourself on the self-publishing process before diving in. It’s ideal if you have most of the poems you want in your book already written so you can adhere to the schedule and goals you made for yourself and have the ability to dedicate the necessary time it takes to actually design your book. Above all, though, I would stress the importance of authenticity. I truly believe that it is so important to write about the subjects you value most in life, even if you think few will find it meaningful or have the ability to relate to your words. Cliche’s are easy to come by, and they often get the most attention and “likes,” but depth and authenticity, even if it only reaches an audience of one, is infinitely more valuable. And chances are, that audience of one will grow once the value of your words are discovered.
We noticed you have an Etsy! We love the prints! Are they all designed and created by you?
I do! My new Etsy shop also goes by the same name: “The Eclectic Skeptic.” The shop’s theme is “Authentic Home Decor for Lovers of Literature.” Currently, I am specializing in illustrated poetry prints with plans to expand my inventory to other home decor items featuring my writing. I collaborate with various visual artists, and together, we create a vision for each poem’s illustration. Some inspiration comes from photos I’ve taken, memories I describe to the artists, or simply our imagination, and they do a wonderful job at reading and studying my writing so that their art beautifully captures the poems’ meaning and imagery. So far, my shop is offering two “featured artist” collections: the Ale Lozart Collection, and the Clement DaVinci Collection.
Where can others find you and your Etsy?