Updated: Mar 21, 2019
August 2, 2018
Story by Sergio Portela
Photo by Veronica Perry
Thoughts are delicate, especially in tough times. Those thoughts tend to be protected because keeping them inside is sort of a safety net. But putting them on paper can be a form of therapy and empowerment.
A local author who goes by the pen name M. Ballard has done just that with her book Delicate Thoughts, a two part poetry book that she released in 2017. The book focuses on the topics of heartbreak, depression and women empowerment.
The two part book is a self-reflective tale told entirely by M. Ballard’s poems. Part one, titled Drowning will take you through the sorrow, frustrations and pain she feels. Part two, titled Flying is a more positive outlook on life, letting the reader know that despite everything a person may be going through, it will be OK.
“I want them to feel like they’re not alone,” M. Ballard says. “I know a lot of people go through it, depression and heartbreak. I want people to know that it actually gets better. Just giving them something with some positivity towards it, just giving them positive words of encouragement. There is a lot of that in my work. It will get better.”
M. Ballard originally wrote mystery and crime fiction novels before recently finding her talent for poetry. While going to school for fashion and design she decided that it wasn’t for her and wanted to be an author full-time. The idea came while reading a similar poet who M. Ballard identified with, and she concluded that she could give poetry a try as well.
“I was reading Reyna Biddy. She’s one of my favorites,” M. Ballard says. “She doesn’t do a lot of spoken word. it’s not organized or structured. It’s just thoughts, thoughts on paper. I really liked her work, we’re a lot alike and I felt like I could write like that too. It just really resonated with me and felt like I could do this.”
Originally, Delicate Thoughts was self-published using CreateSpace, but it didn’t receive much attention. So, she decided to reach out to a poet she admired, Pierre Alex Jeanty, the founder of Jeanius Publishing. She sent Jeanty a couple of her pieces and didn’t hear anything back for few months. Eventually after six months she finally heard back. Jeanty was impressed by her, she said and wanted more. M. Ballard then sent him about 200 pages of her work. Jeanty then signed her giving her the extra exposure.
“I got really lucky with that,” M. Ballard says. “I was so happy, I self-published first and didn’t really do too well. Family and friends bought it. It was ok, but it didn’t really get much exposure. I just reached out to him on a limb, and he signed me. It’s a lot more successful than I thought it would be.”
Her work receives exposure mostly through social media. Both Jeanty and M. Ballard post her work to their thousands of followers. Social media is where she receives most of her feedback from the people her poems have touched.
“I get messages everyday,” she says. “I have people say I’ve gotten them through a really tough time, saying ‘I’ve dealt with depression and your writing really helped me.’ I feel like I’m really doing something here and it makes me really happy to get messages like that, to know that I’m actually helping someone.”
As of now, the book is available online through Amazon, Kindle, ibooks and Nook. The physical copies are currently not in the U.S. but have gained popularity in both Pakistan and the Philippines. Ballard hopes to have the physical copies out in the States soon.
“I want to see it everywhere,” she says. “Hopefully sometime soon in the U.S., hopefully it will be available at Barnes and Noble.”
Through her words, she’d like to use her platform to raise awareness for these issues around the community in Sacramento. She plans on doing public speaking in the future getting her work out there and creating more exposure for herself and these topics. Especially adding a new voice to women empowerment in the city.
“A lot of girls these days they just need that voice to try and lift them up,” M. Ballard says. “Just to let them know that they’re great. I have a good platform to talk about that.”
Currently, she is still working on her second book, which she says will be coming out soon. This one is more personal and touches on topics she didn't touch on in her first book.
“In my second book I delve more into my childhood and my family,” she says. “I didn’t really do that in my first book because I was a little held back. I didn’t want to give too much, but this one I’m diving in deeper, like wide open. I do some excerpts from therapy, I have childhood stories growing up into adulthood. I write about all of that. It’s going to be a lot of working through that compared to the first book.”
Poetry is M. Ballard’s safe haven. It’s a place where she can express everything and bare all when she’s feeling down or inspired. It’s truly therapeutic for her, and she hopes that with her words she can affect her readers in that same way.
“It’s kind of like therapy,” she says. “I have something in my book that says ‘writing is my therapy I’m stronger through my own words.’ I want people to know if they are going through the same thing that they’re not alone, I’m giving them someone to relate with.”