Up Close With: Gina Beach
Meet the wonderful writers and patrons behind LWS.
Carefully watched over by a parrot in a crown and ruffle and a bowtie’d toucan, this week’s patron profilee writes heartfelt poems and essays from her base in the Welsh valleys — though she is proudly Ohioan by birth. You might have come across Gina at an Open Mic session, which she hosts with grace and aplomb, or as one of our roving writers’ hour hosts. She brings her sharp teacher’s mind and her open-hearted yoga zen to everything she does, and is becoming increasingly honest and vulnerable as her health journey goes on. World, meet the one and only Regina Beach!
Regina “Gina” Beach (she/her), 34
- Based in South Wales, UK
- Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, USA
- Volunteer host for LWS writers hours and Open Mic
What do you write?
At heart I am a poet and an essayist. I write about people and places, forgotten histories and interesting tidbits that tie us all together across continents and centuries. I was a public school teacher for a decade in the US so my day job involves some curriculum writing and editing as well as grant writing. I studied journalism in undergrad and publish the occasional journalistic piece.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on my first cookbook! It’s based on the oil-free, whole-food, plant-based diet I follow to reduce inflammation.
My world flipped upside-down last April when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which is a neurodegenerative autoimmune disease. The question I’m now asking about everything I do, think and put in my mouth is: “Will this help my brain and body heal?”
I’m a yoga teacher and former art teacher so I’ve combined movement, creativity and my newfound obsession with the culinary arts into a new newsletter that features a recipe from the book with each installment. I’m in the recipe testing phase of the project right now, so if you’re interested in making and offering feedback on some easy and delicious recipes, get in touch!
Where and when do you write?
I write in my journal by hand and poetry on my laptop at the 8am UK writers’ hour, and work on my cookbook in the evenings. My husband and I recently moved from Bristol to a 100-year-old mining house in the Welsh valleys. I put up some really fun wallpaper with formally dressed rainforest animals in my new office where I work — there’s a parrot in a crown and ruffle, a toucan in a bow tie, a sugar glider with a monocle and a chameleon with a pocket watch. I never used to be a bold print kind of gal but rediscovering writing for myself during the pandemic really helped the creativity trickle into other parts of my life.
How do you write?
I’ve done Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages for a long time but I always used to type them. Over the summer I decided to do a one-month experiment to write them by hand and I’m still at it. There really is something to physically dragging a pen across the page. Otherwise I write mostly on my MacBook and I jot down snippets of ideas in the Notes app on my phone. I’m big into researching and outlining. I’d say it makes the writing easier, but honestly I think it’s a form of procrastination. It’s too easy to find some other thing to research and not be “ready” to write for ages.
I recently finished a children’s book manuscript in rhyming verse about Biden’s Cabinet (some of you may have heard me read a poem about Kamala Harris during open mic; I am also a volunteer host of these monthly sessions.) Those poems took so much time and research to write. To counter that level of preparation, I’ve been completing Visual Verse’s monthly ekphrastic challenges. Writing a poem related to a piece of art in a one-hour time frame really forces me to think in a different way and commit to words as they flow through me from the muse. There’s no time to over think.
Why do you write?
To paraphrase Flannery O’Connor, I write so I know what I think. I am far more articulate on the page than I am verbally. You might not guess this but I’m actually an introvert and writing is like coming home. I get to spend time with just myself and my thoughts. Writing is my gift and while the process isn’t always easy, the fruits of the labor are sweet.
I recently spent a week in a long-time writing buddy’s cabin in California’s Los Padres National Forest. We both attended the Kenyon Young Writers workshop in high school and have written songs and scripts together. We had a long talk about how the reason we write has evolved over the last two decades. The thought of being rich and famous as a writer is so enticing when you’re young; now it’s more about the process, enjoying the privilege of putting words on the page no matter how big or small the audience.
What inspires your creativity?
I’m inspired by nature and being outside. I live between a canal and a river so I can easily go on a short walk and be surrounded by waterfowl, plants and the sound of flowing water. I find a lot of grounding and solace in nature. I feel insignificant in the best way when I’m among a landscape that frankly doesn’t care about my to-do list or accomplishments. Mother Nature simply carries on.
What’s your favourite book?
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has been one of my favourite books since I was a child. It tackles universal truths, has such iconic understated line drawings and appeals as much to children as to those who are kids at heart. I adapted it for the stage as my senior project in high school — I’m sure there’s a VHS of it somewhere in my parents’ basement.
What’s the best advice you’ve received about creativity?
One of my journalism professors in university told me “writing is editing.” That statement has allowed me to write many a vomit draft when I didn’t feel ready to write. It gives me permission to write imperfectly and fix it up later. It reminds me that we read authors’ final manuscripts or hear composers’ final songs or see artists’ final paintings but too often we forget about the many iterations and adjustments that are part of the process for any finished piece of art.
What’s the one thing you would tell other/aspiring writers?
The first step to being great at anything is sucking at it. So, aim to show up to the page consistently, even if what you write isn’t always “good.” It will become better with time and effort. Aim to send your work out into the world and don’t be deterred by rejections, not everyone is going to like everything. Just because you got a “no” doesn’t mean it’s not good; keep revising and sending it out until you get a “yes.”
How can we discover more about you and your work?
- My website
- Find me @reginagbeach on Twitter and Instagram
- On Facebook
- And the newsletter is over on Substack