Publishing a book was just one of the 10 New Year’s resolutions Tanay Adams had for this year. She didn’t think it would help her learn more about herself and inspire others to do the same in their personal lives.
Adams, an administrative assistant for the University's Office of Multicultural Affairs, published her debut novel, “Chaotic & Complete: Thoughts had in and out of sleep,” last month through Light Switch Press. The novel is a collection of thoughts, poems and prose that captures her feelings during vulnerable moments.
“It’s whatever I was thinking at the moment, and how those thoughts developed,” Adams said. “Some of them are just one-sentence poems, then I have one that took two pages to do, so it’s a little chaotic, but it’s a complete book of work with different kind of mediums and formats.”
Adams, who’s written all of her life, said she likes a less structured format of writing poetry because there’s more freedom in what she can write about and how she can write. However, she never took her writing seriously until after deciding to publish her first book.
The Paper Plains Literary Festival will host talks of prominent authors, along with many family-oriented events. All festival events are free to the public.
“I’ve always been very into novel writing and poetry writing, but poetry came to me very easily because it usually didn’t take too much,” Adams said. “It doesn’t take too much structure and grammar. You can do different things with poems that wouldn’t fly in an article or book.”
Adams started writing her book last summer, which she said was the perfect time to write because campus wasn’t as busy. During work, she went through the notes section on her phone and other places she kept her writing and started putting together the pieces for her book.
While the novel encompasses many ideas, such as love, Black womanhood, and how Adams hated her high school, nature is a central theme throughout the book.
“I do like to use nature as a personification like turn the moon into a woman and play with different senses, so instead of saying something like it looked like cashmere, I’d say it tasted like cashmere or it sounded like cashmere,” Adams said. “Things like that that make you think about a subject more than you previously thought about it.”
Adams also uses astrology as a major theme in her book because she’s an astrologer and proud Pisces. It’s why her first poem in the book is aptly titled “Please Excuse My Scorpio Moon.” Adams hopes to encourage people wanting to know more about astrology to learn about their sun, moon and rising signs to know more about how it affects their relationships with others.
Adams said she started becoming more interested in astrology when she started going to therapy — another New Year’s resolution.
“Learning about yourself and learning about your habits and learning about your defaults and the things that prevent you from getting where you want to go is how astrology helps me,” Adams said. “I started looking at that as well as my natal chart and my astrology chart and realized that there were patterns between what I was hearing in therapy and what was already in my chart.”
Being in a rich writing environment like the OMA is another factor that Adams said has helped her in the writing process. Adams started her position in the OMA last year after moving from South Carolina to Lawrence.
“I’m surrounded by writers here, and I think this place really cultivates that,” Adams said. “We do workshops and the spotlight series where we bring authors and speakers in, so you’re always being embraced by some kind of artist, some kind of musician, some kind of writer, so it’s always very influential.”
Cody Charles, Associate Director for Diversity Education and Social Justice Programs in the OMA, said Adams’ book helps people recognize their own emotions during vulnerable moments. Charles also said her work asks the reader to turn inward for self-understanding.
“Tanay is one of the most brilliant people I know,” Charles told the Kansan in an email. “I know her in the context of working in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, but we’ve grown close through our writing and astrology. Tanay’s poetry is intimate, haunting, whimsical, and revealing.”
Adams hopes that people reading her book will realize they’re not alone in the difficult experiences they encounter in their lives.
“Overall, I wrote about what I was thinking during my most vulnerable times, and I don’t like being vulnerable,” Adams said. “What I’m hoping is people read this and they reflect over themselves and what they think in their most vulnerable and they create something as or more beautiful than what I created in this book.”