We first stumbled across writer Erin Van Vuren during one of those random Instagram browsing sessions where you start clicking on hashtags and one account leads you to the next. As soon as we started reading her poetry—full of passion and strength—we were hooked. Her Instagram page (@papercrumbs) is filled with short poems that keep it real whilst delivering powerful words to over 57,000 followers and we just had to find out more about what makes Erin tick and what drives her to write what she does.
Erin is a 32-year old Southern California girl, born and raised. (Though she wryly notes that she looks 20 and acts like she’s 5.) Growing up, her household wasn’t what you might call ‘typical’. Her father was a famous Santa Claus and clown in the area and she was playing the roles of an elf and tiny performer before grade school. By 11 years of age, Erin had her own column in a major newspaper while the rest of us were probably only reading the comics section.
She recalls her childhood as one filled with immense amounts of imagination. But there was also a lot of pain and suffering that wouldn’t surface to her awareness until much later on in life when she turned to drugs, alcohol, and abusive relationships. As a result, she is a survivor of suicide, drugs, bulimia, and every abuse you can possibly imagine. It was around the time Erin was 25 years old that she made the choice to change her life for the better and fulfill her purpose on this earth—to spread hope. Newly motivated, she got her life together and set out to help others only to have this overlap with a time in her life when she lost many family members to death, including her dad.
Her path certainly hasn’t been a smooth one; she’s endured the greatest of tragedies and traumas, many of which she isn’t ready to open up about quite yet. All in due time, perhaps in a book one day.
It is her belief that she was built to survive all that she has in order to spread hope. It is her duty and her purpose in life.
“I never want anyone to feel alone on this planet. And so I write. Imagination saved my life, and I write out every single bit of my crazy brain in hopes to give a tiny piece of light to someone lost in the dark.”
What was your “a-ha!” moment?
My A-HA moment was last year (2015) in February when I began really posting on Instagram my poetry. The writing community jumped into my life immediately, took me by the hand, and lifted my spirits and cheered me on every single day. I have never met a more supportive, crazy, loving group of people in my life. I remember, as it had been a decade of barely writing, finally opening that Pandora’s Box so-to-speak, and just not being able to stop. It felt like I finally found home.
Who are your influencers?
My influencers are my Imagination (it has its own entity), Walt Disney, Lana Del Rey, Dr. Seuss, Hayao Miyazaki, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Brom, my Dad, my sister, and my best friends Keilanie and Sarah.
For those with a passion, what’s your advice?
My advice is to dive into your art full force. No matter what “your art” is. Fall in love with it. Make it your best friend. Practice it daily. As long as you have your art, you are never alone.
Traveling. In the next couple of months, I’ll be in Portland, NYC, and Philly. And I’ve already gone to Miami twice, and NYC once this year. HAHA. We really find ourselves when we visit other realms. 😉
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from my imagination. I am a synesthete, a lucid dreamer, and sometimes a little too intelligent for my own good. I love playing with words, ideas, metaphors, and the magic all around us. It is my most favorite thing to do on this tiny planet.
What is your life mantra?
Oh boy, I don’t know if I have just one life mantra. But, if I had to say just one thing, it would be to ALWAYS DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING, AND FALL IN LOVE WITH IMAGINATION…IT WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE.
If you could offer women one special mantra or piece of advice, what would it be?
Gosh, there’s really so much I want to say to the women of this world.
Please, please take the time to fall in love with yourself. And if you can’t do that, then love the child in you…she still needs you. Play. Laugh. Run. Don’t have any expectations of anyone. Be easy on yourself, life just hurts sometimes, and that’s okay.
“And always remember that someone on this earth needs your laughter. Even if you haven’t met them yet, you will. I promise.”
What (or who) is the source of your strength?
My younger sister, Elyssa. And my best friend, Keilanie. I am alive because of my sister, she is the light of my life. And Keilanie has been the push behind me finding my voice…she is how I know I am truly loved and needed on earth.
Can you give us the background story on the quote you sent?
“People don’t like it when the flame becomes a wildfire. F**k them. Burn anyway.”
So, this quote, along with all of my other “People don’t like it when…” quotes, is about self-empowerment. Sometimes when we succeed and pull out of our darkness, those around us who put us there to begin with (in a sense…I know we make that choice on our own), or those who don’t want us to succeed (you’d be surprised how many of these “friends” you’ll have to weed out in your life) – anyway, when we succeed and learn to find our voice and truly set our world on fire in the most beautiful way, these people get angry and try to stop you or make you feel bad about it, or guilty about it. Don’t let them. Keep climbing. No matter what. The ones who are meant to be in your life will cheer you on.
Tell us about your book Brain Food For Big Kids. Is it something you always dreamt about publishing or did it come about organically? Any favourites in there?
My book, Brain Food for Big Kids, is a piece of my heart and soul. It is 506 pages of poetry and special never-before-seen short stories, with a spoken word twist. A lot of the poems in there are from my Instagram page, but many have never been seen on my social media posts. This all spilled out of me organically. Of course, I’ve always wanted to publish a book, but it didn’t snowball so quickly until I was approached by thousands of fans to hurry up and get a book out. The process of publishing was the greatest, most beautiful endeavor of my life. I always tell everyone, if they truly want to KNOW ME, read my work…it’s all there (well, almost all, hehe).
You can get it at erinvanvuren.com – from there, there are links for Amazon, PayPal, CreateSpace, Barnes and Noble, and so on.
A question you wish we had asked (and the answer, please!)
Well, I get asked a lot on DM’s if I am from Earth…and my answer is always, “No, I’m not. I’m currently working on fixing my rocket ship to get back to my planet…”