It is not easy to be both a stay-at-home mother of two and a published poet and author, but Raquel Franco has managed to strike a balance between her two roles.
Raquel grew up with an intense interest in writing and reading, recalling that she would spend “entire summers reading” and attend writing classes and workshops. She drifted away from writing in high school, but she turned back to it as she encountered some life-changing struggles.
“I went through a really bad breakup and my mom passed away and I was just really struggling,” Raquel says. “I turned to writing, and it just brought me so much healing. I noticed that as I started to share it online, it was helping others and I met other artists. It opened up all these doors and I found this passion.”
Raquel began to write poetry with an emphasis on healing and self-love. She draws inspiration from various sources, ranging from everyday life and experiences to other people’s stories, music and other artists.
“I always will find that inspiration, that spark that I need to write,” Raquel says.
However, Raquel, like many artists, has encountered many obstacles during her career and has learned to cope with rejection.
“I’ve learned you have to keep going,” Raquel says. “Your work isn’t going to be for everybody. At first, it definitely is crushing and sometimes you feel like you’re not good enough. I wanted to not move forward with my last book. Then I was like, no, I’m going to push forward. I’m going to keep trying. If all else fails, I’m going to self-publish because I feel like I have an audience and have heard from people I have helped, and even if you only help one person, it is worth it. That is usually what I tell myself when someone or a publisher or a magazine rejects my work. I’m still going to fight for it to get out there.”
Raquel’s persistence has led her to publish three poetry collections and contribute to two others. The first collection she contributed to, “Crown Anthology,” gathered poems about self-love from a group of writers. Raquel then self-published two books, “Keep Me Wild” and “This Woman is Still Girl,” before contributing to “[DIS]Connected: Vol. 2,” a collection of short stories integrated with poems. This project allowed Raquel to push out of her comfort zone into writing fiction in addition to poetry.
Raquel published her most recent poetry collection, “When the Bee Stings,” in May.
However, Raquel has had to learn how to balance writing with raising her family. When she first realized that writing was her passion, she spent all her free time writing, connecting with other artists and seeking out opportunities. However, she began to realize she was neglecting her family.
“I really had to take a step back and prioritize and make a schedule for myself so I could spend more time with my family,” Raquel says.
Now, though, Raquel recognizes that her working hard to achieve her dreams also contributes to her role as a mother as it sets an example for her children.
“When my kids started to notice, it was really cool,” Raquel says. “My son would come home and he’d say, ‘Oh, we talked about your book in class.’ He’s had moments like that a couple times. My daughter will see my book and she’s like, ‘That’s your book.’ It just feels so good, and I hope it affects them down the line and encourages them to pursue their dreams and their passions.”
Raquel hopes to become a bestselling author and go on a book tour one day, and she would like to be able to share her work and that of other artists’ with more people. She also plans to start working on her next book, though it can be difficult to find the time, especially during summer when her children are at home more often.
“It has been a lot harder lately in the summer,” Raquel says, laughing. “Summertime is always pretty difficult and that is always when I want to write more for some reason. I feel more creative, so it makes it harder, but I just figure it out.”
Raquel encourages other women to continue to work toward their goals even when they feel like giving up, saying that “the people who succeed in life are the ones that stay consistent and keep chasing it.”
“To me, ‘[she can be both]’ symbolizes strength — to be able to chase your dreams and your passions and to be able to take care of yourself, your home, your friends, your family and the people in your life,” Raquel says. “It just shows how strong you are.”