WEST ORANGE, NJ — Nadia Starbinski graduated from West Orange High School in 2014 and in the nearly four years since then, a lot has happened to her. She moved to New York City and started college, but soon after classes began she started to feel symptoms of her temporal lobe epilepsy reappear. Diagnosed with this form of epilepsy at age 10, it had been five years since Starbinski’s last seizure. She was in and out of the hospital and had to leave school, and while trying to find a treatment plan, she began writing and compiling poetry. In October, Starbinski self-published “Excerpts from the Book I’ll Never Write,” her first published work.
“It’s a collection of poems I had flying around,” Starbinski, who is currently a communications major at William Paterson University, told the West Orange Chronicle in a phone interview on Feb. 16. “I always wanted to write, so I figured now was the time.”
The poems in the book were written over the course of approximately six years, going back to when Starbinski was in high school. She had been writing without any goal in mind for the poems, and then decided to find a way to make a book with them. Some of the poems in “Excerpts from the Book I’ll Never Write” were also inspired by her time dealing with epilepsy.
“I found out I had epilepsy when I was 10, and I always had medication that controlled them,” Starbinski said about the seizures, headaches, muscle spasms and other symptoms of the disease. “There was nothing (for a long time); I was fine. Sometimes you can grow out of it. But then I started again, and it was a roller coaster.”
Starbinski said no one really knows what causes epilepsy, and it can be hard to find the right balance of medication and treatment.
“I spent a lot of time in the hospital and not having control scared me,” she said. “That was a huge motivation in working on the book — I didn’t want it to stop me.”
Starbinski started reading through notebooks of notes and poems that she had written years before, saying that there was no excuse not to. That helped her get through the hospital stays.
Despite being a writer, Starbinski said that she has never really been an enthusiastic reader. That hasn’t stopped her from finding new ways to connect with her own work and to find the work of other poets online and with social media.
“I’ve never really been an avid reader. Especially in high school, I never read a single book,” she joked. “But I’m falling back into my own craft. I like blogs by a lot of freelance writers, and there are a lot of people on social media who will post blurbs (of poetry).”
Starbinski’s book is only available at Amazon.com right now, but her goal is to change that this year.
“I want to get it in stores, like Barnes & Noble,” she said. “Once I get that to happen, then I can move on. This year that’s my main thing.”
She also just wants to enjoy having a book with her name on the cover for the time being, since it’s only been available for people to read for a few months.
“I don’t want to rush the process, I want to bathe in this a little bit,” she said. “It’s so weird to see my name on a physical book — it’s still a little hard to swallow. I get so many messages from people, sometimes from people I don’t know, and I wasn’t really prepared for that. It was a more personal thing to prove that I could do it. It was really just for me, so it makes it that much more rewarding.”
Photos Courtesy of Nadia Starbinski