In which Elayna WON NANOWRIMO! Well, she hit 50K words anyway. Watch her flail with excitement & discuss the NaNoWriMo, the #NaNoHouseCup, and her new page on Patreon!
I couldn’t be happier than to have the successful completion of NaNoWriMo be my foray back into YouTubing, especially since other than my adventure to the Studio Tour, the last video I made was during Camp NaNoWriMo in July, which I sadly did not complete.
But I should not be so sad! It was working on that novel for Camp NaNoWriMo that led me to this November’s venture, which currently is a beautifully glorious 50,085 words long. Everything happens for a reason, and I truly feel I was meant to not make it to the end back in July, because my journey wasn’t over yet.
And it still isn’t.
While I’ve slayed that 50K in less than 30 days, there’s about half of my novel left to be written, and I have no intentions of letting the magnificent momentum of the last month slow down. I’m too in it. I’ve never felt so creatively on fire, and I’m loving what I do more than I honestly believe I ever have. I can’t let that die down just because of the holidays. I won’t.
Not only that, but in the three days remaining, I will be running two more #NaNoHouseCups on twitter through the @NaNoWordSprints account, which is sure to be magical. Between the first three we’ve written around a half million words, so I can’t wait to see what people can do when motivated at the eleventh hour when it counts the most.
On top of all of this, my newest video is the formal announcement that I am now a proud member of Patreon, an incredible site that allows writers, artists and creators like myself to make a living doing what they love. Basically patrons can support my work for as little as $1 a month, which may not sound like a lot. But if 100 people a month supported my work with a single dollar, that’s $100 a month, and I can start being able to live better and breathe easier because I’ll be spending my days making ends meet doing something I already love doing more than anything in the world. It’s amazing.
Basically, I’m just basking in the afterglow of this beautiful month, and really, this year. As December 31st gets closer, I can’t help but be reflective of all the wondrous things that have happened, and delight in the fact that there’s still about 30 days left in the year. And while a single month may not seem like much, it can honestly change everything.
To me, Thanksgiving is not a day about the dinner, or celebrating any of that crap about pilgrims that they make you enact in elementary school. It’s not about Black Friday and deals and getting your Christmas shopping done a month early. For me, it really has just become another day of the year. But the one reason that introspective little me does enjoy it, is it calls to the forefront the idea of thankfulness, which is something we don’t often recognize enough. The world would be better if we took more than just one day a year to focus on it.
2015 is probably the year where I have more to be thankful for than I’ve ever experienced in a single other year of my life. I think back to 15 year old me, and I feel if she could have seen where 25 year old me would end up, see the things I am blessed enough to be able to do, she’d be pretty proud. So while I don’t want to spend an incredibly long post recapping my year (that will come in December) I do want to take a moment out of this day to detail for you five (of the many) things I am truly thankful for this year.
5) Getting to travel to London & Scotland.
This was without a doubt one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me. Getting my plane ticket a whirlwind seven days before flying, being able to be part of MuggleNet’s very first fan convention, spending time with those MuggleNet friends at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, and spending five of the most beautiful days of my life in Scotland, in the city where my favorite novels were written . . . it was powerful to say the least. And on top of all that wonderment, it was that very trip that led to me working on my novel again. (Which I’ll get to in a moment.)
4) Becoming an Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo.
This experience has been so rewarding in so many ways. I’m someone who has participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) since November 2004, so the opportunity to finally do more than write by giving back to people of my region through encouragement and support has been indescribable. Not to mention that I was fortunate enough to become part of the @NaNoWordSprints team, where I got to run word sprints for people around the world, and even began the #NaNoHouseCup, where Wrimos compete to write the most words for their respective Hogwarts Houses. Combining my loves of encouraging others, writing, and being a Harry Potter nerd is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
3) Getting back to telling my story.
Piper. Alteria. They Are The Last. These are words that have been a part of my life and consciousness since I was 13 years old, and for the majority of those years, they became nothing more than a name, a place and a title that “I’d get to one day when the time was right.” Well turns out that time was 2015, because after a truly miraculous day in Edinburgh, Scotland, I realized that it was Piper’s story that I was always meant to tell. Since then, I’ve written almost 90,000 words worth of drafts, and am still going. This story is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life, and I’m so thankful that I finally accepted that truth.
2) Finding God again.
Ever since losing my dad in 2005 and then my mother in 2009, God and the idea that there was an all powerful being in the universe that cared about me was something I just couldn’t accept. My depression and anxiety ate away at me, and despite being surrounded by loving friends, I felt at times to be very, very alone. But this past year, I’ve gotten more in touch with my faith again, and honestly, it is an integral part of what I believe made this the most positive, life changing year I’ve ever experienced. There is just too much beauty in the cosmos for me to think it’s all just an accident and that everything is chaos and chance. I couldn’t be more thankful for God and all they’ve done for me to remind me that I am loved and worthy of this life I’ve been blessed with.
1) My friends.
Always and forever am I thankful for my friends. As I’ve gone through my life from phase to phase – elementary to middle schools, middle to high school, high school to college, college to ‘real life’ – I have had to grow and learn that not all friendships are forever. It’s a hard lesson, because the people I used to love in my life but have fallen away from for one reason or another still leave imprints on my heart, and whether things ended badly between us or not, I still cherish the moments spent with them and the inside jokes that still make me laugh. It makes me think about my friends now, and as sad as it is to think, not all of them will stay with me.
Life changes as the seasons, and who knows which trees and flowers will continue to bloom and which ones will wither and become a memory? All I know is right now, on this Thanksgiving Day of 2015, there are so many people that come to mind. So many people surrounding me who make me realize my life is worth it, who make me laugh, who believe in me fiercely enough that for the first time, I’ve begun to believe in myself. Know dear friends, I consider you all precious gifts, that I am now, have been, and always will be, thankful for.
This post was originally an email Pep Talk sent out to the Philadelphia region of the NaNoWriMo website, as part of our regions weekly Pep Talk initiative. As you may or may not know, I’m one of the Municipal Liaisons for Philadelphia, and part of that job involves encouraging Wrimos. This is how I did it today.
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Happy Day Five, Wrimos! ML Elayna here with your weekly Pep Talk!
By now you’ve likely begun your journey into the wild world of NaNoLand, and hopefully, things are going well! But the truth of NaNoWriMo is that they may not be yet, and I’m here to tell you, that’s okay.
What I’ve learned more so than anything in my 11 years as a Wrimo (Yes, I’ve been at it for that long!) is that every year is an entirely new experience, with so many factors beyond just the story that can end up defining how your November will play out. You may live in a new house, or be working at a new job. You might be starting a new degree in school that takes up all your time, or maybe you’ve graduated and now find yourself with more free time than before! Perhaps your story is something you’ve been plotting for years, or is something you just settled on before reading this email.
Life changes and rotates around us, but there are certain things about NaNoWriMo that always remain the same, and I for one take comfort in that.
There is always a rush that comes with finishing a scene you’ve struggled through. There’s always someone ready in the forums to give you a virtual high five for reaching your goals! Though the best is probably when you tell a friend you’re writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days and they look at you like:
These things are constants. But the most important one of all of these is one that applies whether you find yourselves at the 50K finish line or not on the 30th.
You wrote something.
If I had a dollar for every person I’ve met in life who says, I’m gonna write a book one day! I could probably completely fund NaNo for a few years. People always say they’re going to write a book. But by being here, reading this email and participating in any capacity, you are being the doer. You are writing a book.
Let this fact be your guide. Know that whether you are a first time WriMo or a NaNoLifer like myself, you’re doing the thing you set out to do, and that makes you the hero of your story. The challenges you may face as you go through this month – work, school, family obligations, general disinterest, new episodes of Doctor Who you want to watch – are not something that any amount of pep talking can make go away. But you, brave WriMo, can fight it. You can sit down each day, write a single sentence, and you will have done what others say is impossible.
You have the power within you to postpone that Netflix binge for just one more hour so you hit 1,667 for the day. You can finish that homework that feels so tedious and exhausting, and then come online for a supportive word war or sprint. You can get together the courage to conquer anxiety and make it to a Write In, because everyone there is supportive and understands you are all here because you’ve got a story to tell. Tl;dr – you can do the thing!
Keep this in mind as you venture through the remainder of this magical month, and I challenge you to think of yourselves as your novel’s main character. Think about what they would do, how they would overcome their struggles, rise to the call to adventure, and at the end of the story, find themselves a stronger person than when they began.
You can do this, mighty WriMo. Let this be you as you continue your noveling journey…
Today friends, on the auspicious occasion that is Day One of my 11th year doing NaNoWriMo, I present you with a relic of the internet: the following image is a screen grab from my recently discovered LiveJournal, which somehow survived and contains evidence of how I was feeling the night before my very first NaNo adventure . . .
Note the very 2004 music choice, the adorable 14 year old exclamations (hehe), the fact that I was Trick-or-Treating that night, and that I thought I was going to write a “masterpiece”.
It’s hard for me to believe that eleven years later, I’m still here. Still participating, still writing, and have now even become an ML for my region, something that little me could have only dreamed about. It’s all very surreal I assure you.
But why do I share this piece of personal NaNoHistory with you? *shuffles notecards* For several reasons really. For one, it’s hilarious. I mean come on? Did you look at it?
Secondly, it shows that I really have been blogging since the dawn of ever. I can actually feel confident in putting on a resume that I’ve been doing it for 11 years. (Though I never said I’d been a good blogger for 11 years.)
Most importantly however, I share it because of the particular story I am writing for this year’s NaNoWriMo. As you can see in the photo below, it is called They Are The Last and it is the first book in a trilogy that I plan to write, and which will hopefully become my first published work one day. This story, its characters, and its world – a place called Alteria – were all my very first novel idea. We’re talking – 13 years old, sitting in Math class, bored out of my brains because I sucked at Math (ah, how some things never change) and went, it would be so cool if I wrote a book about another world. I was transfixed by stories like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Pendragon Series (if you haven’t read that last one: LOOK IT UP) This idea was one I mulled over a little for the ensuing days, and then on February 9th, 2004, at 10:13 in the morning, I wrote on a piece of paper Alteria: The Adventure Begins along with the date and time.
The rest is history.
I worked on the story a lot in those early days, coming up with races for this fantasy world, a really evil bad guy, and the supporting characters around my main girl, Piper, who was very much the brave person I hoped to be. Interestingly enough, when I came up with her, I knew from those very first pages that Piper was going to be an orphan, even though at the time, both my parents were alive. Sadly in the ensuing years, I’ve lost both my parents, thus forcing me to connect with my character on levels I never could have anticipated then. I guess everything happens for a reason.
The years went by, and high school and college quickly ate my life. My NaNoWriMo novels went largely unfinished, as projects and essays and having to find a job became the order of the day. There was not enough time for creativity. There was not enough time for blogging. Alteria faded, and became nothing more than a very beloved idea that sat in a dusty box of old stories that maybe, just maybe, I’d finish telling one day.
Then came April 2015. Just a few months before, I had celebrated my first NaNoWriMo victory since I was 17! I was writing more than ever, working on a story with a friend of mine. But as time went on, it became clear that the story we were writing together was one he needed to develop more on his own before sharing it, and so I decided to get back to something of my own. So I went to London and Edinburgh, knowing that while there, I would have to decide what story I should tell. #MidLifeCrisis
The time I spent in Edinburgh is another blog post in itself, one perhaps I’ll write for you this November between noveling and regular blogging. But let’s just say, thanks to Edinburgh, I found Alteria again, and have been working on it full steam ahead ever since.
This November, I embark on my most epic journey yet: the quest to tell the story that’s been with me as long as I can remember. Equipped with knowledge of storytelling from my film degree, 11 years worth of sheer writing experience, and honestly surrounded by the most supportive group of people I’ve ever had in my life, I will be trying to tell Piper’s story the way it was always meant to be told.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. This story is the biggest deal to me, and I know that the process to get it from my mind to a book shelf is going to be long, hard, and full of countless things I could never anticipate as I sit here typing this blog. But if 14 year old me and 25 year old me have anything in common, it’s this: we absolutely cannot wait for it.