For most of the country (and let’s be real, the world) 2016 was just awful. Not only did we lose people who were regarded as cultural icons, but the world was ripped apart by wars, mass shootings, and other instances of violence that took so many others from us. It was a year in which I got to see both Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton speak at rallies, each time inspiring within me a hope that this nation can do better, only to have hate win out in a devastating conclusion to an election, which felt more like the beginning of a dystopian novel. 2016 was hard.
But when I think about what this year meant to me personally, it was really a year full of words. This day last year in a frenzied marathon, I wrote 11,900 words to conclude my first draft of They Are the Last, which still is one of the most accomplished moments of my life thus far. So it was only natural that 2016 should be a continuation of that. And while I’ve yet to complete my full second draft, I managed to write 80,000+ words during NaNo and Camp months, and countless other words of rewrites for the new draft in-between. I even wrote my first short story (add another 5,000 words for that) which is hopefully set to be published next year. You could say that words themselves defined my year.
And so rather than try to convey exactly what it feels like to be writing like I’m running out of time, I thought I would instead share this collection of photos I’ve snapped over the year featuring the spaces in which I have written. Some were posted to my Instagram, some were taken with my professional camera, but all of them were captured by me.
As a writer, it feels like sharing these images is one of the most personal things I can do, because it invites you in to my space in which I create. These photos capture an extension of my very head space, and a glimpse into how, when, and where I make happen the closest thing I can to magic.
I hope you enjoy them, and even more so, I hope each and every person who happens upon this post has a beautiful and blessed 2017. We could use it after all we’ve been through together. Keep your heads up, hearts full, and as we leave 2016 behind and soldier into this brave new world, may the odds be ever in our favor.
In the winter of 1999, one of my mom’s friends got me a small Winnie the Pooh diary for Christmas. There was no way that woman could know what a seed she was planting when she gave me that thing, but it is a journal I still have to this day, and once a year I still write in it, just to keep the story going.
Since then, a great many journals have made their way into my hands, as evident from the one photo I took earlier in this year with all the ones I could find in my apartment stacked on top of one another. Oh look, here it is… (The Winnie the Pooh one I spoke of in the paragraph above is the third journal from the top in this photo. The purple spined one.)
Even since that photo, I know I’ve acquired at least two or three more journals for various purposes. Sometimes they are for particular stories I am working on, sometimes they are catch all repositories of thoughts. But some in this stack exist with the purpose of being just what the name proclaims: a journal. I’ve written in them about countless moments in my life, both the major and the trivial. The bulk of my teenage years and fears are recorded in these tomes, and honestly if I were stuck in the “your house is burning down and you only have time for one thing” scenario, my one thing I’d grab would be a bag that I’d hastily proceed to shove all of these into.
Which brings me to today. December 26th. A day where the creative stars align for me. For you see, one of the journals in that stack, this one to be precise…
… is a journal I got on December 26th, 2006. Ten years ago today.
It’s one of my favorite journals I’ve ever owned honestly, and contains much of my 16 and 17 year old angst, the bulk of which I’d be far too embarrassed for anyone reading my big-girl-grown-up blog to see. Within its pages are recounted magical summers with friends, emotional school years, and longings of a me who just wanted to see the world and write.
This journal set the bar for other journals in my life, but along with all of its counterparts, it shared one thing in common: I never filled all of its pages.
Part of this beautiful book with it’s linen-like pages and books on the cover, remains empty. I’ve never before in my life been able to fill up an entire volume with my thoughts, dreams, or musings.
Until today. December 26th, 2016.
The thing is, two years ago, when I decided I wanted to change my name to Elayna Mae Darcy (a story you can acquaint yourselves with here) the very first thing I thought was, I need a journal. I’m gonna need a comprehensive chronicle of this new life of mine. So, remembering that I got that favorite journal from way back when on December 26th (because I write the dates/times/places of every journal I’ve ever bought somewhere in the back of them) I went out, and bought this beautiful volume…
And so I bought my second journal on December 26th.
With my new name in tow, this journal and I set out on a grand adventure to capture my life. This little green book has been with me in my moments of deepest despair and greatest joy in the last two years. It contains poems written on the days I saw Bernie Sanders, and Hilary Clinton speak. It holds the autographs from a number of people who starred in the Harry Potter films. A butterfly landed on one of its pages once in a park. It’s been to London, Scotland, San Diego, Orlando, New York, and New Hampshire. It’s been written in on the shaky cabins of Greyhound buses, all the way up to the smooth sailing of a plane cruising at 35,000 feet above the Atlantic. No other journal I’ve owned can claim such adventure, which makes it only fitting that it is the first one I’ve filled from cover to cover.
And so when I penned the end of its last entry today, I knew exactly what I needed to do, and I got myself to a bookstore downtown to purchase its successor.
Who knows what journal December 26th the Third will get to contain? Will she too visit other nations, be in the hands of famous persons, or witness history as it’s happening? Maybe. Or perhaps she will contain the quieter moments, the musings of a sometimes somber yet striving to be jubilant Hufflepuff. If I’m blessed, she’ll do both.
This journaling journey has been such an important part of my life, and sometimes it is strange for me when I realize that I’ve been doing it now for over seventeen years. When I put it that way, my act of journaling is of legal age in the wizarding world! I’ve done this long enough for children to have been born, gone through adolescence, and start looking at colleges. To be as young as I am and know I’ve done something consistently for that long feels strange, but also right.
Here is to any and every adventure that this newest journal may hold.
For someone with a degree in film, I don’t get opportunities to play with my camera much anymore. I suppose given how preoccupied my mind has been this past year with word documents and brainstorming in journals, I’ve not had much time to put my eye to a lens. (Well, that and the fact that I may or may not have lost my battery charger months ago and only just gotten a replacement…..)
Regardless of why my Canon has collected dust on my shelf, I’d like it to no longer. As I sat in my apartment yesterday, feeling slightly blue that I was too sick to spend Christmas with any of the people I care about, I snapped some shots of the creative space I was working in, and wanted to share them here.
Hopefully come 2017, there’ll be more chances for me to just share photography on this blog. Given my site’s catchphrase, “Capturing Life’s Chapters”, it just seems fitting to do so with more than just my words. Hope you enjoy my tired-and-doped-up-on-Nyquil creativity. Taking these photos definitely made my holiday just a smidge brighter.