• Who Am I? •

Who am I?
The first verse
of my 28th year
is a question,
another ellipsis
with lessons to be
revealed day by day
as I fight and love
onward
to where I’m meant
to go.
I don’t know
the destination
but I know that for it
I am destined.
I’m only human
for now,
but I was a soul
long before,
and my journey
forward
is less about
becoming someone new
and instead about
becoming the someone
I was before I
even knew my name
or what words were.
As I begin around this
system’s star once more,
I hold hope close,
and go forth with faith,
confident and sure… 


Hope you all enjoyed this. Rather than the usual writing all the things I’ve been through for my birthday (and especially given what a poetic past year it was for me) I felt it would be more fitting to celebrate the beginning of being 28 with a new poem. Here’s to a new year of being and stuff!


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(Featured Photo by Josh Felise on Unsplash)

 

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End of an Era

I don’t remember much of my life before Harry Potter, mostly because there isn’t much to remember. I was 8 when my sister first tried to get me to read it, and because I’d never read a novel before, I didn’t finish that bad boy until I was 9. But once I finished the first installment, books quickly became the loves of my life, and I’ve never looked back.

I have always felt so lucky to have grown up in the Potter Generation—falling in love with the books as a child, being 11 when I saw the first film, being the same age as the trio as they grew too. My life has always been bound to this book series. Hell, more than anything, it is J.K. Rowling who first inspired me to pick up a pen and tell my own stories. But there was one element of the Potter experience that like a good wine, only got better with age, and that was my experience with MuggleNet.com.

I must have been 10 the first time I came upon it. I didn’t even know the word fandom then. Social media did not yet exist. But MuggleNet did, and my love of that site and the feeling it gave me a sense of belonging that I had never felt anywhere else. In school then, being a nerd wasn’t cool. I got made fun of for carrying around books that were hundreds of pages. I was called a loser for daring to believe in a story about witches and wizards. But when I logged on MuggleNet, people from around the world were as excited as me. They were teaching me how to make Butterbeer, freaking out about who got cast in their favorite roles, and there was speculation for days about how each of the books would turn out before they were released. It was the closest I’ve ever come to witnessing real magic.

So when I graduated college, and got my internship with MuggleNet, it was a dream come true. I’d lived for their in depth theories, always loved their memes, and it was an unfulfilled item on my bucket list to see a live MuggleCast show. It was the most incredible thing watching the friends across the internet that I’d never met start to become real people who were there for me when times got darkest. When I became staff on November 3rd, 2013 (Sirius Black’s birthday), you’d have thought I got an actual acceptance letter to Hogwarts. That was also the year we learned Fantastic Beasts was happening. I remember making some cheesy graphic called us The Fandom That Lived. It was everything.

The last five years with them have taken me from the Studio Tour in London where I opened the doors to the Great Hall, to the cafe in Edinburgh where Jo wrote the books. They’ve put me on panels at New York and San Diego’s Comic Cons, sent me on boat parties for the SyFy channel, and got me to the red carpet premiere of Fantastic Beasts. ​(Where with my own eyes, I saw Jo in real life!) I have watched people come and go, but have also made friends that I know will be with me ride or die for life. But one of the most surreal moments came last summer, when I attended the Nineteen Years Later event on Sept 1st.

I thrilled to be there because of the significance to the books, but that night also was a night in which I felt like I came full circle as a creator. Remember that bucket list item I mentioned? (It was seeing a MuggleCast live show, in case you forgot already.) They did a show that night, and so even though it has been years since I have listened to their show, having this moment happen on such an auspicious day was the thing that finally made me cry from joy. (For the first time that night, anyway. There were lots of happy tears. Looking at you Cheyenne… 👀👀)

But what made it so astronomically unreal, was that not only did I finally get to witness my fave podcasters from childhood do a show, but I actually had several people come up to me and say the phrase, “Are you Elayna from SpeakBeasty?” One of them asked to take a photo with me, and I damn near lost my shit entirely. So basically, on the night I saw people who inspired me, I met people inspired by me. That folks, is the dream.

By now you are probably wondering why I’m spending a random Thursday gushing about MuggleNet being basically the best thing to ever happen to me. But it is because as of this week, I did something I honestly never thought I would have the Gryffindor guts to do, and that was step down from my role on the Social Media Team and as a Producer of SpeakBeasty.

While MuggleNet has given me, like, all the top five best moments of my life, I have come to a point in time where I am coming into my own as a creator. Years and years worth of collaborating on projects and helping others create content has been the honor and joy of my life. But as I began to in my post My Turn, (where I spoke on chasing my publishing dreams) it became apparent that I no longer had the kind of time to commit to something that was as big a responsibility as MuggleNet had become, while still focusing on my own work. It breaks my heart to walk away from something that has meant universes to me, but like Harry, I have to know when its time to pursue my own destiny. This quote from the fourth Potter film said it best…

Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.

When I look at the two paths I can take, the one where I go off on my own and try to chase my dreams of being a writer is terrifying and scary. Continuing to stay in my fandom bubble while my dreams are put aside would be the easier, safer road. I am so goddamn scared to do this. But the line which follows the above quote reminds…

But remember this: You have friends here. You’re not alone.

MuggleNet has always been home, and the friends I have made there will always be family. And though it is the end of an era of me working for them, by leaving, a new era begins of working for myself, with my beautiful magical friends I’ve made still be my side, reminding me I have the strength to do this.

Thank you MuggleNet. Thank you for making my life magical… always…

Here’s to Hope

Here we are. 2018. To be honest, after the past year, I honestly can’t believe we made it.

Hopelessness permeated the nation and the world last year. Hurricane after hurricane, shooting after shooting, scandal after scandal. I thought people had been happy to see 2016 go last year. But then 2017 rolled up and was like…

04f
You know nothing of pain, 2017…

But with all that dread and fear, came some moments of true inspiration which reminded me maybe the world hasn’t gone entirely to shit. The Women’s March turning out astronomically more people than a cheeto’s inauguration. The triumphant releases of films like Get Out and Wonder Woman and Girl’s Trip and Coco, proving that audiences are ready AF for more inclusive media. In a response to certain bigots getting elected, we saw a backlash of people running for office, and WINNING, like the amazing Danica Roem. 2018 looks to be even more promising on many of these fronts, what with things like Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, and the elections that could flip the government in favor of, oh, I dunno, general human decency?

But this post isn’t meant to be a political commentary or an analyzation of media, even those are obviously both things I care about. It is meant most of all to say, 2017 was quite a year, and I’m ready to put it to bed and look forward to this year.

In terms of personal things this year, it was pretty fucking majestic. I finally got a promotion, moved into a new place with my best friend, published my first short story, launched a new podcast, traveled to Seattle and Orlando and New Hampshire, began a writing website with my friends, and nearly finished the first draft of You Are the Dawn. I think about all that I’ve done this year and I’m overcome with joy, that despite all the financial struggles and social struggles and mental health concerns I faced this year, I did what I said I hoped I would last year. I made things. I read books. I told stories. I lived.

It seems my experiment of putting down less concrete goals actually friggin worked, and so too this year, I want to do the same thing. As I go forth, I hope to blog & vlog more. I hope to go further into my work on the Alteria series. I hope amazing things happen for IndiePen Ink, and that all the ancillary things that are part of it will flourish. I want to *hopefully* move somewhere new where I can really spread my wings.

But there is one more concrete goal I have that I will put into words, in the hope that writing it here might help me speak it into existence. In 2018, I really hope I find my literary agent so They Are the Last can finally see light break on the horizon.

Here’s to hope. Here’s to love. Here is to 2018 overflowing with light for you and yours and for all of us. Live loud and be blessed, friends.

Newt Wouldn’t Stand For It

Most of the pieces I do for this blog are pieces about my personal life, my writings, and things I’m generally fangirly about. But with this piece, I hope to go a bit deeper than the usual fare to deliver you some musings on a topic I feel really strongly about, which relates to a certain franchise about certain beasts that may or may not be fantastic.

With the news dropping recently about the title of the Fantastic Beasts sequel, fans have an exciting number of things to talk about. The first image of the cast was released, accompanied by a photo showing several beloved faces from the first film (#TeamNewtina & #TeamJacquennie), and introduces several new characters that so far, we’ve only speculated about. (DUMBLEDORE’S GOT ME SHOOK) Fan reactions are running the gamut from severely fangirling to feeling completely underwhelmed. We really went in on our feelings in the most recent episode of the podcast I co-produce, SpeakBeastyBut there is one reaction that just keeps popping up, and its one I happen to agree with…

It hasn’t even been a month since Kevin Spacey was dropped from Ridley Scott’s film (which comes out next month by the way) due to accusations from Anthony Rapp and many others. Harvey Weinstein’s company is in shambles following the ever-growing list of allegations against him. The #MeToo movement is still very fresh on everyone’s mind. So one has to wonder how in the hell a film written by J.K. Rowlinga woman who has always stood for justice and equalitycan possibly still be alright with featuring Depp in this role.

As the tweet above points out, the fact that the film itself is called The Crimes of Grindelwald and stars a known abuser just feels like some alternate universe joke that you didn’t think could be possible. Yet this is our reality. We’re exactly one year out from release, with the film still in production. But here we are, featuring this man’s character in the title of the film, and prominently in the promo poster. It is unreal, upsetting, and in my opinion, unacceptable.

Johnny Depp has starred in many films I’ve loved and enjoyed. He used to be one of my favorite actors. He has proven to be an incredibly talented and versatile actor. I can’t deny that. But how can I, and the entire WB team it seems, sit back and forget about the circumstances that surrounded his divorce with Amber Heard? Yes, she settled and withdrew her case, but she then used her settlement amount and donated it entirely (all $7 million of it) to charities supporting abused women and a children’s hospital. Some have argued she falsified these claims just for the money and to tear him down, but that argument goes out the window when you realize she didn’t keep a dime of the settlement, and his career is going just fine.

Domestic abuse is ignored, despite the unbelievable frequency with which it occurs. We cannot as a society condemn sexual assault as vehemently as we are right now while turning a blind eye to domestic violence. They are both plagues of our society. They both are inexcusable.

Harry Potter, and by extension, Fantastic Beasts, is a guiding light in the lives of so many people. It is a beacon in the darkness. It is a story we connect with and which has taught us to treat others with kindness, and that the weapon we have is love. For a franchise with such a beautiful foundation, it feels wrong to build upon it with a star who has shown himself to be antithetical to everything it stands for.

Jo shouldn’t stand for it. Harry and Newt certainly wouldn’t stand for it. So why should we?

So if Christopher Plummer can get to a studio and make reshoots happen for All the Money in the World mere weeks before it drops into theaters, there is no reason that Grindelwald’s sequences could not be reshot with a new actor before the film’s release. It would ease the pain of the many survivors of domestic abuse who are fans of the series, and frankly, I think it would send a bold statement to Hollywood and the world that just because you’re famous, you can’t get away with abusing someone.

And while Jo and others may joke that they don’t cast movies, as the film’s writer and producer, I believe she holds enough influence that she could make something like this happen. She has always used the power of her words to do what’s right. It is my hope that she uses that power to do the right thing once more and condemn this sort of violence.

A Million Things I Haven’t Done

Way back in the day, when I was a wee 13 year old, I had a Xanga. If you don’t know what Xanga is, I’ll just be over here dusting off my cobwebs and trying not to feel ancient. If you are in the know, you know that it pre-dates Insta, Twitter, even Facebook. It was a blogging site that for some reason, I adored, and it was my first foray into the blogging world. I used to write on that baby all the time, even up until college, letting it serve as a means of chronicling my life and years. And so, as I reflect back on how much I miss than dang blog, I thought I’d bring back an old tradition, which was writing just before my birthday about everything I’d done in the past year, and then looking ahead to what comes next.

So 26.

What a damn year, yo. Let’s break down some of the highlights, starting with last year and working up to the most recent highlights…

OCTOBER 2016
Mere weeks after turning 26, I went to my first New York Comic Con, where I proceeded to meet Guillermo del Toro, Ron Pearlmean, Steven Yeun, Andy Serkis, and this little guy you may have heard of named STAN F**KING LEE. *breathes a moment* Sorry. I get carried away about that last one. We also hosted our first live show for SpeakBeasty at that con, which was unreal and magical and definitely didn’t make me cry. (Narrator voice: she definitely DID.)

NOVEMBER & DECEMBER 2016
As any American without a MAGA hat will tell you, November was hard. Gut wrenching, heartbreaking, soul crushing hard. I went from standing in the shadow of Independence Hall the night before the election, hearing the Obama’s and the Clinton’s speak, thinking, this is it. History is happening right in front of me. I’m here the night before the first woman president gets elected. As we all know, the story didn’t pan out that way, and that has led to our very frightening current climate. To add insult to injury, the depression I experienced that month was so intense, that I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo.

But, because my life is weird like that, there was one thing that happened the day after the election that managed to be a beacon in the darkness. A patronus memory in the making, if you will. For on November 9th and 10th, I got to see an advanced press screening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and I got to cover the goddamn red carpet, where I saw J.K. Rowling in person. Yeah. I don’t talk about this moment of my life enough. But it definitely happened, and no fronting whatsoever, I SOBBED. I wish I’d gotten a picture with her or a signature or said hey thanks for my childhood and life and stuff, but that’s an adventure for another day. 😉 Seeing her was enough to turn on the light even in the darkest of times.

Oh, and I saw Hamilton. That happened. #StillNotOverIt

JANUARY 2017
It’s true what they say that when one door closes, another one opens. The only thing of note that went down during this month was finding out my short story wasn’t going to be published by Inkshares, and subsequently entering it to be published in a literary magazine, which led to…..

FEBRUARY & MARCH 2017
The month I found out/got my first work of my life legitimately published. I still look at my copy of Wizards in Space sometimes, in sheer disbelief that it exists. That my story is printed within its pages, and that strangers out there somewhere who I may never meet have heard a story I had to tell. And apparently at NerdCon: Nerdfighteria, John Green bought a copy of the mag, which means that there’s a small chance John Green has read something I wrote. Being 26 could have dropped the mic here and been fine cause IT DOESN’T GET BETTER THAN THAT KIDS. (Or does it???)

APRIL & MAY 2017
As if getting a story published wasn’t enough, these two months finally saw me getting a new job, the job I’d honestly been wanting ever since graduating college and starting to work at the company I’m with. It’s not a dream job, nor a job I plan to stay at forever, but its the first time in my life that I have ever made a livable wage. I’m by no means making big bucks or anything, but it allows me to function more like a normal person, and man, it sounds insane to say, but being a person without wanting to die every minute because of financial stress is just bliss, I tell you.

JUNE/JULY 2017
Much of this summer blurs together, since most of it was spent doing one of two things–being at the new job, or working on the rewrite for They Are the Last. I made a lot of progress during these summer months, taking the story a bit slower and steadier without the worry of a publishing campaign looming over my every moment. July and August blazed by as I worked lots of extra hours and then spent what weekends I could stealing away to cafes to write. I also got a lot more into my love of poetry, which led to me doing my first spoken word event.

AUGUST 2017
This one was a bit of a month, as I finally moved into a new apartment and at long last, started getting treatment for my anxiety and depression. These two things happening at just about the same time made for a really interesting combination, and as exhausting as the move was (I managed to sprain an ankle the day I was originally supposed to) it was a process I needed. It was the closing of a door, while opening a shiny new one. It was a sign of progress that I desperately needed to feel like I’m moving forward with my life. And the medication has honestly been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. I’m finally starting to manage my conditions, in a way that doesn’t rip me apart as much as it used to. It’s been incredible.

SEPTEMBER 2017
Only 19 days of this month, and already, unparalleled moments and memories I’ll treasure forever. My vacation to Orlando to attend MuggleNet LIVE 19 Years Later was too unbelievable to comprehend. I spent a magical day at Disney with a number of my SpeakBeasty friends, ushered in the only canon date in Harry Potter that fans have been able to live through together (September 1st, 2017, the day Albus goes off to Hogwarts) and spent lazy days strolling through Universal with people I love more than anything. I got to live out my dream of spending a day writing in the Wizarding World, sitting outside Florean Fortescue’s with a Butterbeer ice cream working on edits, and enjoyed a delicious dinner in the Leaky Cauldron as I worked on the book. It was too beautiful for these measly words to convey. I wish life could be like it every day.

Which brings me to the now. Or rather, the tomorrow. Tomorrow, I turn 27, an age that doesn’t come with much pomp or circumstance, and which forces me to face the fact that I was 17 10 years ago. But I feel energized for it. I feel an anxious kind of ready that’s trapped in my bones. I look back at how my life has progressed over especially the last 3 years, and each time, life gets ever more complex which makes it ever the more beautiful.

My life still gets messed up. I’m still broke some days. I still get majorly stressed. I still don’t always accomplish the things I set out to do. But the one thing I have yet to do, and which I pray I never do till my time on Earth is done, is give up. I hope that 27 is a year in which I keep pushing forward, and boldly going after my dreams, even though the thought of it scares the hell out of me. But as my fave said in a tweet earlier this year, which I put to paint…

“Courage. Even when panic’s at the back of your throat, courage.”
-Lin Manuel Miranda

I hope as I go forth into my 27th year that I can have even a shred of the courage exhibited by my heroes. I hope that even as I struggle, beautiful things come of it. I hope that no matter what comes my way, I don’t give up. Because for all the amazing things that happened to me while I was 26, there’s still a million things I haven’t done. But just you wait… 😉

 

Moving On

In the course of a single week, I’ve finished the second draft of my novel, and moved into a new apartment.

To say its been a bit of a week would be an understatement.

First, the book.

Finishing this draft was a very different feeling than the first. When I finished the first on New Year’s Eve 2015, it was like ending with a bang. I’d written 11,900 words in a single day, and as I finished, I immediately left my house to go to a friends New Year’s party. I rang in 2016 standing on the corner of 11th and Chestnut, watching fireworks in the distance, the joy and adrenaline of finishing coursing through me as the song ‘My Shot’ from Hamilton played in my headphones. I was as high on life as is possible to be without any substances. I had done what I thought was impossible, and it the words of my buddy Mal Reynolds, I felt mighty.

mal reynolds mighty

But draft two? It was the lamb to draft one’s lion. I finished at just around 3:45am on August 1st, having written about almost 8,000 words in the course of a day. Because it was so very late at night (or early in the morning depending on how you spin it) there was no one to celebrate with, and so I found myself typing the last phrase, to be continued, and then sitting back in my chair with a heavy, happy sigh. I looked at my computer screen for a good couple minutes, just in disbelief that I’d done it. Start to finish, draft one took six months, but draft two? Start to finish took nineteen months. In that time, I started and failed a campaign to publish it. I moved apartments and changed jobs. I went through every phase of imposter’s syndrome, self-doubt, and disappointment, some days thinking the first draft had been it—I’d never be able to get it right and actually get this book done. But that moment alone in my apartment, starting at the finished count and the words to be continued, I felt something I hadn’t the first time—this time, the story was whole.

The first draft had been entirely without a second act, and was RIDDLED with some of the worst plot holes and gaps in character development, mostly because at the time, there was still so much I’d yet to learn about writing. And while I am by no means an expert at it now, I’m certainly better off than I was then. Finding the close knit group of writing friends I’ve always longed to was game changing. Spending months and months reworking things and scrapping drafts and making detailed outlines and developing richer backstories informed the work in immeasurable ways. Every minute I spent in that year and a half was necessary to get me to that moment in the early morning hours of August 1st. And somehow, sitting there with the draft finished, I managed to have all of this hit me at once, but in a way that felt like a calming wave of emotion.

Finishing this draft wasn’t fireworks, it was stargazing—still beautiful, powerful, and inspiring, but peaceful.

The months ahead will now be focused on edits. Some of the chapters towards the end may need a bit of rewriting, and other chapters towards the middle will certainly need some tweaks and touch ups, but I don’t know that I’ll need another rewrite like this one. As I said, the story felt more whole this time. I feel like I’ve largely got to paper the story I’m trying to tell, and now its a matter of fine tuning it so it comes across the way its meant to. I’m incredibly excited for this process, because once I’ve finished the polishing, I begin a whole new phase—finding an agent.

2016 was the year where I tried something different. I thought non-traditional publishing was an exciting and perfect way to go about getting my book out there. My experiences since then have showed me that may not be all it is cracked up to be, and while self-publishing is still always an option on the table, I think I owe it to myself and to my book to try the traditional way. Who knows if that will pan out? Maybe I’ll get dozens of rejections like my girl Madeline L’Engle and when I’m about to give up, find the right person. Or maybe rejection after rejection will lead me to putting the story out there on my own terms. I’m not sure what will happen, but after all I’ve been through on the journey to tell this story, I’m certain that things will pan out exactly as their meant to. My faith in that fact is stronger than ever.

And so to my move…

It is perfectly fitting that I should move apartments after finishing the second draft, because now in every possible way, I enter a brand new phase of my life and this book’s production. It was living at my old apartment building that I came to the conclusion to go back to working on Alteria, and so as I close that chapter and move on to somewhere new, so too does my story move on.

I can’t wait to see what comes next, but until then, there’s work to do.

Almost There

Late night blogging, whatup!? (Apparently me…)

Felt compelled to pop in with an update because I’m almost there. It’s almost done.

Only six chapters left on the rewrite of They Are the Last, and then at long last, the second full draft will be done.

It has been a long time coming to this moment, so I won’t waste too much time in this post talking about the journey or what it took to get here, but I will say this… I’m literally on fire with excitement right now.

There’s a creative flame that always seems to come for me towards the end of a project–when I know that the completed thing is near, lying just around a few corners ahead of me. I spent so much of the last year and a half wandering and feeling lost in this process, but to have gained my sense of direction, to know exactly where to go and what is left ahead, knowing it will only be a few more days before I cross this new finish line… its like there’s fireworks exploding in my chest, and not in that weird Katy Perry way.

giphy
It me…sorta…

This magnificent burst of creative energy is a wave I look forward to riding out all the way to the end of the month, especially because of all that lies ahead for me in August. For not only will I be concluding the second draft of my book, but I’ll also be moving out from the building I’ve lived in for the past three and a half years, the place that in so many weird and unexpected ways, brought me back to this story.

I’m looking forward to going out with a bang, and can’t wait to share more about it here when its finished. If there’s one thing you can be sure of with me, it’s that there will be feels.

marshalnotready
#MyBodyIsntReady

But for tonight, it’s back to the write space and back to the words. Excited to see how far I can get into Chapter 17 before sleep decides to kidnap me. See y’all at the finish line…

Lots of Magical

The last two months have gone by in a big, messy, life-altering blur, and I feel remiss to have not written in so long. But had to get in at least one post before the month is out, and with everything that’s been going on, I think it was high time for an update on my life and my book.

Let’s start with life.

For those who don’t know, I’ve spent three long years working a job that, well, to be candid but also respectful, was not very great. Lots of management changes and stressful days doing something that wasn’t very creative or along the lines of what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Some days, it made my depression and anxiety unmanageable, and I spent much of that time so monetarily broke and feeling emotionally broken that I honestly don’t know how I made it. But if my heroes who came before me taught me anything, its that strength comes from struggle, and I can say with conviction, while I might not be unbreakable, I am certainly a much stronger human than I was back then for having gone through it all.

But in good news, playing the long game paid off, because as of May, I finally started the job I’d been wanting and pitching during that whole time I was here. Its been a lot to take on, with its own new challenges and responsibilities, but I can honestly say that it has been a very long time since I worked a job I enjoyed doing this much. 90% of my job relates to social media, which I love contributing to. And to make things even better, I’ll be moving soon, into a new place with one of my best friends, which will start a whole new chapter for me. It’s terrifying, but also pretty damn exciting.

Then there’s been IndiePen Ink.

I haven’t had much chance here yet to talk about the website for writers that my dear friends and I launched back in February, but after a few months of getting our feet wet, we’re soon rolling out some really big and exciting things that has me more jazzed than I can describe. It feels like we’re at the beginning of something really beautiful, and after spending the most wonderful week in recent memory with the two ladies I co-founded this site with, I can genuinely say that I believe we have something really special we’re creating here, and that’s just magical.

IMG_0080
The savvy, snarky, sassy founders of IndiePen Ink. (Aka, mah girls.)

Speaking of magical things, SpeakBeasty just turned 40! Well, sorta…

We just recorded our 40th episode… fortieth. When I think about where we are and where we started, goodness, it gives me so many emotions. Our show certainly hasn’t been without its bumps in the road, but we’re getting to make something that’s just so much fun to create, and the more comments we get like “thanks for helping me power through this week“, the more full my heart is. It’s living out a childhood dream for me to get to contribute to this show. Being a professional fangirl is, and always shall be, #goals.

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Recording the 40th. Can’t believe it.

And for one more magical thing, how about an update on my book?

As you might know if you’ve been following along on this journey, I spent pretty much all of 2016 reworking and reworking the first parts of the book, all while trying to run that campaign on Inkshares. After that crashed and burned, I took it hard. I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo, a bigoted orange got elected president, and I ended last year/started this year with next to no positive creative energy. March 1st of this year though, I finally decided to take all those reworkings and incomplete chapters and set them on a shelf to start a fresh new draft, which came with a shiny 22 chapter outline, which built on the Frankenstein version from last year.

Since then, I’ve been trying to get through this second full draft, and making what has felt like slow, but is actually pretty steady, progress. As of this writing, I’m through 13 chapters, and have 9 left to go. And with it officially being Camp NaNoWriMo again, I’m reeeally looking to finally get this draft finished.

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Me at the cafe earlier today, revising that Ch 7 bit & intermittently working on Ch 14.

This will be my third July Camp in a row in which I’ll be working on this book, which feels very strange. The version I did in 2015 got scrapped. The version for 2016 was more me beating the same chapter to death without making much progress. But this year, I go into July with 13 (sorta?) solid chapters, and have a strict trajectory of what needs to happen form now through to the end of the book. I’m more prepared than either of my previous July Camp attempts, so really what I need this coming month is just going to be lots and lots of focus. If my estimates are correct, there’s about 30,000 words to go before I get to finish the last chapter and slap that exciting ‘To Be Continuued…’ on the end of this book. (I’d especially like this to happen so that this November, I can take a wild, crazy, pantser-style stab at the first draft of Book 2 in The Alterian Trilogy, but let me not get ahead of myself…)

This road has been long and weird and winding, but even on its worst days, I’m still so happy to be doing it. I spent today having several writing friends look over some pages I’m using for a writing residency I’m applying to, and I was mortified to share it with them, because the scene I had them looking over was one of *the most* important scenes in the book. (Your only hint is that its in Chapter 7.) And while the mark-ups and edits were many, the consensus among them was pretty similar: still needs work, but you’ve got something here. Can a writer really ask for more?

So to bed I go. Want to be up early so I can get in some words before work. Because I’m resolved friends: this draft is getting done this month. No matter what, I’m making it happen. I think it is finally time.

See you on the other side of Camp!

 

What Gives Me Life

A late night blog cause my heart’s doing some things.

Sometimes, I feel like I’ve failed, even when I shouldn’t feel that way. Like the one thing I might have done wrong or not done well enough means I myself am a failure. Its a feeling that bites and burns and I wish I knew how to shut it down as it happens, but sometimes, that shit’s hard. But what I’ve learned in recent years, is that there are other things in my arsenal of emotion I can use to at least combat it, if not eradicate it. Tonight was one of those nights where I got to do that.

Not an hour ago, I hopped off a call with my podcast co-producer and our three new interns. Yep. That’s right. The podcast I run has interns. This statement feels unreal, because as my co-producer put it, it means we’ve grown so much that we need help. This beautiful and weird little thing we created is becoming a big enough thing that we need more people on our team to make it continue to grow and succeed. And while bringing on unpaid interns to an already unpaid job I have might not look like much on paper, to my heart, it is everything.

Most of the things I love doing most in life are things I don’t get a paycheck for. I didn’t get paid to make short films with my production company/band of friends when I was in college. I don’t get paid to produce a podcast about a movie about wizards. I don’t get paid to insanely agree to write 50,000 word novels every November, while encouraging strangers to also write 50,000 word novels with me. As of yet, I don’t get paid to stay up late at night editing and rewriting a story that’s been in my mind for most of my life. But these things that don’t put any coins in my pocket are the things which breathe life into my soul. They are the worthwhile things that make up the entire short list of most profound, enthralling, uplifting moments I’ve ever experienced. These things make me feel more alive than anything I’ve ever punched a time clock for.

These little moments, these small victories, they are my weapons for the days I feel like I’ve failed. They are the swords that cut my self doubt and they are the fans to my flames of hope. While there were things I did and didn’t do today that made me feel like I’d messed up or failed, the one thing I did right has to be enough to keep me going onto the next moment, and the next, and the next. I will fall and I will fail more times in life than perhaps I’d ever be able to count, but these things are sure to come in equal measure with things that are beautiful, inspiring, and which will give me the strength to stand back up.

Tonight began the next leg of a journey. One with a bigger team, more responsibility, and more chances for me to fail. But I have a feeling that with the right amount of dedication, spirit, and joy, whatever pitfalls may lay in waiting will be far outweighed by the triumphs sure to come.

Keep Letting Go

I’ve blogged about it before, and I’m sure I’ll blog about it again one day, but I never stop being amazed at how the stories I love find ways of saying exactly what I need to hear when I need it most.

This time, that story was last night’s new episode of Jane the Virgin, a show I’ve fallen head over heels in love with for its insane ability to make me snort with laughter and cry with sadness and/or joy all in a single episode. While much of the episode last night was fun and campy and about the main characters maaaaajor new crush on someone, it was also about her being vulnerable as a writer, and letting the world see the sides of her which while most painful to face, are the things that shaped her most into the person she is. I felt like I was watching my life via Gina Rodriguez.

But the part that struck me most was a conversation that Jane had with her Abuela, Alba. As Jane was trying to accept the fact that she needs to face the pain she was feeling over a lost loved one, her grandmother said:

You’re in a long term relationship with grief. But it has to evolve, and it’s okay to keep letting go. You have to.

It should be noted that while I watched this episode last night, today happens to be my mother’s birthday—my mother who passed away almost eight years ago.

Her birthday is always a hard day for me to face. Its a day when I should be celebrating her, yet I have to do it knowing I can’t see her. That I don’t get to hug her or bake her a cake or write her a card that would probably make her cry. (A skill I learned from her I should add—giving meaningful cards was kinda our thing. No wonder I ended up a writer.)

My mom was everything to me. Growing up (and even now) I’ve been surrounded by friends who have estranged relationships with their moms or who just aren’t that close with them, while I find myself treasuring beyond measure the eighteen years I had mine. For while we fought, and while I could be a bratty teenager, and while neither of us was ever perfect, my mom was always there for me. Rather than punish me for not being the best, she always encouraged that I try my best. She supported my passions, believing that I could accomplish my many head-in-the-cloud dreams, even when I couldn’t.

But to that quote, hearing it was such a cathartic reminder, that while I miss my mom every. single. day… letting go is part of moving on. Grief is an every day, never goes away kind of experience, in which some days are better than others. Some days you can get through talking about them without crying, some days you can’t. But that line reminded me that no matter what kind of day I’m having—it’s going to be okay.

Here’s to you mom. Happy birthday.

(Ps, it’s really fitting that today also happens to be World Penguin Day, as penguins were her favorite animal on the planet.)