The Adventure Continues…

So the last two years in a row, I’ve written blog posts to commemorate the anniversary of when I started writing the first book in my Alteria trilogy, They Are the Last. Seems only fitting that I should continue the tradition, giving that this year, I’m working on book two’s first draft, and even better, I’m almost done.

What a journey this story and I have been on in the last twelve months.

In that time, I managed to AT LAST finish the second full draft of the first book, which I wrapped up with insane amounts of joy on the night of July 31st/the early AM hours of August 1st. The story became more concise, despite the addition of some new chapters and characters. I grew so much as a writer in that time period and felt so accomplished that this was the first time I’d ever completed a second draft of something. It was a draft nineteen months in the making, and while it still needs another round (or several) of revisions, it is in the best shape it has ever been.

It was the completion of that story that finally led me to begin to plan Book 2, which is currently titled You Are the Dawn. This book got considerably darker, and also split into a few different perspectives. (More so than the first book anyway.) This book includes a deepening of Alteria, with the introduction of new characters, new world elements, and even new dimensions. I planned the heck out of it from August to October, and then rolled ’round another season of NaNoWriMo, which I was happier than words can say to have finished in the final hour.

Since finishing that first 50,000 words of the books, I’ve been slow-walking the completion of the book, since there’s been a bunch of other creative endeavors, and also some intense personal life events, that kept me from finishing. But recently, I’ve felt incredibly inspired by a number of authors I’ve been following on twitter (looking mostly at you Tomi Adeyemi and Julie C. Dao) and it has me on a path to complete the draft. One step better, I will hopefully be finishing it this weekend.

As of this writing, I’ve got three and a half chapters to go, a whole battle sequence to write, and a cliffhanger ending to pen, which hopefully will leave any future readers both very excited and angry with me. *author side eye smirk*

Looking ahead to what comes next—as I try to grapple with the fact that this story’s now older than I was when I came up with it—once draft one of book two is finished, it’ll be back to working on the third round of edits for book one. Then comes the brave new world that is querying to get the book picked up by an agent. I am both horrified for days and excited to infinity for this process to begin.

I sent out a few queries in the fall, not long after I’d finished TAtL, but was met with my first three rejections. One of them was from one of my top dream agents, so that was a sad pill to swallow. But I’m glad for it, because it made me realize the draft still needs work, and that is not a bad thing. I want my book to be the very, very best it can be before an agent decides to take it on. And even though that means taking longer than I’d like, I’m willing to take that time and care if it means a better outcome awaits.

With the completion of They Are the Last draft three, and You Are the Dawn draft one, a completely new and uncharted part of this journey will begin. I’ve no idea if this will be the year I finally get an agent or not, but I’m praying hard that this is the one.

Till then, however, I am just so, so happy that after all these years, I’m still trying to tell this story. I feel so blessed to get to explore Alteria and its universe in my imagination, and every moment spent writing about Piper and her companions is something that fills my soul with hope. Even on the hard days, when the words don’t come easy, or when life comes at me hard, I’ve still got this story inside of me. And until the golden day when I get to share it with the world, having it in my heart is more than enough.

 

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Half My Life

Half my life ago, I started writing a story.

I won’t go into the details of that particular 2004 morning in which Piper and her story arrived in my head, since you can read all about that here. The short version is that it was just a regular day, but one which in retrospect turned out to be one of the most important ones in my life. In a way, when Piper’s story began, so too began my life’s quest to become what I really believe I’m supposed to be—a writer.

When I wrote last February 9th, I was filled with such a profound hope because I had just that week launched a campaign to publish the book through Inkshares. (Which in case you missed it, didn’t end so well…) As sad as I felt though when I had to close that chapter on Alteria’s story, the experiences had while trying to get the story out there shaped my year, and helped me grow tremendously as both an author and a person.

This anniversary comes on the heels of a tumultuous week, as sadly last Friday, one of my Uncles passed away. While we hadn’t been close in a number of years, it still shook me. It reminded me of something Lin Manuel Miranda said during his speech at the Tonys…

“Not one moment here is promised, not one day.”

It was a wake up call that life is precious, important, and very, very fleeting. It forced me to pay mind to my own mortality, and whether it was that, or just the sheer amount of sadness and emotion all hitting me at once, I started writing again. Writing like I haven’t been able to in months. 1000 words Monday. 1750 words Tuesday. 600 words yesterday. Words to come tonight. I’m unloading the pain in my heart like rounds of artillery, and emotion is pouring out from my heart like a river overrun from a storm. It reminds me of another quote I heard recently, this time by Carrie Fisher via Meryl Streep…

Take your broken heart and turn it into art.

Those words embody what this story has always been for me. Writing is the therapy I can afford. It is how I react to and reason with the world. When I was 13, I was bullied enough that I hated myself. Whether it was the thickness of my body or of the books I carried with me, they always had something to make fun of me for. Discovering Piper, creating a fictional world for her to save—it was the only way my imagination could figure out how to deal with it. If I could tell a story even a tenth as good as the ones I read and loved, then perhaps someone else might be emboldened. Someone else might be reminded not to give up, just like Harry Potter or Pendragon reminded me. All I can hope for is that Piper can be a light for others one day, like she has always been for me.

As I sit here, with the knowledge that more than half of my life has been spent on this story, my heart feels full. More wordless days of doubt and frustration are sure to come down the road. There will be hardships that will cripple my creativity, and there will be hardships that will remind me to keep fighting. I look forward to them both as much as I look forward to the joyful days that nourish my soul and give me hope. I look forward to all of it, because all of it is part of my story, and thus Piper’s story too.

So whether it takes just a few more months or a few more years, whether it is via a traditional publisher or I decide to publish it myself, this story will be shared with the world one day. Even as life remains full of uncertainties, in this the one notion upon which I stand sure.

SUPER SECRET SURPRISE!

Over the last few months, I’ve been working on a new full draft of They Are the Last, and as a surprise to celebrate 13 years since the story’s beginning, I’ve decided to do something special! You can now read the latest draft of the first chapter of They Are the Last! Simply visit theyarethelast.com/read & enter the secret code below to read it!

SECRET CODE
(Highlight between the arrows to view, then copy & paste)
–> PipersStory <–

This isn’t a final draft, but its as close as I’ve been able to get to one yet, so I hope you enjoy it. Share this blog post with your friends so they too can use the secret code to read Chapter One! Thanks as ever for supporting this story.

12 Years in Alteria

Get your flux capacitor and TARDIS ready, everyone. For today’s post, we’re going back in time. To when, you ask?

February 9th, 2004 at 10:13am. Room 107 of East Norriton Middle School.

I was 13, sitting in class with a teacher I didn’t much like for a subject I was rubbish at. The few days prior to that, I’d made the decision that I wanted to write a story. Heavily influenced by the magic of Harry Potter and the space and time travel in The Pendragon Adventures – a YA series you should absolutely look up if you’re unfamiliar – I knew that I wanted the story I’d be writing to be some combination of the those elements. Science-y magic, if you will.

I came up with a character to lead this universe, Piper Anderson, who was so named because Piper was my favorite girls name, and Anderson was my 7th grade English teacher’s name. Next, I realized Piper needed a universe to belong in – a world. Sitting in that math class, I tried to come up with a name. Something original. But with nothing around me but other disinterested classmates and a teacher droning on, there wasn’t much for inspiration. So I worked with what I had . . . my math worksheet.

I started using different words from the instructions on the page, combining them in scribbles at the bottom of a piece of paper that I have sadly since lost. I rearranged words and letters, until at last, I jotted down a word that just worked. It clicked.

My world would be called Alteria.

And so I opened my notebook to a blank page – a page I still have – and jotted down the date, time, place, and just above it a phrase. Alteria: The Adventure Begins. Below that, a chapter title. And below that? A horribly cheesy first line that only 13 year old me could have come up with.

Piper Anderon looked like your typical 17 year old girl. But she wasn’t.

Yes, in the first line of my first book, I spelled my own character’s name wrong. DERP.

The rest of that year was spent coming up with alien races, doodling notes, and handwriting pages upon pages of story. That November I decided to write a prequel to this first Alteria story, and the result was very first NaNoWriMo novel called The Waters of Nen. As anyone who’s read this blog before knows, NaNoWriMo is the other thing I’ve been spending the last 12 years doing.

The ensuing years after 2004 saw much of my free time being consumed by coming up with grand ideas, some of which stayed, and some of which went back into the communal creative consciousness for someone else to grab. But even when I came up with something bad, I’d just scrap it and keep going. Most people are still surprised when I tell them the story is as old as it is, usually asking things like, why didn’t you get distracted and just stop writing? I can without a doubt say one of the biggest reasons was an incredibly kind and endlessly encouraging middle school librarian who told me to keep at it. (Spoiler: When I get to write a dedication to this book one day – you can bet she’ll be in there.)

High school saw me getting into other projects, trying new things, and you know, learning how to be a person. Then in college, I was so caught up in the incredibly exciting task of learning to be a filmmaker. While those years were amazing and shaped me so much as a storyteller and creator, Alteria spent much of that time on a shelf, waiting until I was ready to tell the story as it deserved to be told.

Flash ahead to 2015. At the conclusion of one creative project, I found myself wanting to take up the mantle of another one. I debated relentlessly in my head as to which story I should work on, and carried the dilema with me when I went to London and Edinburgh in April for my own adventure. I sat in the very cafe where JKR wrote her much of Harry Potter, thinking about Piper and Alteria, and wondering: is it their time? Am I finally ready? As I walked home that night, mulling it all over, I stopped by a shop, looking for a souvenir for the friend who helped me get there. In that store, I saw this . . .

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I took the hint. I went back to Alteria.

I spent July to October writing the first 44K words, then November and December I began a new draft which I completed with less than an hour to spare of New Year’s Eve. I rang in 2016 standing on a street corner waiting to catch the bus to my friends party, because I HAD TO finish my book first. Watching fireworks explode over the city skyline, happy drunken cheers all around, and with Hamilton the Musical‘s song My Shot blaring in my ears, I gotta say – that was one of the most surreal and profound moments of my life.

Which brings me to 2016. A new year, new beginnings, and a new chapter in the life of my story. And now – a new challenge.

This time last week, I was working on revising my draft, with no idea when I’d ever be published, or hell, even how I’d be published. Would I self-pub? Find an agent? I was preparing myself for all possible avenues I could think of. But as I’ve discovered is the pattern in my life, God usually tends to answer my prayers in the one way I that I could have never expected or prepared for.

Along came Inkshares. My friend – bless her heart – sent me a link to a contest called The Nerdist Space Opera Contest, run by the magnificently wonderful Inkshares website. The rules? Get my book to be one of the most pre-ordered books by March 15th, and I get published. That’s it. I’d be a real live published author, and one of the top 3 items of my bucket list would get to be checked off when I’m only 25. Talk about blessed.

So here I sit. My story turns 12 today. 12 years of my life spent with my head lost across the stars in a world I love, which no one ever used to know existed, until now. Now, Piper’s story isn’t just mine. It can be yours too. I imagine this must be what a parent feels like seeing their kid off to school: thrilling, exciting, nerve-wracking, happy, overwhelming, etc.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with this contest or my story will find itself in the winners circle, because to be honest, SO MANY OF THESE BOOKS SOUND SO GOOD. But the great thing about Inkshares is, even if I don’t win the contest, I still have until May 4th to sell 750 pre-orders, and if I do that, my book will finally be on your shelves.

Suppose it is fitting that a post with the words 12 Years in the title should take a while, but if you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with me. Not just in this blog post, but in life. On this crazy journey I’m on to live passionately and fiercely pursue my dreams. I hope that if you’ve gotten this far, you’ll take some time to check out this story that’s meant all the worlds to me. You can read Chapter One here.

If you’ve been there at any time in any way for these past 12 years, I thank you. You’ve become part of the story between the lines inherently by being in my life. As for the rest of you, Alteria will be waiting.

iP5_8j1J


Update: As of September 14th, 2016, Elayna cancelled the funding campaign for They Are the LastRead her official announcement here. Readers can still visit theyarethelast.com to learn more about the story.

Why I Write

WHY I WRITE

Why do I write?

Because I have to.

In 25 years on this Earth, I have yet to discover something that thrills me more than a story. Words printed on a worn out page that I have to be careful with because I’ve read it so many times, films I watch over and over again because there’s always some tiny thing to be discovered, staying up all night watching episode after episode of a show because I need to know that the hero who feels so much like myself will survive and defeat the bad guys. Those stories I hold dear were woven with words, words written by those who have come before me.

I write because it is my turn.

I write because of what I’ve been through. Losing loved ones too soon, being the center of tormentors attention, and some days feeling never worthy enough to be held by someone. But I also write because friendship has saved me, love has conquered my inner demons and I have seen enough precious moments slip away to know that each of them is to be cherished as though it will never come again, because the truth is: it won’t. I’ll never smell rain for the first time again or unlearn the yearning for adventure that comes from watching the sun sink below a line to be replaced by stars: but through words, I can experience these sensations again and again, ever in a new way, through new eyes, and with an open heart.

I write because I have a voice. My voice is as unique and precious as it is weird and the same. I’v experienced a life that is so similar to so many, but not one has been through it my way. I write because my story of a surviving a crush on my best friend may make someone else thing, “Maybe I can too…” or because my journeys to other worlds in my dreams could come to be the worlds that someone else escapes to when life tries to tear them down. I write because who am I to rob the world of my consciousness? Who am I, made of stardust and science and wonder, to think my words aren’t important enough to be written down? (Spoiler: This entire paragraph also applies to you…)

I write because more than anything, it is what I love, and love – as I was reminded just this past weekend – is the weapon we all have inside of us. Love is what fights back the night and brings deep meaning to a place that can often feel as though it is reigned by chaos. Love is laced through every word of my stories, my life, and my writing.

This is #WhyIWrite.

Life Is My Patronus

This past week on September 4th, I spent much of my day crying . . . but not for the reasons you might think.

happycrying
The Doctor gets it.

Backtracking a bit, for anyone who’s been following this blog since I began it back in January, it has kind of been a really great freaking year for me. From starting my YouTube channel to London, from Scotland to MISTI Con, from my first Camp NaNo to Orlando for Geeky – it’s been a wildly excellent 2015 I’ve been having. Sure there’s been plenty of downs in that time frame, but for the first time in forever, the amazingly good is outweighing the bad in such a way that it’s much harder to get me down right now, when I have so many happy memories to make patronuses with.

Expecto-Patronum-harry-potter-and-the-order-of-the-phoenix-28638327-500-208
Take THAT depression & anxiety. 😛

But in the wee hours of September the 4th – just when I was thinking I might go to bed since it had become so late it was early – my phone buzzed. It was a notification that J.K. Rowling had just tweeted something. (When you work for MuggleNet, you kinda need to know when the Queen has something to say.)

The night before, we had just begun a campaign with MuggleNet called #PotterItForward, in which we’re encouraging people to leave a note about their positive experiences with the story in a copy of Harry Potter at a bookstore or library, so that a new person picking that copy up can know what a life changing tale lies between the covers of what they’re holding. I think it’s brilliant, and I am so proud of my friend at the site who came up with it. It’s one of those things that reminds me why the Potter fandom has always been so important to me – we’re all about the love & feels. So naturally, when I saw Queen Jo tweeting, I decided to tweet at her.

I’ve done it plenty of times before, but she never has interacted with one of my tweets before, which tbh I don’t take personally. The woman’s got over 5 million followers on twitter! Everyone and their mother tweets at her, and probably hundreds of thousands of people have their phones set up to know when she tweets, just like me. Every time I tweet to her, it feels like a shout into the void, but I’ve continued to do it every once and again hoping she catches it.

Well guess what kids?


THE QUEEN KNOWS ME

SHE FECKING CAUGHT IT.

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Guys, I really tried so hard to not freak out and wanted so much to just be like:

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Ah yes, the Queen has seen my tweet. How pleasant…

But to be honest, my reaction was much closer to:

HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT
HOLY ROWLING IT HAPPENED
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IS THIS REAL LIFE?!
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ME AF RN

I’ll be honest in saying I pretty much immediately started crying. The really good kind of crying. The kind of crying where you’re more so crying for the sheer disbelief that such beautiful moments could happen in your life.

I have looked up to J.K. Rowling since I was an 8 year old girl who fell in love with a magical story. The more of her books I read, and the more I learned about her as a person . . . there was just so much about her to admire and respect. And for just a moment that morning, the woman who’s inspired me more than anyone, saw a lil icon of my face, read the words that I had to say for a change, and liked it so much she felt compelled to give it a little gold star of approval.

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Me, myself, and I at that moment.

Some people might think it’s crazy for me to have reacted in such a way – crying, having trouble breathing, being incandescently and ecstatically happy for the entire ensuing day – but if J.K. Rowling (and Luna Lovegood) have taught me anything, it’s to not care what others think of you, especially if it means not being yourself.

After a night of not being able to sleep, having a mediocre day at work, and then a night spent mostly online talking to my MuggleNet friends who mean the world and a half to me, I found myself sitting alone, and I once again started to cry. Like really, genuinely, happy cry. But the reason, I realized in that moment, was not just because some author took 2 seconds of her morning to like a tweet.

I’ve been happy crying because I have reasons to. While I have spent so, so much of my life, crying because of depression, anxiety, loss, rejection, self loathing, and a million other things, I have finally reached a point in 2015, where I have so many loving, genuine people surrounding me and filling my heart with joy and reminding me that I’ve got so much light in me that I can share, but only when I stop to realize I have it. I’ve got a job that’s okay with an apartment that I love, I’m giving back to my school through an amazing LGBTQ Alumni group, I’m starting to lose weight and feel healthier, I’ve traveled to two new countries and two different states in the last five months, I’m working for the Harry Potter fan site I’ve loved since childhood, and I’m writing again. Writing a story that’s been with me for 11 years, and which most recently helped land me a leadership position as one of the Municipal Liaisons for Philadelphia for this fall’s upcoming NaNoWriMo.

 

Awesome
How I feel about me and my life rn.

No low balance in my bank account or any hate that anyone could try to fling at me right now can take that away. My happiness is so strong that it could hold back 100 dementors any day. I’ve got so much passion, friendship and love in my life right now that I can honestly say I’ve never felt this unstoppable. But all of this realization, came from a single little gold star on a tweet that I thought would never been seen.

So if you’re feeling like your opinions (or tweets in this case) don’t matter, or that you yourself don’t matter – remember this story, and remember these words:

very-good-lives-rowling-quote

On The Road Again

Today we interrupt your regularly scheduled novel blogging to take you on an adventure!

TO GEEKY CON!
TO GEEKY CON!

That’s right kids, seems like just yesterday I was leaving for Leaky Con 2014, but here I am a year later just about to set off on the road with my new MuggleNet friend Rachael.

We have a long journey ahead of us to Orlando. Tonight we will be hitting it Winchester style by crashing in some motel along the way and then completing our journey south in the morning. Can’t express enough how ready I am for this since its probably the legit-ist road trip I have ever been on, and it really is to the most exciting place ever: Geeky Con.

Best. Place. Ever.
Best. Place. Ever.

For those unfamiliar, Geeky Con used to be called Leaky Con, which started out as a small Harry Potter convention a few years back, but over time, and as other multi-fandom nerds like myself began to emerge, the con took on a bigger, crazier atmosphere – which I love, to be honest. I’ve seen a lot of hate flung this Con’s way, and while I can’t speak to what it was like before 2014 when I went for the first time, I can say going last year was some of the six best days of my life. I met John Green, made awesome new friends, chilled in a hot tub with famous YouTubers and one of the actors from Glee, and most specially – I got to meet and chat with Robbie Thompson, my favorite writer from Supernatural, and hug Amber Benson, who played Tara on Buffy. (She even took one of my business card as well!!!!!) Safe to say, Geeky is a magical place.

See? Coulson agrees!!
See? Coulson agrees!!

This year there are a number of people attending who I cannot wait to meet, many of whom are friends I have made on the internet, who I have yet to meet IRL, but now finally the time has come! We’ll get to hang out, relax, and even attend panels to help me with my writing! I may even meet Veronica Roth, the author of the incredible Divergent series. Oh, and did I mention? In addition to the con, I’M GOING BACK TO WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER AND FOR THE FIRST TIME, TO FREAKING DISNEY WORLD!!!!!!

ME RIGHT NOWWWW
ME RIGHT NOWWWW

There’s really nothing better than being able to go on another adventure like this. I’ve recently had so many people say, “Oh your so lucky!” and I’m really just at the point where I don’t believe thats it. For the first time in an extraordinarily long time, I really feel so very, very blessed. While I’ve had plenty of struggles in the past year (there’s a lot more to my life than my blog) I’ve also seen such a turnaround in my fortunes, and I truly believe it’s because I finally believe that if something good can happen, it will.

So happiness to all, chase your dreams like Bilbo chased those dwarves, and there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to . . .

 

Camp NaNo: Day 11

NEW WORDS WRITTEN: 1654

NEW TOTAL WORD COUNT: 8235

CURRENT MENTAL STATE

Morpheus
#YAS

After finally seeing my word count climb I honestly just feel like busting out a rendition of “At Last” by Etta James cause GOSH DARN IT DOES IT FEEL GOOD TO SEE THAT NUMBER GO UP.

For anyone who’s been following, you know I’ve been having a rough time of things this week two. Honestly it’s been difficult trying to find the right inspiration, even despite my efforts to go to new places and seek out new horizons. New spaces are amazing and help so much, but what I’m coming to realize is that sometimes going to the physical spaces isn’t quite enough. Sometimes it’s ones own head space that can be the hardest to escape.

Today was rather uneventful to be honest, because it mostly consisted of me waking up, going to work for four hours and then booking it down town to find my new space for the day. I ended up turning down an office party actually to go get writing done, which some people found surprising. For me, it was an easy decision – not because I don’t love my coworkers and could have used a night to relax, but because in a month with so little time and so much to be done, sometimes the work has to come first, and it makes the decision a much easier one to make when the work is enjoyable as heck.

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Me about writing #AllDay #EveryDay

My place I ended up trekking to was new for me. It was a cafe called Cake and the Beanstalk, which I had been to before to grab a coffee, but had never had a chance to sit down in and get any work done. As fate would have it, this day I walked in, worried I’d not find a seat, only to find NO ONE else was there. I had free reign to pick whichever adorably cute hand painted table I wanted. (I actually ended up switching tables before the night was out, cause why not?) This little place was perfect with super yummy iced coffee and this gluten free, flourless cake thing that was 10 kinds of delicious. The sitting room also happens to have enormous windows which show the beautiful garden right next door, so the ambiance of being outside in a secret garden while getting to stay inside with outlets and away from bugs was great too. Safe to say, I adored this place. 10/10 would recommend to others for a good place to get some writing done.

But as for the story, I guess I just hope I can keep up the momentum so I can finally pull ahead in my word count. It’s been so hard trying to keep on top of everything, which I suppose comes with the territory of being a writer with an unrelated day job to pay the bills. Here’s to hoping though that all this stress, long nights, and relentless missions to find new places to write pays off one day with a book I can publish, so maybe, just maybe, I can make a living doing the thing I like doing as much as breathing.

PROJECT WRITE SPACE

TODAY’S TIME & SPACE
5:45pm, Cake and the Beanstalk Cafe

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Camp NaNo: Day 7

NEW WORDS WRITTEN: 0

NEW TOTAL WORD COUNT: 6261

CURRENT MENTAL STATE

No words makes a sad Layna
No words makes a sad Layna

This post is coming a day later than it should, but there’s just something about a day where not a single word happened that can feel discouraging.

Now to be fair, I got quite a bit of brainstorming done, and also completed a layout for how I want the next several chapters to go, but I also found that as I was sitting in the cafe thinking of these ideas, I was getting more worried about what kind of video I would make when I got home than I was about writing what I’d been planning, which is not good.  Part of this month’s writing experience, and my journey as a writer/blogger as a whole, requires that I be honest with myself, and if I’m being honest in this moment, I was so determined to do a vlog about my writing every day, that I wasn’t writing as much as I could or should have, and given the words are what this whole month is supposed to be about, this made me feel like I was heading in a bad direction.

10/10 Not A Pleasant Experience
10/10 Not A Pleasant Experience

SO! That being said, as I head into week two of this writing/blog&vlog extravaganza, I’m going to try something a little different, based on an idea I had while in the cafe on the night of the 7th.

The thing is, I LOVE finding new places to write. It physically gets me out of my normal head space, which is extraordinarily helpful for me trying to come up with new things and look at things from a new perspective.

“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.”
-John Keating, Dead Poet’s Society

I honestly think about this phrase whenever I’m feeling trapped in a rutt. In addition, as a photographer and journalist of my own life, I love capturing moments in time, via both images and words, which frankly is why you’re sitting here reading this. So as I sat in that cafe the other day, I decided the new direction I’m going to go in for the videos.

WRITE SPACE is going to be a new photography/writing project I start this week in which every day, I must go somewhere new, that isn’t my apartment, and write. What else will I do? I will bring along my camera and take a photo from my perspective of where I’m sitting, so as to capture not just the moment of writing what I’m writing, but the space in which that work was written in. How does this become a vlog you ask? Each of these days, in addition to a photo, I will capture little bits of footage of those spaces and on July 14th, I will release a video featuring each of the spaces I spent my week writing in (from the 7th to the 13th) and perhaps talk about the experience of it at the end of said video. As I go through this experience, I will still post a new blog each day, and that blog post will include my progress of what I wrote about in those spaces. So while I won’t be having a video released each day as I planned, I will be writing, which is what matters.

If being a writer has taught me anything, its that sometimes things change along the road of your story. Plot twists change your path, obstacles and roadblocks get in your way, and characters decide to change their minds and do what they want. So before you know it, you’ve gone from a miserable 11 year old on Privet Drive to a legendary hero who’s sending your children off to Hogwarts when all is well. I can’t predict where this story – or the journey of writing it – will take me any more than Harry could have predicted his, but you know what? I think that’s fucking beautiful.

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#BrbSobbing

JULY 7th WRITE SPACE

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Space: Chapterhouse Cafe & Gallery in South Philadelphia. Time: 8:45pm, July 7th, 2015

 

Camp NaNo: Day 5

NEW WORDS WRITTEN: 2,899

NEW TOTAL WORD COUNT: 5,291

CURRENT MENTAL STATE

WORDS ARE HAPPENINGGGGG

For today’s video, I did something that I don’t do often enough as a writer: I went outside.

Scary notion, I know.

But I ventured out into the world today, trying to just get my head out of the space it’s been in all weekend, which is in my apartment, feeling congested and stressed and not making any words happen. Turns out that some fresh air and a new place to write were just the trick I needed. Did some quality brainstorming, recorded some pretty shots and took some nice photos – which I’ll include in my post with the video – and then made my way home. (Discovering along the way that apparently Dunkin Donuts has my favorite kind of coffee for 99 cents every day between 2pm and 6pm from now till the end of the summer)

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Me for the rest of the summer, basically

Upon arriving home, I set immediately to writing and FINALLY got some done! I’ve been word sprinting it all evening over with NaNoWordSprints on twitter, which if you’re a writer and haven’t checked them out yet, I highly recommend you do. While you have to be careful not to be too distracted by the rest of twitter, it’s really great to have constant sprint start & end times, different prompts, and suggestions from fellow writers when you’re stuck for something. It’s pretty fantastic, and honestly, it’s what helped me hit my goal today.

I managed to write just about 3,000 words! (And honestly, will probably keep going as soon as I am done with this post because I do NOT wanna lose this momentum!) Sometimes really all it takes is a change of space and pace to get the inspiration flowing again in ways you wouldn’t have expected. Going outside, and then coming back to write, but writing in one of the offices where I work as opposed to in the coziness of my blanket fort, really helped me to get out of the funk I was in and get my groove back.

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#Yas Dumbledore, #Yas.

However this good news comes with some slightly bad news, which is that I was so productive with my writing that I’ve had no time to edit together the video I shot on my little stroll today. As bummed as I am that the video must wait til tomorrow to be shared with you, I am happy that I got to film it, and that I did what matters most in this month of epic writing, which is actually get something on paper. (or computer if we’re being technical) This video WILL be released, but not until tomorrow, which I guess means I am going back to posting videos on the days after the day they are about.

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#CampTimeyWimeyMo

So take heed writing friends and assorted others of the interwebs: if you’re sitting in your room trying to find inspiration, after repeated days of sitting in that same room, trying to find inspiration, chances are you won’t find it. You have to get up, go for a walk, and maybe seek a Great Perhaps. (Looking for Alaska, anyone?) Best of luck with your words, friends. I’m looking forward to writing plenty more of my own tonight.

 

Well, I’m Back

As the great Samwise Gamgee said at the end of the adventure that was the Lord of the Rings trilogy: Well, I’m back.

Back from London and from Edinburgh and what was honestly two of the greatest weeks of my existence on this earth, and that friends is no exaggeration.

I arrived home Wednesday afternoon (which felt like Wednesday night, thanks to the time difference) and needed a few days to catch up on sleep, to remember once again which side of the road vehicles belong on, and get reacclimatized to my favorite skyline – which includes a very different clock tower than the one I’d been getting used to. There were so many days and so many adventures to recount that one blog post just really isn’t going to cut it, so over the next two weeks, you’ll be getting a nice lil bundle of blog posts that will document my journey from the moment of my last post (getting ready for lift off!) to the return home this past Wednesday.

So many amazing, beautiful and down right miraculous things happened that I now can add to my pensieve of memories to cherish. (No really, I mean miraculous. I spent over a week in London AND NOT A DROP OF RAIN!) I’ll also be putting together a number of exciting video blogs about my journey, which will be uploaded to my YouTube channel, and shared here as well with some commentary. I can’t wait to get it all down and have the chance to recount my amazing adventures to all you out there in the interweb. I came home feeling happier, more refreshed, and more ready to live my life than ever.

I guess that’s the most surprising thing of all, really: I thought coming home would be sad, heartbreaking and make me hate everything about home that isn’t like the wonderful things I experienced abroad. But I’m not sad – I just feel incredibly blessed and can’t wait for the next adventure.

Back to that #BlanketFort life.
Back to that #BlanketFort life.