• Enough •

No amount of you
will ever be enough,
the voices say.

I’ve come of age
in a cold hard time
that has lied to me
so much and
so well that
I’d grown to believe
they were right.

You’re not enough
because you weigh too much.
You’re not enough
because you’re broke too much.
You’re not enough
because you love too much.
You’re not enough
because you think too much.

No matter
which way
they cut me
or divided me
or tried to summarize me,
I was never enough.

But I’ve had enough.

So I’ll become more than
they thought I could
because I’ve always
been more than
I thought I was
because the secret is
I am enough.

• ❇ •

Wanted to share this particular poem from Unraveling Light in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day. May it serve as a reminder that you are enough, that there is hope, and that there is so much more to you than you can ever realize. You are loved. Please keep fighting.

• ❇ •

Featured Photo by Milan Popovic on Unsplash

Advertisements

Create What Awakens You

Creative advice abounds in today’s world of everyone-has-a-hot-take. We all have different ways that work for us, different things that inspire us and compel us to make stuff. This however isn’t a self-help article to tell you how to harness that magic for yourself. This is simply me, musing about how my imagination ignites, because it’s on my mind and I have to shake it out somehow. If it manages to spark something in you, well than all the better.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
—Maya Angelou

This past year is when I began actively writing poetry. I say actively because truth be told, my poems prior to the last year and some change were all accidental. They were sporadic moments when the spirit moved me to write something down. Then I’d tuck it away, not to be seen until months later when I was moved by something new. But last summer, I did my first poetry reading event, and within me that night, something shifted.

Whether it was the way people responded to my words, the confidence I felt in delivering said words, or something different entirely, I cannot say. All I know is that night, I felt awakened. A new candle was lit within me, and I wanted nothing more in those moments than to fan this new flame of it into something bright and strong and beautiful.

Writing poetry became a more frequent occurrence. The poems got better with each one, and expanded from internal struggles that I didn’t feel I could talk to anyone about, to bigger world issues that I wished more people would be talking about. I started getting more funky and creative with them, mixing my styles and my rhymes and my rhythms. When I was writing poetry as opposed to my usual YA sci-fi work,which always feels like it must be so carefully written, there was a certain freedom and a new-ness that made me feel more alive and present than I had in a long while.

By the time I started sorting these new poems into an actual collection, I found myself wishing I had an artist who would be willing to do illustrations for it. I thought of all the artists I knew, but then thought of the empty-ness of my wallet. As someone who grew up with an artist for a sister, I know the value in their work, and didn’t want to ask someone to do it for free.

Around the same time, I’d entered a giveaway by an author I really admire, and actually won. Included in the prizes was a cool beanie, a bookmark, a pair of sweet headphones, and a sketch book, one that has the words ART HEALS painted on the cover…

Another new something had awakened. Another candle was lit.

Slowly, I started to find my medium. Sketchy ink doodles and abstract-y watercolors. I found a healing and a transcendence and a joy in making the art to accompany my poetry. It made them feel full, each work of art like the period to the sentence of each poem — something to complete them and make them whole. I was reminded of the Greek myth in which Zeus was said to have cut humankind in half, leaving each of us to spend our lives searching the soul we were split from. This fusion of poems and art pieces was like the two spirits of my creativity finding one another again.

The words informed the art, and the art deepened the meaning of the words. The further into my creative consciousness I ventured, the more myself I feel I became.

The original idea for this article came from my mulling over the phrase, “write what you know”. It is always the one creative piece of advice I have tried to follow, probably just because it is the set of advice most often heard. But as of late I have realized that writing what I know is only one small piece to the puzzle of being a creator. My poems and my paintings, my sketches and my science fictions, my blog posts and my Instagram stories — all of these things, different from one another though they may be, are part of who I am and what I create. Each of them ignites something different within me. Every form of art a single flame in my artistic bonfire.

When I walk through daily life, working a day job just to make it, I feel like I cannot wait to just lay down and go to sleep. But when I am creating, writing, drawing, and living the life that feels like I belong to it as much as it belongs to me, I am awakened.

I hope that you find the spark that awakens you, and I hope that you nurture that flame into a blaze that only you can make.



Cover Photo by
Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

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.

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.

All Good Things

As 2016 gets under way, I find myself caught up in something that many of us spend the first days of a New Year doing: thinking about what I can do differently. What resolutions should I make? What am I actually able to stick to as a realistic goal? What do I need more of in my life?

One of the biggest things, is positivity, which may sound like a contradiction to most people who know me. My friend even sent me this tweet as I was working on writing this post:

I pride myself on being a person who just spews encouragement and excitement in every direction, because honestly, that’s who deep down I feel I am, and it’s entirely who I want to be. But what less people know about me is that in order to do that, I’m usually having to suppress my depression and anxiety to make it happen. I’ve gotten considerably better at this than I was before, but it’s still a daily struggle, and one that I need to be proactive about keeping under control.

So what’s my solution? What’s my plan for being the happiest me I can be in 2016?

Meet my Memory Box.

L3dcTGza

What’s a Memory Box? Well, it’s what I am calling my version of something that I was actually inspired to do by one of my friends, only hers is called a Good Things Jar. The container is whatever you want it to be, but the idea of it is simple.

Every day, you write down one good (happy, positive, exciting, amazing, or any-other-word-that-describes-wonderment) thing on a piece of paper, and put it in the box. Then at the end your 366 (since it’s a Leap Year!) you’ve got an entire container that’s full up with the beautiful moments of your year. You can even decorate it if you like, so over the year I plan to add to what is currently just a plain red box, so that by year’s end, the box is as much a representation of the year as the things that are inside of it! Quotes, stickers – whatever I find that sums up the epicness of 2016.

My friend's Good Things Jar! GOOGLY EYES! :D
My friend’s Good Things Jar! GOOGLY EYES! 😀

For me, reminders of the good things in life can be what keeps me going, especially on days when I am feeling at my worst. It’s one of the reasons I like to journal and blog as much as I do. Memories of good things can reignite the sparks in one’s heart that you need to keep going. They can inspire you to keep fighting so you can experience more like them. Memories are part of what makes us most human.

I already feel in my bones that 2016 is going to be a game changer, and so I can’t wait to see where this lil venture takes me. And even better, this box fits perfectly as a vessel for all the good things, as it was the box that my Christmas gift from my sister came in. And what was the gift it carried? The “Best Day Ever” mug shown next to it in the photo above. ^_^

So here’s to the year and to all the happiness that it will bring, and most of all, here’s to looking back at the end of this year, with what will hopefully be both a little red box – and a heart – full up with love.

The Wrimos Journey

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.

– – –

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…

Love, hugs, and many words,

ML Elayna

Camp NaNo: Day 6

NEW WORDS WRITTEN: 970

NEW TOTAL WORD COUNT: 6261

CURRENT MENTAL STATE

giphy
I’ll be over here thankyouverymuch

Today was quite a mixed day as my allergies were back with a vengeance and I spent most of the day huddled up under covers feeling like crap.  But Camp NaNoWriMo doesn’t wait for allergies!! Thankfully I managed to do some really fun word sprints with some new people on twitter, and upped my word count by nearly 1,000. I’m still  behind what I need to be at for today (11,290) but with the roll I’ve been on I’m perfectly certain I’ll catch up this week.

Given that yesterday I got to have such a great time running word sprints and sharing postivity with the sprinters of twitter, I thought I would follow up today with a special blog post, in which I offer a few little beginner tips on how to get new ideas and keep on keepin’ on while you write. I also thought it would be a lot more fun if I brought these writing tips to you with the help of a little friend of mine. Ladies and gentlemen and variations thereupon, please enjoy the very first Writing Tips with ROFL.

 

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)

coffee-gif-04
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.

tumblr_m3yoshEQ2X1rvzqw7o1_500
#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.

tumblr_inline_nqrinb6H5v1qegzff_500
#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.

 

Camp NaNo: Day 2

NEW WORDS WRITTEN: 912

NEW TOTAL WORD COUNT: 2,255

CURRENT MENTAL STATE

tumblr_inline_mp0cggvEEJ1qz4rgp
This will be me the second I finish writing this post

So yesterday was fun. Not only did I get just shy of a 1,000 more words, but I also reached 400 (and then some) followers on twitter and reached 70 subscribers on my YouTube channel. While these may not be tremendously gi-hugic numbers to some, they’re exciting for me as someone who’s really trying to just jump head first into finally sharing my stories (both the real life stuff & created) with the rest of the world.

tumblr_lya5t5qIPs1rn95k2o4_250
Me about everything tbh.

But probably one of the most important things about my day was watching this one video by Hank Green, which I mention in my own video below, but can perhaps elaborate a bit more on here.

The video, titled How To Get Good At Everything, in which he talks about what sounds like an awesome TED Talk (Which I have yet to watch, but plan to!! May even write a blog response to it.) where Carol Dweck talks about what it means to be good at something. Are we born great? Or have greatness thrust upon us? While I don’t want to speak to a video I haven’t even seen, my vote at the moment would be neither, cause gosh darn it I’m going to work hard for whatever kind of greatest comes my way.

The video was also special cause it included someone I greatly look up to, talking about writing his own novel, something he’s never done before, and quite frankly, it’s refreshing to see people like Hank Freakin’ Green (Interviewer of the President and Proponent of Ending World Suck) can be nervous about creative endeavors. Its why I think I like both Hank and John Green so much. They are creators who make change and weave stories and inform us to make life on Earth more awesome, and they do it in the most human way. They aren’t trying to be big shots, they aren’t trying to be celebrities, they just want to make the world a little bit better, and really, shouldn’t we all be trying to do that?

And lastly, yesterday as a writing day was super special because of the fact that I got to share it with a bunch of people using @NaNoWordSprints and my own personal twitter. Writing when I was 13 was something I experienced entirely on my own. No twitter or tumblr existed then like it does now, so I had no way to reach out to others and really bond over the experience, which is certainly not the case now. I say all that to explain the importance of one of the people I was chatting with on twitter, who’s a young writer like I used to be. (Well, I’m a young writer as well, but not quite teenage young)

 

https://twitter.com/NiemannDestinie/status/616825726738632704

They’re just beginning on their journey, and for me to sit back and think about all I’ve experienced through the written word in the last 11 years of my life, makes me so VERY excited for their future. I know being a storyteller has changed my life in immeasurable ways already, and it just makes me happy to know that it’s doing the same for others too.

JULY 2nd, 2015

 

**The end of day “New Total Word Count” shall henceforth be determined by the number of words I have before going to sleep for that day, not necessarily at the time which the day physically ended. Ex: I reached this word count at 4am on 07/03, but this counts as my wordcount for 07/02 cause dear God in heaven, I haven’t slept yet and I’m beeeeat.**