Write Space

For most of the country (and let’s be real, the world) 2016 was just awful. Not only did we lose people who were regarded as cultural icons, but the world was ripped apart by wars, mass shootings, and other instances of violence that took so many others from us. It was a year in which I got to see both Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton speak at rallies, each time inspiring within me a hope that this nation can do better, only to have hate win out in a devastating conclusion to an election, which felt more like the beginning of a dystopian novel. 2016 was hard.

But when I think about what this year meant to me personally, it was really a year full of words. This day last year in a frenzied marathon, I wrote 11,900 words to conclude my first draft of They Are the Last, which still is one of the most accomplished moments of my life thus far. So it was only natural that 2016 should be a continuation of that. And while I’ve yet to complete my full second draft, I managed to write 80,000+ words during NaNo and Camp months, and countless other words of rewrites for the new draft in-between. I even wrote my first short story (add another 5,000 words for that) which is hopefully set to be published next year. You could say that words themselves defined my year.

And so rather than try to convey exactly what it feels like to be writing like I’m running out of time, I thought I would instead share this collection of photos I’ve snapped over the year featuring the spaces in which I have written. Some were posted to my Instagram, some were taken with my professional camera, but all of them were captured by me.

As a writer, it feels like sharing these images is one of the most personal things I can do, because it invites you in to my space in which I create. These photos capture an extension of my very head space, and a glimpse into how, when, and where I make happen the closest thing I can to magic.

I hope you enjoy them, and even more so, I hope each and every person who happens upon this post has a beautiful and blessed 2017. We could use it after all we’ve been through together. Keep your heads up, hearts full, and as we leave 2016 behind and soldier into this brave new world, may the odds be ever in our favor.

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January 1, 2016
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January 2, 2016
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January 10, 2016
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January 26, 2016
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January 29, 2016
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February 8, 2016
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February 25, 2016
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February 26, 2016
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March 20, 2016
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March 22, 2016
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March 25, 2016
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April 5, 2016
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April 18, 2016
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May 3, 2016
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June 11, 2016
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June 12, 2016
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June 22, 2016
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June 25, 2016
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August 7, 2016
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August 11, 2016
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August 15, 2016
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September 4, 2016
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September 11, 2016
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September 18, 2016
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September 25, 2016
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October 1, 2016
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November 1, 2016
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November 27, 2016
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December 26, 2016
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December 31, 2016

(All photos in this post are copyright © 2016 Elayna Mae Darcy)

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Captured

For someone with a degree in film, I don’t get opportunities to play with my camera much anymore. I suppose given how preoccupied my mind has been this past year with word documents and brainstorming in journals, I’ve not had much time to put my eye to a lens. (Well, that and the fact that I may or may not have lost my battery charger months ago and only just gotten a replacement…..)

Regardless of why my Canon has collected dust on my shelf, I’d like it to no longer. As I sat in my apartment yesterday, feeling slightly blue that I was too sick to spend Christmas with any of the people I care about, I snapped some shots of the creative space I was working in, and wanted to share them here.

Hopefully come 2017, there’ll be more chances for me to just share photography on this blog. Given my site’s catchphrase, “Capturing Life’s Chapters”, it just seems fitting to do so with more than just my words. Hope you enjoy my tired-and-doped-up-on-Nyquil creativity. Taking these photos definitely made my holiday just a smidge brighter.

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“Weapon of Mass Ideation” Photo by Elayna Mae Darcy (c) 2016
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“A Story to Tell…”  Photo by Elayna Mae Darcy (c) 2016 
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“Bottled Horizon” Photo by Elayna Mae Darcy (c) 2016
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“Beyond the Bottle” Photo by Elayna Mae Darcy (c) 2016
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“Skyline Candle” Photo by Elayna Mae Darcy (c) 2016

All photos taken with my Canon Rebel T3i, Evie.

To see more of my photography, visit my portfolio here.

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 10

NEW WORDS WRITTEN: 107

NEW TOTAL WORD COUNT: 6581

CURRENT MENTAL STATE

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I THINK I GOT IT

Some days, you can spend hours and hours and way too many cups of coffee just to come up with notta. No new ideas, no character development, no resolution for your #plotprobs – NOTHING. These days tend to leave one feeling like curling up in a ball would be a much better game plan than writting 50K in four weeks.

Then there are days where one little statement sparks in you something you never tried, and before you know it, you’ve cured your writers block.

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BRILLIANT!

Lemme back track, as I’m sure some of you are doubting the epicness of this idea given I only got about 100 new words for this day.

I decided my Write Space for the day would be a Starbucks I know that’s open late downtown, but upon arriving to said cafe, I realized I’d left something crucial behind – my computer charger. For those who don’t know, my computer is a precious old lady computer that I got the month before college and poor baby can’t function for more than 40 minutes without being plugged in. Given that I was a few miles from home and would have wasted almost an hour trying to get home, get it, and return, I resigned myself to notebook brainstorming.

The words just weren’t coming though. I kept reworking the same paragraph as the day before, unsatisfied with everything about it and worried that it didn’t send the chapter on the right trajectory. In my frustration, I messaged a friend of mine who’s been hella supportive of my writing endeavors and expressed how horrendously depleted of ideas I was feeling.

Scott understands me.
Scott understands me.

That was when said friend sent a text that changed the course of my night and the chapter…

When I lose all momentum or motivation playing piano, I practice backwards. Start with the last measure and work my way back. Any way that can translate into writing terms?

As soon as I read this, an idea popped right into my head as to how exactly the chapter could end, and then as if by magic, I had a vauge outline for the entire chapter (and the one to follow) within ten minutes.

I. Was. Floored.

I think that’s the outrageously exciting thing about writing. You can do it for most of your life, think you’ve got it all figured out, and then someone can say something as simple as “work backwards” and before you know it you’re realizing there’s a lot that you don’t know. Like I said in my post the other day, sometimes you need to stand on the desk to see things in a new way, but sometimes it takes going a step further. Crawl under the desk. Look out the window. Leave the freaking room, for goodness’ sake. There’s an infinite number of ways to approach writing – like most things in life – and honestly the sooner I just embrace that, the better off I’ll be.

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How the universe probs feels when talking to me…

As I was completing my outline, the place I was writing in was closing for the night and so I began making my way back to catch the bus home. This was when randomly, out of the blue, a friend of mine called and invited me to go out to dinner, and I figured, why the heck not. But as I ended up waiting for him to come pick me up from where I was at on South Broad Street, I decided to whip the notebook back out and do something that probably looked weird.

I began writing and videoing myself writing right there on the street. I got some odd stares, but it felt strangely liberating to pick a piece of street I’ve been on countless times before and try to look at it with new eyes, to look at it through the eyes of my characters and think things like how would they be inspired by this space? So I guess I really got two new write spaces for the day, which is pretty awesome. (Which was followed by a freakin delicious late dinner and drinks with my friend at Applebees, which was pretty awesome too)

Moral of the day: listen to your friends, and think outside the box. It helps. It really helps.

PROJECT WRITE SPACE

TODAY’S TIME & SPACE
10:06pm, 16th & Chestnut Starbucks

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11:35pm, Broad & Sansom Streets

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Camp NaNo: Day 9

NEW WORDS WRITTEN: 213

NEW TOTAL WORD COUNT: 6474

CURRENT MENTAL STATE

Gosh dang darn it
Gosh dang darn it

It would seem despite my efforts I’m still stuck. Frustrated Elayna is frustrated. I managed to get out about a paragraph and a half of my fourth chapter, but for whatever reason I keep hitting a wall there and committing the cardinal sin of NaNoWriMo – editing as I write.

To give some context to those less familiar with the month long writing challenge I’m partaking in, the goal is really just to make the words happen. Get something onto a page or your word processor, and worry about the rest later. Reckless abandon writing would probably be the best way to describe it, but instead I kept writing something and erasing. Writing it again, and erasing it again. This is an extreme NaNo-NoNo as there’s always time to edit and refine later. NaNo is about getting something to work with. One of the best ways it’s ever been put to me was actually by a TV/film writer – who’s written for Doctor Who & Torchwood among other things – that I met at last year’s GeekyCon. His words are what I have to remind myself ever time I find myself staring at that God forsaken blinking line on Microsoft Word, I remember:

You can’t fix a blank page.
– James Moran

It’s the truest thing I’ve ever heard where writing is concerned. There’s nothing you can fix about nothing, but there’s always something to be fixed about something. My problem at the moment is just throwing caution to the wind and letting the ideas flow, something that seems to happen a lot less in the second week of NaNo, at least for me anyways. Week one usually be like…

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I’m writing words! DO THE SUCCESS DANCE.

And then week two rolls around and that writer life be like…

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WHY DID I CHOSE DIS LIFE?!?!

The NaNo struggle is real, but here’s to hoping tomorrow brings with it a new idea to get past the week two blues.

As for today’s WRITE SPACE, plans to go somewhere else were thwarted by a massive thunderstorm that rolled through, so my space ended up being my blanket fort (which my instagram followers are pretty familiar with already). It made for an interesting atmosphere, the likes of which I would have previously only existed on some dream-like Pinterest board: cozied up in a comforter with lights in my fortress of blankets, the sound of rain and thunder rumbling outside my window. I wish more words had come of it, but honestly, I’m not too worried about it. If there’s on thing I know, it’s that in a story, rain always represents that a change about to happen.

PROJECT WRITE SPACE

TODAY’S TIME & SPACE
10:30pm, Fort Kimmy Targaryean (My apartment)

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Camp NaNo: Day 8

NEW WORDS WRITTEN: 0

NEW TOTAL WORD COUNT: 6261

CURRENT MENTAL STATE

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2 day 0 streak = LOKI ANGSTTTT

There’s nothing quite as frustrating for a writer as waking up feeling like this…

GOING FORTH TO WRITE ALL THE THINGS!
GOING FORTH TO WRITE ALL THE THINGS!

But you end your day like . . .

WORDS, Y U NO GET WRITTEN?!?
WORDS, Y U NO GET WRITTEN?!?

That was pretty much my experience. While much like yesterday, this was a day in which I did some GREAT brainstorming, there’s just something so disheartening about seeing that little number on your NaNo stats bar stay the same for a prolonged period of time. I know there’s still plenty of time for that little guy to soar, but sometimes you just find yourself wishing the story would just fall out of your head and onto the page without you needing to do a dang archeological dig through your consciousness, just to find a tiny piece of what you’re looking for.

Ya feel me, Indy?
Ya feel me, Indy? #TheStruggle

As for this being my first day doing WRITE SPACE, I decided to keep it a little close to home and went to accomplish my brainstorming-not-quite-writing in the 12th Floor Lounge of the building I live in, which has the most KILLER view of Philadelphia. We’re talking, sweeping, epic view here . . .

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S: What’s that shadowy place over there? Me: That’s Camden, Simba. You must never go there.

It was certainly a good place to go to get me thinking big picture, which is really what most of my brainstorming was about. I came up with some really good pieces of backstory for some of my newer characters, which has been super exciting given that some of the characters in this story are pretty old and familiar to me by now. It’s really been such a remarkable experience already to finally sit down and try to tell a story that’s been in my head and my heart since I was 13, and I can see in the words I’ve written so far that the story isn’t the only thing that’s grown up – I certainly have too.

PROJECT WRITE SPACE

TODAY’S TIME & SPACE
9:50pm, 12th Floor Lounge of my apartment building

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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