vulnerability and blogging.

I miss you writing from what's going on in your heart, the email said. I know how it is to need to sell a product so you can eat but don't neglect that part of your heart. It's endearing. 

I stared at the screen for a few minutes and then shut my laptop, the anxiety rising in my gut. 

It's a romantic notion. Noble, even. Writing your heart for others to read is probably the highest of virtues in the literary world. But how do you capture the violent ways our souls bend and crack? How do you carry well the anticipation of others without folding from the weight of their expectations? 

It used to be easy. 

Before the rent check, before the heartbreak, before the betrayals, before the lynch mobs at the ready. I didn't need to worry about upsetting anyone because my story intersected with a very small radius of people and they rarely visited this space. I could share my heart without telling you specifics and no one would ever know. 

But not now. Now there are ramifications. Now there are risks. I've seen what happens to those who are vilified. 

And so I swallow my words.

I swallow the story of hearing my voice echo across a Texas canyon, coyotes yipping back at me. I swallow the story of friendships that weren't what I thought. I swallow the weight of words thrown carelessly toward another, and the way Failure draped himself over me. I swallow the fire, the anger, the jealousy and the fear. I swallow the emails filled with hatred. I swallow the good things, too. I swallow the flash-mob dance parties and laughing until I cry. I swallow nights filled with wine and art journaling and feeling the way my soul can be known by another. I swallow clarity and purpose and the return of confidence. I swallow the loss of faith and the rush of new birth, sweaty and bloody and wobbly limbed like a day-old colt.

I swallow it all until the belly of my voice is so swollen from lethargy that I can't even whisper the most archaic thought.

Yet while I feast on the words I cannot say, I'm telling you to speak your own.

I recognize the hypocrisy here. I'm working on it. These past few years have been tumultuous at best and there were moments I wondered if I would ever return to this space. But I'm here now, with hundreds of stories waiting their moment. 

And with shaking fingers, I begin.

chasing wild

Somewhere back in the fall, I stopped posting here. 

A lot of it was necessity. Things were happening I didn't feel comfortable sharing, and so I drew inward, processing with those around me. There's a certain holiness in allowing people to grab your hand or throw dance parties on your behalf or share rapid fire text messages with in the middle of the day when you're hit with one more mountain to climb.

Somewhere along the way, I shed more than a few masks and I softened into wild.

It started in September. 

It's never easy to chase your purpose. It's easy to find it. It's easy to coax it out from hiding in the shadows, even. But chasing it? There's nothing more grueling. It's a constant state of realignment that requires flexibility and gumption. I found my purpose in the Skype calls and curriculum building of Story Unfolding. But somewhere along the way, it ran off unbidden. 

This happens when you let someone else hold your purpose. 

So in September, I chased it and lured it back. And since then I've scraped everything and fought to realign what fits with the story I know I'm designed to live.

This is what I've learned the past six months. Inviting others into your story only works if you're claiming it as your own. Inviting others in for the sole purpose of carrying the weight of your dream? Faulty logic. 

No one wants grabby hands over something born from their soul. But who can blame anyone if you've handed it over to them for safe-keeping?

So now I'm here, living a schedule completely foreign to six-months-ago Elora but feeling aligned and driven and full of intention and soul. I rebranded. I finally let go of Story Sessions, seeing that The Coterie is what I was meant to do all along, what I fought to make Story Unfolding but never succeeded in doing because I was living so many other stories (and not my own) and allowing so many others to live the story meant for me. And there's a fierce protection growing over the women in the group now - the ones who've said yes to writing the story in their bones. The potential of 90 or so books lining my shelves this time next year has me giddy with excitement and determination. 

This is chasing wild. This is me focusing on what's mine. This is me claiming my purpose and refusing to let the perception of others cloud my vision.  

There are about a million and one stories from the past few months that I can share, but I'm choosing to start fresh. I'll post about books I read and lessons I'm learning in creative entrepreneurship. I'll post thoughts and rambles about my year of #novelistwild. I'll tell stories and process through life seasons and celebrate the every day living of me and my people. 

But most of all, I'll choose to show up. Because more than anything, that's what chasing wild has taught me.

This is your life. This is your story. You have to choose to show up.  

If I had to pinpoint a moment in which I began to put everything together, where things shifted into clarity for me and I began sensing a movement in all areas of my life, it would be signing up for Hey, Sweet Pea's online school My Own Irresistible Brand. This is not an affiliate link. I just believe that strongly in their program because I know what it did for me when I was faced with the rubble of a dream. Go check out their free video series if you're needing a kick in the pants with an affirming hug. I promise you it's worth it. 

Posted on March 29, 2015 .

elora reads: favorite books of 2014

In 2012, I made a list of my favorite books. I finished the post, hit publish, and picked up Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me and promptly placed the book back on my nightstand until 2013. 

I knew if I finished the book, I would have to go back and edit my post. 

I didn't write a favorite reads post of 2013, mostly because I didn't read as much as I hoped and also because I spent the remaining few days of 2013 sick with a cold. 

But this year? This year I waited until January 1 to write the post, making sure I didn't miss any stragglers from last week. And, because coffee has counteracted my daily Benadryl + Zyrtec blend, I have the energy to curate the list. You're welcome. 

 

NONFICTION :: 

I listened to this book while driving with my husband too and from places all around town. I can't tell you how many times I didn't want to get out of the car simply because I was enjoying the book so much. Writers: her introduction is worth the purchase alone. No really. I promise. 

Do you know those books where you're constantly grunting because it feels as if the author has your number and you're wondering how she managed to share your deepest secrets without you even knowing? That's this book. I love the concept behind this so much I use it in Rebel Diaries. My type? The Intrigue. It's like the Enneagram in that once you find out your advantages, the signs pointing to your particular weakness leave you wincing with clarity. But, more than anything, this book helped salvage a lot of decision-making I did in 2014. 

Amoruso pulls absolutely no punches with this book. This past summer, I happened upon an Instagram with this cover smiling at me and given the state my current business was in, I knew I needed a dose of reality. This book won't be for everyone, her tone can be abrasive and she has no issues with swearing, but finishing this book gave me the gumption I needed to make Awake the Bones what I knew it was meant to be in the very beginning. 

A few years ago, Preston sat on our couch while drinking wine and playing Settlers of Catan and told me of this idea for a book. "It's about a table," he said. And immediately I knew it would be a game changer. Often, when you have friends who publish books, you feel obligated to shower them with praise. No obligation here. Reading this book felt as if I were sitting in a coffee shop listening to his story. In fact, my brother asked for devotionals or AW Tozer books for Christmas. There was no question for my husband and me — we got him this book by Preston and within a few hours of opening the gift, he read a third of the book.

THE book for those of us who fall into the category of intense feelers. I've been working my way through this book (slowly) since February, and this summer nailed down some Core Desired Feelings. Those words pointed me in so many places during the remainder of the year and just yesterday I worked through the words to capture what I hope to feel in 2015: generous, alchemy, wild, golden, pure, and visceral. This book is more than creating goals and visioning where you want to be in a few years. For me, it provides an avenue in which I can find contentment in my every-day poetics.

 

FICTION :: 

I'm not even sure if I have words for this one. It may be THE favorite of 2014. I read it in one sitting and didn't go to bed until 3am because I couldn't put it down. With sentences like  I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk it was easy for me to fall into the rhythm of Millay's words. I want more of them. Like yesterday. 

Oh wait. This may be a favorite too. Just...get this entire series. Read it. This last book had me reeling in awesomeness and phrases I wish I could have thought of myself. Mafi's diction and structure and syntax — all of it makes me swoon. Trust me on this one. Okay? Okay. 

This time last year, my cover artist posted on Facebook that Jandy Nelson's paperback was on sale and that we all needed to one-click, no questions asked. So I did, because I trust her taste, and y'all. It's become one of the books that I'll loan out to only the precious most important people in my life because I don't ever want to lose it. Loved this book. LOVED it. 

I may be a bit biased here, because I worked with Haas while she was finishing her book, but I promise you: part of the reason I hounded her in coaching is because I believed in this book so much. Engaging, fun, unique — it had me riveted. I'm not one to read books with faeries, but this one had me forgetting that fine line between fiction and reality. I loved her characters and loved her writing style even more. This one is on my list because Haas is an author to watch. Promise. 

This was a book club selection this past fall and I love-love-loved it because of the gut wrenching honesty Tropper manages to weave into his plot. Families are hard, but beautiful, and you see that in this book. It's also hilarious and refreshing and doesn't try too hard. So, bonus. 

What were your favorite books this past year? What are you hoping to read in 2015? For me, this is the year of Outlander and CS Lewis' fiction, among others. 

Posted on January 1, 2015 and filed under elora reads.

The shape of a year.

I knew it even then.

I could smell it on the wind, I think — the newness coming in 2014. Last year, December carried with it a holy level of anticipation.

This would be the year I claimed myself.

I started the year with the official launch of Story Sessions. January brought our first twitter party and with it, our numbers grew from 40 to almost 100. 

I spent most of January in teary-eyed wonder. Every time someone else would sign up, I'd whisper a thanks and push deeper. February brought confirmation. Sitting at a dining table at a ranch in Dripping Springs, I watched women from all over the country walk around the grounds and talk on the porch and rest on the couch. I can't tell you the gut-level conviction I felt in those moments. It can't be articulated. I will always remember that weekend as the moment I reached for my calling and chose to embrace it.

I think back on those moments and am amazed at how quickly this year passed. Everything else feels blurry and translucent, bits and pieces of conversations and arguments and tears and misunderstandings merging together into one thick fog that covers everything that happened from March until September.

One thing I've learned: claiming yourself isn't for the faint of heart.

I realized in July changes needed to be made in Story Unfolding. I was learning something: risking is huge. Articulating what you want or like or believe is scary. But you can't just stop there. You have to do it. You have to own it.

And so I did. 

.::.

In October, fresh off the month from hell, I signed up for Hey, Sweet Pea's My Own Irresistible Brand. This itself was a risk. September brought a massive hit to Story Unfolding and Russ lost his job 30 minutes after I signed up for this course. 

But I had to do something. I was at my limits in so many areas and I knew I needed to remember that why — needed to remember the moment I knew this was what I was supposed to be doing with my life.

You see, I thought I just wanted to wipe everything clean. This fall was one of the hardest I've ever experienced. I told a mentor of mine that I was just going to give it all up and do something else. One of my closest friends said, "maybe you'll just need to start over..." 

But I started to remember. I got into this to breathe life into other people. I wanted those who interacted with me to feel electric and inspired and empowered. I wanted to awake the stories caught in our bones. 

So I renamed Story Unfolding. 

Here's the thing: I thought starting over looked like offering something completely different. I thought it would mean creating something from the ground up and re-visualizing what I already did. I thought the subscription — now called The Storytellers — would just be a small offering in the grand scope of my business. 

But one night while I sat at my desk doing homework, I looked at the question "what have you always wanted to get paid to do...." and started crying because I'm doing it. I've never stopped.

It's the group of women I interact with every. single. day. It's hearing their dreams and sprinting with them in our manuscripts and hopping on a Skype call with them at all hours in order to iron out the stickiness of their storylines. It's penciling in release dates on my calendar and celebrating when another one of us pushes out another book. It's laughing at the solidarity behind capturing ideas and realizing (yet again) that if you don't write, you get stuck. 

I thought of this time last year, prepping for the launch and being blown away by the yes-ness of January and the life and movement pouring into the community. 

My storytellers? They are the core of Awake the Bones. They are everything. From there, everything made sense. 

My year had come full circle.

Posted on December 10, 2014 and filed under tomorrow's dreams, writing, {soft}.

day thirty one: the old familiar feeling.

I know it when I feel it.

 

First, a heaviness.

It may hit me blind or grow quiet. Either way, I wake up one morning knowing the words returned in the middle of the night. I'm left with the tension of telling everyone in my vicinity and keeping the knowledge close. I don't want to spook the kismet.

Next, the flutter. 

Characters begin shouting their sass. Inspiration oozes from every interaction. One minute I'm not even thinking about plot and word count and structure and the next? The next I'm outlining scenes and laughing and dancing in my chair. The flutter turns into chills on my arms and I wonder —

do I have it in me to do it again? 

Somewhere within this movement, the emotion comes. 

Yesterday, this happened.

First I found an article synchronous with an idea circulating in my veins, something that's brushing up against the darker version — the one I blinked into existence about a week ago and became frightened by its intensity. The article gives me pause. It makes me shake internally. I feel the tears threaten and swallow them away and work on something else, throwing up the question to the Universe and letting it rest.

The connection came later.

Staring at the descriptors, one caught my eye. This, mixed with that, and there IT is...my book.

I shoot a message to a friend, asking her what she thinks about it, and she responds immediately. 


You write that thing. I mean it.

And then, the tears. 

ast night, a friend told me he loves that there is a process before my process — the way words come and introduce themselves to me. I told him that's where the emotion comes for me. It's an old familiar feeling, running through my bones all over again.

Because it's one thing to come up with an idea. It's another to recognize the synchronicity of art and story and characters begging you to come out and play.

There are moments I get stuck. There are times within the process where I wonder if I'll ever feel the weight of the last sentence. But what really pushes me over the edge? It's not the fear of quitting in the middle of a piece. I'm too stubborn for that to happen. 

It's the beginning again that catches in my throat. The heaviness is there for a reason. It's months of words building on top of one another and manifesting as a monster threatening to claw its way out of my soul.

The concept of writing isn't a question anymore. It's not even a should. The concept of writing has turned into a must.

In the next couple of weeks, I'll be gathering my people around me. The ones who pushed me through SOMEWHERE BETWEEN WATER & SKY will be the same ones who whisper strength and encouragement over my words with this new project. And in a month or three, when I press the last key that wraps up the end of my third book, the heaviness will fade and the flutter will return and the tears will flow down my cheeks. 

Because I beat the monster once again.

And here's the secret: you can too. 

You have a story inside. You know the one. You know it because this post made you emotional and your hands are kind of vibrating with a buzz you didn't know existed. 

Write the book. 

Start with one word, and then another, and then don't stop until you feel your characters breathe easy with completion. You may think no one will read it. You may think the story's not important. 

But you will never know unless you try. 


Need more inspiration? Introducing Hustle & Flow: a weekly letter with artistic visioning for the everyday creative. I would love it if you signed up, and I won't ever spam you. Promise. 

You'll get hints and anecdotes about getting unstuck and living your most artistic life within the midst of your every day poetics. AND, if you sign up during October, you'll get some special extras dealing with indie-publishing.

Posted on October 31, 2014 and filed under writing, indie publishing.