I was sipping my favorite beverage: green tea.
I paused in between to enjoy its soothing taste with Phil Collins’ music playing in the background; I started to recount my writing journey.
By what I’ll call cheer coincidence, I came across Elephant Journal on Facebook. What made me more curious was the raw vulnerability—the curse words that expressed the writer’s genuineness.
I thought this was too liberal to be getting passed on to the audience. The other journals I knew were written in what I’d call a formal way. This incident passed without much ado, but there was something that attracted me—something different.
I again encountered Elephant Journal. At this time, I was in the process of searching for someone to teach me how to write. Writing was calling to me.
After talking to several people (to no avail), I knew I had to find a way to get what I wanted.
As it goes, you attract what you want or desire.
Elephant Journal then posted about the “Write Your Heart Out” course (among others). I opened the link for each course and sent it to myself to look at later. That evening, I spent ample time evaluating each course as if I was researching for an assignment. I loved all the writing courses as I wanted to write a book. After a lot of soul searching and understanding of each, I decided “Write Your Heart Out” was my number one—the book writing course was my number two.
What stood between me and this course? Finances. Things were crazy as my work industry was the most impacted by COVID-19. I lamented about the timing and wondered why I had taken this long to pursue my writing dream.
I engaged Molly and Emily, the course directors; both were angelic in their prompt and heartwarming responses to my questions. They softly scared me, too, though. Their emails said things like, “Get vulnerable; get brave; get open.” These were aspects of writing that I was so fearful of, yet it was the peculiarity that attracted me to the Elephant Academy.
As if the vulnerability call was not enough, I got another email saying, “If something is telling you to find your voice and use it, it’s time to listen to yourself.”
I thought: okay, now, these guys are too direct. They spoke directly to my subconscious mind.
I bowed to the soft pressure. I scripted on a small piece of paper and pinned it next to my desktop in the office. It read: “Elephant Academy, Write Your Heart Out.” (And the cost.)
At home, I scripted another piece:
“Save up to learn how to write my heart out at elephant academy.”
I Cellotaped it on my wardrobe door.
I did not give it more thought, but I knew writing it down would keep nagging me.
The lovely emails from Molly and Emily kept me dreaming of the academy. This time, I began to overcome the fear a bit. I imagined what they meant when they said, “There’s a community of sweet writers waiting for you.”
This gave me an idea of the community that lay behind them.
I wrote back to explain I still had not saved up enough for the course and would therefore join the next class. It is humbling to say: they instead offered me an olive branch. I was able to join the class of Summer 2021—immediately.
Upon joining the academy, I found out there was a space where elephants did not dwell in herds; instead, they dwelled in a beautiful community. The community is made up of life-giving “eleph-riends” who are funny, interesting, and as playful as elephants can get. The introductions of the editors left me with much laughter and a desire to be part of this community.
The training began well—norms were explained in detail and in adorable tones. The call to write came early in training but was always accompanied by a phrase that I treasured. It was something like, “there is no pressure.” In the beginning, this phrase was helpful as the writing bit was accompanied by my refusal to reveal much. The refusal to be vulnerable did put pressure on me.
After a few more classes, my view was: “whatever will happen, let it happen.” One morning I got so intrigued and started to jot something on my phone as I went to work. I continued to update it, and eventually, I had something I would call a genuine story.
It scared me to read what I had written. It was descriptive. At last, I had gone beyond the pressure of not wanting to be vulnerable.
I edited the piece, and the next journey was more courageous. I shared it with one of our group’s mentors and some editors. (Thank you to these first contacts.) They helped me progress to the next level. The mentor told me, “This is really a great start.”
The editors were equally supportive as they each explained to me what I needed to add. Two of them went a little further: one encouraged me to post on Grassroots immediately (in case I changed my mind), while the other offered to post on my behalf. I wondered whether they knew what I was struggling with. I held on to my draft, battling with the next step. I did the recommended updates to the piece, and when I felt it was polished, I saved it on Google Docs, hoping I’d come up with another that was not so vulnerable—the fear of revealing myself was greater than the will to share it.
With some support and help from my small group, I eventually posted it on Grassroots. That night, I had a sleepless night. (I am happy I did not know I could go back and delete the article from there.) This lack of knowledge led me to eventually give in and go back to “whatever will happen, let it happen.”
Easier said than done.
With anxiety and unknown expectations, I waited to see how the world would consume what I had shared. I was shocked and excited when a friend in our group video called to inform me that my article was published and it was an EP (“Editor’s Pick”).
To be honest, the only thing I heard was “published,” and fear gripped me. An EP at that moment did not mean much. I had no understanding yet of what it meant. I saw my article’s reads rise while the comments were engaging. This calmed me down, and I can now admit my gratitude and joy for sharing my story. It was a relief!
Though I may never get an EP again, I will never forget the editor’s name; she is part of the journey that changed my life. This first celebration by my mentors and small group will remain my reference to the beauty of being genuine and sharing my writing.
Thank you, Elephant academy.
Thank you, Waylon, for letting me be genuine and, therefore, of benefit.
Having enough courage to share my writing is all I needed. I am glad I heeded to this.
I am now on my seventh piece, and being vulnerable is no longer a struggle. Instead, it’s a joy to be of benefit to others.