June 30, 2013

Why I Write for elephant journal.

It’s the last day of the month—that means it’s almost time to turn in our viewing numbers.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Waylon has once again offered to pay writers who consistently write well-received articles for elephant journal.

Of course, generally speaking, writers aren’t in this career because of the money.

I was actually recently asked why I write, how I got started—considering that my educational background is not even close to being English related. (I’m a geologist with a sociology minor who teaches yoga.)

Yet my answer came pouring out of my mouth—I didn’t even have to pause to think. I responded that I’ve always wanted to write, ever since I could.

I wrote my first story at age 7 and told my mom immediately after that I was going to be “an author” when I grew up—I even went on to believe this for quite some time, continually churning out stories about things like ants mistaken as raisins inside bowls of oatmeal within the blank books that my supportive mother would bring home for me.

My elementary school teachers sent me to special writing workshops a few times—I excitedly got to meet childhood heroes like Paul Fleischman.

And then, I was back out of the pages of my memory and talking with my new friend when this question came next, the one that I did have to stop and think about—what happened in between your excited youthful passion for writing and when it started back up?

Well, hmmm.

My answer blurted out after a few paused moments (my brain works rather quickly, causing what I lovingly refer to as my “foot in mouth” disease).

Life got in the way.

We grow up and we realize that we need to make money and be good at practical things, things to make a living from, and then all of a sudden our passions are extinguished—sometimes never to be lit again.

“Well, what happened next? How did you begin writing again?” I heard my new friend ask.

Pause. Pause. “I guess I couldn’t not write. It was in there buried all along and I couldn’t contain it anymore.”

So why do you write (possibly for elephant journal)?

I sincerely hope it’s not to obtain a high number of views and some of Waylon’s own hard-earned money.

It’s not that I don’t want to get paid—I could use the money, if I’m being honest. Additionally, when an article of mine hits a chord with the readers, that means something to me—it means more than I can even easily express to you. Yet none of this is why I write.

I write because I can’t not write. I can’t contain the words inside of my brain—they must eventually leak out, and my favorite place to write for has easily been elephant journal.

So how did I get back into writing?

I had just moved back “home” to Ohio and began teaching yoga at the studio that everyone had told me was the place to be. Still, I was married but didn’t have any kids yet—in short, I had the time and drive for more.

I emailed the editor of the local Free Press newspaper that I adored reading, and I told him that I wanted to write for him, as a journalist. He told me to be in his office in 2 hours.

My husband and I had just moved back to the Midwest from the east coast—meaning that we had one barely-used car that was now in use at his medical college (the reason that we had relocated—so he could work towards a second Master’s degree in a related physics field). I raced downstairs (we were living at my parents) and asked my mom if she could drive me to downtown Toledo.

It was early and she was sitting quietly in her robe eating toast, looking bewildered—but ever the supportive mom she never even flinched when she said “Yes.”

I raced back upstairs and curled my then platinum blond hair, applied lipstick and found the most “reporter-looking” thing in my closet to wear (a bright orange jacket and pin-striped pencil skirt, with heels of course).

I walked, calmly, into the editor’s office and he smiled and said that I had already passed test one since I figured out where his office was.

I sat down.

“Tell me about your background.”

“I have a bachelor’s degree in geology and I teach yoga.”

“Do you have any experience in journalism?”




At this point, I think he was trying not to laugh, but I could tell that a piece of him admired my gutsy courage.

I told him that I could write and that I’d be good for the job, so he gave me a chance—and I learned more than I can tell you from this intelligent, thoughtful man in the time that I worked for that newspaper (which I still adore reading, though I’ve since relocated again).

The thing is, if you have something within you that’s an innate skill or passion or fire that fuels part of your genetic make-up, then I don’t think you can keep it hidden forever. 

By the time that I decided I was “good enough” to try entering an article into elephant journal, I’d already dabbled in blogging and I thought I had found my voice—until my articles were accepted and I began writing for elephant regularly.

It’s been through this experience that began, for me, last December that I know I’ve truly found my voice.

I pour over my articles after they’ve been published to see if a punctuation mark was changed—I know that my style is somewhat disjointed, and punctuation is part of the art.

I’m also an elephant journal subscriber (the best $12 I’ve spent all year)—and I get so much from reading the other writers’ work.

We’re a community—we’re made up of something more powerful than dollar signs.

We’re made through passion and drive and ambition, combined with something stronger and more cohesive—love for what we do, mixed with an idealistic desire to make our world, and our roles within it, better.

I truly believe that elephant journal is making a difference—and that’s why those views matter.

Everyone that has read at least one of my many articles about opening yourself up and sharing this discovered authentic self with others—even and especially if that means making yourself vulnerable—has been struck by my potential challenge that we take down these see-through walls that we’ve so methodically built, and finally be real.

Everyone that’s read some of the strikingly important political pieces by Waylon has been provoked to get out into their communities and change the world one step at a time.

Every voice counts, every view counts—but that’s not why I write, and it’s not why I submit my articles to elephant journal.

I write because I believe, with my whole being, what I just wrote to you—that we all have the power to change the world and to change ourselves, one step at a time.

(And, Mom, I still want to be an author when I grow up.)


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

{Photo: via Lauren on Pinterest}

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