March 24, 2015

How Writing for elephant journal Brought my Voice Back.

woman sitting at desk write writer

I hadn’t written for publications for 10 years and, back in the day, sending hard copies of manuscript after manuscript by mail, including self-addressed-stamped-envelopes and checks for “handling” purposes, as well as meeting all the requirements for subject matter, tone, number of words, formatting, etc.—plus keeping track of all of the journals I had submitted to and whether I had cross-submitted—began to eat away at my impetus to seek publication in the first place.

I had always written to have my work read and did not care where it was published, so long as it was published and what I had to say found an audience of appreciative readers.

The way things were going, none of that was happening. Finding the right venue for my work seemed daunting and near impossible and I was collecting far more no thank you’s than I was readers.

My impetus eroded.

Finally I just downloaded my writing into my computer, put all my manuscripts in an old cardboard suitcase, shoved it under the bed and stopped writing.

Then, a few months ago, a random elephant journal article found its way into my Facebook feed.

It was a simple, insightful, tender and entertaining article. It could have been written by me.

The writer inside me stood up and paid attention.

Who were these people?

I went to the elephant journal website, clicked on the “Write” link and saw who they were:
“We love to write, it said. “We love to write and share because it’s our passion.” Acting entirely on impulse, I pulled one of the stories I had written 10 years before off of my computer, emailed it to elephant and within three days had an email back accepting it for publication.

Simple as that.

I was a writer who had crawled into my cave and taken all my stories with me. Finding elephant was like finding a friend by the campfire—a friend who called to me and told me to come out and write.

Which is exactly what I did.

I felt immediately at home with the editors I interacted with at elephant. They answered my questions and addressed my issues with polite, happy, responsive emails that made me feel like they actually wanted me to be part of the elephant team. No hoops to jump through. No checks to send in.

No nothing but appreciation for the fact that I had chosen to submit my writing to them.

To me the various editors were elephant and I knew that the respectful way they treated me was a reflection of the way they were treated by elephant themselves.

I wanted to be a part of such collegiality.

After submitting more work to elephant, I found that it didn’t take weeks (sometimes months) of waiting to see if a piece was going to be accepted. At most, I have waited five days. What’s not to like about instant gratification?

More important, the short turnaround created a motivation in me to write another piece the minute I had one accepted. It made me feel as if there was a hunger for what I wrote and like maybe there was somebody out there just waiting to hear exactly what I had to say!

I felt comfortable with elephant’s purpose and understood what it valued, its points of view and it attitudes as reflected in the various pages within the journal. What was important to elephant was important to me; especially the up-beat, can-do, there-is-a-solution-to-every-problem, if-I-can-do-it-you-can-do-it perspective that comes through in so many of the subjects that are written about.

I particularly liked the way writers were exhorted to write in a way that “leaves the reader with a solid call to action that can be of benefit to the reader’s life.”

This ethos forced me to think through my stories and articles. I couldn’t just write them for the sake of writing them. I had to dig deep, turn things around, look at events and topics from various perspectives and ask myself,

“What did I learn from this event in my life?” and

“How can what I learned be helpful to someone else?”

I work and write at home and elephant peopled my life with its staff, with other writers and with readers who all interacted with me about my writing. Elephant took my stories and sprinkled them out over the universe where people reached up, grabbed them and kept them for their own.

Readers from all over the world began to write to me, they asked me questions about my stories, told me what I had written inspired them, gave them hope, provided them with a new point of view. I am awed by the responsibility I had to them to stay honest and to write to the bone. With their comments and attention they pulled more and more stories and articles from me creating an alchemy between us. My readers became my “collective muse.”

Thank you elephant journal for giving me all of this. Thank you for providing me with a spiritual practice that calls me to not only use my gift as a writer but that also provides me with a greater purpose for that gift. Because of you my world has expanded. I have found new validation and a voice that I thought had been silenced.

Because of you, I have come out of my cave, set down my stakes, put up my tent, and opened up my typewriter.

Nothing like having an elephant stand by the fire and call you out of your cave to write.



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Author: Carmelene Siani

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: re_birf at Flickr 


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