“Don’t be a writer, be writing.” ~ William Faulkner
Ever since I can remember, I’ve adored the written word.
As a girl, I would fill spiral notebooks with diary entries, stories and doodles and spend long, happy hours with my nose in a book.
Writing always came naturally to me—not necessarily “good” writing, but as early as age ten, it became an outlet for my feelings and a way to process my life.
My first diary was a yellow legal pad on which I noted day-to-day activities and sights I saw on a summer road trip from Texas to California with my maternal grandparents.
I write as a form of mindfulness practice—a daily life practice. (Deep bow to Natalie Goldberg for all her zen writing advice in her wonderful books.) I write to connect with my self, to see my mind spilled onto the page in loopy letters.
I also write as a form of expression. It’s pretty magical to be able to unite with a reader, for just this one moment, leaping through the space-time continuum to pour my heart into yours as you read these words.
I write for a living, and by living I don’t mean money, necessarily, but to taste the sweet and sour details of this one precious life. I write to benefit myself and all beings.
But, why elephant journal?
I wrote my first piece for this site four years ago. I’m now up to over 300.
It was the fall of 2010. I was single, living in Guatemala City—a city I have developed such an aversion to that I get a headache the moment I enter its limits, even now. I was working at a huge school, teaching yoga and creative writing, aspiring to become a published writer. I’d had my own yoga website and blog for several years and was looking to expand my audience. A writing mentor suggested that I start submitting articles to online publications as a way of establishing my voice.
When I stumbled upon elephant journal, it seemed like a perfect fit for my writing style and content. I was thrilled when they accepted my submission and soon I became a columnist.
We’ve had a somewhat volatile relationship over the years, this publication and I. (Five years in the online world is basically an eternity.) There have been times when I’d write only once every few months, and there have been times when I’d submit two dozen articles per month (and earned a nice chunk of change from them.)
Top Three Reasons Why I Write for elephant (and you can, too!)
1. Freedom of creativity:
This publication is independent, grassroots and has a mission and vision I can get behind. It is reader-driven and its readers are also its writers. Most of all, as a professionally-trained advertising copywriter who used to get assignments to write white papers (if you don’t know what those are, be glad), web pages or brochures about computer chips—I so appreciate that I can write about pretty much any topic (meditation, love, parenting, life abroad) in any genre (prose, poetry, playlist, etc) and elephant will promptly publish it.
2. A lively community:
As an ele-apprentice a couple of years ago, I made virtual friends and lasting connections with a beautiful bevy of fellow wordsmiths. I’ve also connected with hundreds of readers over the years, some of whom have left touching comments in response to the things I’ve written while others have written scathing comments of disagreement.
Another handy thing about this community is that you can opt out whenever you want—when life gets busy and online reading and writing becomes an out-of-reach luxury, you can take a break. Elephant will be there to welcome you back with open arms and a bazillion articles, some of which are really thought-provoking and maybe even a tiny bit life-changing, whenever you are ready.
3. Not for the money:
I have issues with money. (Don’t we all?) While I appreciated earning an income from elephant, I became too dependent on it, especially considering that the writer-money-earning is variable and dependent on readership of the site as a whole and of each author’s articles’ views in comparison to the rest.
It’s been a learning experience to notice my inner competitiveness with myself and my internal judgment of all the articles about naked sex and full moon horoscopes and pop yoga culture and whatever else is popular today—and to gradually, in due time, let all that go.
In honor of my eleversary, here are my top 5 articles of the past 5 years:
Author: Michele Margaret Fajkus
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: martinak15/ Flickr