Words

You & me. Making magic. This summer.

Dear friends, I have some beautifully exciting news for you today! I am truly honoured to be teaming up with the writers at Glass Kite Anthology this summer as a mentor for the GKA 2016 Summer Writing Studio. This is only the second year of the studio, but I heard utterly incredible feedback from mentors + mentees alike last summer - and what a lovely thing it is to be part of this community.

(Perhaps very old readers of the blog will remember one of my earliest publications - my poem "Midnight Letters" is in GKA's second issue. How wonderful to have the opportunity to work with them once more!)

The summer writing studio is a five week long program in which mentors in prose and poetry work intensively with one to three mentees. It is geared towards high school & middle school writers and taught mainly by young writers as well - and believe me when I say that all of the mentors this year (including one of my dearest friends, Christina Im) are kind, passionate, and talented beyond words.

I will be teaching poetry at the studio, and I am enormously excited to get started! If you are interested in participating - either in poetry or prose - I would highly recommend applying. I have no doubt that the program will prove to be enormously illuminating - not to mention so much fun.

If you are interested in applying, GKA is accepting applications until August 7th. It is completely free.

I know that many of you have gotten in touch with me in search of writing advice & feedback & lessons & mentorship - and this is a wondrous opportunity to receive one-on-one mentoring from me and other gorgeous writers.

We will talk poetry & learn from each other & grow & grow & grow & grow & grow.

Let us make magic together, my soft ones. I cannot wait to see you there.

Here's What Happened to Frozen Hearts

It is difficult for me to begin this post, but, I think, all the more necessary for the challenge. Something I have been turning over in my head, yearning to share with you. It never felt like the right time. But I believe (I think, I hope) that it is now.

Perhaps some of you lovelies - the earliest of readers, those who have stayed through all of the months (and now - how shocking this is - years) that Six Impossible Things has grown - will remember Frozen Hearts. The story of a girl spun of words, a boy with a wand and a broken smile, a kingdom plagued with endless, helpless snow.

Frozen Hearts was first novel I penned, the one I had planned to self-publish nearly three years ago now.

I began this blog as a starry-eyed 13 year old with a deep-seated yearning to write, whatever it took. The whole purpose of Six Impossible Things back then was to speak of Frozen Hearts - indeed, as I scroll through my archives, I can't help but smile at the anticipation, the exhilaration, the excitement of the readers of old. Some of your names still populate the comments section and my email inbox today. Some of you have never stopped asking where Frozen Hearts went - even as its presence on the blog dwindled. Some of you, the very earliest of readers, still remember the characters. Still speak of them as old friends.

At thirteen - and then, later, fourteen - years old, my deepest goal was to self-publish Frozen Hearts. This is what I shared with all of you. This is what I worked for, far into the night around schoolwork & real life. Frozen Hearts was, to put it simply, the greatest goal.

Only then I started feeling sad for no particular reason. I began having panic attacks every day.

I was diagnosed with depression & anxiety.

I spoke of that process on the blog too. And still, all of you were here to support me. Even as Frozen Hearts was pushed further & further away from Six Impossible Things, you lovely readers stayed. And I cannot thank you enough for that.

But here is what I have not said, what you do not yet know:

I never stopped working on Frozen Hearts during that dark period. Though I did not speak of it on the blog, though I stopped updating you on my word count, the antics of the characters, how the publishing process was coming along - still, in the darkness & the sharpness, I kept penning it. Kept spilling words onto the paper.

Before my diagnoses, Frozen Hearts was a dream.

Now it was a sanctuary. A lifeline.

I often speak of the words that changed me, the ones I clung to in my lowest moments. The ones that, quite literally, saved my life. But I think I don't share Frozen Hearts enough in these terms. It is true - when people did not know how to speak to me, when no amount of positive thinking or vitamin supplements could make the clouds lift, when I woke up from nightmares not of monsters, but of panic attacks - all this time, the words were there.

When the rest of the world, it seemed, had given up on me, Frozen Hearts never left.

I am sixteen now and still learning. Still growing. I am a very different person than the wide-eyed thirteen year old who began this book and I am a different person from the one who threw herself into words to hide from all of the aching.

I have not touched Frozen Hearts' manuscript in nearly a year. And somehow, I am just fine with that.

I went back and read the book before I wrote this post, and the darkness of some passages nearly shocked me. The memories, too - so many of them, both good and bad, tied into word choice here and character there, as if an era of my life clings to this book, as if a part of my soul has bound itself to the manuscript.

Frozen Hearts was and is a huge part of me, and of Six Impossible Things. I think, perhaps, that it always will be.

But I am still growing, and this is why I have chosen to leave it behind for now. Frozen Hearts comes from a time in my life when I did not know the meaning of healing, of recovery. It afforded me a home, my only protection from a world that seemed bent on jabbing my wounds over and over and over.

But it also symbolises a time in my life when I did not know how there could possibly be any light in all of the darkness.

These days I wake up and thank the sky for the words I want to feel okay again. These days I still feel sad far too much, and my hands still tremble when anxiety overwhelms me, and I have been diagnosed a host of new disorders since the first two.

But I want to get better. I want to get better so badly that I am willing to do anything for it.

Frozen Hearts, I am realising, is a part of me that no longer needs to exist. My seasons are changing. The windows are opening. I am ready for this book to be part of a memory, a past life filled with bittersweet fondness. It is a part of me that I will always be thankful for. And it is one that I think it is time to let go of.

There are new projects afoot, coming sooner than you know. The kind that fully represent who I am now, this fleeting snapshot of a life that I will look back on in too many years and barely recognise.

But I am learning to embrace this quiet allegro, this present tense that moves too fast and not fast enough. I am learning to record the moments that I can, and then to tuck away everything else and turn to face the future. To stand unburdened with the past and unafraid of what is to come.

Frozen Hearts is in the past tense now. For me, and for all of us.

But in its wake rises so much more radiance. So much present tense.

I am excited to see what it holds. And even more: I'm excited for all of you to step into this new wonder with me.

Introducing the NaNoWriMo Project

It truly astounds me that I am saying this so quickly, but it appears that we are nearly halfway through November. And, perhaps more to the point: also halfway through National Novel Writing Month!

I have mentioned this in passing one or a few times, but I think it is prudent for me to give you an Official Introduction - capitalisation included - to the piece that has stolen my waking hours and transformed me into a sleep-deprived zombie over the past couple of weeks.

(A short aside: as some of you may have heard tell, this is not the only NaNo project I am embarking upon this month - but the other is still a seed at the moment, and so I will save it to share with you when it has bloomed more fully.)

My main project, Fragments of Aurora, you may recognise from the 777 Challenge of a few months past. At the time I was about 15,000 words in, but since then I have actually torn apart much of the fundamental basis of where I thought I was going with this piece. (As you do.)

I began November with about 5,000 salvageable words, and my goal by the end of NaNo is to write The End. To be quite honest, I'm not entirely sure where the exact word count of that will turn out; at the moment it is looking to be somewhere between a longish short story and a novella, but I suppose we will see, won't we?

On the story itself: Fragments of Aurora is certainly not my first voyage into fairytale retellings, but it is, I think, the one that has most captured my imagination to date. The image of a wolf plays a large part in the story, and in doing research, I have been endlessly captivated by the vast and diverse stories that surround them. Wolves, in so many cultures, tend to be as much coveted as gods as they are denounced as demons; though they are at times shrouded in darkness, they are just as often messengers of light.

It makes for an infinitely fascinating paradox, and I have had such fun exploring the stories behind wolves and incorporating them into the original Sleeping Beauty fairytale. Though I admit I'd never imagined writing this sort of story at the start, I am really quite proud of the way it is shaping up.

Also, a surprise for you lovelies: I will be sharing more behind-the-scenes story work as well as an excerpt from Aurora in the Shadows of Cats newsletter this weekend! I must say, I am so very excited to share it with you; I think it will be a lovely way to kick off the first newsletter. (And, in case you missed it, you can click here to sign up for the mailing list.)

I'll be sharing more updates with you lovelies as November goes on - for now, I am sleepless but still alive, which is always a comforting thing. ;)

Please feel free to sound off about your own NaNo projects in the comments! It is my first time embarking upon this mad whirlwind, so if veteran NaNo-ers have tips, I am all ears. Or: if you are somewhat struggling to stay afloat this month, I am happy to commiserate + offer virtual cheesecake.

Do let me know how NaNo is going for you so far. I can't wait to hear about it. xx