Dear Luminous Writer,
Close your eyes and breathe deeply, imagining with each deep inhalation and exhalation the spark of what brought you to the page in the first place, the bright bulb of story or line of a poem, the sunken root entrenched deep in the mud the moment you realized you had something to say that only you could say in your voice, from your experiences, from your point-of-view. The moment you realized you are a child of the Universe and have been gifted this time of learning and growing and stretching through your pain and joy to dig up what truths have blossomed within you and share those with others who need, as you have needed. What are the burning words and images within you? What is the heart- truth you carry? What must you say before you leave? Take a few moments to unbury and shine what pulls you to the page, and hold that tight.
Our society, our psyches, demons both external and internal, may daily, may moment to moment, try stealing your power away from you. The luminous bulbs you carry within you, I know how fragile or small or insignificant they may begin to seem against the countless rejections or fear of submitting in the first place, the social media frenzies blurring past us, the political and economic upheavals, the financial struggles, the daily tasks of staying alive, of surviving through pain or trauma, of tending to the dailiness of life, the mending of the self and loved ones, the trivialities and injustices. The exhaustion.
How often I forget that we writers are creators of worlds. That we have the strength of creation dwelling within us. We can bring back the dead. We can right injustices. We can bring awareness to the stories of the disenfranchised. We can write ourselves and our families into the history books where before there may have been erasure and silence. We can sing our songs.
Lately I’ve been finishing up my latest novel RIVER WOMAN RIVER DEMON (forthcoming from Blackstone Publishing in 2022) about a bruja in New Mexico rising up against the patriarchy, hexing the patriarchy, if you will, casting and conjuring new consciousnesses to return womxn and nonbinary folks and people of color to our ancient places of wisdom and strength and empowerment. As writers, whatever beliefs or spirituality, we can use the practices of conjuring and manifesting in our own writing, rooting ourselves to those struggling alongside us, and when we fight/write together, we remember—though we may be sitting as individuals at our kitchen tables or at our desks or in our beds or wherever else we busy working women and stressed-out mamas and aunties and nanas and friends and lovers and warriors are penning and typing our truths—we are never alone.
Each time I feel the keen sting of rejection or a painful criticism laid against my work, I try to remember this: My hermanxs and amigxs stand beside me, championing me. Each time another womxn is successful where I have failed, I remind myself to praise anyway because I have the ability to tap into that strength, to raise each other up.
Sometimes it’s hard, I won’t lie. Sometimes I feel the sting of jealousy, or linger too long in fear or disappointment. But that’s where I go back to the meditation and conjuring, calling forth the witchy writer within myself, who reminds me, sometimes gently, sometimes with the tough love of an Ancestor who knows what’s best for me, Get back to work.
Hermanxs, amigxs, luminous writer powerhouses—breathe deeply into the spaces within yourselves. You are strong, for you have made it to this place and time. Whatever brought you to the page in the first place is still calling you. Do what you need to do to quiet the voices that bring you fear or jealousy or pain. Light a candle at the altar, say a prayer, close your eyes, take a deep breath, call on your Ancestors, turn on music louder than the ugliness, and get to writing. If you need to get up an hour early to answer the call, then do it. Turn off the television. Send your kids outside or upstairs to play, or call on a friend or familia to help you. Reach out to your support systems. Your writing matters. You are part of a collective that is changing the world, dear ones. I truly believe that. And I hope you do too.
We are putting light into these dark times. We are writing strength where patriarchal, violent, racist forces want us locked away and scared. We are standing up and singing our truths and refusing to be silenced.
I promise you that I am fighting in the trenches with you. And I love you. Wherever you are in your journeys. I too am exhausted. I too get scared. I too sometimes wonder whether I’m making any difference or if I should just give up. I too have almost given up.
But I promise you I won’t, and I hope you’ll promise me the same. We are badasses. We are wondrous children of the Universe. We are creators.
My novel Jubilee, the first novel I began in 2011 when my daughter was a year old, was rejected a hundred times. Two agents tried and failed to sell it to any publishers. During the time I thought I was failing, I was also creating. Several poetry books and another novel. And in 2017 I finished my second novel Trinity Sight, which I sent to an agent I found through Poets & Writers, and she not only sold it, but by the end of the year she sold it alongside Jubilee and an option on my third novel (which is coming out next year, River Woman River Demon, a psychological thriller that centers the folk magick of people of color)! No novels sold for years. Then three all at once! Because I kept creating. Six years I thought I was failing. And sometimes I wondered if I should just give up. And here I am, a three-book deal. Wonders, we cannot control the timing. We cannot control just about any damn thing. But we can manifest our dreams nevertheless by creating. Even in the darkness, even when we feel lost, just keep creating forward, conjuring outward, holding hope. And we can reclaim our power.
Check out Jubilee here and see how I dug deep, planted that bulb, and grew her to fruition.
Manifesting can sometimes look like fallow fields as far as the eye can see. And then one bright morning, blooms everywhere. And if we stand from where we were lying in the dirt, we’ll see that we too are sprouting–we are reaching skyward, our roots planted firmly in the loam.
In just a moment, I want you to close your eyes one last time and breathe in and out with me. No matter how small or insignificant or redundant or futile or hackneyed or sentimental you’ve sometimes or too often believed your work is. No matter how many rejections, false starts, and altogether scrapping of your projects. No matter who has told you that you cannot succeed, no matter how many times you’ve failed. No matter how many times the world (both literary and wider) has broken your heart. You have the power, this moment, to choose creation. To choose to get back to work. To choose to speak your truths. Because no one else can, dear one. Not in your voice. Not with your strength. Not with the story the Universe entrusted you.
So here’s the call, loves. That bulb & blossom you dug up in the beginning of this letter—are you still holding it tight? Raise it up. Breathe in the collective power of your warrior sisters writing alongside you, breathe in your wisdom and strength, and when you’re tired, breathe in some of mine because I know when I’m tired I can breathe in some of yours. And breathe out those negative voices and blocks, breathe out to banish the fear and darkness. Take in our individual and collective light. Take in only that which makes you stronger. And let go of the rest. Then get back to work.
All love, your sister in the trenches,
P.S., As my girl Emily D. would say, “Art is a House that tries to be Haunted.” Stay haunted y’all loves.