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Meggie : Tell us a little bit about your first book and the process of self-publishing.
Elijah : The Age of Recovery is a collection of poetry and prose written from 2009-2015. It touches on love, bravery, loneliness, grief, abuse, and the dark and light sides of hope. It’s about the human condition in a way. It’s about not letting your pain define you and the long journey that takes. It shows how the people you come across in life shape you forever, in one way or another. It’s about purpose.
Self-publishing has been something that I feel has been looked down upon for a while. It’s got a lot of stigma attached to it, but lately there’s been a well-deserved spotlight on high-quality, emotionally charged pieces of pure art that have emerged from the scene. The decision to self-publish is a tough one, because you know what you’re giving up if you do as opposed to if you traditionally publish, but you have so much creative freedom in self-publishing. In the process of writing it, I was having difficulty picking a title that best suited the essence of the book. It was first called A History of Being Alone for a long time, and I think it was that when I was sending it to presses, and then it was called Kiss the Girl for a short while.
And about sending it out to presses, I sent it out to a few and in the process, I took the time to deconstruct the work and rebuild it over and over, and in doing so crafted something infinitely more intimate and personal than it ever was. It was a blessing in disguise going through all that work. Also in doing all the publishing myself, I was able to release it on my sweetheart’s birthday and dedicate it to her. She has the first, original copy. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Meggie : How has your use of tumblr as a creative platform affected your writing, for better or worse?
Elijah : The Tumblr writing community is thriving, and it’s doing so because it’s marinating in talent. It’s like I said previously with the self-publishing, there’s been a well-deserved spotlight on all this raw, passionate work. A lot of the more popular work coming out of there isn’t so much self-publishing anymore since a few different corners have started up small presses, but nonetheless most of the work is outstanding. There’s always some really amazing quote or piece that goes around, and you find who wrote it and you discover them from there. It’s like this giant well of inspiration for me because, like a bunch of other people I’m sure, I’ve discovered my favorite writers there, from professional, well-known writers like Richard Siken to writers more connected to this community like Azra Tabassum and Shinji Moon, all of which have inspired me and my writing. You read them and there’s no coming back from that. You’re bleeding and you don’t know from where.
It can get to be a problem though, as I remember a long time ago where someone brought up that everyone’s starting to sound the same, and then my attention was brought to it. Everyone was starting to sound the same. It became formulaic, and for poetry or any kind of writing that’s dangerous. Safe is dangerous when it comes to poetry. I’m not sure if that problem’s passed yet. Hopefully it has.
Meggie : Give me 5 of your favorite quotes by writers on tumblr.
“I feel like a part of my soul has loved you since the beginning of everything. Maybe we’re from the same star.” – Emery Allen
“I want to love, but my hair smells of war and running and running.” – Warsan Shire
“I sit in front of maps and measure with my fingertips the distance between us. In this space, I tell the ocean to make itself smaller, we argue. I tell it please, I am in love, and it allows me to palm it in my hand and hold it tightly there. I wish the roads away. I grab the forests by the handful and plant them elsewhere, plant them in our backyard ten years from now. Like this, I slowly make the spaces between us smaller until I can walk across them. I take the ground by its edges and pull it until it’s gathered like a rug beneath my feet. I bundle the sky under my arms and don’t mind that the clouds are raining on my feet. I can walk the inches to your door and knock the wood and see you standing there in all your shocked silence. The question of the sky and the ground and the oceans all piled up around me. I can say ‘hello, look, it’s me, I love you, I’ve brought the entire earth for you.” – Azra Tabassum
“I didn’t fall in love with you. I walked into love with you, with my eyes wide open, choosing to take every step along the way. I do believe in fate and destiny, but I also believe we are only fated to do the things that we’d choose anyway. And I’d choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you.” – Kiersten White
“I pray that we are written for each other.” -bcxm
Meggie : What is your best tactic for picking yourself back up after your writing is rejected, or when you feel as if your work is not at its best?
Elijah : I tell myself that eventually it’s going to find its home somewhere. It’s important to remain humble, but it’s also important to recognize your talent and your worth. You can be discouraged, but you can’t base your worth as an artist on whether or not a publisher/press accepts it. You can fall, but you have to pick yourself back up and tell yourself that you can do it. Nothing happens if you don’t do anything. It’s as simple as that.
Meggie : Finally, can you tell us what projects you currently have in the works, either writing or acting-wise?
Elijah : Writing-wise, you and I actually have something in the works! Acting-wise, we’re close to wrapping up a show called Stage Door, playing at Michigan State University. It’s a comedy-drama chronicling the lives of aspiring actresses living together in a boarding house, The Footlights Club, in 1930’s New York. Almost 1,000 people have seen the show so far and from what I can tell it’s been a success. It’s been a long process but it’s also been rewarding.
Meggie Royer is a writer and photographer from the Midwest who is currently majoring in Psychology at Macalester College. Her poems have previously appeared in Words Dance Magazine, The Harpoon Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, and more. She has won national medals for her poetry and a writing portfolio in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and was the Macalester Honorable Mention recipient of the 2015 Academy of American Poets Student Poetry Prize.