How words can heal you: Alex Elle on writing and finding herself Friday 31 October, 2014

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For some, writing comes naturally. Not just any writing, good writing. The writing others read and are moved by. The writing that acts like a mirror for people’s complicated hearts, complicated lives, offering both solace and illumination. These craftsmen and women are always asked about the source of their genius: How did you get to […]

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For some, writing comes naturally. Not just any writing, good writing. The writing others read and are moved by. The writing that acts like a mirror for people’s complicated hearts, complicated lives, offering both solace and illumination. These craftsmen and women are always asked about the source of their genius: How did you get to write so darn well?

For Alex Elle, the story is simple. She started writing in a journal as a child and never stopped since. One day she shared a series of images on Instagram hashtagged #notestoself, with no dreams of publishing or recognition, but her talent and penetrating words did not go unnoticed. Her followers multiplied and they all had one demand- a book of her poetry in their hands. And she delivered.

Elle published a book and then another, the latter just recently released. From this interview, virtual and written as it was, you can still gleam the calm that pervades her writing. She shares her vulnerability, and more importantly, her ways of turning it into a strength that isn’t pushy but confident and welcomes anyone into its midst. When you read Alex Elle, you know, gutturally, that being broken and lost and lonely doesn’t mean defeat–to life, there are seasons and nothing, good or bad, lasts forever.

Alex Elle

Alex Elle

How would you describe yourself?

I would describe myself as kind, loving, driven and free-spirited.

 

How did you become interested in writing?

I’ve been writing since I was about 12. So, 12 years and it’s always been an outlet for me. My mom gave me a journal when I in the 6th grade when I was going through a lot of changes and a difficult time and she encouraged me to write out my thoughts.

 

Was it more like journal entries or poetry or?

It was a mix of journal entries but mostly poetry.

 

When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer, like actually pursue it as a career?

I’ve never realized that, which is funny – because people ask me that all the time. Like I never knew that this would be a part of my journey. I ended up sharing the “notes to self” hashtag on instagram and just, you know, because. And it caught on like wild fire and people were like, ‘well you know we don’t want to keep screenshotting, we want a book.’ So that’s when I delvde into sharing my work as far as publishing goes. So, the first book was more because it was what my supporters and fans wanted. But the second book is more because I have been called to do this and I’m going to continue on as long as I can. So yeah, I never knew I was going to be a writer as a career at all.

 

What makes you consider yourself a wanderer – as you referred to yourself in your first book?

Um, just because I feel like it has taken me to find my journey in life, or my purpose rather. It has taken me a long time to get here. And I have made a lot of mistakes along the way. I have come from near and far; I have literally been trying to find myself throughout this life walk that I have. So, I used wanderer because I don’t feel that I have truly arrived. Like, I’m still a wanderer and still searching and looking and trying to become a better woman and mother and person in general so I feel that that word really kind of fits me.

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What are some of your favorite things about writing?

The fact that your pen and paper or your computer and your keypad will never judge you. And it’s a place where people can feel safe and I guess that’s why I added the journal at the end of my book. Because I want people to continue writing or I want people to start writing, even if they decide not to share. I think it’s really important that we have this outlet. And sometimes we can’t talk to people and sometimes we don’t want to talk to people. So I encourage people, you know, to write and if they want to share, great, but if they don’t, then they do drill out their words and start over. Just kind of like a purge type of thing. And I don’t think people realize that they can write. And it doesn’t have to be anything grand or dramatic. It can literally just be feelings.

 

What are your ultimate dreams as a writer – where do you want your writing to ultimately take you?

I definitely want to continue touring and talking to young women. I want to keep encouraging the younger generation to get in touch with their feelings through words. My dream is a non-profit that is for the creative – whether it be writing or painting or photography. A place where people can come and feel creative and safe.

 

What have been some of your most rewarding or honoring experiences after publishing “Words from a Wanderer”?

The outpour of love and support from people – from strangers. And just people really wanting to know what I have to say and I guess… embracing it? And, helping me realize that I’m never alone in my struggle. There are so many other people who have gone through or are going through what I’ve been through. So that sharing has really helped me along the way.

 

What exactly do you hope people gain from reading your book, “Words from a Wanderer”?

I hope they gain some sort of peace. I try to make the book as transparent as possible but also keeping it general – so everyone who reads it can relate. I have had people in their teens be able to relate and people in their fifties be able to relate. So, walking away with some sort of peace and calm from it has been the response and I hope it stays that way.

 

What should we expect from your next book? How will it be different from your first one?

It’ll be very different. It’s really short poems plus personal excerpts from my life. So it is really an open book. It’s 137 pages, with a 50 page journal in the back. So it’s a think book. And it just gives people more of an inside look of who I am, not just what they think they knew from ‘Words of a Wanderer.’ Because, yeah, it was transparent. But it was more of a general book for everybody to relate to. And I know with the second book, it’s very very personal.

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Written by Ari Melenciano and Nesrien Hamid. 

Photocredits: Cargo Collective & Hair Gets Kinky.

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