This whole lovely, dream making journey started two years ago, in a cozy little apartment just outside of central Paris. I’d love to say I was drinking wine and surrounded by handsome French men feeding me fromage, but I was really just sitting on the sofa, waiting for lunch. (French men may have been present but they made me feed myself.) I was scrolling through my social media and saw a tweet directed at me.
I had been following Holl and Lane for a few months and had been reading, liking and interacting with them and the Editor in Chief, Sarah Hartley, on social media. I loved what they stood for, what they were trying to do with their words and photos. I also loved that it was a just a woman with a dream, behind it all. It was something I wanted to support.
So, I was ecstatic, excited and flat out honored when I was asked for my words. What Sarah didn’t know at the time, was that I had been writing my whole life. This blog, which she had discovered through the wild and strange machine that is the internet, may have been new – – I think I only had about 6 posts at the time and one of them was about how much I loved Zac Efron. (Still do though, so no shame.) – – but my writing wasn’t necessarily new.
.:: Early Days ::.
Sarah and most other readers hadn’t seen me at 11 years old sitting in my mom’s home office with a stack of library books about how to write books and a typewriter in front of me. Thinking to myself, that if I could just sit at that desk long enough, if I could just get enough ideas down, if I could just follow the advice in those books, then I myself could be a writer someday.
My blog readers of those early 6 posts, didn’t see when I went through a breakup at 26 and decided I would channel my pain into writing poetry. (We all have weird phases. Teased bangs, blue eye shadow, poetry writing…)
Those readers weren’t with me year after year, through tough times as a teenager and finding my place as a young adult, when I sat for hours in cafes, restaurants, book stores, parks and the beach. My notebook in hand, writing my thoughts, and most always, (always) eavesdropping on people’s conversations and then sometimes purposely leaving abruptly and sitting somewhere else so that I couldn’t hear the ‘real’ end of the conversation and could make up my own version.
No one knew how close I had been to dropping out of college just months before graduation because I really felt
completely fucking lost it just wasn’t for me, only to get an A+ on a writing assignment and some kind words from my teacher scribbled at the bottom of a script I had written.
My blog readers didn’t see me pack up my life and move from Ottawa to Toronto to take a script writing program (and get a second college diploma) only to find out that I couldn’t attend at the very last second. And I mean, the very last second.
As in, I broke up with a boyfriend (insert bad poetry phase here), said goodbye to my old friends, quit my job, moved into a new apartment, furnished it completely, applied for jobs, registered for school, bought my supplies, planned my life, and settled in, only to find out a week before that I wasn’t able to actually attend school.
And my blog readers certainly didn’t see the panic attacks that started the next day. Or the overwhelming anxiety. The stress and the tears. They didn’t know that I stopped believing I should write, that this must all be a sign that writing just was not.for.me.
They weren’t with me when the panic attacks got so bad that it both left me feeling like I wasn’t good enough to write but confused, because writing was also the only thing that made me feel better.
So I wrote anyway. I was barely surviving at that point, so I thought, if writing kills me, well, let it. What Sarah didn’t know when she contacted me to submit to Holl and Lane and what my blog readers and most of my friends didn’t know, is that my biggest, wildest dream, equal in desire and need to living in London, was to someday have my words published in a magazine.
.:: Beginning Letters To Rayelle ::.
Fast forward 4 years from those lonely days in Toronto, the constant state of anxiety and the daily panic attacks. Through magic or luck or God or all three, I was living in London and made the decision to write on a public platform because it just felt like the right thing to do. It felt like time. It felt good and healthy and right.
So I started sharing. I told my boyfriend first. He was super supportive and told me it was a great idea. But he loves me so he’s supposed to say that, right? His support doesn’t count. ‘Support doesn’t count if it comes from someone you love,‘ is the lesson I was trying to teach myself? Holy shit.
So then I told a few friends. They all supported me and told me to keep going. Weird. They must not know I’m faking this whole thing. But that’s sweet of them. I told a couple more friends, who I had known longer, who I trusted more. They would tell me the truth, surely. Nope. Same thing. “Keep going. I’ll read. I like your words.” At this point, I started realizing, I could keep getting offended that all my friends are liars or I can just attempt to be gentle with myself.
So I went with it. And I kept writing. And almost as important as writing, is that I spoke out loud about my writing. I told co-workers and close friends and new friends. I told fellow travelers I met and I told people I knew but didn’t even like. I told cute boys and I told my sister. I talked about my blog on Twitter, I shared my link on Instagram. I said out loud that I was a blogger. I went to blogger events, I put it on my CV. I felt like a fraud the entire time. I started a blog didn’t I? I wrote blog posts. I published them. So I actually was/am a blogger, but self-belief is totally different from facts sometimes.
.:: Holl and Lane ::.
I didn’t write a blog post about being published in Holl and Lane and MY LITERAL DREAM COMING TRUE at the time that it happened, because mostly, when the issue was released (Number 7, fyi), I was traveling in Morocco and the wifi wasn’t great. But don’t you worry about me, because I did get treated to a fabulous celebratory lunch at which I got extremely drunk, both due to the sun and possibly the alcohol. I got a mad sunburn, a possible skin disease from picking up stray cats and then got lost in the winding streets of Marrakech. It was the greatest way to celebrate my words being published. So, while I mostly apologize for this post coming a bit late, I really and truly was just living in the moment. (It’s a new thing I’m trying.)
I can’t speak for Editor in Chief, Sarah, personally, but I have read her magazines and blog and I can imagine there were times in her journey of starting Holl and Lane that she probably felt like it may all just be a bit too hard. She probably wondered if it would work. She probably had no idea who would read her magazine. But she did it anyway. And her doing her thing, led to me doing my thing. And my thing happened to be the dream of my life.
In a way, this is the story of two people who put themselves out there because they had something in them that needed to get done. It’s also a story of support and words and encouragement and creativity.
The truly bizarre thing about having a dream come true is that once you know it can, you see possibilities everywhere. I eventually made it back to Canada. I ordered a few copies of the issue my story is in. I cried when it came in the mail. Of course. (Everyone who knows me expects nothing less at this point.)
Go buy an issue of Holl and Lane if you can. And if you can’t right now, then at least go read the blog. It’s free, but just as much hard work has gone into it. The team and their contributors write about real stories. You will see yourself reflected back in someone else’s words and if you’re like me, you’ll bawl your eyes out. Or, maybe you’ll just smile to yourself and then have a better day. It’s all okay.
If you have no interest in reading wise, beautiful, honest words then
get off my blog at least start thinking about what action you can take to do that thing inside you that wants to get out. It may be any number of things, only you know. But my point is that it’s worthy. It’s important. You never know who you are inspiring and what part of your journey will intersect with someone else’s journey. I swear to you, it’s better for the world that your work isn’t a secret. #LiveHollAndLane