Hey everyone! Here I am with another Promoting Creativity. This month I’m featuring someone a bit different but I’m super excited for you all to meet Eleanor! She’s doing a lot of interesting work. 🙂
1) Tell us a little bit about what you do.
I’m a blogger and a content writer for a medical software company. I also volunteer on the editorial board for Homeschoolers Anonymous.
2) When and why did you start writing?
I started writing a novel when I was 13. It was didactic and predictable, but I remember being very caught up in the world-building aspects of it. I’d like to re-write it sometime, as fantasy in an alternate version of China instead of historical fiction.
I wrote my first decent poem when I was 15. This continued into two booklets of poetry throughout 10th and 11th grade. They all rhymed and focused heavily on theology–mostly the crucifixion. Now I realize most of those were dealing with guilt that I’d carried since early childhood.
During freshman year of college, I joined an online writing forum called CleanPlace, short for A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. Around 50 other writers between age 13-early 20s were actively involved in the community for several years, and we got together for annual Moots each summer and mini-moots throughout the year. We’d go up into the mountains and sleep in cabins and wear cloaks and have writing workshops. Most of us were homeschooled and very sheltered by strict conservative backgrounds, and our families didn’t always approve of our nerdy pursuits, so finding a supportive community in each other was huge.
One of my mentors on the forum, MysteriousTwinkie, encouraged me to broaden what I wrote about, beyond religious poetry. She helped me to find my voice. After doing some projects with Twinkie and Poem-A-Day in April for a couple of years, I was published in my campus creative arts journal, riverrun, in 2011 and 2012. Toward the end of college, I had some health issues and took a semester of classes just for fun, including theater and a poetry class.
I also joined my campus newspaper, The Scribe, as the news editor in fall 2012 and reported and edited there until I graduated in 2015. All of these experiences helped me to get away from writing in a formulaic and stilted way. I once got feedback for a short story I wrote in 2010, and the reviewer said that my main character escaped a virtual reality world and stumbled upon… a sermon. Haha. But it was true. I didn’t know how to stop writing that way, I felt obligated to be strictly moralistic in my storytelling and poetry and really any other creative work for so long.
3) Tell us about a project that you are currently working on that has you really excited.
I’m brainstorming for an e-book that I’d like to auto-email to new blog subscribers. It’s a bunch of snapshots, early memories as I relive them now. People keep telling me that I should write a book about my life? So that’s how I’m starting it.
4) What are some of your goals for the future?
I want to start writing for a local newspaper again soon because I miss journalism so much, oh my goodness. I love the thrill of being the first to announce the story. It was an amazing feeling to put out a breaking news story about something on campus and have our articles / photos then be picked up by city newspapers and television stations.
5) How can we support you?
I recently started a Patreon for my blog.
I’ve been thinking that a campaign would help me to obtain copies of homeschool curriculum and cult literature, which I’ll dissect on the blog. Buying copies on my own gets expensive, and the materials are sometimes difficult to obtain and not available in libraries.
The homeschool community at large needs to be aware of what’s being taught to their kids. Too many times, my friends and I have told our parents about something harmful we were taught growing up and they’re surprised. They don’t even agree with it, at least not to that extreme, and they never realized how much we internalized some of those messages. But we thought that our parents agreed with it, since this is the curriculum that they bought for us.
Blogging about some of these textbooks would educate parents and help them make an informed decision about curriculum.
Eventually, I’d like to establish a hotline for homeschool alums, especially those trapped in the stay at home daughters movement and high control churches. When they call, we’ll direct them to outside resources and offer support and advice for their transition, similar to human trafficking prevention hotlines. A good friend of mine who works for Restore Innocence , a non-profit that helps human trafficking victims in Colorado Springs, first suggested the idea, since both survivor populations have similar needs.
He also suggested establishing a safehouse for young adults who have to escape controlling home and church environments and help them find work and a place to live. That’s a lot more complicated than it sounds, unfortunately. I’ve helped 8 friends move out, either through providing support and advice or actually physically moving their possessions and housing them temporarily. I love doing it, but it can be messy when you both come from unhealthy backgrounds. It’s challenging to maintain a healthy dynamic with those you’re helping and maintain self-care with limited resources.
One day, when I am more established in a career, I want to do more of that again. I am so grateful for each time that my story synchronized with so many other stories like mine. It’s kinda like sharing a heartbeat for a short time.