Stumbling in the Dark

An Interview with Victoria Elena.

I live in a peninsula-suburb of Seattle, not-so-cleverly called "West Seattle". The neighborhood consists of young professionals, families with young kids, and lifelong West Seattleites. Primarily, it's filled with beach-goers that share a love for gardening, complaining about crime and traffic on the local blog, and marveling at our local tree-laden parks. I've lived here for about six years, and work within a mile of my house, with one of my closest friends a half-mile in the opposite direction (close enough to drunk-stumble home in the dark and try to avoid being spotted by my elementary school students). 

It's been a wild ride in the last year, but I'm finding myself more and more comfortable with being uncomfortable. My first year of teaching has just ended, so I'm free for the summer to continue pursuing new interests. Switching to an online platform for teaching was a bit of an adjustment, but I actually think it made me a lot more creative. I tend to be a rather social person who spends their weekends out of the house. It's been a positive surprise to turn social energy into creative outlets that I haven't tried before while home-bound due to Covid-19.

I started writing poetry in high school, mostly as an excuse to go to poetry slams and drink wine with the attractive 20-somethings that ran them. My poetry was...immature, to say the least. I took nearly ten years off for a number of different reasons, and it wasn’t until I was in graduate school in 2018 that I started writing again. I was looking for a way to manage anxiety. I had been throwing my work away because I didn't really see much value in it. Honestly, I still struggle with this. When I discovered that Instagram had a fascinating subculture of writing, I joined under my original handle @anxiolyticals. My style changed so rapidly, I hardly recognized my writing I posted from when I first joined. I found a deeper love for diction, particularly breaking punctuation, focusing on word play. For the first six months I was on the platform, I couldn't put down the pen. I've eased up a little since, but I've continued to enjoy and explore the life my writing has taken on in the last two years.

Nature, science, and wordplay have been the primary vehicles behind my messages, through lately I've been writing a lot about my experiences in various relationships (family, partners, friends, etc). I've been diving into how I’ve grown and changed (as well as continue to) from my interactions, probably due to the increased downtime I have for self-reflection. I've had a panic disorder and generalized anxiety for most of my life, but I've gotten to a place where it's easier to manage. The reflection now comes from being able to actually process those things without "suffering" from them anymore. I think I've also started to develop a more cohesive way to weave three or four experiences into one piece, with multiple layers each time it's read through.

When writing, I usually start with one line that comes to mind while on a walk (often, the aforementioned drunk stumbles home), and play off of it. I have read quite a bit of classic poetry and I always find inspiration there. I also find a lot of inspiration from Instagram poetry, mostly because there are so many great modern writers on it that encourage me to continue to grow. I've become close friends with incredibly talented writers on the platform and I think that's a big way I've been influenced to continue putting out work. I've had great opportunities arise from the platform, as well. I had the opportunity to turn a piece into a song, got published through a small printing press, and have been involved as a curator a few times.

I have a lot of what I call "3am writes". I'll wake up and have this unexplainable urge to get lines down. I definitely have a bunch of self-reflection pieces that analyze relationships, but I've also been known to write about random shit (i.e. a series of ballads about a drunken Chad; a praise piece for Guy Fieri; and lots of pieces about my love for food with a sexy undertone). I think my biggest push comes from finding a new word that explains things in an exact way I couldn't previously pinpoint. This is likely why I love etymology.

If I’m ever hit with writer’s block, I tend to just ride it out. I'll look back to pieces I don't really care for if I really feel the need to break from it, but most times I just let it happen. I usually hit a "block" when there isn't much going on in my life, or when I find myself in a general lull. When things are going well or terribly, I tend to write so much I can't keep up with myself, so the block is often welcomed.

Numerous experiences have really shocked me into realizing how much people enjoy my work. A writer whose work I really respect wrote a dedication piece about me a few weeks ago. Completely out of the blue. This hit me super hard. I never expected someone to feel inspired by my growth as a writer. It was an honor. A good Instagram friend of mine (Tohm Bakelas) has also made me feel valued as a writer on many occasions. He's always pushing me to publish and expand my writing to a wider audience. Since I often ignore him, he’ll go straight to the publisher or his friends and tell them to reach out to me. It's been sobering to know people support my growth, even without knowing me in "real life."

I've never cared much about being known. I suppose what I want my life to reflect in the end is that I just stayed true to myself and to my art. I've worked hard to not fit a specific mold. It's easy to want to change when you're on a platform that emphasizes followers as a gauge for your talent. I feel like I've always been true to what I want to put out, and I think this is what’s most important when it comes to writing and creativity.

My name is Victoria Elena. I’m a 27-year-old writer based out of Seattle, Washington. I infuse the archaic with the contemporary, and have (somewhat) recently resurfaced into the world of poetry with a unique brand of syntax and diction. I’m an elementary school teacher by day, and dabble in other creative ventures by night. I have been published once through Analog Submission Press.

©Alchemy & Elegy