Introducing a Whole New Way to Share Your Writing
The best part of a Novella salon is that you get to hear your fellow writers' work — and the worst part is you don’t get to hear everyone’s work (we’re greedy, we’re working on it, it’s fine).
Starting today, that’s changing. Read on for the first-ever edition of Novella’s community posts, and for details on how to submit your work. We can't wait to read and share your brilliance with the world outside our salons.
"i choose to expose my insecurities, to show that we all have complexities and awkward tendencies — but absolutely none of these define me." — Alesia Carter
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 21
Hands-down, my favorite thing about Novella salons is the moment I’m sorted into a random group to hear my fellow writers’ work.
There’s a thrill in knowing that my group will sit down strangers, and stand up friends, having connected through this most personal of acts — sharing our written word.
Over and over, I’m astounded at the level of talent, delighted by moments of synchronicity, the connections that occur across lines of race, class, and career, inspired by the conversations that ensue (shit gets deep quick when women share freely). And I’m honored to be trusted with hearing your experiments, rough drafts, first attempts at a new genre, and sometimes, secrets you’ve never said out loud before.
Month after month, I think to myself: Wait, is every other group this good?
Because I fully suspected the answer is “obviously,” and because Novella is about spotlighting our community’s work and supporting its aspirations, today I’m really proud to introduce Community Posts.
Every month, Novella will publish your responses to our monthly prompts, giving you a way to share your work and connect with the entire Novella community.
To our friends outside NYC, this is your chance to get in on this magic! We’ve seen our community grow way beyond NYC — we’re talking to you, L.A., Chicago, London and beyond — and we want you writing along with us.
Below, some of my favorite pieces from the first year of Novella. We’ll be publishing more soon, so stay tuned if you’re greedy for the kind of raw, honest women’s storytelling Novella does best.
If you’d like to contribute, email your original written response to any Novella prompt to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, site or social handle, a pic if desired, and anything else we should know about your piece. We look forward to reading and sharing your work.
Big Bad Words
by Bee Brino
your hungry gaze fixed on my mine
and breathed words inside of me
while i slept
then i’ll huff
then i’ll puff
then i’ll blow your house down
i cried every night
just like a slice under a fingernail
all while you stare
walk through life
with a kind of awareness
that cuts through knives
and watch strangers
unravel my two lives
twist their heads
turn their eyes
and in just
see more beauty than i do
in one lifetime
but wounds heal
around your neck
as you pant for air
and reach to the sky
Bee says: “I was afraid of cutting my hair because — especially in Latinx culture, where the patriarchy and internalized misogyny still reign — womxn, were conditioned to believe that short hair correlated to being ‘less’ feminine, therefore ‘less’ desirable to men. Concepts grounded in controlling and policing womxn’s bodies for the sole pleasure and approval of men.
Ask any womxn about their hair journey and you’ll most likely be met with a story of struggle, identity, and discovery. From escaping a toxic partnership where I was guilted and shamed into keeping my hair a ‘desirable’ length, to shaving it off when I moved to NYC as an act of defiance, to consistently hearing: ‘déjate el pelo largo que te vez más bonita.’
It was through these challenges that I learned that loving yourself is an act of defiance all on its own. Please mind, I do not speak for WoC, who have their own set of experiences and challenges. To you: don’t let anyone tell you the length, style, or texture of your hair equates to your beauty or worth.”
Bee Brino is a queer writer and artist based in Brooklyn. Born in the Domincan Republic, she immigrated to Miami and earned a BFA in Performing Arts from New World School of the Arts. Using an intersectional eco-feminist framework, her work typically focuses on Latinx communities in film, theatre, and other disciplines.
Alesia Carter on “Beauty”
from the book “Love Me Like The Stars”
i used to think
that my hair defined me
that if i straightened it
i would look pretty
i must admit
i still struggle with this concept
i used to think
that if i got plastic surgery
to fix my nose
that i would look prettier in photos
i used to think
that if i could just get rid of my stretch marks
i would be more appealing
i used to think
that if i got rid of my acne scars
that would mean i was more beautiful
i choose to expose
to show that we all have complexities
and awkward tendencies
but absolutely none of these
Alesia Carter is a Creative Director, writer, and fashion blogger based in Los Angeles. You can read more of her work at AlesiaCarter.com and in her new book “Love Me Like The Stars.” Oh, and you can get your life on her IG: @alesiacarterxo.
High School Never Ends
by Erin Couture
Today, I forgot how old I was.
Actually, it wasn’t just today.
And my birthday was less than a month ago.
Problems from high school
But essentially the same
Though they worry about you less
And you worry about them more.
Instead of “you can’t sit with us”
It’s “you can’t come on this trip with us”
Rather than no money to spend on things
My paycheck is spent before it even gets seen
As opposed to where do I see myself in 4 years of college
Where do I see myself for the next 60 years (plus worry about retirement)?
Teenage worries about what you’re missing out on while not in a relationship
While long term relationships are worrying about what you’re missing out on
Writing Assignment Problems:
Still leaving them to the last minute
But this time I signed myself up for the pressure
Maybe age really is just a number
And it’s impossible to truly ever act your age.
Erin Couture wrote this piece in response to our “Age” prompt: “This came from a place reflecting on change — how even with all the changes, the core of things remains the same.”
Follow Erin on IG: @couturerin.
Who Owns My Nose
by Colleen Cass
“This is not my nose. I want it off”
“Okay, we can do that.” Dr. Spector looked at me with a cheery expression. He and I both know he doesn’t need much background or explanation. Everyday he has tons of men and women walk through his door, sit on the leather seat and tell him every tiny physical imperfection. He sits and listens, nods his head, smiles sympathetically, all while probably salivating at the idea of shoving his little knives into people’s skin. He knows that he is their god, the sculptor of their body.
We leave it at that and set the surgery for two weeks from today I hand the receptionist my credit card, a two thousand dollar down payment. A heavy fee to pay for a nose that isn’t mine.
I exit the building into the warm air of the city, it’s late spring, and the city is not yet filled with a burning trash smell. I take the long way down the street, left with about twenty minutes before I need to be back at the office. Two girls in short flowy sundresses pass me holding their Sweetgreen salads and excitedly chatting with each other.
I look down at my own pale, skeletor legs. It’ll take a good couple of trips to the tanning salon before I’m summer ready. I watch the girls walk until they turn down the corner and continue on my way.
I haven’t told anyone at the office I’m changing the nose. I don’t think they would understand, despite their obsessive chats about the latest reality star surgery or discussing how there’s nothing wrong with plastic surgery it’s just THEY would never do it.
But changing the body is so much more than that. I couldn’t give two shits if a new nose will make me prettier, or make some finance guy want to fuck me more. It’s not my nose.
Whose nose is it? It belongs to generations of men and women before me, people I never knew that somehow combined enough genitals and escaped enough plagues to create me.
It’s the nose of drunks, addicts, abusers and other poor souls that somehow found their way into sprinkling a freckle or two into my DNA.
In two weeks my nose will no longer belong to them, but it will be belong to Dr. Spector. I will no longer look into the mirror to see the nose of my mother and how it always turned red when she was on her third daily Gin and Tonic. It will no longer be the same shape as my father’s nose which somehow made its way in between the thighs of other women.
This nose belongs to whatever poorly misguided hopes and dreams lineages have procreated their way too. And in two weeks that will all be over.
Colleen Cass is a brand strategist from Los Angeles, currently residing in Bushwick. She can be found racking up library fines, following dog influencers on Instagram, and avoiding East Coast weather.