“Something big is on the other side, if you choose to seek it” — And More from Novella Members

Is there anything stranger than the mid-winter limbo that is the week between Christmas and New Year’s eve? Work comes to a near standstill, big cities feel deserted, and those of us visiting our hometowns have fully reverted to our childhood selves while eating one’s weight in tamales – or is that just me? 2018 has not been easy, and the impending new year has me feeling both hopeful and apprehensive.

I’m usually pretty big into resolutions both big and small, but a recent tweet from our queen Roxane Gay has me re-thinking the entire concept. She said,

“I am not doing a single thing differently in January. I am not giving up shit. I resolve nothing. I did difficult self improvement all year so I am not exerting myself further than absolutely necessary.”

I feel that. The challenges brought on by the time in which we are currently living made 2018 a lot of work: I harnessed every ounce of self-care and self-love I could possibly muster up and myriad coping skills were developed. In 2019? I’d love to chill.

The Novella community has been a true beacon of light during this tumultuous year. The salons are a haven where we can take some time not just to to create and share work, but also to make meaningful connections with others. The creativity, bravery, and thoughtfulness of our members never ceases to amaze me. Thank you so much for bringing so much of yourselves to our salons – you are what makes this space so magical – so here’s to more of that in 2019! And today, we’re celebrating the women of Novella with another round of Community Posts.

Every month, Novella will publish your responses to our monthly prompts, giving you a new 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 see you in L.A., in Chicago, in London and beyond — and we want you writing along with us.

I’m so excited to share some of my favorite pieces from both of the recent “Change” and “Express” monthly  prompts – this transitional week is the perfect time to meditate on these two themes, especially since our members have written so beautifully on the topic.  You can read some more of our community's work at The Stacks to see the rest of the featured work.

If you’d like to contribute, email your original written response to any Novella prompt to hello@novella.nyc. 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.

By Lourdes Avila Uribe


Lee Ortiz.JPG

Hear Me 
By Lee Ortiz

The liberty to be with no sense of direction
No need to pretend
Just me in my entirety
Freedom to exist in my own reality
Speaking truths not sins
And I won’t filter my confessions
If it’s a pill too hard to swallow
Here’s a glass filled of what was
I will serve it to you cold
Until you question your blessings
When you realize the world is not at all what you were told
I will express me even if my truths are ones you can never fathom.
I will hold your ears open so my words can pierce through your soul like the memories of him once did
You will hear me
No more hands over mouths
Legs over arms
No more pinning me down or keeping me shut
Was a gift given to me by the women before me
They yelled until the echoes of their voices became my own
They said never stay silent

Lee Ortiz is a Bronx native poet, writer, and mother. She is the co-founder of Mi Casa Writers Corner, an inclusive writers club for the community that gave her the platform to share her he[ART]. Some of her works were featured on Community of Poetry, Byme Poetry, and Heart of Poets. She performs at venues around the city and continues to inspire others with her words and encourages self-expression through writing. You can see what she's up to and where she'll be next on her IG @ortizleee.   

Lauren Sagnella Headshot.jpg


by Lauren Sagnella

I think about

the time I warmed up your heating pad

while you were crying in bed with cramps.


I wanted to take away your hurt.

I hope he does the same for you.

The trees gracefully surrender to the colder weather

and shed their skin for more vibrant colors.

Lauren Sagnella is a NYC-based writer, director and event producer. Her writing spans sketch comedy, poetry, plays, copywriting and content creation. Follow her work at laurensagnella.com and on Instagram.


August 9, 2018

by Cynthia Osborn

Every year on August 10, the unthinkable happens:

I age.


My Facebook notifications don’t fail to remind me. And the Memories feature proves I post the same exact comment every year: “I’m ‘officially old now’, crying face emoji!”

I’ve never liked my birthday. It stresses me out. Makes me think too much and do weird things. A couple of weeks before the dreaded day, I’ll find myself spending an unnecessary amount of time locked in the bathroom almost every night,  agonizing over my face in the mirror. What’s changed this time around? That blemish, that line, that spot – was that there before?

This is a very private and vulnerable moment that nobody knows about. Except for me and whoever’s hacked my iPhone camera, potentially stalking me from the bathroom sink. I wonder if he or she or it is wondering the same thing I am: Do I always look this tired?

I need answers. I reach for my phone.

Hey Siri, how does your face change in your 20s?

Siri responds: *Boop* In. Your. Twen-ties, Coll-agen di-mi-ni-shes, making your face holl-ow out. So long ba-by fat! Addi-ti-on-ally, your es-trogen peaks, gi-ving you that youth-ful glow that will-be gone be-fore you know it. Siri now shares an article explaining how my nose is getting bigger, too. In a few years it will start to droop.

Well, I need to act. Time is TICKING. Should I get a better job? Embark on some Eat-Pray-Love trip? Download Tinder again? After all, this is my peak! Society and street harassers won’t love me this much ever again! I’m going to wither away into saggy, lonely nothingness, with no future, no mortgage, and no collagen.

Hey Siri, how long is a quarter-life crisis supposed to last?

Hey Siri, unfollow every influencer I have on my Instagram born after 1993.

Hey Siri, am I saving enough for retirement?

Siri? Siri? SIRI?!

Alas, Siri is gone. She must be taking all her learnings from this meltdown and exchanging them for targeted ads about dating apps and revitalizing serum. That’s how that works, right? Hey, iPhone hacker, I need to poop now, so please don’t record this. I think I’m having an epiphany on the toilet, as I often do. I’m flipping through my camera roll and it hits me. The thousands of photos. College. Summers abroad. Graduation. Moving to New York with only $500 in my account. The former boyfriends, former friends, former something-in-betweens. That one apartment I loved that got bed bugs. (Man, that alone will age you 5 years.)

If almost an entire decade of my life can show up right here on my phone, then it makes sense some of this should show on my face, too. Doesn't it? Look, enough. It's going to be okay, step away from the mirror. Go to bed.

Tomorrow, you’ll wake up a 27-year-old.

You’re still going to feel like yourself.

You’re going to remember to wear sunscreen.

You’ll delete your search history.

And backup your iPhone.

Cynthia is a Texan/Mexican copywriter based in Brooklyn. She write ads, letters to her past and future self, and occasionally other things she's slowly learning to share. You can see some of her work at cynthiaosborn.co or stalk her Instagram @_sophisticat  for cute, curated pictures of books, her cat, and the color yellow.


A Thought on Change

by Haley Dix

When the discomfort

of comfort starts

eating you from  

the inside

with a hunger insatiable,

unseeable on the outside,

know that something big is

on the other side

if you choose to

seek it.

So tomorrow,

start a new project.

Fall in love again.

Lose your heart again,

to the pages and words

of another's story.

Haley Dix is a Senior Copywriter from New Jersey, currently residing in New York. You can find her talking about home decor, hosting, and adventures at Lifemaderealblog.com. Follow her on IG: @itsme_haleyd