About Ellayne Shaw

woman of faith | writer | mentor | bilingual world-traveler | coffee drinker | wife | mother | avid reader | language lover | photography dabbler | aspiring speaker | lifetime student

Poetry by Pablo Nerudo

I stumbled across this poem for the first time and want to share it. I’m sure it isn’t new for many people, but it was one of those poems that sort of knocked the wind out of me, leaving me breathless.

And it was at that age… Poetry arrived

in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where

it came from, from winter or a river.

I don’t know how or when,

no, they were not voices, they were not

words, nor silence,

but from a street I was summoned,

from the branches of night,

abruptly from the others,

among violent fires

or returning alone,

there I was without a face

and it touched me.


I did not know what to say, my mouth

had no way

with names,

my eyes were blind,

and something started in my soul,

fever or forgotten wings,

and I made my own way,


that fire,

and I wrote the first faint line,

faint, without substance, pure


pure wisdom

of someone who knows nothing,

and suddenly I saw

the heavens


and open,


palpitating plantations,

shadow perforated,


with arrows, fire and flowers,

the winding night, the universe.


And I, infinitesimal being,

drunk with the great starry


likeness, image of


felt myself a pure part

of the abyss,

I wheeled with the stars,

my heart broke loose on the wind.


-Pablo Neruda, translated by Alastair Reid

Sunday Links for Better Writing

Last Sunday, I mentioned The Writing Cafe in my Sunday Links post, and I thought that probably this Sunday, I should follow that up with more links to similar content. After all, the point of my own blog is to explore my voice and share it with you. Why should I keep all of this great information to myself?

image via People of Color in European Art History

In my pursuit of bettering my writing, I have started following multiple blogs that focus on aspects of history, society, and more. One of those blogs is called People of Color in European Art History (or Medieval POC). The author explains one of the reasons for the blog’s creation thusly: “The ubiquity in modern media to display a fictitiously all-white Europe is often thoughtlessly and inaccurately justified by claims of “historical accuracy”; this blog is here to emphasize the modern racism that retroactively erases gigantic swaths of truth and beauty” (Medieval POC). This blog is incredibly thorough, very informative, and an excellent reminder that we should be critiquing modern media and not passively consuming it.

So how does the above blog push my writing to improve? For starters, it is a very important reminder for historical writing. Not everyone who was noble was white and not every person who was a slave or servant in some capacity was a person of color. It also reminds readers not to use “historic accuracy” as an illogical justification for exclusion of POC from their writing. To go beyond this, it reminds me to include diversity within my own cast of characters. When I was in junior high/high school, nearly every single character I created was white. I can remember one Latino and one African American in the midst of all of my writing, and frankly, that’s not good enough. That is terrible representation and a huge lack of diversity.

I should add that I am still working to improve this in my own writing. I should also add a caution here for white writers who want to include diversity in their stories: do not rely on stereotypes. If you really don’t know anything about a different perspective, do your research. Don’t be a lazy writer. Ask questions and find a diverse writing group to give you invaluable critique. Listen to your writing group. Don’t know where to start? Go here!

image via Two Nerdy History Girls

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this blog before, but you should also consider looking at Two Nerdy History Girls. They tend to write about history from the 1700s to the early 1900s as they both write historical romance novels. (Note: I’ve never read either of their various books, but I really enjoy their blog!) Period fashions and customs make frequent appearances. They also discuss historical recreations.

Reading and writing go hand in hand. In fact, when I was taking the courses for my TESL certification, I took two classes together, one for teaching reading and the other for teaching writing. The two skills are intricately linked. “If you don’t have time to read,” Stephen King says, “you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

I have been so busy lately, that I have not read much for pleasure. This means that my writing has fallen off as I have felt frequently uninspired. I am still constantly adding books to my “to read” list over on Goodreads, but I’ve been lax about actually reading them. That said, I am still always on the lookout for different books, and this is a great place to find a diverse number of titles.

I think one of the best ways to improve your writing and give it some depth is to simply open your ears and humbly shut your mouth. Listen to a variety of voices (even if you disagree with them), read from a variety of authors. Go outside of your comfort zone and expand your worldview.

As I close, I want to share Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk “The Danger of the Single Story.” It’s a wonderful discussion and well worth the watch!

As always, please share similar links in the comments below!

The Return of Sunday Links

It’s been a very long time since I last posted Sunday Links, so here are a bunch of links to things I found on the intertubes that made me laugh, think, and otherwise engage in the world around me. Enjoy!

I like a good food/recipe blog as much as the next person. I also really enjoy summer fruit. This post by Butter, with a side of Bread has a compilation post of summer fruity recipes. Check them out here!

OK Go has a great music video–of course!–for their song “The Writing’s On the Wall.” You should definitely watch it. 🙂

I love cats, and I wish that our apartment was large enough to accommodate more things for our two felines. Things like this creative kitty home made out of sturdy shelving!

When you’re writing, do you ever have questions about how to create a believable character? Maybe you’re writing about someone who has a completely different background than you, and you have no idea what it would be like to be an alien robot queen from Alpha Centauri. Or maybe you want to make sure you have accurate relationship dynamics or you want to avoid tropes in fiction or…whatever. Over on Tumblr, you can follow The Writing Cafe and get access to a ton of information on pretty much anything and everything that has to do with writing.

“We don’t see things as they are,we see them as we are.” Anaïs Nin

I came across that^ quote, which resonated with me.

Share your own finds from the week in the comments below!


There’s been too much going on in my life for the past few months, which has led to more than a few emotional meltdowns and extended periods of anxiety-induced insomnia. There is still much work to be done, but my life is currently on a bit of a hiatus with a family getaway on the Oregon coast. Simply breaking a routine has made for less stress, but there are other things that have added to an overall sense of peace and relaxation.

The first night that we were here, I volunteered to clean up after dinner. Rather than use the dishwasher, I washed everything by hand in the kitchen sink. The window in front of me was cracked open, and through it, I could smell blackberry bushes and cool, dark green foliage. Occasionally, a car would pass on the nearby road, but other than that, the only sounds were the quiet conversations amongst our family members and the ongoing shush of the ocean surf.

Our second evening here, I walked to the beach–just a few houses away–to take pictures of the sunset. I was not let down. The sunset started out beautifully and just progressed to become increasingly breathtaking. I would take pictures, then draw back and feel awed and small by the sheer scope of the sky. I have rarely seen a sunset so beautiful. I felt revived, spiritually.

Apart from our first evening here, I’ve walked in the Pacific and along the shore every day. The water is too cold to swim in–at least for me–but feeling the waves around my ankles and calves is incredibly soothing. I love the ocean. There is something about its gigantic-ness that brings peace.

Spending time with family has also been peace-bringing. Whether it is sitting around the living room with fresh coffee in the morning, getting my baby niece to giggle, or talking about nature with my [almost] six year old nephew, I feel better for having had the time to bond with family. I feel so blessed to have come from one amazing family and to have married into another equally amazing one.

I wish you all a wonderfully relaxing weekend!



bilbo bumblebeeThere is a dead bumblebee named Bilbo on my office windowsill. He perished over the weekend because our student worker left a window open. Bilbo has inspired an entire two Instagram posts, but even sepia filters cannot bring the life back to his fuzzy fat body. Poor Bilbo.

Yellow dandelions dot the hollowed green beyond my window–a shallow bowl that contained a brisk game of ultimate frisbee on Monday. Today, no students study on blankets that patchwork the soft grass, but there is one couple sitting alone, noticeably twitterpated.

greenYesterday, the rain poured in grey skeins from the sky, alternately puddling and rushing down the streets and summoning forth the dusty pink earthworms from their sodden homes.  But today, the sky is a bright cornflower blue and the white clouds shuffle lazily through the warm air.

The sun-heat, the blossoming cherry trees, the hum of flying insects, the smell of charcoal grills at dusk–all of this woos the senses, teasing of summer to come. I know that the rain will return. This is Seattle, after all, but I guard a tiny seed of hope in the recesses of my heart, shelter it, and water it gently.

One day, we will forget about winter entirely.

Day 29: List 10 people, living or dead, you would invite to dinner. Include the dinner menu.

This post’s prompt is a tall order not because I can’t think of 10 people I’d like to invite to dinner but because I want to invite 10 people that would actually get along, and that makes this imaginary dinner party rather complicated. In fact, I’m really not sure all of these women would get along at all, but I want to meet them! Thankfully, the prompt didn’t also call for a seating chart! Let’s start with the guests, shall we? Continue reading

Day 28: What is something/someone you miss?

This belongs on Awkward Family Photos for the current fashions alone. :)

This belongs on Awkward Family Photos for the current fashions alone. 🙂

I don’t often miss people, which I guess is connected to my introversion. Especially with social media and communication technology the way it is, people just don’t feel all that far away anymore. It absolutely boggles my mind that I can chat with my mom on Facebook when she lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When we first moved to Africa in 1987, I don’t even think we could call the US. Or, if we could, we certainly did not call very often. Continue reading

Day 27: Discuss a problem you have or had in the past.

The rate at which I am completing this 30 day blogging challenge should indicate what this post will be about: procrastination. More specifically, an inability to complete things. Some areas of my life–work and school–I can still complete tasks more or less on time. Deadlines are essential for me. However, in areas that are “non-essential,” I definitely don’t take it as seriously and sometimes get distracted to the point where I just want to drop it all and move on with my life. Continue reading