It’s a while since I’ve posted on here! I’ve had a very busy few months with writing. I’ve had more articles commissioned and published so far in 2022, including for the Guardian, Psychologies, and Happiful.
I’m really excited that throughout 2022 I’m writing a column for the Wellcome Collection. It’s a series of six essays called ‘Writing Myself’, where I explore how writing can be a powerful way of considering and sharing my experience of disability. The first two columns have been published, and I’ve just submitted the third to my editor ready to be published next month. It’s been a joy to work on this ongoing project, especially with such a great organisation and a really lovely editor.
Back in March I loved giving a talk at the States of Independence literary festival at De Montfort University, where I shared my experience as a freelance journalist. I talked through the process of researching markets, coming up with ideas, how to pitch, and then what to do once you’ve landed a commission. I found it a great opportunity to think about my own work and journey through the sometimes challenging world of freelancing. It was a fantastic session with great discussion, and I hope those who came along learnt more about what it’s like to write for newspapers and magazines.
I have lots of projects on the go at the moment – and of course my PhD is my main focus, and is going well. I hope to try to stay more on top of keeping this blog updated as I go forward to share more of what I’m up to!
Happy New Year! I hope you had a restful, enjoyable time over the Christmas break. I met up with family, spent time cosying up with books and magazines, and – importantly – gave myself a few days’ break from work. It’s left me feeling refreshed and excited about 2022.
And I’m really happy to have started this year with a feature published by the Guardian – which you can read here. The piece is on my experience of watching a play – A Chorus Line, at Curve theatre in Leicester – with audio description, and attending a pre-show talk for visually impaired people beforehand. For years, I’ve struggled with theatre as a partially sighted person. I find it hard to follow the action on stage, and find myself getting frustrated as I lose track of what’s happening. I’ve been curious about trying an accessible performance for a while, so this was a really interesting commission.
In the feature, I talk about the experience of the pre-show talk and audio description, and how it helped me truly enjoy theatre for the first time. I hope this article helps highlight to others that options like this are available, and also the importance of accessibility for disabled audiences. I’ve had a really lovely response to the feature from readers, which makes it all so worthwhile.
I’m hoping that this positive start to 2022 is a sign of how things will continue! I’m excited to be working on other commissions at the moment, as well as nervously waiting on news on some big projects (and trying not to obsessively check my emails hoping for updates…!). And, of course, I have plenty of PhD work, with lots to do as I write my memoir, as well as research around disability and life writing.
I’m feeling very fortunate to have so many lovely things to work on at the moment. I’m not a big winter person, so having lots of writing to focus on definitely helps me through the darker months of the year. I hope that 2022 is a good year for us all.
The Christmas tree is up, I’ve already eaten plenty of mince pies, and I have presents to wrap – all while keeping an anxious eye on the news. I’m sure most of us are feeling stressed and exhausted by it all, just hoping that things work out okay and that we can enjoy a safe Christmas with our loved ones.
It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, so I thought I’d do a post as we approach the end of another strange year for everyone.
I’m lucky that I’ve had a range of articles published over the last couple of months since I last posted. This includes my first time writing for Psychologies, which is a magazine I’ve wanted to write for for a long time, so I’m really proud to be able to add them to my portfolio. The feature is on how we can rekindle friendships that we’ve let drift – something that seems particularly relevant with how the pandemic disrupted many of our relationships.
A lot of my article ideas come about when I ask myself a question. In this case, I was meeting up with a friend I’d lost touch with, and wondering why friendships sometimes slip and what we can do to reach out. I realised that this could be a scenario that others find themselves in, and so started developing a pitch for an article around it. It’s a useful way of coming up with ideas. I’m also due to have another feature published by Psychologies soon, which I’m really looking forward to seeing.
I’ve also had features in Happiful, who are one of my main clients and who I love writing for, and a travel feature in Motability Lifestyle magazine, on ideas for city breaks in the UK this winter, from Christmas markets to festive plays.
I love community arts, and so was really happy to have a feature published in Planet Mindful magazine about how we can all share our creative skills with others. I spoke about my experience and about the fantastic arts scene we have in my adopted home town of Stoke-on-Trent. It was lovely to speak to local artists Gabriella Gay and Penny Vincent about how they share their love of art with the community, whether being a poet in residence at a car boot sale or leading singing sessions for anyone to join. I hope the piece inspires others to get involved.
I’ve also been doing lot of PhD work. There’s a lot of reading to do – I’m often very conscious of the weight of all the books I haven’t had a chance to read yet! It’s enjoyable reading though. I’ve been researching disability theory and disability life writing, as well as reading memoirs.
Yesterday I finished reading Letters to my Weird Sisters by Joanne Limburg, which is a beautiful book on autism and feminism. Limburg weaves her own experiences of being autistic into letters she’s written to four women from history, combining elements of biography with explorations of disability and feminist history and theory with Limburg’s memoir. It’s a really wonderful read, and it’s also helped me think through how experimental forms and structures can be used in life writing and creative nonfiction.
As we approach Christmas, I’m hoping to use the festive season as a chance to plan writing ideas for the year ahead. But I’m also planning to rest. It’s been another difficult year for us all, and while I’m very fortunate that I’ve had some great writing to work on, I need to take some time to relax and unwind, ready to go into the new year. I hope that 2022 is a kinder year to us all.
It’s been great over the past few weeks to see several of my articles published!
I had a first for me – three articles in the same issue of a magazine. My articles on zines, talking positively about your achievements, and using creative activities to plot your life are all in the September issue of the always wonderful Happiful magazine. They are also all available to read on the Happiful website.
I loved writing this piece on using gratitude lists for wellbeing, for Stylist magazine. I interviewed two writing for wellbeing practitioners to share their insights on how we can all use this creative activity to reflect on the positives in our lives.
I used the Hitched website loads when planning my own wedding a couple of years ago, so I was thrilled to write an article for them on how to organise an accessible wedding. From getting the lighting right to physical venue access and catering for everyone, there’s lots that can be done to make it an inclusive day for all. The best thing about writing this was thinking back to my wedding day and remembering all the excitement of wedding plan (me? Nostalgic for my wedding?). One of my best friends is getting married this autumn and she very kindly read through a draft of this article to see how the advice resonated with her as a bride-to-be. And I’m very excited for her wedding!
National Geographic Traveller UK is one of my favourite magazines, and one I’ve dreamed of writing for for a long time. It’s perfect for travel inspiration and imagining trips to beautiful places. I have an article in the current issue in their ‘Stay at Home’ section – and the best thing is it’s about my adopted home of North Staffordshire. It was a joy to write about Trentham Gardens, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, The Roaches walk in the Peak District, and other wonderful places we have here.
So yep – a bumper crop of articles! I always get excited to see my work published, so I’m really happy to have so many to share from the past few weeks!
I love exploring where I live in North Staffordshire. Last weekend Gary and I went along to the Better World Festival in Hanley, which is Stoke-on-Trent’s city centre.
The festival saw live music, an artisan market, inspiring talks on social issues, and lots of other family friendly events taking place throughout the city centre. We braved the rain and watched several bands over the weekend, only occasionally having to shelter from the weather!
My highlight was watching the wonderful local musician Julia Mosley and her band perform on the Sunday. She has an incredible voice, and the music has a dreamy ethereal feel. Since watching her live, I’ve been listening to her music on Spotify – my favourite is ‘Obsession at Night’.
It was great to see lots going on in the city centre. It worked well having one of the stages on the popular Piccadilly area, where there are lots of restaurants and bars with outside seating. We enjoyed al fresco dinner while listening to one of the bands on the Saturday evening. Gary commented that it would be great if there was live music on Piccadilly every weekend, as it would give us a reason to visit regularly and give the area a really lovely feel.
I loved being back in the city centre and seeing people having a good time. A couple of weeks ago we also enjoyed the fantastic Your City Festival in Hanley where lots of local bands performed, including Gary’s own band Skybald. Then on Friday 27th & Saturday 28th August, The Big Feast, organised by arts organisation Appetite, will see the city centre filled with fantastic creative performances.
I’m really looking forward to experience more great events in our vibrant city.
It’s the kind of weather this week where I don’t know whether to be celebrating the sunshine or desperately hoping for it to cool down!
I’ve had two more articles published in the past couple of weeks. The first is on mental health support at work, and is available to read on the Stylist website. I interviewed two experts for advice on what our rights are at work if we have a mental health condition, and the article covers everything from deciding to disclose to your boss to what reasonable adjustments you can get and what to do if you face discrimination.
Having a mental health condition myself, I know that navigating this at work can be a challenge. It was a really interesting piece to research, and I hope that this article helps others get the support they need and deserve.
The other piece is a feature in the always lovely Oh magazine. It’s on the disability arts movement, and how art can be used to explore and celebrate our lives and challenge ideas about what it means to be disabled.
I was lucky enough to speak to two talented artists, Anahita Harding and Nina Thomas, for the article to share their insights. I also reflected on my own experience of writing about disability – how writing allows me to, quite literally, take authorship of my experiences. I love how the feature is illustrated in the magazine with photos of Anahita and Nina and their artwork.
I’ve also been focusing on getting more reading done for my PhD this week. I’m currently reading The Wounded Storyteller by Arthur Frank, on life writing and illness. I’m only a couple of chapters in, but already I have pages and pages of notes on his work.
Focusing on anything for too long is hard in this heat, but I’m glad to have been making progress and having exciting projects to work on.
The article is about how I’ve used my lived experience of mental ill health as part of the service user movement. I talk about how I share my story to help improve mental health services, and also how this helps me make sense of my experiences and feel a sense of taking ownership of what I’ve been through.
It’s a little nerve-wracking having something so personal published. But I feel it’s an important piece, and I hope it helps highlight mental health, and is helpful to others reading who may have been through similar.
I love spring. I love that the tree outside my window is in blossom, and the pot of daffodils by my front door are so vibrant, and the unexpected patch of bluebells that has appeared in my garden. I love sitting outside to eat dinner, walks in the warmth… I’m definitely a spring / summer person!
Maybe my good mood today is also because the latest issue of Happiful magazine hit my doormat this morning. It includes my feature “Learn to love where you live”, which is about how we can connect with our local area, from learning about local history and walking heritage trails to getting involved in community projects or cooking up a meal celebrating our local cuisine.
As well as being in the May print issue of Happiful, the article is also available to read on their website.
In the article, I talk a bit about my experience of discovering more of my Staffordshire home, like taking part in a ceramics class and enjoying the wonderful delicacy that is the oatcake. As we continue to emerge from lockdown, looking at what we have locally is a great way for us to get out again, and I hope the article helps inspire others to explore their hometowns.
It’s been a strange couple of weeks for me. Some days I’ve been really productive, others I’ve wondered what I’ve even achieved. But I guess that’s part of the reality of our lives right now. With being home all the time apart from when I venture out for a daily walk, it kind of makes sense that my energy levels are a bit all over the place.
I’m excited to share I have an article in the current issue of the fantastic Writing Magazine. My article is called “Dealing with Difficulty” and is all about how as writers we can draw on our difficult life experiences in our work in a way that’s relevant, sensitive, and powerful. My own experiences are a huge influence on my writing, so this was a topic I’m really passionate about. I talk about things like how to keep your reader in mind, how to include details to make your writing evocative, and how to set your own boundaries and take care of yourself when writing about challenging times.
Disability in particular is a topic that I write about a lot, and where I draw on my own experiences. Our life experiences can be a great source of inspiration for our work, and be used in a way that helps our readers or offers a new perspective. I hope this article helps other writers in deciding if and how they can draw on difficult experiences in their writing.
I also have a feature in the current issue of Oh magazine, which explores witchcraft and how we can all weave it into our daily lives, like celebrating the changing seasons or mindfully meditating. I loved writing this feature, and interviewing the wonderful author Alice Tarbuck for it, who was a joy to chat to. Oh mag is one of my favourite magazines and I’m really pleased to have had another feature published by them.
The past couple of weeks I’ve also been focusing on my PhD. Although I do other writing, day to day my PhD has to be my main focus. Recently I’ve been doing some reading on models of disability and thinking how my creative work can explore this. Yesterday I had an interview with two assessors as part of my mid year review – 45 minutes of answering questions about my research. It was intense but I think I dealt with it well, and it gave me ideas about what I need to do moving forward with my PhD.
Over the coming weeks I’m looking forward to hopefully getting outside more as the weather improves. I also can’t wait until we can start having friends over to sit outdoors and enjoy a barbecue or drinks together. Recently I’ve definitely been feeling the need for a change of scene and to see other people. Hopefully as spring unfurls and lockdown lifts there will be plenty of chances to go out more and see others. And always, there is writing to do.
I’m really happy to have an article, “Use Your Voice”, published in the current issue of the always wonderful PosAbility magazine. It’s also available to read on the PosAbility website here.
The feature is about how disabled people can use our experiences of living with disability, whether campaigning for policy changes or blogging about what it’s like to live with our conditions. I talk about my role as a member of mental health social work charity Think Ahead’s Service User and Carer Reference Group, where those of us with lived experience of mental ill health are involved in the recruitment and training of future mental health social workers. I’ve been a member of SUCRG for around two years, and it’s really rewarding to be able to share my experiences to help improve services. I always enjoy our meetings and getting involved in teaching activities with Think Ahead. I also talk about how I started a group for disabled students when I was an undergraduate, and how we campaigned for change on campus and made sure disabled student voices were heard at the university.
As well as talking about my own experience, the article gives examples of how disabled people can find opportunities to get into a variety of lived experience work. We all have something valuable to offer by sharing our stories, and I hope that this article inspires others to get involved.