I realised the other day that I've been saying, "At the end of this month, things will quieten down" since about November. Well, that hasn't happened, which is actually great news in the world of a freelancer. Less great news for that ceramics class voucher I still haven't used.
I haven't had time to upload everything, so here's a little snapshot of my latest projects - and there are some very exciting things currently in the works. My notebooks are bursting at the seams. Expect donkeys, knitting, and glitter - not necessarily together.
The Forgotten Women of West Papua for The Conversationalist.
This is a very much ignored crisis, and I wanted to understand what was happening through the eyes of Indigenous women who are impacted. This is a really bleak story, so take a moment before reading.
Bettie Johnson-Mbayo: The Courage to Keep Exposing Corruption for Women in Journalism.
The team overseeing the Journalists Under Threat project asked me to interview Liberian investigative journalist Bettie Johnson-Mbayo, and I'm so glad they did. What an inspiring journalist.
The Surprising Communities Thriving in the Time of War for Mother Jones.
I spoke with some wonderful people from an eco-village network in Ukraine who are hosting people displaced by war.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: The Southern Right Whales' Song of Hope for The Natural History Museum.
When the Natural History Museum asked me to write about whales, I was delighted. And yes, of course I speak whale.
There's loads of new stuff from me in TOPIA's new season, The Egg. I embody a red kite, speak to Afghanistan's first female tour guide, and do a deep dive into The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Standard.
It's been a little while since I posted an update, but there's been plenty going on!
In May, I started a part-time position as assistant editor at Index on Censorship. It's a publication I've admired for so long, so it's a pleasure to be part of a team doing such important work. In fact, Index gave me my very first commission as a freelance journalist, and it's their work that got me interested in freedom of expression issues. It's a lovely "neat little bow" moment. And what better strapline than, "A voice for the persecuted"?
And the freelancing continues too. I've now got a lovely balance of working with an actual team half the week, and pursuing all sorts of exciting freelance projects for the other half.
Here are a few new pieces you might have missed, which I've published recently.
We need to fight book bans, not just fear them for The Bookseller. I used to read this wonderful publication in the Waterstone's staff room when I was a bookseller, so it's a pleasure to write for them in my capacity as Index assistant editor.
When authorities dunked outspoken women in water for Smithsonian. I've had a little obsession with finding out about ducking stools, and luckily Smithsonian wanted me to follow my nose. In the hopes of piecing together the stories of the dunked women (there's a replica stool in my own town, pictured below), I discovered how they've been erased from history.
Culture can help in the fight against Putin - we must not limit it for Byline Lines. Ahead of the launch of my first issue with Index, I wrote an op-ed on the issue of cancelling the culture of an entire nation.
Pants of protest for New Internationalist. I hope you managed to get your hands on the July 2022 issue of New Internationalist, because I explored underwear-themed political protests.
Nature, place and protest for Resurgence magazine (May 2022). I took a walk with author Nicola Chester through the setting of her book, On Gallows Down.
I'm over the moon to be hosting two writing workshops at the beautiful Careys Secret Garden in Dorset. Come and join me to get immersed in nature and storytelling!
Sowing Writers' Seeds - Writing Workshop
Sat 19th March 2022
New to writing? Fancy a taste of the wordsmith life? This workshop will give you an introduction to writing, with exercises to build confidence and help budding writers explore their inner voice.
If you’re a beginner or inexperienced writer and are interested in developing your skills and confidence as both a non-fiction or fictional writer then this is the workshop for you. This two-hour introduction to writing workshop explores writing techniques and helps you to find your own writer's voice.
Get inspired by the beautiful backdrop of Careys Secret Garden and enjoy the tranquility in nature itself, then leave with some tricks up your sleeve for keeping your writing flowing.
Wild Writing - Writing Workshop
Sat 30th Apr 2022
In this three-hour workshop, we’ll use nature to inspire writing, and get closer to the natural world through words. Everyone is welcome, whether you’re a complete beginner or a more experienced writer, and whether you prefer to write about real life or fiction.
During the session, we’ll get immersed in nature, challenge ourselves with writing activities, and put pen to paper. We’ll explore techniques and find new inspiration. But above all, we’ll discover the connection between nature and writing against the beautiful backdrop of Careys Secret Garden.
“She was a sloth with dreams, a sloth with ambition, a sloth who wanted to see the world.”
In amongst the journalism, features, and copywriting, I'm a sucker for a bit of fiction. I'm mega-excited that my short story, The Sloth Who Saved Christmas, is being performed in Bath by Kilter Theatre and A Word in Your Ear as part of their Festive Doorstep Stories. If you happen to live in Bath (by the way, one of my favourite cities), you can have an actor turn up at your door and perform the story for you. It's a bit like Deliveroo, but with jingle bells on. There's also a phone option, so drop them a line if you want to know more about that.
Find out more and hear about the other stories on the A Word in Your Ear website.
They say that to be a writer, you need to read. With that in mind, I'd like to share some of my top reads each month. If you haven't heard of Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo by now, you're presumably living under a rock. The Booker Prize winner and Women's Prize shortlister is honestly everything it's cracked up to be. Please, pick up a copy. Something else that's given me all the feels this month, is Hollie McNish's Nobody Told Me. It's poetry, it's memoir, it's an absolutely bang on take on being a new parent. I'm now seven months into being a mum, and Hollie is essentially right about everything, and she says it with flair.
Now onto June's highlights. It's all about nature this month - and rather appropriately a squirrel is currently right outside my window performing aerial gymnastics to reach the peanut feeder.
Growing Self-Sufficiency in Uganda
Let's take a trip to Uganda, where the Karambi Group of People with Disabilities is tackling isolation and food security by creating permaculture gardens.
Photo: Jackson Bigasaki, caretaker at a permaculture garden created by Karambi.
Spending 30 Days Wild has Lasting Benefits
Perhaps you've been taking part in the 30 Days Wild Challenge from the Wildlife Trusts. Did you know that these small interactions with nature can have a lasting positive impact?
It's been a strange start to freelance life to say the least, locked down at home and with publishers everywhere under huge financial strain. I think I'm on my fourth banana bread bake, and my five month old probably thinks his grandparents only exist inside a phone screen.
All that aside, here are some selected pieces I've written this month:
Finding Calm in Bookshelf Memories for WHYNOW
I spent my early career working in a bookshop. Books mean everything to me, and picking one up that I've previously connected with brings all those emotions back again in a real sense of serenity.
Pandemic Parenting: I'm a New Mum on Lockdown
I feel a sense of loss for the maternity leave I'd imagined, but feel guilty too. Here's my experience.
Countries exploit Covid-19 pandemic to shut down borders and block refugees
People around the world face more and more obstacles to seeking asylum, as borders remain closed due to the pandemic, and refugee organisations are concerned that the crisis has become an excuse for governments to limit the human rights of displaced people in the name of public health.
Shadowproof also wrote an extra feature about my report, which you can check out here.
I read on Twitter yesterday (from Dictionary Corner's Susie Dent, so it must be true), that the word "freelance" originates from knights who weren't attached to a single master, and so were free to use their lances for whoever came up with the cash. True or not, I quite like this etymology, and it's particularly fitting today as I go it alone in the world of freelance writing and journalism. After all, the pen is mightier than the sword.
It's been an exciting few years as an in-house writer and journalist at Lush, but now it's time for a change. For the next few months I'll be enjoying the rest of my maternity leave with my ridiculously cute baby, but would love to hear from anyone in need of a wordsmith.
After making its debut in Liverpool, the brand new Lush Times magazine has landed in all Lush stores across the UK and Ireland. Hurrah! If you find yourself in Shinjuku, there's a special Japanese edition available there, which perhaps one day I'll be skilled enough to read.
If you get your hands on a copy, I'd love to know what you think. It's been a blast (an exhausting blast, but a blast nonetheless) to co-edit this first issue, and I hope we've got many more to come...
I'm unbelievably excited to announce the launch of the all-new Lush Times magazine! After an intense few weeks leading the writing and co-editing with an amazing team, we launched our print baby exclusively in the new Lush Liverpool store.
We've focussed this very first issue on the theme of regeneration, and the magazine is packed with stories about people regenerating the planet and social systems. These aren't pieces pointing out what's wrong with the world - they're examples of real solutions in action.
If you managed to get hold of a copy, I'd love to know what you thought! There's only a limited run in Liverpool right now, but watch this space...
Starting 2019 with a bang, I'm very happy to have been announced as a finalist for the New Media Writing Prize 2018, with my creative nonfiction story The Displaced.
The international competition had some pretty incredible pieces in the shortlist, which we got a glimpse of at the awards ceremony held at Bournemouth University.
All the winners and runners up are available to view on the New Media Writing Prize website.
It's looking like a good year so far!