A couple of weeks ago, I went to the launch event for Laura Jane Williams’ second book, Ice Cream for Breakfast, and it was… incredible.
I had never been to any kind of book event before, much less a launch. Okay, that’s actually a slight fib. When I was nine or ten, my school took us to see Terry Dreary and Peter Hepplewhite do a talk about their book series, Horrible Histories, where there was a signing afterwards. I went against my mum’s instructions to not buy a book that day, borrowed a tenner from my friend Rachel to get one anyway, and got it signed by the authors themselves. Despite the severe telling off from my mum when she picked me up from school that afternoon, it was soooo worth it. Although, I couldn’t tell you where that signed copy of Terrible Tudors is to this day.
Back to the present; I was actually invited to the launch by Laura herself, after I attended another workshop of hers ealier on in the month, the Nuts and Bolts of Moving Stories Forward. It was such a brilliant experience, that workshop. Not only did I learn so much and engage in some conversations that made me feel super clever, but it was so open and honest and provocative and emotional… a lot of us opened our hearts and bared our souls that day, I’ve honestly never felt so connected to a group of women I barely knew. The next morning, Laura dropped us all an invite to the launch, saying just how much she would love to see us all there, and I couldn’t not go.
We were encouraged to bring a friend, and I couldn’t think of anyone better to bring than my friend Vicky. She actually wrote a very lovely post about the event the day after it happened, which I implore you all to read, because she articulates the feeling of that night much better than I’m about to, I’m sure.
I brought Vicky for reasons that come in threefold; first, I hadn’t seen her in person since September, so we were long overdue an in-person catch up. Second, she wants to work in publishing, so naturally she was the first person to come to mind when I received the opportunity to go to a real life book launch. And third, well, I was afraid to go by myself. Even though I knew people who were gonna be there, such as Twitter-turned-IRL friend Alex, and that anyone I didn’t know would more than likely be super lovely… well, I guess that’s just the plights of social anxiety. Even when your rational brain tells you that everything will be absolutely fine, the other part of your brain, which is, somehow, always the much louder half, has no qualms in planting those nervous seeds that root into the depths of your subconcious.
Vicky and I met up with Alex outside the Waterstones in Islington, and we were… super early. I have no idea about event etiquette, what time you’re actually supposed to turn up (although, in retrospct, probably just the time stipulated on the invitation…) and I was just a bit flustered, in all honesty. We were asked if we were friends of Laura’s and I kind of panicked and just spluttered, “I’m on the list??!?!”
And I wanted to face palm as soon as I said it. Like, really, who do I think I am, Mariah Carey?
Fast forward about an hour. The upstairs section of the Waterstones was filling up, the processco was flowing, and I needn’t have been worried about a thing. I had Vicky and Alex there as my security blankets, however I ran into so many familiar faces, and met so many fabulous new people. It was honestly so enlightening to meet so many likeminded souls, who were either avid readers, writers or just superfans of Laura, like I. She really has a wonderfully magic way of bringing the best people together to share her creative space, does Laura.
When it got to Laura and her editor, Briony, doing their speeches about the birth of Ice Cream for Breakfast, it was honestly such a moving experience. Following Laura on mediums such as Twitter and Instagram, I kind of already knew about how the whole thing came about. This time last year, she was feeling like all kinds of burnout, depressed, anxious, unable to laugh anymore, and needed to learn how to be happy again. So she took a part time job nannying three little girls from North London, who ended up teaching her so many things about life, and herself.
Even though I knew about burnout, the nannying, the inception of Ice Cream, I was still so moved by Laura’s speech. Maybe because there’s something about hearing someone’s struggle out loud, and how she got a little choked up while reading her notes… it just tugged at my heart a little. I felt so truly and wholly happy. Of how well she’s doing, of how proud she was of her second book, and that, somehow, I was present in celebrating her special night.
I don’t know, it just took me to a place, and I felt so happy and so lucky to be living in that moment in time, around people who champion and support Laura, so much so that she was moved to tears. I thought, “If she’s okay, then I will be okay, too.”
I’ve since finished reading Ice Cream for Breakfast, and honestly guys, it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s so different from Becoming, in that it’s an ‘advice’ book, I guess. But it’s not preachy or stuffy or patronising – it feels like you’re sitting with a mate, over coffee or cocktails, and they’re just telling it to you straight. To stop worrying about what other people think, to dream big, laugh loudly and unashamedly, and dance in the aisles.
I read the whole thing with a great big smile on my face because it made me feel so warm and nice. This is honestly a gem, a little piece of magic that everyone will feel a little bit better for having in their lives. However you’re feeling, wherever you are in life right now, you are bound to take something away from this book. I defy anyone not to fall a little bit in love with Laura after reading this book.
It’s been my dream to write for pretty much ever, to get thoughts from my head onto a page, and see my name on the spine of a book. Following Laura’s journey through social media, and having the privillege to not only meet her but be taught by her, has no word of a lie, changed my life. When I came out of her first workshop back in November, I felt like I was reborn, ready to take the world by the horns and show them that yes, I am a damned talented writer and yes, you will see my name printed on books for years to come. She has given me the confidence to be unabashedly proud of my dream, and there’s honestly nothing I can say or do that will give justice to the impact she has had on my life, in the past six months especially.
I guess this little blog post will have to do.
So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Thank you, Laura.