This post is from my newsletter that launched yesterday. Since I only announced it on Friday, I thought I’d publish the first one on my blog as well, so that you all have a chance to take a look and see if it’s something you’d be into. If not, that’s fine, I’ll still also be posting on my blog on the (somewhat) regular. This is the only other I’ll be posting a newletter to the blog though, so if you like it, make sure you subscribe.
the gratitiude journal – 1. rejection.
I think it’s easy, particularly when going through some form of mental illness, to get bogged down with the negatives in life. I don’t consider myself a pessimistic person, but I definitely more often than not focus on the bad, when I really want to embrace positivity and optimism instead. Because life is so full of good, and the good doesn’t always have to be big. No, good things can be as simple as a blue sky, a hearty meal, a bus that’s on time, or a ladybird landing on your arm (side note – I’m going to see the Lady Bird at the cinema tonight at 40% off a ticket, which is something be both excited and grateful for).
Why am I suddenly chronicling my journey of gratitude? As I briefly mentioned on my subscribe page, I came across a small journal titled ‘Okay fine, I’m grateful!’ when wandering around the Waterstone’s in Guildford, and it triggered a very vivid memory of an Instagram hashtag from a few years back. Anyone remember #100happydays? People would use it to post something that made them happy everyday. Now, I’ve never been good at doing things consistently (particularly when it comes to IG), but coming across this journal made me realise how I want to start practising gratitude and #pma (that’s positive mental attitude) in my daily life again.
So this is how it’s gonna go down: every other Sunday morning, this newsletter is going to land in your inbox for you to devour. Feel free to skim, pick bits out, or read the whole thing. I’m gonna start off with the dailies (the entries from my IRL gratitude journal), move onto the main event (which could tie-in with my daily entries, encapsulate a reoccurring theme, or be something else entirely), then I’ll leave you with my faves, cheesily titled can i dig it? (books, podcasts, films, blogs, Insta accounts etc etc that I’ve been loving). But since this newsletter is still a wee babeh, the layout could still change. We’ll feel it out and see what works.
Thank you all so much for subscribing, I’m so happy to have you here.
tuesday 20th feb 2018
Today I am grateful for good books and good coffee. I am grateful for the instant calmness instilled in me when wandering around a bookshop – the rows and rows of colourful spines and the millions and worlds and words behind them. I am grateful for books being one of the cheapest and most accessible pieces of art, and I am grateful for my journey to becoming the writer I want to be.
wednesday 21st feb 2018
Today I am grateful for finding a part-time job that I love, can easily schedule around uni, and is a good fit for me. I am grateful that everything fell into place, from applying, to my interview, to my first day. I am grateful for staying open and optimistic and not second-guessing myself and my abilities. I am grateful for my kind bosses and colleagues who trust me and respect my process.
thursday 22nd feb 2018
I am proud of myself for taking a negative situation – my recent diagnosis of lactose intolerance – and spinning it into a positive – veganism. I am grateful for trusting myself and taking myself seriously enough to adapt to this new lifestyle. I know it won’t be easy all of the time, but with kindness and an open mind, I can be an excellent vegan. I am also grateful for plenty of vegan options at Tesco, and for a full fridge and freezer of food that wont give me a stomach ache.
saturday 24th feb 2018
I am so glad that I don’t have to work in a pub anymore. Last night was my last shift. No more hours on my feet, no more demanding old women with ‘can I speak to the manager’ haircuts, no more late nights and lousy tips. Never say never (because you never know where life will take you), but I hope last night was the last time I’ve ever had to work in the service industry again.
the main event – rejection.
Back in September, while in limbo from quitting my full-time London job and waiting to start my Master’s degree, I was scrolling through Twitter and stumbled across something retweeted by one of the many writers I follow. It was a competition, started collaboratively by a charity, Gingerbread, and The Pool, calling for stories about single parents, from those who are or have been raised by them.
It seemed serendipitous, not only because I was raised by a wonderfully strong single mother, but because I am currently in the process of writing a novel about a young single father. So I took to my keyboard, with more motivation than ever, and furiously typed away those first 5,000 words, tweaking and adding and editing along the way. I also put together a synopsis and author bio, and by the time the December deadline came, I was ready to submit. I had workshopped my novel to various friends and classmates and professors, and I was confident that what I had was a worthy contender.
By mid-January, I got the news: I, unfortunately, was not shortlisted.
I won’t lie, that completely sucked, and I felt really down. I had pinned my hopes up on this one thing for months and months, and it felt crushing to not even be considered for the top ten. I kept this information to myself for a long time. I told everyone who would listen about this competition, so to reveal that my entry didn’t make it felt all too embarrassing. I felt like I had ‘failed’, that I wasn’t ‘good enough’. That maybe my novel wasn’t ready for the world.
But then something stirred in me. I realised: actually, maybe my novel isn’t ready for the world yet.
Though I had workshopped it before, and received some overwhelmingly positive feedback, there are some things about the story that I haven’t quite figured out. Some creases to iron out. Not just plotwise – I need to sit with my characters for a bit. Really get to know them. I had the immense pleasure to study under famous author Monica Ali last year, and she mentioned that characters are the most important part of any story, and that you really need to know them inside and out before your story can really take flight. So that’s what I’m gonna do.
So maybe being rejected was a good thing. Because it doesn’t make the story I’m writing any less valuable, and it’s certainly no reflection on me as a writer. It shouldn’t deter me from carrying on with it (and it really shouldn’t anyway – since I’ll be submitting 15,000 words of the novel towards my final project/dissertation at the end of my course in September). I just need to learn to walk, before I can run.
can i dig it?
podcasts – anything with Dolly Alderton. I’m completely obsessed with her since finishing her book, Everything I Know About Love. Apart from the obvious choice (The High Low, which she co-hosts with the wonderful Pandora Sykes), some of my faves include her mini series Love Stories (the latest episode with Bryony Gordon is a particular cracker), and her episode in The Independent’s podcast, Millennial Love.
books – I mean, you’ve already guessed it. Everything I Know About Love was a visceral read. But something I’ve been dipping in and out of for the past few weeks is Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. Sure, I’m not the target demo, but I’ve so been enjoying reading about so many wonderful women in history, past and present, who changed the world as we know it. And the artwork! All those stunning portraits – so wonderful.
films – I went to the cinema for the first time in forever to see The Shape of Water, and it blew my tiny mind. For those who haven’t seen it, my friend Lucy describes it best: it’s like Amelie, but if she fell in love with a fish man. It’s strange, it’s beautiful, it’s magical, and pleeaaaseee go see it before it gets taken off the bill.
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