Ymlaen Placement Week 1
Short update: My first week has been a blast. And by that I mean it’s been so uplifting and good to spend time again around people who are creative, friendly and welcoming.
If this is awfully vague, let me explain:
Not-so-short update: In November (2017), I saw some tweets advertising a collaboration between Creative Cardiff and Rabble Studio for graduates looking for six months of funded desk space at Rabble Studio with mentoring from Cardiff University’s Enterprise team. I read the description, felt an unmistakable “that-sounds-amazing” twinge, but put off thinking about it seriously a whole week—because surely I wouldn’t get it anyway—until the day of the deadline where I thought, Well, yes, I won’t get it, but yes, I should apply. I need mentoring. I have no idea how to run a successful business, but these people do.
The coworking desk space was, in my eyes, a bonus. Who wouldn’t love to have the opportunity to meet more people and make new friends? Who wouldn’t love a space of their own? So, yes, excitement about cool people and desiring expert knowledge forced me to apply. So, I did. I went to an interview (and it overran by about 20 minutes), and later that week I heard I got it. I am the first Ymlaen placement and I’m working on setting up my own online creative writing magazine Lucent Dreaming. And that is where I am now!
This past week was the first of my placement and it’s already been so insightful. I’ve learnt so much about humanity, Cardiff, food and creativity. That being so, I thought it’d be worthwhile to log a couple of the things I’ve learnt and then go into some detail about why it’s been valuable:
Things I have learnt
How to make crackers
By crackers I mean the ones often eaten with cheese. It’s easier than you think apparently. It’s one of those things that makes a person realise, wait, there are all these skills waiting for me to learn them, so why don’t I?
What makes someone lovely
What makes people wonderful to be around is their ability to be open to other people, to conversation and to friendship; to take into consideration other people’s needs; and, really, to just be interested. There are lots of people in the world who, although very lovely to their own people, are not (or perhaps cannot) be as interested in others. This means their eyes glaze over amongst strangers and they feel they have only time for themselves. They are content with their lot.
But I think that closes you off to so many opportunities. Being interested means good listening, and good listening means thoughtfulness and thoughtfulness is great for the world. Everyone I’ve met so far in and around this placement has been so thoughtful and open to conversation. I can’t recommend the experience of meeting them enough! I also cannot recommend being the kind of person who is open and thoughtful enough either. It’s worthwhile!
The importance of coworking space and coworking management
I arrived at the studio expecting it’d be much like a normal office where everyone is plugged into their work and conversation is minimal, but it’s a different feeling altogether. There is nothing… stifling. There is community and communication and conversation and lots of offers of tea and coffee. I was fortunate enough to sit in on a Coworking Collective meeting this Friday (the collective to be officially launched, I believe, in February). The meeting comprised of a bunch of fantastic people who manage coworking spaces and it made me realise how important management really is to their success, and the success of their spaces.
Without the community encouraged and curated by the people who run coworking spaces, they wouldn’t last. If not for community, there would be no opportunity for collaboration, for something as simple as understanding the work of the person sat beside you, or on the other side of the room, for utilising their expertise, for learning and progress. It goes back to being thoughtful and interested too. The people at this meeting seemed to genuinely care about the well-being of their members as well as other stakeholders, including the city of Cardiff as a whole.
You must know what it feels like to be around people who are warm. Or people who are genuinely interested in your well-being. You must once have felt the opposite? An ice-cold, or even lukewarm reception stifles the heart, I’m sure of it. It dismantles relationships and slowly erodes any sense of well-being. It’s true that if you don’t feel respected or valued, you don’t work as keenly, nor as enthusiastically as you otherwise might. I think attending this meeting (and being welcome to join) showed that in successful coworking places, beyond a financial co-dependency, there’s this mutual value and caring between the people using the coworking offices and the people who run them. Of course, mutual respect and value have the same effects elsewhere; showing you care about people and their lives just makes the world a better place.
Valuing your own time as a creative person!
My first week has seen the revival of drawing:
I’ve not drawn anything seriously for years. This might not seem significant, but it came alongside a mental shift. I’m finally feeling the value of creative work. During my first official mentoring meeting yesterday with Dan Spain (founder of Rabble Studio) and Sara Pepper (Director of Creative Economy at Cardiff University), I learnt how to make the most of social media scheduling in order to free up time for learning new creative skills, e.g. how to use Adobe After Effects. Now I’m appreciating just how much time I can reroute towards (re-)learning creative skills.
In fact, one of the discussions in the studio this week was about people and prospective clients (unknowingly) undervaluing creative work. However, what was interesting about this discussion was its subsequent consensus among some of the Rabble about self-doubt. Asserting the value of your time and creative energy are valuable in the long run, but in an apparently saturated digital world where virtually (no pun intended) every skill is accessible, we have to remind ourselves it’s not just surface-level skill or expertise people are expending, it’s creative thought and it’s time, both of which are difficult to truly compensate.
This has been my week! I hope it made for interesting reading. I intend to make a blog post every month on my progress during the placement. Click for more information about Ymlaen and what I’m working on at Rabble Studio!