We’re having a print run!: The Dramatic Benefits of Mentoring, Friendships and Funding (Ymlaen Week 6)

Ymlaen Placement Week 6

Short update: WE ARE OPEN FOR PREORDERS. I REPEAT, WE ARE NOW OPEN FOR PREORDERS. These are words I never thought I’d type. I’m a month and a half into my six month Ymlaen placement at Rabble Studio and by some extraordinary turn of events (mainly advice, encouragement and a little bit of expertise) Lucent Dreaming is going to become a print magazine, at least for its first issue!

Not-so-short update: Three important things have happened since my last blog post which have propelled Lucent Dreaming, my very online independent creative writing magazine, towards print publication.


Important things that have happened:

  1. I’ve had mentoring from one of Rabble’s finest, Amy Pay, as well as Dan Spain, founder of Rabble Studio.
  2. I’ve had 1-2-1 sessions with Kayleigh McCleod of Creative Cardiff and Claire Parry-Witchell from Cardiff University’s Enterprise and Start-Up team.
  3. Together, all this conversation and expertise has given me much-needed direction. Amy Pay and Dan Spain have helped give my nebulous idea of a magazine some substance and reality. Kayleigh has given me indirect confidence to plug Lucent Dreaming and Lucent Dreaming’s short story contest to everyone on the planet, and Claire is helping me reach a place where I can call Lucent Dreaming a business.

There are other smaller things that have led to this point too. But I don’t know how to write about it logically, so please excuse any forthcoming incoherence.


Deciding to print

In my first mentoring meeting in January with Amy Pay, freelance journalist and content creator, we discussed how to manage social media (which also means managing the Lucent Dreaming “brand”) and how I could possibly monetise a magazine that was giving out its content for free.


Side question: Why was/am I giving Lucent Dreaming out for free?

I started Lucent Dreaming as a free online creative writing magazine. I wanted emerging writers to gain visibility and that’s much more difficult when there’s a paywall. Lucent Dreaming is still going to be available for free online whether or not it continues to be printed!


Anyway, just talking about the magazine with multiple people since I’ve arrived at Rabble has made me realise the idea behind Lucent Dreaming is very much about writers more than readers. I’ve always been more of a listener than a speaker. There is undeniable value in listening (and being listened to). Listening and reading have shaped who I am, and I want to keep listening to and reading the things humans choose to express, especially writers, and day-to-day dreamers, anyone with their imaginations and humanity turned on. If that is at the heart of why I’m making a magazine, then it is no limitation that I am focusing on writers. The readers will come, I hope. They’ll read and engage with Lucent Dreaming if the writing is compelling and thoughtful. But it’s getting those writers to be confident enough to share their ideas and work with any sort of publication that is the hard part. Fortunately, I discussed this in my session with Amy.


Amy suggested that with social media content, I focus on writing prompts and writing exercises.  Give, give, give and then things start coming back. So, I’ve recently been giving my energy to rewarding writing and engagement. That ultimately led to hosting a free to enter short story contest. The contest is to encourage writers to take the first step towards publication. There is something far less scary about submitting to a contest compared with submitting to a magazine. This is where talking to Kayleigh was so beneficial. She came by Rabble for a chat about online marketing and suggested I tag everyone I can in contest tweets and contact universities. Well! That was an adventure in itself. I emailed almost all the universities I could find on UCAS who have undergraduate creative writing courses. It was a good call.


But, contest aside, I still had no idea how to make Lucent Dreaming a business. How could I generate any money if submissions were free and the magazine was free to read online? Amy suggested I consider having an online directory where people can pay to be listed, have ad space in the magazine or perhaps reach out for sponsorship. I’ve gladly kept all these routes to revenue at the back of my mind. They’ll come up later. One other thing that really helped push Lucent Dreaming from idea to reality was Amy’s suggestion I create a sample issue (which we are currently working on) as well as having a launch event.


The launch event idea was significant. It got me thinking seriously about printing. I was having a catch-up with friends (Mikey and Caitlin) and Mikey really encouraged having printed stuff for people to take away from the launch. I wanted stuff to take away for myself too. In January I had a couple of Lucent Dreaming badges made as a little token of appreciation for my Lucent editors, and having that physical representation of the idea (it was only a badge featuring the logo), made Lucent Dreaming feel so real. And having a printed magazine can only increase that! The only conceivable problem was money.


Fortunately, I have two things on my side. Humans at Rabble who have printed things before and know the most cost-effective printing companies, and seed funding provided by Enterprise and Start-Up at Cardiff University and Santander Universities as part of my Ymlaen placement, enough to cover my travel costs, an Adobe subscription and now a 50 copy print run of the magazine. Dan pointed me to an affordable printing company and so far I’ve received a paper sample pack and am working on choosing the length and quality of the print magazine. It’s so exciting!


I’m operating on the assumption that the magazine might have only one issue. Maybe it won’t reach the 37-ish subscribers I need to keep a print magazine running, and if it doesn’t, I want this printed copy to look beautiful anyway. I’m going to make sure it’s the best quality I can afford so I can keep it, look back and be proud.


Having reached this ‘we’re-going-to-print’ stage, Lucent Dreaming has opened for preorders and it’s such a surreal feeling. We’re also taking donations to help fund distribution of the magazine to authors published in the issue, and a slightly bigger print run. Donors names are printed at the back of the magazine as an incentive. So, if you’re reading this and fancy being immortalised in name only at the British Library, donate today! We’re also holding a launch event at Rabble Studio on April 28th at 4pm. More details about that coming soon!


I will end this blog post with this: with an idea and supportive people on your side, it’s incredible how much can happen in a very short amount of time.

Click for more information about Ymlaen and what I’m working on at Rabble Studio!




Why choose coworking spaces?: Creativity, Well-being and Loveliness (Ymlaen Week 1)

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

  1. 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?

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!



Our New Creative Writing Magazine is Open for Submissions — Lucent Dreaming

Many moons ago, before the summer slung itself haphazard over the shoulders of Britons, and as easily fell away, my friends and I dreamt up a new creative writing magazine. The journey to launch has been an interesting one. Frankly, of course, we have no idea what we’re doing. And I imagine that will be the case for several months. Writing my dissertation interspersed (or swallowed up) the summer, so all the back-to-school feelings I’m deprived of this year have been channelled into this: Lucent Dreaming. It’s still under construction, but we’re open for submissions.

I’m seeing it as an opportunity to test our creativity, more than anything. We’re living, and have both the skills and enough knowledge to create something like this. Why did we not before? And for our prospective writers (who I dearly hope exist), it’s an opportunity to enter the market and publish stories that might thematically not have a foothold elsewhere. Unfortunately, we don’t have the funds to pay anyone yet, except maybe in Amazon gift cards, but we’re looking into things. I just hope it goes well, if not great. I’d like to put forward entertaining and interesting writing in a beautiful way.

And! if you have read this far, please do share this post with your creative writer friends. We’d really like to get the word out far. It’s NaNoWriMo and so many writers come out of the woodwork to give a stab at novel-writing that there are surely just as many who write, tell or enjoy short stories.


We are now open for fiction submissions! Non-fiction and art submission dates TBC.

via Lucent Dreaming is Open for Submissions — Lucent Dreaming

Getting an MA in English Literature

After what seems like several months of confusion and doubt, I submitted and eventually received my result for my MA dissertation. Bunch that together with my essays, and I have a full MA degree in English Literature. OH MY GOODNESS. I did it. I accomplished the thing I so excitedly set out to do.

But there is one thing I should regret and am subsequently going to rectify: I wrote no kind of acknowledgement in my dissertation. I didn’t want to attach any names to the piece of writing I hadn’t any pride in, so I avoided the attempt. Weeks later, and the fact remains the same. I don’t take much pride in the content, but the effort and the energy warrants my elation, and I buckled and included a few names anyway.

So, here it is:


I could not have got so far, so unobstructed and so inspired, without my friends who believed and my family who encouraged. Thank you Isobel and Isobel’s mum Liz for your love and books, Emmalees for pushing me to be my best and Caitlin for telling me I am more. Thank you to my unofficial J Club who know me best, make me laugh and listen to me complain, even now.

Thank you to Cardiff University for giving me a scholarship, without which I wouldn’t have been able to study. I reserve the rest of my undying gratitude for Cardiff University’s Open Access team who let me write during working hours, to my teachers who kept me dreaming, and to my lecturers and my supervisor for their unwavering understanding and support. Thank you.

What now? Well, after spending a year writing about 36k words for the MA, I’m going to try writing a novel (double the amount of words) in one year. Let’s see how that goes. I’m also recovering from a cold I got the day I had my dissertation result. So, a party all round. I’m also spending the year reading *some* of the things I’ve kept on the reading list for the past 4 years and not had time to enjoy! And there are some other exciting things to be announced, so look out. 😀