Ymlaen!: Onwards and upwards (Ymlaen Week 24)

This is my final Ymlaen blog post. I could go on about how much it’s meant to me for years, but I’m going to take this opportunity to thank the humans, to thank everyone who has helped make the placement an unforgettable experience. Big shout out to the following:


Dan Spain

Dan has been indispensable. I will state the obvious: There would be no placement without him! But from the moment I met him for my Ymlaen interview, he’s been so supportive and thoughtful. I can’t even attempt to pin down everything he’s done, but I can say I’m wholeheartedly grateful for the opportunity he helped see into being. Lucent Dreaming wouldn’t be what it is without him, and I wouldn’t have met all the wonderful people I’ve met without all the wonderful things he’s put in place.


Amy Pay

Amy has been my Rabble mentor and has pushed Lucent Dreaming to be more than I ever dared imagine. From suggesting I make a sample issue, to suggesting I hold a launch event, she’s helped make Lucent Dreaming real! Not to mention she knows exactly what to say and how to help me reframe my worries when it comes to the emotional/mental strain of running a new business.


Kayleigh Mcleod and Sara Pepper (Creative Cardiff)

Sara and Kayleigh are magic. I don’t know how they manage to do all the things they do and still have time to look out for me and support my creative business, but they do. Kayleigh especially has been such a blessing. She’s been invaluable with the launch, helping it be the best it can be and immortalising it on the Creative Cardiff website. But way before that, with everything from social media to short story contest hosting, she’s been available to chat and offer advice when I really needed it.


Claire Parry-Witchell and Sean Hoare (Cardiff University Enterprise and Start-Up)

Claire and Sean have not only helped put me in touch with other business advice services like Mark Adams from Big Ideas Wales, but have given me wonderful opportunities. The seed funding I received from them got Lucent Dreaming to print and they also gave me the opportunity to talk at a Start-up Accelerator event, something I would never have anticipated a year ago.


Mike Palmer

Lucent Dreaming wouldn’t look so polished were it not for Mike! And it probably wouldn’t have got up the stairs to Rabble either. 100 copies of Lucent Dreaming are pretty heavy. I’m also super grateful for all the tea he made me pretty much every day for four months leading up to the launch (until he left!)


Sarah Millman

Sarah inspires me. She taught me what to look out for when it comes to printers, which helped immensely for my print run, but she is so creative, talented and focused. I aspire to do the kind of stuff she does. She brings joy to people with her art!


Marc Thomas

Marc has encouraged me to think about doing business differently, to be radical with business models, to think outside of the box with things like advertising, and to carve out my brand identity more than spend energy competing with others.


Ffion Williams

Ffion is wonderful. She’d only recently joined Rabble around the time I was gearing up for my launch, but she still gave me a card to wish me luck and I still look at it today because it makes me smile. I appreciate her wisdom and encouragement when it comes to being part of the creative industries, not knowing what’s coming next when dabbling in several creative things.


Alex Crowley

This is very straightforward. I want to thank Alex for being the hand model for my notebook. He helped make one of my childhood dreams come true!


Matt Sullivan

Matt Sullivan has done the important job of indirectly encouraging me to focus on my side project: writing a novel. He also critiqued my Lucent Dreaming business cards (although I didn’t follow his advice about including contact info and that was probably a mistake), but more importantly than the above, he joined me when I was craving Wagamamas!


Chris Jenkins

Chris once helped me fix the scrollbars and transparency on my website. He’s also mentioned trying to teach me Spanish, but what I’m most grateful for is that his sense of humour is as dark as mine so I always have someone at Rabble to talk to about the kind of skin present in hand-finished cakes.


Helia Phoenix

Helia has been super supportive and so lovely. She’s helped me understand my own vision for my life and encouraged me to make the most of the skills I have. To have the perspective of someone who has a similar attitude to working life was so valuable. It’s reassuring to hear that it’s actually good to spend time doing what I want to do and that it might lead to doing the kind of work I want to be paid for.


I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch of people on this list, but I’m truly grateful for all of you reading. The Ymlaen placement has given me direction, made me understand my skills and truly changed my life, if only in terms of all the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. I’m especially grateful to everyone at Rabble Studio. You are all awesome and I’d be poorer without you.


Thank you to everyone who brought the Ymlaen placement into existence. I hope it continues beyond its pilot year! It’s been an honour being its first recipient. If you want to know about my full placement at Rabble Studio, click for more information!


Coming to the end of Ymlaen!: Reflecting on my six month placement at Rabble Studio (Ymlaen Week 22)

I am coming to the end of my Ymlaen placement and it’s very sad and emotional, folks! If there’s one thing I’m taking away from the experience, it’s how at home Rabble makes everyone feel. It doesn’t take long for people to become part of the furniture and I’ll be really sad to go. So sad. Or I would be except that I’ve decided to stay! At least for the next three months.  I know I was supposed to write blog posts every month but April and May turned out to be very busy. With the launch of Lucent Dreaming at the end of April and all the subsequent post-launch meetings and follow-ups (not forgetting opening for issue 2 submissions!) it’s been hard to find a moment to really reflect on everything that has happened.


The launch, by the way, went really well. Better than I could ever have expected. I think that’s down to everyone who attended. I’m super grateful to all the supportive people who helped mark the occasion. It was wonderful having 52 (yes, 52!) guests share the excitement of Lucent Dreaming. The only downside was that it had to end! You can read all about the launch from these wonderful people: Alys Jones from Creative Cardiff and Taylor Edmonds, one of Lucent Dreaming’s published poets.


But staying at Rabble! It’s so exciting. Obviously my main plan is to continue publishing Lucent Dreaming, but the reason I’m staying at Rabble is to start other personal projects in a supportive environment. Having published issue 1, the pressure isn’t off, of course. But the process to publication is much more streamlined than when I began. I have a template now!


I’ve learnt a lot during these six months. The Ymlaen placement was the chance to develop my creative practice with a view to starting a business. I think I’ve managed a bit of both. The one thing I’ve not managed to do is complete my side project: writing a novel! Instead, I’ve taken up knitting again and started writing poems. But I’ve learnt how to get things ready to print, how to typeset a full magazine; I know a little more about how to use Adobe Illustrator. And there’s a lot of little things that have happened along the way that are just bonuses.


I’ve learnt how to hold an audience (kinda). I’ve had to trust my own drawing skills because I had to illustrate the first issue of Lucent Dreaming myself. And I’m still learning so much now. I had the opportunity recently to make a logo for ECA Survival, a new podcast launching in November. These might all seem like small things, but on a personal level they’re huge. When you’re not used to it, it’s actually a crazy concept that people would pay you to produce stuff you already like producing.


Anyway, I’d be failing to make this a typical post if there wasn’t a list. So, here are the big things I’ve learnt over the last six months that I think are great reminders for everything you do in life:


  1. Working towards something is great, but finding and working on stuff you actually like (even a little bit) is so much more fulfilling.

    Don’t deny yourself time working on the fun stuff! It will only improve everything else you do.

  2. Making up stuff as an adult is as important as when you’re a child.

    For many reasons, creativity becomes structured by the time we reach a certain age. It’s no longer about making up your own games with your own rules, but playing other people’s games by other people’s rules. I think it’s a grand shame we don’t make up more of our own games. The incredible thing is that as adults we have so many more resources to do what we actually like. And yet we just don’t. (But we really, really should.)

  3. Saying no to things you don’t want to do is good practice.

    It’s really easy for people to direct you down the path they want you to take rather than the one that you want to take. The wonderful thing about my placement was that I was never pushed into doing anything I didn’t want to do. The onus was on me to make the decisions I felt would benefit me most.

  4. Downtime is time well spent.

    You really shouldn’t feel guilty about taking a break and having your own version of downtime. Whether that’s as simple as sleeping, or watching your favourite (trashy) tv show, gardening, doing somersaults, it’s all good! There’s inspiration in everything. You need to do all that other stuff to refresh yourself for your working life! Work/life balance, you know?

  5. Don’t believe society when it says you should be in a constant state of worry.

    Yes, last but not least, figure out what it is you can control and what you can’t control. Worrying hardly changes anything, but working on the stuff you can control will. You don’t have to put the whole world on your shoulders. Often, being kind to and supportive of the people around you makes the world an infinitely better place.


There are many people I’d like to thank for helping me get so far, but I will leave that for my final post!

If you want a little bit of an intro to how Lucent Dreaming started, I wrote a post for We Are Cardiff! And you can find out all about my Ymlaen placement here.

2018 Goals

We are hours away from 2018 and the feeling of newness and hope is electric to me in ways it hasn’t been for a long time. The past few years I’ve been gunged in university deadlines and the gunge was quite distracting. I felt I had no time to pause and consider what I want aside from the very potent desire for the deadlines to be gone. This December I’m freer. I have (for the large part) only my own deadlines to consider, my own wants, ambitions and goals. But I have to remember something I didn’t know in 2014 (the last time I made real goals). I have to remember that many great things happen by accident. Everything I want to achieve isn’t necessarily what I need to achieve. And, even more than that, I cannot be overwhelmed by inevitable disappointments whatever happens. Almost everything is temporary.


My friend suggested I break my goals down into daily, weekly and monthly goals but this post is a general and abridged list of what I want to be, to do and to accomplish. The specifics will come later when I stop abandoning my laptop to consume books.


Abridged goals for 2018


  1. Write a draft of a novel
  2. Write a collection of poetry
  3. Write and submit a PhD application
  4. Be unafraid (of continuing to be frank and of trying things)
  5. Read 20 new books
  6. Launch first issue of Lucent Dreaming
  7. Establish Lucent Dreaming as a business
  8. Visit new places
  9. Only buy things you actually *love*
  10. Give everything you don’t actually use/love/require to charity


I think these are plenty to start with. I’ll go into detail about sections of my goals as they become relevant. My general plan is to write a poem every day, about 3 pages or 1000 words of any sort of prose a day, to read for half an hour on the train and/or before bed, and to spend about 3 hours every weekday on promoting and creating promotional content for Lucent Dreaming (and learning how to use photoshop and suchlike).


Although I wanted to say something insightful about goal-making and resolutions, everyone feels their own way about things like this. For some people, new year’s day is just another day and the new year is just another year, but I think ignoring markers of change and milestones gives little time for reflection. It’s only from reflection you can assess change and as much as I hate change, it’s valuable (and none of the above are particularly dramatic). This is all growth, growth I’ve keenly awaited. I hope I continue to find these goals meaningful, and if not, that they are replaced with things that will benefit the world as much as they might benefit me. (To love and to look after things are probably amongst the most meaningful things you can do.)