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!

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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.

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:
    20180110_133843518_iOS
    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