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.

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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.)