Shedding A Skin
There was a big old supermoon this week, but I won’t lie - I missed it. Writing, feeding the babe and watching Succession (omg so good) took up the whole evening, and I went to bed without realising there was something cool to see outside. That’s what happens when your work/life balance gets a bit top heavy, but although I’m out of sync with the lunar rhythms at the moment, I’m deep in the clutches of summer and her mega energy. Summer is all about abundance and I am feeeeeling it, which is useful while I’m trying to finish this book. If you’re an Alan Partridge fan, the best way I can describe my brain right now is fizzy. (Pop, pop, pop.) I am productive and motivated, but at the same time I feel like I’m in the middle of a weeks-long epiphany, and that’s no bad thing. I go to bed with a fizzy brain and I wake up with a fizzy brain. And in the process, I’m coming to terms with a few home truths about my creative practice.
I suppose the best way of explaining it is like a snake shedding its skin. They do this in order to grow and remove harmful parasites, and I can’t help feeling like I’m in the process of growing somehow. I’ve spent the last ten years building a career in nature writing (and illustration), and I’ve loved it all. But I think I might have also boxed myself in with the label. Or maybe even the branding? The sucky thing about living in this world is the constant discourse around your brand, marketing, identity. To show up online, you have to be consistent, you have to work on your brand identity. And hey, it’s not all nonsense. I get it. But I think too many years of it has constricted my professional identity, and actually, although nature will always weave itself into my work, I kind of want to try something new. Novels, short stories, kids’ books; different styles, genres and textures of writing and illustration. I’m starting to recognise how I’ve changed in the last decade and how my work is changing, and I want to give myself permission to explore other pathways.
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Nothing much will change on this end. Nature is at the heart of everything I do, and I love making a living from writing books, designing things and writing this newsletter. But I am (once again, change the record) trying to grapple with the toxicity of social media, an ongoing battle I am determined to win. And I’m starting to work out which parts of my work I want to move forward with, and which parts are tied to an old skin. I’m writing lists, of course. I bloody love a list. Lists of loose threads I need to tie off and leave behind, and lists of things to carry through into the next phase. And hey, what better time than now? I have the rest of summer to shed this old skin, and then we move into the juiciest, most delicious season of them all - sweet, sweet autumn. The season of reflection and fresh beginnings, the end of an old cycle and the birth of a new one. How exciting!
A few tiny changes I’ve made this week:
I moved my website domain from Squarespace to Substack, so this is now the place to find all my recent work and updates. You guys know I love my digital minimalism, and it feels good to have everything in one place.
I permanently deleted Twitter again. The first time I did it a few years ago, it was heaven. I went nine months without any social media at all and oh, what a way to live. But the pressure of work made me return, and although I can just about cope with Instagram, I don’t know why I bothered starting Twitter again. It sucked before, and now Elon ‘The Dick’ Musk is in charge it’s quite frankly a bizarre place to be.
I set up Meta business suite in my ongoing attempt to utilise social media without being so addicted to it. It’s the latest in a series of attempts to do this, so I won’t get my hopes up, but who knows? Maybe this is the key to a lovelier existence offline!
I have lots of exciting plans forming which I’m trying to ignore slightly so I can finish my book (which I’m also really excited about!) but there are cool things coming that I can’t wait to share, so thank you for sticking with me while I ramble my way through some changes. I hope you’re all enjoying the cooler summer weather (and rain!) we’ve been having this week. My pumpkin plants are now forming actual pumpkins and it’s difficult to express how thrilled I am.
Something I Made: The Poppy Bloom Organic Tote
When I started Papaver, I wanted to create items that were timeless and versatile so they were less likely to contribute to our throwaway culture. This is why all my designs are printed onto organic cotton tote bags, because who dares claim they have enough tote bags? Liars, that’s who. These totes have a lovely, quality feel to them - perfect for everything from Tesco shops to text books.
Something I’m Reading: The Secret Life of a Woodland Habitat: Life Through the Seasons by Chloé Valerie Harmsworth
This beautiful book was written by my talented friend, the writer and illustrator Chloé. I meant to share it in the spring but everything was a bit hectic, and I wanted to let you guys know how much I’ve been enjoying it. It’s a wonderful guide to British woodlands and all the life within them, accompanied by Chloé’s amazing photographs and evocative writing. Woodlands are my favourite outdoor spaces because they always feel like shelter, and this is a book I’ll be diving into time and again.