Another update!

Hello there! Long time, no speak. Yet again I have let this blog fall by the wayside a bit, but I can assure you there are very good reasons for doing so.

Last time I wrote, I was in the thick of my internship at the exquisitely ebullient little hub that is CityMag. I was there for about ten weeks in the end, researching and cold-calling and interviewing and tap tapping away on stories. That experience was a real eye-opener to the fast-paced world of journalism and really helped me sharpen my writing, as well as forcing me to not be so precious about how and what I write due to the speedy turnaround times for online publication. Funnily enough I ended up with a few articles about local eco-fashion businesses (read them here and here), which was really thought-provoking for me.

I’m most proud of the last couple of articles I wrote, which were way out of my comfort zone in terms of content and also presenting myself as a professional journo (which I guess you could say I am now… but more on that later). After a bit of a double-booking kerfuffle one afternoon, I was asked if I could help out by covering the launch of JamFactory‘s new furniture line. I thought I’d pop down to their Light Square workshops with a photographer, ask one of the designers a few quick questions and then just write up a very general, “LOOK AT THIS COOL STUFF” kind of article… But Josh and I arrived to find that we were in fact getting a bit of an exclusive sneak peek before the rest of Adelaide’s media, and that I’d get to interview all of the designers as well as Jon Goulder, Head of Furniture, and CEO Brian Parkes. No biggie. I was terrified but threw myself in anyway, and the article got a great response, even from JamFactory themselves, so that felt really lovely. Interviewing some of Adelaide’s best emerging health and medical professionals from SAHMRI was similarly daunting, but was also completely fascinating (all three women were what you might call “kick-ass”) and again, had a really positive outcome, with the article being shared on SAHMRI’s Facebook and other platforms.

Thanks to CityMag’s partnership with InDaily, some of the articles I wrote also got picked up for InDaily’s site, so I have a contributor page with them now (squee!) and also had quite a few pieces featured in their weekly emails. Yays! I miss popping into the office and seeing these charming folks on the reg., but I do have a contribution coming up in the next print edition of CityMag (014), so I still get to be part of it all – albeit from a bit further afield now.

The main thing that’s keeping me away from town geographically is that I’ve got a new job! I’m still doing the retail thing on weekends because it’s fun and I love my workmates and I kind of never want to leave them, but now I’m a proper employed editor person, which I’m still pinching myself about. Empire Times is the student magazine at Flinders Uni, where I’m completing the final semester of my highly-prized Arts degree (you’ll be glad when I save you from the robots). One of their 2016 editors, Simone, completed her Honours mid-year and as such could no longer be a student editor so they were on the lookout for someone to step in and wrap up the second half of the year (issues 43.6-43.10). I applied, I interviewed, I pitched my heart out, I got the job and I leapt straight into the deep end. Armed with my linguistic and journalistic know-how, one InDesign lesson and the support (and patience) of my co-editors Liam and Eleanor, I’m already well into the thick of things! Issues 6 and 7 have already been released, 8 is about to be printed and today we’re starting work on 9! People keep asking me what exactly we do as editors and the answer is basically everything except the actual printing: recruiting and liaising with contributors, editing, sub-editing, graphic design, distribution, social media, writing articles ourselves, producing content for our blog… the works! It’s a lot of work, but it’s work I take great pride in doing and which brings me a lot of satisfaction and even the occasional squealy moment of joy.

Also at Uni, I’m taking a Life Writing topic, for which I get to read and study some of my favourite authors like Helen Garner and Benjamin Law (Joe Cinque’s Consolation and The Family Law, respectively). I woke up in the middle of the night and scrawled through my journal like a woman possessed; my final piece for the topic spilled out of me like it had always been there waiting for the right moment. I’m looking forward to submitting it, and I may even share it on here down the track depending on how it goes.

On the side of all of this, I’ve been doing some freelance copyediting and copywriting as a sub-contractor for Little Bird PR & Communications, which has helped me hone a whole other set of writing-related skills. Producing copy for an exhibition is very different to writing a journalistic piece, as is reducing articles to 140-character Twitter posts. Each form has its own challenges, so combining them all keeps my overactive brain occupied.

I’ve also been reading a lot of Rookie (try this article here) and Lenny (especially this) and Darling (this was pretty inspiring) and Frankie (the cover art of their current issue is a dream) and Womankind (this story about the women of the Italian mafia was fascinating given my background of studying Italian), all of which are fabulous for reassuring myself that I’m on a promising path and that I am a perfectly flawed but full and whole human being. I recently spoke to some folks from Frankie at Finders Keepers markets and they were such darls and really encouraging, so that was a nice little moment.

So, what’s next? We Empire Times editors are heading to NYWF soon, which I’m hoping will basically just be a whole weekend of stimulating conversations and speeches and… well, just a whole lot of words really! I’ve tentatively agreed to do a spoken word piece at the next Speakeasy event on campus. I’ve got about 8 weeks left of my undergraduate degree and then who knows what’s next! I’m tossing up between a few options at the moment but am open to the possibilities, and feeling more and more comfortable with the unknown.

Until next time,

Lxx

 

When Lauren Met Clare

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This post, like many I write, has been a long time coming. Over a year ago I attended an afternoon tea/discussion arvo/performance hosted by the blissful Clare Bowditch and her Big Hearted Business (no really, that’s what it’s called). A big group of ladies and a smattering of gents (that’s the correct collective noun, is it not?) gathered at the Nexus Arts Centre. I had donned my favourite big blue coat, the one that makes me feel the snuggliest and sassiest and snazziest of all the coats. I was feeling the kind of uncomfortable apprehension that usually follows closely behind me when I attend events of an even vaguely networky nature. I had been ‘lost’ for about a year and was only just starting to find my feet. I was frustrated: intellectually, emotionally, creatively, socially. I was expecting a nice afternoon out with the best of all of my friends, my Mother, some pretty songs and a good cuppa. That’s exactly what I got, and then some.

Clare spoke eloquently and dreamily all at once. It was clear she was a woman with a soaring heart and a sharp mind to back it up. As she spoke about the need for creatives to hone their business brain and business folk to think more creatively, I furiously scrawled notes in my crisp new notebook. Some of my notes were quotes from Clare, but most were ideas that sparked off in my own mind from what she said. They weren’t all great ideas – in fact most of them were pretty terrible – but there were more than there had been in over a year and they were flowing freely. The creative floodgates were open; there was no going back.

Towards the end of Clare’s speech, she opened the discussion up to questions from the audience. I had so many, and they were swirling around so quickly that I could barely catch one. But I did, and I raised my hand tentatively. Eventually it was my turn, and I asked Clare the one question that had been underlying so many of my anxieties for so long: “Where do I start?” I’m a very expressive, creative type, but also a thinker. My head and my heart are often at odds and it was holding me back. I wanted to do it all, try it all, but couldn’t pin myself down to starting one particular thing. Clare beamed back at me and laughed a knowing laugh. She told me she could relate, and that she would answer me in song. This is that song.

You want an amazing life
But you can’t decide
You think you have to be fully formed already
Don’t you?
You want an amazing life
But you can’t decide
You do not have to be just one thing
But you have to start with something

I had to start with something. I knew that already, I think, but this was confirmation. This was me seeing through my fog and choosing to start. Rather than waiting for ‘inspiration’, I had to make conscious decisions to make little efforts in one direction. And so I did. I started jotting down phrases in notebooks with no real end goal, purely for the satisfaction of writing – creating something directly from the clash of heart and brain that was already going on. I started writing about my travels, and then when I came home I started this blog. The little words of encouragement from friends and strangers alike spurred me on, and soon I started submitted my writing elsewhere. I’ve had lots of love from the ladies who edited this year’s volume of On Dit in particular. They’ve published everything from an open letter to asylum seekers to cabaret reviews to a celebration of single lady-ness constructed entirely from Beyonce and Destiny’s Child lyrics. Because even as a writer, I know that I don’t have to be just one thing, but I had to start with something. And I started on that blustery winter’s day last year, with tears in the corners of my eyes and Clare’s words echoing in my mind. So really, I have Clare to thank, but also myself. Because those words were already there, they just needed to be spoken (or sung, in this case). I think that’s all we really need sometimes, don’t you?

New series – Meet the Local

I put the call out much earlier this year for friends and fam and acquaintances alike to send me suggestions of locals they love, find inspiring or who they know are doing some cool stuff out and about in lil Radelaide. One of the very first, and most enthusiastic, suggestions that came through was from Cat from Wouldn’t it be Loverly. She said that I simply had to speak to Amanda and Dan from E for Ethel, and that I would know why as soon as I popped in for a visit.

So I did, and I did. One far too chilly afternoon in May I popped in to chat to this crafty duo and I was blown away by their warmth, their humour, their delish coffee and most of all their passion for what they do. I recorded our convo for what was to be a new bloggy venture and was giddily excited to get cracking on turning my interview into an article. And then… and then life happened. The way it does, getting in the way of our best intentions. Uni and work ramped up, I took up managing the social media for the SACWA (a gig I love, but that takes up more time than I anticipated; mostly because I love it and so want to devote so much time to it) and I got a gig writing for Hello Sunday Morning (publication imminent!). New blog got pushed to the side again and again and now I’m realistic about saying that it’s probably not going to happen, for now. Instead, I’m going to use the interviews I’ve already done as a new segment on this blog. Hopefully I’ll be able to bring more to you over the coming months, but they won’t have the consistent regularity as I had intended for the stand-alone site.

So folks, stay tuned! I’ll be bringing you my chat with with the uber-charming Amanda and Dan very, very soon. In the meantime, feel free to suggest any local lovelies you love! I’d love to hear about them, and maybe even chat to them myself soon…

Book Nook: The Wishlist

With the proliferation of digital content and e-readers and immersive media, there’s something special about holding a hard-copy book in your hands; the feel, the smell, the specialness of it all. My shelves are currently overflowing with all sorts of titles – some for study, some for leisure, some for inspiration, some I’m not even sure why I bought them. I’m hanging out for Madre to finish her Ph.D. at the end of the year so she can clean collection out a bit and maybe I’ll be able to find some spots for my ever-expanding collection on the many, many bookshelves that fill our home. I thought I’d make a little list of some of the titles that I’m currently longing for, firstly to remind myself to actually buy them, and also to (hopefully) provide a bit of inspiration for you to expand your own collection*. Here goes…

Frankie Spaces, Volume 2

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Unfortunately I missed out on getting my mitts on a copy of the first volume of Frankie’s Spaces book, so I’m desperate to get stuck into this one. I just love getting a peek into people’s homes, especially those of creative types. Those of you who know me will know how homewares-obsessed I am, which is just plain silly for someone who is unlikely to be able to move out of home for at least another five or so years. But then again, at least I know that when I move out I will know exactly how I want to decorate my own little space, with the help of this here compendium and my mother’s many, many homey mags.

My Heart Wanders – Pia Jane Bijkerk

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“What would happen if one day you decided to follow your heart? Where would it take you?” That’s the question Pia poses in her divine travel memoir/photo diary, My Heart Wanders. Now, I am not in the slightest bit a spontaneous person. I hate feelings of insecurity – in my surroundings, in my future, in myself, in those around me. Yet I often find myself drawn to all things whimsical and risk-taking and ‘follow your dreams’-y. Perhaps I do have a less sensible, logic-loving side to myself, and perhaps I should be paying more attention to it… If that’s so, this book will be my perfect source of inspiration. Click here for further glimpses inside this gorgeous little number.

What Katie Ate – Katie Quinn Davies

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I have a penchant for buying recipe books for their perceived usefulness, and then never actually using them. Katie Quinn Davies’ food photography is all kinds of lovely, so I’m hoping this book’s aesthetic appeal might actually convince me to cook up a storm more often (although I’m sure my family would be happier, and safer, if I didn’t). If a book can get the thumbs-up from both Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop website and Martha Stewart, it’s gotta be pretty decent, right?

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls – David Sedaris

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I first stumbled across this curiously-titled collection of essays at a local gem of a book store/cafe/book club hub, The Mockingbird Lounge. I wasn’t game to snap it up then, but I sure am now. I’ve never read any of Sedaris’ work, but if there ever was a sign that I’ll like a particularly quirky book it’s this: The Sydney Morning Herald wasn’t a big fan. It’s had good responses on Goodreads though, and I think the look of the cover will complement the other picks in this list (yes I am that shallow).

The Fictional Woman – Tara Moss

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Tara Moss‘ appearance on Q&A a couple of weeks ago proved to me once and for all that the woman is nothing if not well-informed. She knows her stuff, and makes a point of doing so. She showed up most of the other panel members on this front, which impressed me mightily. I’m interested to see whether she conveys her messages as eloquently in print and to see if I have as many “YESSS, ME TOOO!” moments reading this memoir/social commentary as I did listening to her on the tele.

Anything John Green

With the new movie, The Fault in Our Stars, proving uber popular amongst my fellow not quite teen/not quite adults, I figure I’d do well to give some of John Green’s stuff a go. I usually find adolescent fiction characters a bit too self-indulgent and melancholy, but perhaps that’s what adolescence is like… I’m undecided, but maybe Green will help me make up my mind.

*This has nothing to do with the fact that my 20th birthday is fast approaching. Nothing, whatsoever.

A Letter to My City

As you may have noticed, writing is an activity I find quite therapeutic. The focus it requires helps me clear my head of all the ‘stuff’ that I have going on in there and see things in a new light, or at least help me affirm how I feel about them. Sometimes when I’m struggling with something especially big and scary, or if I’m having problems connecting with a particular person in my life, I’ll get my thoughts out onto paper in the form of a letter. Recently, on returning home from my travels around Europe, I found myself with a bit of a case of post-travel-blues. I was happy to be home, sure, but the comforting cosiness of my little town felt claustrophobic and limiting and I was finding it difficult to feel settled again after my time away. So what did I do? I wrote a letter to my city. I thought it might be nice to share some of it here.

Dear Adelaide,

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I hope you’ve been enjoying yourself while I’ve been gone. It certainly seems like you have! Cruising through your familiar framework of streets, I noticed you’ve gone and fancied yourself up a bit. New cafes (they seem to be all organic or burger places; what’s up with that?) and bars seem to have popped up all over the place. I see you’ve finally listened to at least one thing I was raving on about before I left and started to include some cool little arts spaces in your mini makeover too. Props for that one (pun intended)!

I don’t think your changes are entirely superficial though, are they? Something bigger’s going on here, I can feel it. Well, whatever happens, however you think you need to change, remember you don’t have to try and compete with the sleek, sprawling metropolis of Sydney or the quirky cool of Melbourne. You don’t have to copy the ‘big kids’; you can go your own way, babe. And you don’t have to figure out what your ‘thing’ is straight away. It could be your sumptuous food and wine, your unspoiled landscapes, your country town charm, your hidden laneway treasures, your festivals, your business start-ups, your sporting events, anything. It could be all or none of those things. Don’t rush to find it, it’ll happen. Try new things, make mistakes (you know how I feel about the debacle that is Rundle Mall) and figure it out as you go. You have time.

You’ve had a lot of people leave you over the years (myself included) for brighter lights in bigger cities. A lot of us come back, though. And even those who never do end up realising what a brilliant foundation you’ve laid in our lives so that we’re prepared for the glare of those brighter lights. Adelaide, you’re like a microcosm of the big scary world out there. You’ve taught me so much, not least of all that humble ambitions are no less valid than grand plans and that sometimes the safe path isn’t a cop-out, it’s looking after yourself. Now that I’m back, I’m committed to making the most of the rest of the time I have with you, however long that may be. I might come and go, like so many of the others before me. But you’ll always be ‘home’ to me and I know I’ll always be welcome.

My dear Adelaide, you’ve got a lot going on these days and a lot to be proud of, so don’t let those cocky Victorians tell you otherwise. Keep changing, keep growing, but don’t lose what makes you, you.

With love,
Lauren xx

Hey, Hi, Hello

So, you’ve somehow stumbled across this here little blog I call Big Shoes to Fill. Awesome! Rad! Ace! All of those positive adjectives and countless more to you; you’re ahead of the pack. You see, I have might have modest expectations for the reach of my ‘little nook of loveliness’, but I have big hopes for it and even bigger ideas for its content. So consider yourself a trendsetter, a trailblazer and please spread the word about me, if you’d be so kind!

A little about myself, and aforementioned exciting content, before we get started good and proper… I’m a student, retail gal, keen traveller and reacher for the stars from the (underrated, in my opinion) little city of Adelaide, Australia. I love all things fashion, language and literature, theatre, artsy craftsy, foodie, home interiorsy; the list goes on! I’ve just come back from a life-changing 2 month trip traversing parts of Europe (which you can catch up on over at The World Is Her Book) and decided it was time I turned my never-ending notebooks, Pinterest boards and computer files of ideas, lists and loves into something more substantial.

I’ve been inspired by some of the lovely feedback I’ve had about my travel blog as well as the success of some dear friends and acquaintances’ blogs (remind me to tell you about them soon..) to keep writing, so here goes.

I have big shoes to fill and big dreams to chase from my little nook in this little town. I hope you’ll follow me along the way.

Lauren xx

P.S. follow me on Instagram at @bigshoestofill for more!