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Wow, what a start to November. From finding ourselves back in lockdown in the UK, to Joe Biden being named as the new President of the United States alongside the first female Vice President, Kamala Harris, it’s been quite the historic week. I’ve coped with it mainly by donning tracksuits and eating all of my birthday chocolates while watching the news continuosly. When there’s too much noise in the outside world, I tend to retreat into a cocoon of my own making - but I’ve enjoyed it all the same.
I also want to say thank you to everyone who sent me a message about last week’s newsletter. As I’m sure you can imagine, it felt quite exposing to publish something so personal but when I received the reaction I did, I immediately knew it was the right thing. Infertility and miscarriage sadly affects so many, so I felt it was important to share. You’ll be glad to know that after writing that update, I feel so much better and equipped for whatever comes next. For those who also shared their own stories and are going through similar, you've got this.
From a freelance point of view, I’ve been working hard at finding new opportunities while trying to motivate myself to do the work I already have. There’s something about the colder weather, dark evenings and comfort of my sofa that are really making deadlines feel more difficult.
But, in an attempt to be pro-active and motivate myself, I recently asked an editor in the US for feedback on my portfolio as I'm working more and more with American clients. She agreed to chat over Zoom and it felt good to put myself out there and open myself up to constructive feedback. It was also great to forge a new working relationship and to find out how the freelance market is doing further afield. The people side of freelancing is something I've really missed since the pandemic so I'm trying to find new ways to bridge the gap and stay connected. I'll be the first to admit, however, that it's really not easy right now.
If you're finding that connecting with people professionally during lockdown is proving difficult, I recommend reading this piece by journalist Marisa Bate - it might make you think differently about how you approach it. She writes about why it’s so important to expand your network in depth, not width, especially as we enter a very isolating winter.
Marisa has started making more meaningful working relationships with pre-existing contacts (rather than seeking out new ones) which makes so much sense. I’ll be following in Marisa's footsteps and doing more of the same over the next few weeks. How many of us have worked remotely and emailed or tweeted with people for years but never actually had a proper chat with them?
I’ve also been pitching like crazy – one of my least favourite tasks but something I’m determined to get better at in 2021. I’ve started tracking every pitch I send in a Google doc (which I haven’t done previously) and this really helps me get a better sense of which ideas are landing, those that need chasing, and the ideas that were rejected. After a request by a reader, I’ll be writing a dedicated newsletter on pitching for work later in the month and asking some superstar freelancers for their top tips. Is there anything you’d love to know more about? Let me know by commenting below.
Another way I’ve been coping with a second lockdown is by reading, and below I've suggested a few books that may help you too. Every book in this list is one that I’m certain I’ll keep returning to as they have so much comfort and wisdom within their pages. I fold down the pages when something resonates with me or I want to re-read them, and the books listed are all looking very manhandled.
Next week’s newsletter is going to be dedicated to Little Village, the charity I’ve mentioned over the past few weeks (and who I’ll be donating all my Kofi donations to this month). I’ll be interviewing the charity’s incredible founder Sophia Parker and speaking to her about how volunteering can be so beneficial to those of us that work alone and want to feel better connected to our communities.
Until then, stay safe and well.
Your Lockdown Reading List: Books to Make you Feel Better
I read this in one sitting and it really does hit home. Featuring personal essays by 20 writers talking honestly about motherhood, it covers everything from maternal rage, to single motherhood, raising boys and the cultural balance of raising mixed race children. It’s a must read for all mothers or anyone who wants to have greater empathy for parents.
Oprah said that she has been forever changed by this book, and I think I have too. If you’re not familiar, Edith Eger is a psychologist and Auschwitz survivor. Sent to the camp as a teenager in 1944, she overcame all odds and survived until the end of WW2 after losing both parents very early on. She went on to graduate with a PhD from the University of Texas and became an eminent psychologist. Today, at the age of 93, she maintains a busy clinical practice and lectures around the world. This book dips in and out of the life lessons she learned during the Holocaust and through years of helping her patients through adversity. It really is incredible and is a brilliant choice for getting through difficult times.
Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail podcast is one of my favourites so I’m not surprised that I enjoyed this book as much as I did. As ever, Elizabeth puts a unique spin on moving forward after bumps in the road and she shares the lessons she’s learned from her insightful podcast guests. Each lesson is distilled into seven principles of failure and as Waterstones describes, it’s practical, reassuring and inspirational.
The Midnight Library is Matt Haig's latest novel and I'd describe it as self-help in the form of fiction. The story transports you into the life of Nora Seed, a very depressed, single woman who feels that she has let everyone down, including herself. That's until a suicide attempt throws her into The Midnight Library. Each book in the library enables Nora to live as if she had done things differently - think Sliding Doors but in multiple scenarios. It’s as eye opening as it is enjoyable and totally uplifting. And who doesn’t need more books like that right now? I’ve recommended it to every reader I know.
Don’t forget that from today and throughout November, all donations to my Kofi page will be given to Little Village - a London-based charity that I volunteer for and is very close to my heart. Little Village provides good quality baby clothes and equipment such as nappies, cots and prams, donated by local families, to local families that need them. As you can imagine, help is very much needed right now. Thank you to everyone that has donated so far.