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Reading

Reading as self-care

a blue book on wooden table with the text 'reading as self-care: what to read when the world feels overwhelming'

I’ve been meaning for months to write a blog post about the benefits of reading as self-care. For obvious reasons, now seems as good a time as any.

Reading has always been my go-to activity.

Worried about something and need to know more about it? Read a book.

Worried about something and need to distract myself from it? Read a book.

Need to shut out the white noise of the world and remind myself how to focus on one thing at a time? Read a book.

Heaps of time to kill – at home, in a waiting room, while travelling? Read a book.

It has been clear from watching the stress levels rise across my social media feeds and in-person communities over the last few weeks that not everyone has tuned in to the life-changing magic of books yet.

That’s reasonable. We are living in exceptional times – for those working in frontline jobs, on casual contracts, or as freelancers, there are financial pressures that accompany the COVID-19 pandemic that can’t just be wished away. For those personally affected by the virus, there are even more pressing things to think about.

But for every one of us, for our own wellbeing and mental health, it’s important to have a way of taking the occasional break from the strangeness of it all – from the pressure, the panic, and the 24-hour news cycle. Books are one of the most accessible ways of doing that. Continue reading “Reading as self-care”

Feature Writing

Guardian Feature on Tasmania in Winter

A red laser light installation at Dark Mofo winter festival in Tasmania

I had a feature published at Guardian Australia over the weekend: a response to the news that Dark Mofo 2020 has been cancelled, and an encouragement to continue supporting Tasmanian small businesses, arts organisations and restaurants even in light of that cancellation. Continue reading “Guardian Feature on Tasmania in Winter”

Reading

What are the best books about Tasmania?

A stack of books with the caption 'What are the best books about Tasmania?'

For a relatively small state, Tasmania has a disproportionately high number of good writers.

From emerging writers like Erin Hortle and Ben Walter, whose work you can often read in contemporary Australian lit journals, to crime writers like David Owen, historians like James Boyce, and award-winning novelists like Amanda Lohrey and Christopher Koch, there is a wonderful diversity of styles, themes and genres.

There’s also an abundance of talented children’s writers and illustrators in Tasmania, including Coral Tulloch, Christina Booth, Emily Conolan, and Kate Gordon. Continue reading “What are the best books about Tasmania?”

Copywriting, Feature Writing, freelance life, Writing

February 2020: Back to work!

View of desk from above with caption 'Back to work'!

After a long and lovely summer holiday which included a trip to Hawaii for a family wedding – lucky me ­– I’m finally back at my desk.

Even after six years living in Tasmania, I haven’t quite adjusted to taking a break in January. For all my friends in the Northern Hemisphere, the turn of the year marks that moment when they start to feel energised with new ambitions and resolutions; whereas here it simply marks the start of a month off.

That means when February does roll around, and school goes back at last, it can feel like there’s an awful lot to catch up on. Continue reading “February 2020: Back to work!”

Copywriting, Feature Writing, freelance life, Writing

My freelance year: the good, the bad and the ugly

black background with caption 'My freelance year: the good, the bad and the ugly' by Ruth Dawkins

Another year just about done!

2019 has been a very busy one here, so I thought I’d finish it by sharing a quick post with you about the good, the bad, and the ugly of my year in work. I am a big fan of being transparent about the highs and lows of freelancing, so that others who are considering making that jump have a realistic sense of what it entails. Continue reading “My freelance year: the good, the bad and the ugly”

Reading

My Top Reads of 2019

Tall stack of books with caption 'My top reads of 2019' by Ruth Dawkins

Have I mentioned before how much I enjoy reading? I think I might have! Once… or perhaps twice.

2019 has been an absolute cracker of a year for good books. My targeted approach of only buying and borrowing books that are on my wishlist – rather than lucky dipping from the sale table – seems to paying dividends. I’ve not encountered many duds this year at all.

We still have a couple of weeks to go, but my reading stats for 2019 are:

Books read: 117

Books started but abandoned before the end: 6

(I don’t like criticising books publicly because reading is such a personal thing, but message me on social media or email me if you want to know what they were!) Continue reading “My Top Reads of 2019”

Writing

Reflections on my first NaNoWriMo

Caption 'I've just finished my first NaNoWriMo... now what?' on yellow background

I’ve just finished my very first NaNoWriMo.

Sort of.

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – is an annual endeavour in which people all around the world attempt to write a novel in a month. A novel, in this case, meaning 50,000 words, or around 1600 words a day.

I haven’t actually written a novel, I’ve written non-fiction. I suppose that means that if I’d been doing NaNoWriMo officially, I would have been a member of the NaNoRebels group. But as I didn’t sign up to the website as a formal participant, I can’t even claim that. Continue reading “Reflections on my first NaNoWriMo”

Feature Writing

A New Essay at Literary Mama

Screenshot of Literary Mama website

Just a quick post to let you know that I have a new personal essay up at Literary Mama today.

I’ve been doing a lot more commercial writing work this year, which has meant less time for personal essays and blog posts, but I’m grateful that I still have time to do the occasional one.

Earlier in the year, my son decided he didn’t want me to read him a bedtime story anymore. It felt like a big milestone, and I was full of feelings… 1800 words of feelings, in fact!

It’s always a joy to work with the great editorial team at Literary Mama, so I’m really pleased to see the resulting piece – The Last Bedtime Story – be published as part of their November/December issue.

Reading

Women’s Nature Writing

flatlay image of autumn leaves, glasses and a notebook on a wooden table, with the text 'Women's Nature Writing'

Kathleen Jamie’s new book Surfacing landed in my mailbox last week, and I can’t wait to read it. Kathleen is a Scottish poet and essayist, and Surfacing is her third collection – following Findings and Sightlines – of what you’d probably call nature writing, although that term does little justice to her delightful touch.

I was interested to read an interview with Kathleen in the Guardian last week, which dealt with the question of whether contemporary nature writing is overly dominated by white men. (Spoiler – it is.)

That’s not to say that there aren’t some wonderful men out there, producing great work – there are, and you’ve probably read at least some of them. (Hi, Robert MacFarlane…) But the natural world is too beautiful for us to only read about it through that one narrow lens.

Unfortunately, what the Guardian piece didn’t do was highlight any of the alternatives, of which there are many. So I thought I’d take sometime to pull together a non-exhaustive list of writers, books, essays and sites that you might like to explore if this subject interests you. It really is just a way of dipping your toe in the water – there’s so much out there and if you’re anything like me you’ll discover that following one interesting link leads you to a dozen more.

Have fun getting lost in nature! And feel free to leave a comment below with your own recommendations.

Continue reading “Women’s Nature Writing”

Copywriting

Tasmania: Come Down for Air

Tourism Tasmania Come Down for Air campaign launch image

I was really excited yesterday to see that Tourism Tasmania have launched their latest campaign – Come Down For Air.

The behind-the-scenes details of the brand launch, which includes commercials, videos, adverts and a dedicated Come Down for Air website can be found on the Tourism Tasmania website, while the public facing site is DiscoverTasmania.com/air. Continue reading “Tasmania: Come Down for Air”