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Poet, Writer & Mum to Vera and her soon to be sister


What drives you? 

I think I used to be driven by my perfectionism. And while an element of that still definitely underlies my work, as I’ve gained more experience (and particularly since having a child), I’ve become aware of how that particular trait doesn’t serve me like I thought it did. Part of me used to wear it like a badge of honour but now I’m trying to shed it and instead, explore how I feel when I embrace things that aren’t ‘perfect.’ Because that doesn’t exist anyway. Especially when it comes to creative pursuits. Now, it’s simpler, what drives me. It’s about my desire to say something meaningful, to work alongside people I admire, to be able to be truly creative and to feel inspired in my work. I’m trying to reacquaint myself with my instincts and listen to myself more, and I’m excited about what might emerge by allowing myself to be driven by something slightly different. 

Has your craft unfolded how you thought? What has been most surprising?

Haha no definitely not! I always loved reading and writing (in various forms and mediums) but I never really considered writing or editing as a viable career path for me until I started at Denizen, nearly seven years ago. That said, from a career perspective, what I have found myself doing now has unfolded in what feels like a really organic, natural, way. It’s been a gradual progression from editorial assistant to writer to editor, and it has allowed me such a unique and incredible opportunity to hone one side of my craft. Outside of the vocational writing I do, I think that what I want to say and express has changed vastly, but I’m not as clear on how I want to communicate that as I was when I was younger. Honestly, I’ve been surprised that I have been able to turn writing into my career at all, and now, I’m interested in exploring what else I have to say and how I want to say it. 

Best lesson you have learned from your craft?

Simplify! I’m someone who can tend to use more words than I need to, so I’ve had to learn the power of saying less. Or rather, saying the same amount but figuring out how to articulate it in a few sentences rather than a paragraph. And while, yes, I’m talking specifically about writing here, I do think that a degree of this is applicable across a number of things in life. Being simple and straightforward is (in my experience, anyway) far more impactful than being verbose, even if you think it makes you sound smarter haha.

When have you been the most brave, personally or professionally?

It’s hard to say when I’ve been the most brave. I think anyone putting themselves out there professionally or choosing to share things that have come from a personal place is doing a brave thing. But if I’m thinking about something big and life-altering, it has to be having a child. Of course, that’s partly because of all the expected things that you learn upon becoming a parent but more so… I think having a child can force you to really face things in yourself — and that can be confronting. It has made me stop and examine certain behaviours or feelings, and explore where they come from and why, and it’s not an easy thing. Kids can reflect so much back to you and that can be scary and overwhelming sometimes. But it’s also quite incredible, and a real privilege, particularly when you feel yourself growing alongside them. 

What is the most special piece you own?

Definitely the ring that my husband gave me after our first daughter was born. We were married at Huka Lodge a few years ago, and on the morning of the ceremony, Jol (my husband) collected some sand from the river bank right in front of our room. He then (unbeknownst to me) took that sand to a dear friend of ours (an incredible goldsmith and jeweller) Maeve Woodhouse (of Herasaabi) who used the sand to make a textured mold for a gold ring. In the ring, he also had her set a ruby (Vera’s birthstone) alongside a pearl and a diamond, each one with its own meaning. It’s beautiful and special and one day, it will be Vera’s.  

What do you do to unwind?

I love losing myself in good stories, whether that be in the pages of a book, or a series, or a film, or even an audiobook (I’m obsessed with listening to Agatha Christie audiobooks when I’m doing basically anything alone). It’s the best escape. Getting sun on my skin, swimming (when the weather allows), spending time with my husband and daughter. Simple things, uncomplicated things that bring me into the present. 

How has motherhood changed your creative pursuit?

It really has changed that and me in so many ways. But specific to your question, I do feel more protective of what I give my energy to outside of being Vera’s mum. As far as I’m concerned, anything that takes me away from her, has to be worthwhile. And I don’t mean worthwhile like it has to turn into ‘something’, or be a big project or garner accolades or anything like that. I just mean that it needs to feel personally fulfilling. I need to love it. Like really love it.  So against that criteria, the idea of a creative pursuit changes, naturally. Right now, especially being pregnant with another child, I feel I’m back a place where I’m trying to figure out what really does fulfil me creatively, which is both frustrating (I can be impatient) and exciting. 

What’s the best piece of advice you would give another about to enter motherhood?

Learn to trust yourself. Unfortunately, we live in a world where women on the cusp of motherhood are hit with a barrage of advice, warnings, opinions, mandates, rules, etc etc. These come as much from people we know as they do from strangers on the Internet, and I think that if you let all of them in you’ll drive yourself to distraction before your baby even arrives. Again, I think it just boils down to the idea of simplicity. Keep it as simple as possible. Learn to listen to your inner voice. I’ve found that to be the most powerful tool in motherhood. And know that as long as your child has you, has nourishment and has somewhere to sleep that is warm and dry, they are already so lucky. I also think that the less you can worry about things that really, in the long run, don’t matter, the more you can enjoy the little moments. And those are the memories that really stay with you. 

What is the environment you want to create for Vera? 

I want to create an environment for Vera and for her soon-to-arrive sister, in which they feel they can express themselves truthfully and unconditionally. I want them to know that they are intrinsically capable and I want them to feel a sense of confidence that comes, not from external things, but from themselves. I also want them to be able recognise how lucky they are in life and in knowing that, to understand how precious every second of it is. Whatever they want to pursue, I hope that I can create an environment that allows those parts of themselves to take off and flourish. And I hope that when they are older, they feel supported and secure enough to share who they are with the world.

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