COFFEE WITH THE INDUSTRY: interview with Aunty Fox of Fox Spirit Books.

What goes on behind the scenes of a small indie publishing press? I met with one to get the insider view on a difficult industry to crack.

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Adele (A): It’s why I have the Aunty Fox persona. So I can have my wibbles, but Aunty Fox always knows what’s going on… she’s got it... One of my artists started calling me Aunty Fox and I said, “can you do me an icon?” and it kind of stuck. I’ve got people who’ve known me for years before I started Fox Spirit calling me Aunty! I’m just embracing it! How much of an aunt can I be? “It’s cold out! Have you got your mittens?” People are fond of that.

Adele Wearing, a.k.a Aunty Fox. Image courtesy of www.foxspirit.co.uk

When starting her press, Fox Spirit Books, Adele Wearing certainly didn’t picture herself taking on the Aunty Fox persona. In fact, she didn’t picture herself starting a press at all. The business’ origins seem to be a bit of an in-joke that keeps on giving.

A: I think at the end of the second year, beginning of the third year, when I had committed to a couple of longer-term projects, I was like, oh. Oh, so I’ve got to do this for at least five more years to finish those. Rii-ight... I was never supposed to be a publisher. We were going to do one book for a bit of fun. I just emailed out to a whole bunch of writers I knew from events and said, “we’re doing this thing for a laugh, do you want to be part of it?” Even people like Wayne Simmons and Adrian Tchaikovsky, who are - in genre - quite big writers, said, “yeah alright, it sounds like a giggle.”

That collection became ‘Tales of the Nun & Dragon’ (2012), and six years later, the accidental Fox Spirit press is still putting out new books.

Without meaning to, Aunty Fox became a leader. Just in the hour we’re together for coffee, she has nuggets of wisdom to share with a quick wit and a crude tongue. She doesn’t shy from honesty and doesn’t sugarcoat the truth of running a business in a difficult industry. I asked her about the publishing scene, which Aunty Fox openly admits is a mess.

Adele (A): [With some of our non-fiction], that’s really a case of create it, they will come. And we just put those out and let them sell themselves, you know? Whereas the fiction market is very crowded, so we’ll always battling against the noise. That’s much tougher! And that’s also where my heart is, in fiction.

Emily (E): And I think so many writers think to themselves, how can I make money from this thing that I love?

A: Yeah, forget it. That’s not the place to sell them. It should be. I mean, the whole publishing industry need reviewing, it’s a mess. The models are not sustainable. Small presses are closing left, right and centre because we can’t make money. These days, I’m honest about it. In old money, Fox Spirit would have been called ‘a folly’. But some people play golf, and I do this!

Adele Wearing, a.k.a Aunty Fox. Image courtesy of www.foxspirit.co.uk

Adele Wearing, a.k.a Aunty Fox. Image courtesy of www.foxspirit.co.uk

This ‘folly’ takes a lot of man hours in her ‘spare’ time, but Aunty Fox continues to make her way through the figurative and literal slush pile. She not only runs her own business, but also works full-time - very full-time. It was evident, during our meeting, that she shoulders a lot of responsibility; my mum would call this ‘burning the candle at both ends’, though Aunty Fox openly adores the work she does at Fox Spirit and has no plans to give it up yet. The silver lining that came with her brief respite at the beginning of the year, she told me, was practising a new and valued skill.

A: I just started saying no to everything because I was having to be so careful with my energy levels… I mean, learning to say ‘no’ is one of the hardest things about running your own business, I think. Because you say, “oh, I want to do that, but it’s not sensible!”

Talking about submissions was a fiery subject that boiled down to some basics: read the guidelines, let your writing do the talking, and don’t be an arsehole.

A: There’s a very American thing of making your CV different from everybody else’s. Have you watched Legally Blonde? You know the thing where it’s pink and it’s got perfume on it? That’s a really American thing. So I’ve had some really weird querying emails over the years. And we’re like, look. What happens is we take all the attachments and dump them in a big folder, and we only skim the query for anything that makes you offensive. The reality is, we’re looking for reasons to not publish you, because we have to whittle it down. So we’ll skim your query and if there’s nothing in there that puts us off, you get dropped into the slush pile. We then go in there, read something in the slush pile and think, ooh there’s something in there, I like this one, then we might go back and look at your synopsis and your query. That’s how I do it. I know some people read the synopsis first, but I tend to dump everything in a bucket and read through it.

E: So what would you recommend to people looking to get noticed from the slush pile?

A: That first paragraph is really, really important, because if that’s terrible, I’ve already switched off and moved on to the next one. And the bigger it gets, like an agent or somebody, the more popular they are, the more stuff they get through, the less time you have to impress them. So you treat the query letter like the covering letter of a job. You’re professional, you follow the guidelines, you send what they ask you to send. That’s it. Then you let the writing stand for itself. But that first paragraph is absolutely essential, so go back and revise it. Don’t think, I’ve gone through everything, I’ve edited everything, everything’s perfect. In fact, go back and look at that first paragraph. And don’t info dump at the beginning of a book!

E: So, on average, how much do you think you’re reading of each one?

A: It depends on its level of awfulness! Basically, I read until I’m put off or I want to stab myself in the eyes… [Though] I’ve had ones I haven’t even started reading. I’ve taken one look at the query and gone, nah. I don’t care how good the book is, I’m not going to work with you, because people come off as such massive jackasses sometimes.

E: And how can you do that in just a couple of paragraphs, you know?

A: There’s one I used with [a university class] slot this year… as a learning point... All of it says “I’m a pretentious arsehole, I’m going to be a nightmare to work with, and I think I’m cleverer than I am.”

E: Do you get a lot of people who obviously haven’t looked over your website and don’t really know what you’re about?

A: Oh yeah. And we get people who, even if you say ‘we are not open to zombie submissions’, they’ll send you zombie submissions because it doesn’t apply to them. Now, my view, and the view of anybody who’s dealt with people, is if you’re not prepared to follow the submission guidelines, you are going to be a pain in the arse to work with. So however good your book is, I don’t want to work with you. That’s the first message you send, the first thing you’ve done. You know, really trust your gut. If people seem a bit hinky to you, get away from it, no matter how much they seem to be presenting something good. Because they usually turn out to be hinky.

‘Hinky’ people don’t get past Aunty Fox and very rarely has she had to step away from an author, as they don’t tend to get through that first submissions process. She defends members of her community with pride and cares deeply about the industry as a whole, despite its ups and (frequent) downs. Though she has hope about the current climate turning.

A: The sales - not just for us, but for a number of small presses - have found that sales have really bottomed this year. So hopefully people will be a bit more optimistic next year. Or, hiding in books because reality is so awful!

When I first met Aunty Fox last year during a talk at my university, we arranged to meet together for coffee somewhere so that I could wheedle some more wisdom from this experienced insider. Misfortune struck when Aunty Fox’s cat got sick and when our coffee date fell through and life continued, I neglected to rearrange.

Fast forward a year, and she tells me her cat is feeling much better, though it seems to be a fairly poorly household. Between her three felines, herself, and her partner, they’ve all found themselves prone to illness in some area or another.

A: “A part of why I had such a shit start to the year was I had very low vitamin D… So this year’s just been bollocksed!”

Of course, with illness came a slower pace, but the Fox Spirit community came through. The Skulk, as they are known, are a rallying force to be reckoned with. Not only do they come together to support the books that are published and events that take place, but they are also an incredibly understanding group in the face of Fox Spirit’s slower start this year.

A: My authors have been really chilled out with it… I’m very very proud of what we’ve done, and I am very very proud of the Skulk, they’re amazing.

E: And how wonderful that this thing that you kind of found yourself suddenly doing and that you kind of stumbled into, you know -

A: That’s taken over my life!

E: Yes! But the people you’ve met from it and the things you’re able to do, and the events and all of it…

A: Oh yeah… It has become a much bigger part of my life… caused some tensions in some friendships, but others have become much stronger and it’s introduced me to a lot of new people.

From bakers of book-cover cookies, to writers and artists, to fans of genre fiction - Aunty Fox raves about them all. It’s very clear that all are welcome to the Skulk and she regularly engages with them online. She even gave this Twitter-phobe a much-needed lesson in social media.

A: I think you have to want to have those conversations. When it first became a thing, I realised Facebook is like when you’re at uni and you’ve got that noticeboard up on your door and people leave you messages. You come back and you see such and such is looking for me. Twitter is like you’re sat in a canteen in halls or the union, and everyone is talking and you’re eavesdropping over here for a minute, then eavesdropping over there for a minute. Then unless you want to be part of those conversations, it gets a bit pointless. So until you’ve built up the relationships on Twitter, it’s a bit weird.

E: You’ve got to put in the time.

A: Mmm and I was lucky that I was able to put in the time years ago when I was just reviewing, and now that’s paying off a bit.

E: You already had some of your community set up.

A: Yes, so I’ve got people I can talk to regularly, people I can tag. Obviously, my writers and artists, too, a lot of those are on Twitter.

Engaging with wider, inclusive communities is Aunty Fox’s goal; having been a book reviewer in a past life, it’s clear her passion for reading - particularly fantasy fiction - was the flame that sparked this enterprise in the first place. Now that she has a following and louder voice, she wants to use it for the greater good; when we got talking about her reading habits and TBR pile, she waxed passionately about diversity in publishing and the messages she wants to send.

A: The last couple of years, I’ve been reading a lot more women writers and writers of colour… Unless they’re people whose books I’ve liked for a long time, I’m trying to avoid straight, white men… Just because they’ve dominated for so long on everybody’s bookshelves… There are still a few in amongst mine, because there are some of my friends who I want to read... I’m just proactively trying to make them the minority in my purchasing, because I just really want to strongly send the message to places like Waterstones that that’s not all we want, you know?

All in all, Fox Spirit’s fearless leader has learnt a lot from her nearly-six years heading this surprise publishing press. Thinking back to the start, she openly wonders if she’d have begun had she really knew what she was getting into, though perhaps it was best that she didn’t.

A: Yeah, you can’t worry about it. My whole philosophy, which is probably not wise, has been the Wile E. Coyote philosophy of life, which is just running off cliffs. Run off cliffs, peddle your legs, don’t look down. It’ll all be fine. And I think maybe, possibly, I do it a bit too soon, but you can spend an awful lot of time standing on the edge and testing the air, and eventually you’re going to have to run off the edge of the cliff anyway. It’s always going to be like that, no matter how prepared you think you are, you’re going to get halfway over and think have I done the right thing?

E: So take the leap.

A: Yeah, just do it. God, I sound like a Nike advert!

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Visit www.foxspirit.co.uk to find out more, or follow Aunty Fox on Twitter, @foxspiritbooks

BRAINSTORMING NEW IDEAS - PART 2: Word Association

As a writer, being faced with a blank page can inspire either crippling fear or wondrous anticipation — or both!

In this writing series, we’ll be discussing the ways we can generate some ideas to get started — though I love and worship the good ol’ imagination machine, I’ve found that mine can be somewhat unreliable at times.

In Part 1, we looked at people watching techniques to get the creative juices flowing.

So how can we practically help our brains fill that blank page? Take out your pen or bring up a new word doc and let’s get started!

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Part 1: Word Association

This is one of my favourite exercises to run during workshops and webinars, and it’s something I do all the time personally in my own fiction and non-fiction writing.

(Note: too many people praise and love prompts and exercises during workshops when they’re led by a tutor, but feel odd doing them by themselves when they’re at home. I promise they still work for you when you’re on your couch, curled up in a blanket with a hot chocolate and trying to push your cat off your keyboard!)

First of all, you need to draw yourself two columns. Give yourself plenty of space to write on both sides, and a space at the top for a dominant word. This can be handwritten or typed, but it should look something like this:

Next, you need to decide on your root word. This is something that piques your interest and conjures up related ideas.

Your root word could be a theme, a person, a place. It can even be an emotion, or just an adjective you like. The important thing is to choose a word that has plenty of connotations.

My personal favourite type of root word for the first column is choosing a theme. This gives me a broad reach when I’m completing the next stage.

Based on this root word, write a list of associated words and phrases that connect back to that root. They can be completely random, or very strategic and organised. You can make a note anywhere on that column, you can draw arrows and diagrams, you can cross things out rewrite them. These are your notes, so OWN them!

Here’s an example of one of mine:

Hopefully, you should have a nice long list of words and phrases that link back in some way — however tenuous — to that root word. You can write until you exhaust all ideas, or set a timer for 3–5 minutes and try to cram as much into the time as possible.

DON’T WORRY: you will naturally slow down the longer you list. Our creative brains are fantastic with bursts of energy and initial ideas, but suck at keeping it up long-term.

At the moment you’re probably thinking, hey, I could have figured this out. It’s not so hard. What kind of a tip is this?

But don’t forget: there’s a second column!

(And aside from that, sometimes we need someone else to kick us up the bum, right?)

It’s time to choose another root word, this time for your second column. This word should be wholly unrelated to the first, and preferably much more random. One of my favourite ways to come up with this word is to look around the environment I’m in and pick a random object.

Again, it could be a theme, a person, a place, or any kind of word, as long as it’s not related to the first.

Then go through the same word-association process with your second column.

Mine looked like this:

The last stage, then, is to use these lists and mash them together like Frankenstein’s monster.

Pair up words and phrases from your first column with your second, and see what interesting images or ideas come from these hybrids.

If you’re looking to be really random, close your eyes and pick one from each side. Do they fit together? Probably not, but perhaps you’ll find some interesting combinations.

Let’s talk through mine:

Some of those associations really work — I like the idea of death being linked with mould and decay, which is one I purposefully linked. I could even has death with a capital letter — Death, a being. Perhaps he looks mouldy and decaying in his appearance. 

I think soldiers being linked with gardeners might either spark a good metaphor or else an interesting character (a young gardener who enlists, perhaps?) 

When I used the straight across method (linking those that are directly opposite one another), I had mixed results. I feel like the phrase ‘they’re only men’ links very well with ‘forget-me-nots’, and evokes an emotional image. On the other hand, ‘uniform’ and ‘canopies swaying’ didn’t originally bring any ideas to mind for me. Though, the more I considered it, I imagined fighters hiding up in the trees, perhaps samurai, camouflaged in the high tops of the branches, looking down on their enemies.

So with a little jigging around, word associations can come up with some excellent ideas, though perhaps not always.

The best thing?

Even if you don’t get any direct ideas from this try, you have gone from a blank page to a page full, and that’s something to cheer about!

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In Part 2, we’ll be looking at another technique for generating ideas: people watching.

This article was also published on Medium.

BRAINSTORMING NEW IDEAS: PART 1, People Watching

As a writer, being faced with a blank page can inspire either crippling fear or wonderous anticipation — or both!

In this writing series, we’ll be discussing the ways we can generate some ideas to get started — though I love and worship the good ol’ imagination machine, I’ve found that mine can be somewhat unreliable at times.

So how can we practically help our brains fill that blank page? Take out your pen or bring up a new word doc and let’s get started!

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — 

Screen Shot 2019-01-11 at 19.07.59.png

Part 1: People Watching

A year or so ago, I was assisting a local poet in running a young writers’ group that met in a busy, modern theatre in the city centre. With a group of around ten 14- to 18-year-olds, we tried out a people watching exercise that I’d like to share and expand.

For as long as there have been writers, there have been people-watchers. We are those who like to frequent bustling places, but sit back unobserved themselves. We listen to snippets of conversations, note down the atmosphere, the impact of the place upon the senses.

Whilst generic listening in is always a fantastic exercise, I have a few suggestions to direct you on a more focused venture into the wide world.

1. Caricatures

You may have seen this before, as you’re walking down a boulevard in some tourist-centric seaside town, and there are artists scattered here and there, selling their work. You come across one in particular who claims to be able to draw you, cartoonishly, within five minutes. Incredible! you think. You hand over your money and you sit on his chair, and within five minutes he’s handing over a finished portrait.

Except when you look at it, all your flaws and prominent features have been made even more prominent.

Your head is enormous compared to your body. Your gap-tooth is significantly wider than when you look in the mirror. Your thick eyebrows look as though they’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. Every mole, every bum-chin, every single thing has been exaggerated by the artist’s hand.

So your writing task is to do just that. Find the caricatures in the crowd and exaggerate them even more.

What makes people distinctive? As you’re people-watching, you might notice someone’s bright clothes, their slicked-back hair, their large shoes. Think of Professor Snape, from the Harry Potter series; his physical appearance is defined by his greasy, long black hair and his hooked nose.

Look around you: do they have defining features? Make them a defining description.

2. One Word Says It All

Though a picture tells a thousand words, sometimes all it takes is a single word to give a lasting impression.

As a speed exercise, describe each person you see using only one word. Though I suggest you do this quickly, that doesn’t mean you don’t consider it carefully. Generically describing someone as ‘blond’ is bland — make it unusual, make it evocative.

This one word could be something distinctive about their appearance, similarly to how we described the above caricatures, but it could be something else; perhaps it’s the way they hold themselves, how they move, the tone of their voice, the emotion they project.

Perhaps it’s even something you suspect they enjoying outside of this coffee shop/ busy street/ bus stop at which you’ve chosen to set up camp. Imagining how someone behaves with their co-workers, for example, and summoning them up with that one word can be an interesting task.

Evasive.

Stilted.

Cruel.

Buoyant.

Push-over.

Pretentious.

What starts as a single word can blossom into a backstory that is much richer.

3. The Conversationalists

This is an especially fun one for those who want to work on their dialogue.

Sit nearby to someone and listen to their conversations.

Who dominates the talk? How do they pause, how do they interrupt one another, or ask questions?

Do they finish their stories?

Do they waffle or are they concise?

If you’re able to write fast, jot down some of the phrases and back and forth.

Another approach to this exercise is to find the one-sided conversations. These could be people on the phone, or even someone who’s more talkative than their friend. Can you fill in the gaps and respond to what they’re saying? Can you imagine one of your ready-made characters (or even a famous fiction character) responding?

Let’s use Snape again — would he allow someone to dominate a conversation? I’m quite certain he always like to be the most intelligent one in the room, though he’s very guarded. Perhaps he would listen to their rattling on, only to respond with a single sentence and K.O them with his words.

As you’re listening, decide whether or not this is a dominant or passive character. Make note of some of their phrases or even accents; when you come to write something later on, you will be in a better position to remember their tone and try to replicate it.

4. The Head to Toe Approach

As a literal exercise in public, this would cause quite a scene, so you’ll need to restrict this one to your imagination.

Imagine you have a huge stack of sticky post-it notes. On each one, you need to write something unique, without repetition or lots of synonyms for the same thing.

Then describe them from head to toe. In your mind, cover the person completely with those individual descriptions until there’s no space left whatsoever.

Incidentally, I’ve done this literally before with objects or a room — it looks fantastic visually to see every inch of a surface covered in tiny observations. On a human, however, I think this would be a bit more difficult — I don’t like the thought of someone sticking post-its to my hair…

Though you obviously shouldn’t approach strangers to do this, perhaps you could find a willing muse. As an artist brings in a life model for his next painting, perhaps you might persuade a friend to stand their while you stick post-its all over them.

Just don’t ruin your friendship with unsavory descriptions — it might be best to do this one with your dog.

5. Play Matchmaker

I’ve saved my personal favourite until last.

Once you’ve been people-watching a while and have got some imaginative notes down for a variety of strangers, take them from their real lives and make them something new.

Or, in other words, pair them up.

They could be in romantic relationships with someone across the road from them. They could be family, or enemies, or colleagues, or neighbours, or visiting aliens in disguise.

What makes this even better is that you can give them any personalities you want, based on your observations. Will these two be compatible? Or will it be a complete mess? What are their goals for this scene, and will they achieve them with the other person in the way?

To sum up: create a scene with at least two strangers, detailing the circumstances in which they meet or associate.

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In Part 2, we’ll be looking at another technique for generating ideas: word association.

This article was also published on Medium.

Unexpected Romances

BOOK REVIEW: Summer Days & Summer Nights, ed. by Stephanie Perkins

When I first picked up this collection of short stories, I had a pretty set idea of what I would find inside: soppy teen romances set in exotic locations, maybe something akin to the beginning of the film Grease. The blurb, "Lazy, hazy days are for falling in love...", only solidified that expectation, and when I finally sat down to read it, I did so believing I was in for a fairly simplistic read.

Imagine my surprise, then, when the very first story ('Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail,' by Leigh Bardugo) turned out to be a supernatural tale, including river spirits and transformations. That initial short story set the tone for the stories that followed - an unexpectedly eclectic collection that explores love in a diverse humanity.

There were some notable names amongst the authors, including Cassandra Clare (of The Mortal Instruments) and Veronica Roth (of Divergent). There was no one story that didn't live up to the rest, even though they were all so vastly different in their approach to the theme.

As a writer (and someone who's been on the selection team for anthologies previously), I wonder how they came to the title and cover. Honestly, the bright pop-colours and the cutesy ice-cream gave an impression that was wholly different to what I experienced as I read. It baffles me a bit that a team of marketers, with a brief, came up with this tone - the tone that would then be presented to bookstore-wanderers searching for their next read. I expect that a lot of teenaged girls have been similarly deceived, but I hope that they were as pleasantly surprised as I was.

This collection was much more serious than I had anticipated, and dealt with themes much more weighty than the cover art gave them credit for. The appeal of short story collections, of course, is that they're much more manageable when you're squeezed for time - picking up and putting it down was actually a pleasure, as each story was its own little universe that could be read in a lunch break.

Thank you, Summer Days & Summer Nights, for teaching me to literally not judge a book by its cover. I learned to expect the unexpected, revel in its randomness when it appears, and - when I eventually land that book deal - to keep a close eye on the marketing team ;)

Make the Most of Your Twenties

BOOK REVIEW: The Defining Decade, by Mag Jay, PhD.

First off, I’ll admit I don’t often read non-fiction. So you might – like me – also be thinking that this is an interesting choice for my first book review blog, but hear me out.

Today marks my first day in the office since embarking on this journey called self-employment, and it is scary.

Meg Jay, in her book The Defining Decade, talks about identity capital, this idea that all of our life experiences add up to make us the people we are. From our love and relationships, to the work we do day-to-day, to the way we care for and use our bodies, we are building up the core of who we are and what we can then contribute to the world.

So here I am, sitting in an office of twenty-something-year-old graduate entrepreneurs, hoping that I am building up the right kind of identity capital.

The Defining Decade perfectly captures the anxieties of a generation, while simultaneously bestowing a hope that we can’t get from headlines about Millennials being lazy, killing industries, or buying too many avocados. While much of the media seems to berate us, Jay illuminates those possible pathways that lead to fulfilment in an unfulfilling world.

I absolutely must give this book my highest recommendation – it is eye-opening in a way that is gentle and encouraging (rather than an overwhelming tide of information or a slap in the face). The real-life examples from Jay’s therapy clients are relatable and endearing, and will bring to mind all those conversations you’ve had on your friend’s sofa into the early hours, wishing you could find your thing.

In short, make Meg Jay and The Defining Decade your personal spirit guide to your twenties.

Meg Jay, in her book The Defining Decade, talks about identity capital, this idea that all of our life experiences add up to make us the people we are. From our love and relationships, to the work we do day-to-day, to the way we care for and use our bodies, we are building up the core of who we are and what we can then contribute to the world.

So here I am, sitting in an office of twenty-something-year-old graduate entrepreneurs, hoping that I am building up the right kind of identity capital.

The Defining Decade perfectly captures the anxieties of a generation, while simultaneously bestowing a hope that we can’t get from headlines about Millennials being lazy, killing industries, or buying too many avocados. While much of the media seems to berate us, Jay illuminates those possible pathways that lead to fulfilment in an unfulfilling world.

I absolutely must give this book my highest recommendation – it is eye-opening in a way that is gentle and encouraging (rather than an overwhelming tide of information or a slap in the face). The real-life examples from Jay’s therapy clients are relatable and endearing, and will bring to mind all those conversations you’ve had on your friend’s sofa into the early hours, wishing you could find your thing.

In short, make Meg Jay and The Defining Decade your personal spirit guide to your twenties.

Meg Jay, in her book The Defining Decade, talks about identity capital, this idea that all of our life experiences add up to make us the people we are. From our love and relationships, to the work we do day-to-day, to the way we care for and use our bodies, we are building up the core of who we are and what we can then contribute to the world.

So here I am, sitting in an office of twenty-something-year-old graduate entrepreneurs, hoping that I am building up the right kind of identity capital.

The Defining Decade perfectly captures the anxieties of a generation, while simultaneously bestowing a hope that we can’t get from headlines about Millennials being lazy, killing industries, or buying too many avocados. While much of the media seems to berate us, Jay illuminates those possible pathways that lead to fulfilment in an unfulfilling world.

I absolutely must give this book my highest recommendation – it is eye-opening in a way that is gentle and encouraging (rather than an overwhelming tide of information or a slap in the face). The real-life examples from Jay’s therapy clients are relatable and endearing, and will bring to mind all those conversations you’ve had on your friend’s sofa into the early hours, wishing you could find your thing.

In short, make Meg Jay and The Defining Decade your personal spirit guide to your twenties.

Meg Jay, in her book The Defining Decade, talks about identity capital, this idea that all of our life experiences add up to make us the people we are. From our love and relationships, to the work we do day-to-day, to the way we care for and use our bodies, we are building up the core of who we are and what we can then contribute to the world.

So here I am, sitting in an office of twenty-something-year-old graduate entrepreneurs, hoping that I am building up the right kind of identity capital.

The Defining Decade perfectly captures the anxieties of a generation, while simultaneously bestowing a hope that we can’t get from headlines about Millennials being lazy, killing industries, or buying too many avocados. While much of the media seems to berate us, Jay illuminates those possible pathways that lead to fulfilment in an unfulfilling world.

I absolutely must give this book my highest recommendation – it is eye-opening in a way that is gentle and encouraging (rather than an overwhelming tide of information or a slap in the face). The real-life examples from Jay’s therapy clients are relatable and endearing, and will bring to mind all those conversations you’ve had on your friend’s sofa into the early hours, wishing you could find your thing.

In short, make Meg Jay and The Defining Decade your personal spirit guide to your twenties.

Meg Jay, in her book The Defining Decade, talks about identity capital, this idea that all of our life experiences add up to make us the people we are. From our love and relationships, to the work we do day-to-day, to the way we care for and use our bodies, we are building up the core of who we are and what we can then contribute to the world.

So here I am, sitting in an office of twenty-something-year-old graduate entrepreneurs, hoping that I am building up the right kind of identity capital.

The Defining Decade perfectly captures the anxieties of a generation, while simultaneously bestowing a hope that we can’t get from headlines about Millennials being lazy, killing industries, or buying too many avocados. While much of the media seems to berate us, Jay illuminates those possible pathways that lead to fulfilment in an unfulfilling world.

I absolutely must give this book my highest recommendation – it is eye-opening in a way that is gentle and encouraging (rather than an overwhelming tide of information or a slap in the face). The real-life examples from Jay’s therapy clients are relatable and endearing, and will bring to mind all those conversations you’ve had on your friend’s sofa into the early hours, wishing you could find your thing.

In short, make Meg Jay and The Defining Decade your personal spirit guide to your twenties.

Meg Jay, in her book The Defining Decade, talks about identity capital, this idea that all of our life experiences add up to make us the people we are. From our love and relationships, to the work we do day-to-day, to the way we care for and use our bodies, we are building up the core of who we are and what we can then contribute to the world.

So here I am, sitting in an office of twenty-something-year-old graduate entrepreneurs, hoping that I am building up the right kind of identity capital.

The Defining Decade perfectly captures the anxieties of a generation, while simultaneously bestowing a hope that we can’t get from headlines about Millennials being lazy, killing industries, or buying too many avocados. While much of the media seems to berate us, Jay illuminates those possible pathways that lead to fulfilment in an unfulfilling world.

I absolutely must give this book my highest recommendation – it is eye-opening in a way that is gentle and encouraging (rather than an overwhelming tide of information or a slap in the face). The real-life examples from Jay’s therapy clients are relatable and endearing, and will bring to mind all those conversations you’ve had on your friend’s sofa into the early hours, wishing you could find your thing.

In short, make Meg Jay and The Defining Decade your personal spirit guide to your twenties.

Meg Jay, in her book The Defining Decade, talks about identity capital, this idea that all of our life experiences add up to make us the people we are. From our love and relationships, to the work we do day-to-day, to the way we care for and use our bodies, we are building up the core of who we are and what we can then contribute to the world.

So here I am, sitting in an office of twenty-something-year-old graduate entrepreneurs, hoping that I am building up the right kind of identity capital.

The Defining Decade perfectly captures the anxieties of a generation, while simultaneously bestowing a hope that we can’t get from headlines about Millennials being lazy, killing industries, or buying too many avocados. While much of the media seems to berate us, Jay illuminates those possible pathways that lead to fulfilment in an unfulfilling world.

I absolutely must give this book my highest recommendation – it is eye-opening in a way that is gentle and encouraging (rather than an overwhelming tide of information or a slap in the face). The real-life examples from Jay’s therapy clients are relatable and endearing, and will bring to mind all those conversations you’ve had on your friend’s sofa into the early hours, wishing you could find your thing.

In short, make Meg Jay and The Defining Decade your personal spirit guide to your twenties.

Meg Jay, in her book The Defining Decade, talks about identity capital, this idea that all of our life experiences add up to make us the people we are. From our love and relationships, to the work we do day-to-day, to the way we care for and use our bodies, we are building up the core of who we are and what we can then contribute to the world.

So here I am, sitting in an office of twenty-something-year-old graduate entrepreneurs, hoping that I am building up the right kind of identity capital.

The Defining Decade perfectly captures the anxieties of a generation, while simultaneously bestowing a hope that we can’t get from headlines about Millennials being lazy, killing industries, or buying too many avocados. While much of the media seems to berate us, Jay illuminates those possible pathways that lead to fulfilment in an unfulfilling world.

I absolutely must give this book my highest recommendation – it is eye-opening in a way that is gentle and encouraging (rather than an overwhelming tide of information or a slap in the face). The real-life examples from Jay’s therapy clients are relatable and endearing, and will bring to mind all those conversations you’ve had on your friend’s sofa into the early hours, wishing you could find your thing.

In short, make Meg Jay and The Defining Decade your personal spirit guide to your twenties.

Meg Jay, in her book The Defining Decade, talks about identity capital, this idea that all of our life experiences add up to make us the people we are. From our love and relationships, to the work we do day-to-day, to the way we care for and use our bodies, we are building up the core of who we are and what we can then contribute to the world.

So here I am, sitting in an office of twenty-something-year-old graduate entrepreneurs, hoping that I am building up the right kind of identity capital.

The Defining Decade perfectly captures the anxieties of a generation, while simultaneously bestowing a hope that we can’t get from headlines about Millennials being lazy, killing industries, or buying too many avocados. While much of the media seems to berate us, Jay illuminates those possible pathways that lead to fulfilment in an unfulfilling world.

I absolutely must give this book my highest recommendation – it is eye-opening in a way that is gentle and encouraging (rather than an overwhelming tide of information or a slap in the face). The real-life examples from Jay’s therapy clients are relatable and endearing, and will bring to mind all those conversations you’ve had on your friend’s sofa into the early hours, wishing you could find your thing.

In short, make Meg Jay and The Defining Decade your personal spirit guide to your twenties.

Meg Jay, in her book The Defining Decade, talks about identity capital, this idea that all of our life experiences add up to make us the people we are. From our love and relationships, to the work we do day-to-day, to the way we care for and use our bodies, we are building up the core of who we are and what we can then contribute to the world.

So here I am, sitting in an office of twenty-something-year-old graduate entrepreneurs, hoping that I am building up the right kind of identity capital.

The Defining Decade perfectly captures the anxieties of a generation, while simultaneously bestowing a hope that we can’t get from headlines about Millennials being lazy, killing industries, or buying too many avocados. While much of the media seems to berate us, Jay illuminates those possible pathways that lead to fulfilment in an unfulfilling world.

I absolutely must give this book my highest recommendation – it is eye-opening in a way that is gentle and encouraging (rather than an overwhelming tide of information or a slap in the face). The real-life examples from Jay’s therapy clients are relatable and endearing, and will bring to mind all those conversations you’ve had on your friend’s sofa into the early hours, wishing you could find your thing.

In short, make Meg Jay and The Defining Decade your personal spirit guide to your twenties.

Meg Jay, in her book The Defining Decade, talks about identity capital, this idea that all of our life experiences add up to make us the people we are. From our love and relationships, to the work we do day-to-day, to the way we care for and use our bodies, we are building up the core of who we are and what we can then contribute to the world.

So here I am, sitting in an office of twenty-something-year-old graduate entrepreneurs, hoping that I am building up the right kind of identity capital.

The Defining Decade perfectly captures the anxieties of a generation, while simultaneously bestowing a hope that we can’t get from headlines about Millennials being lazy, killing industries, or buying too many avocados. While much of the media seems to berate us, Jay illuminates those possible pathways that lead to fulfilment in an unfulfilling world.

I absolutely must give this book my highest recommendation – it is eye-opening in a way that is gentle and encouraging (rather than an overwhelming tide of information or a slap in the face). The real-life examples from Jay’s therapy clients are relatable and endearing, and will bring to mind all those conversations you’ve had on your friend’s sofa into the early hours, wishing you could find your thing.

In short, make Meg Jay and The Defining Decade your personal spirit guide to your twenties.