Brighton-based freelance journalist, Amy Lavelle, has written lifestyle and culture articles for the likes of The Telegraph, Huffington Post and Glamour. She’s appeared on BBC to discuss women's issues and is here today to chat about all things
Hi Amy! Talk us through your childhood, education and training. How did you get here? Where did it all begin?
[AMY] I like to tell the story of a relative storming my baptism, drunk and demanding the priest hand me over to them. I like to tell that story because it is my one anecdote. When I was a teenager, I entered a writing competition and one of the requirements was to write your autobiography. At the time, I thought this was stupid: nothing had happened to me, yet. And then I didn’t win, which was confirmation to me that everyone else found my life boring, too. Several years later, things have now happened to me, but I don’t think I’m any better at writing bios.
As for how I got here (since you asked), I’ve always known I’ve wanted to be a writer; my dad, on the other hand, wanted me to be a dentist. I went to school in Sussex, studied English Literature at university in London and when I graduated, I came back to Brighton to do my NCTJ qualification in magazine journalism. I worked for a few different places in staff roles after that then, in my mid 20s, I started working as a freelance journalist. I’ve been incredibly lucky in my career: I’ve managed to write for national newspapers, magazines I’ve been reading since I was a teenager and I’ve been on television. Most importantly, my dad has stopped calling me ‘my other daughter’ and started calling me ‘my daughter who writes for the newspapers’, which is really the true accomplishment. Then, for my 30th birthday, my husband booked me a place on a creative writing course, so I’ve been doing that alongside my job.
When did you know that writing was going to be your gig?
[AMY] I was twelve. I very sagely decided to be a journalist so I could support myself between writing novels. (I laugh drily, now, but I am still following a career plan made by a prepubescent, so there is no one else here to blame.) Cut to me reporting on the time my sister’s friend got sick at a sleepover. Newsworthy stories were scant growing up.
Tell us about your current projects. Where are you in your journey?
[AMY] At the moment, I’m working very hard, balancing my career with the course and everything that involves—mainly, lots of reading and writing. Really, so much of that. As that will be coming to an end soon, I really feel like I’m ready for a new challenge, so I’m keeping myself open to new projects. I’m going to have so much more free time! That’s the great thing about freelancing: you’re flexible.
Imagine an envelope lands on your doorstep next Monday morning. You open it. What’s inside?
[AMY] Ideally, the prize-winning work my future self has written and then had the foresight to send back to me, here, in the present. I would also accept something from ASOS.
Advice for the would-be writer?
[AMY] Become a dentist.
And those suffering from writers’ block?
[AMY] Someone recently told me (and by that, I mean someone quoted something someone else said in a newspaper) that there’s no such thing as writers’ block. I chose not to hear this. Reading lots and sitting at your desk and physically willing the words to come can also help.
Do you keep a diary? If so, please share an excerpt that you’re proud of and another that you’re not so proud of.
[AMY] *Ahem* “18th December, 2018. It was my New Year’s resolution to keep a diary this year, 2018, so here I am, getting started.”
Anything is possible. Share five goals you’d love to have achieved in the next five years.
[AMY] I would love to have written and published an obviously internationally best-selling novel. And then repeated that four more times. I will happily come back and talk to you again when this happens. I will have worked up another childhood anecdote by then, too.
Will you share another inspiring female creator with us?
[AMY] I would love to! I tend to go on about the inspirational women in my life a lot, but to narrow it down to one: Amy Woodward is a really fantastic artist. She really doesn’t need me to brag about her, but I’m going to anyway. She was chosen for the Saatchi New Sensations after she finished university and then Young London 2012 at V22 gallery. She did her Masters at the Royal Academy and has been called things like the ‘hot new talent’ in magazines by people that know more than I do, plus lots of other very exciting, impressive things that I should probably mention. She’s really worthy of the title ‘inspiring female creator’.