This month I am talking with wordsmith, feminist and ultimate gal pal Laura Jane Williams, who coincidentally her name isn’t actually that. Her name is actually just Laura Williams, but with a saturated market and a bagillion “Laura Williams’ online, and far fewer Laura Jane Williams’ she went with that! Laura lives in north London and writes books, has a dating column and runs creative writing workshops, as well as other project which she can’t talk about just yet.
Laura is also Marie Claire’s #BREAKFREE from Fear ambassador and has written for Stylist, The Telegraph, The Guardian, RED, Buzzfeed, The Metro… to name but a few. Laura believes in living first and writing second, though, and that none of us is fucking up like we think we are. Storytelling is what will heal us all. Also: cream cheese frosting. She believes in cream cheese frosting, too.
1. I am so happy to be interviewing you. I have followed your story since the article on the Mail went viral about you ‘bed-hopping’ your way around the world following a break up. What was it about travel that helped you get through bad times?
Oh god, that article was the most mortifying thing to ever happen to me. Basically, the top result if you Google my name is that I am a massive whore, which is… well. I’m not, but it also makes me so cross that I feel like I have defend myself, too. Who cares that I am blonde and do yoga on a beach have had (*shock!* *horror!*) sex? So much of my book was taken out of context for that “news” story – I think there were a few disappointed readers when they bought the book and it’s actually more about my heart than who was in my bed. Anyway. Yes, I travelled after heartbreak – because I have always travelled. And I suppose the big draw for me is that you get to try on different parts of your personality when you’re away from home. That’s fun. You get to figure out who you are when nobody you know is looking, and that makes you braver. I like feeling brave.
2. I read an article earlier this month which referred to you as the modern-day Bridget Jones. Do you mind being called this, or is it something that bothers you?
LOL – where?! I take it as a massive compliment. The thing about Bridget is that she was so massively flawed, but we liked her anyway. I’m a big fan of any protagonist who takes the lead role in their life, and whose main objective as a human is to simply find a place where they feel comfortable with themselves. That’s what we’re all after, in the end, isn’t it? To know we’re loveable, just as we are? So if I can be compared to the ultimate “pop culture” example of a (albeit fictional) woman like Bridget, I am honoured. I took so much comfort from Helen Fielding’s stories about her.
3. Why is it so important as a generation that we become more open about our personal lives, whether that be sex, careers, marriage and/or life expectations?
I don’t think there’s any expectation that we should be open about things that are personal to us, but certainly when folks are it creates a “me too” environment that lets those around us that they’re not alone in either their joys or their upsets. It all comes back to wanting to know that our lives have value, that we matter – we all want to be feel seen and heard, at the heart of it. So sharing is a great way to do that.
4. In today’s modern day, it seems everyone has the fight or flight trigger when it comes to relationships and unfortunately a lot of the time, they tend to fly. I loved what you said in your Grazia interview about your parents’ marriage, as it is the same for me, my parents that have been together 26 years, are happy and love life. But does that mean we set ourselves high expectations for our own relationships?
Yeah, we’re fucked by the expectations a lot of us have for relationships! Totally and utterly fucked. For all of “openness” we’re also a lot less tolerant of each other on the dating scene, always looking for another, better option, because apps and the internet sort of make us believe we can. We’re a lot less mature than our parents in that respect, I think. We don’t know what it is to stay, or be uncomfortable. We’re told if something isn’t comfortable or convenient then we are worth more than that, that we should walk away. But… the good stuff needs work sometimes. I, personally, am still absolutely learning that – in relationships, and in life. That sometimes staying is worth it.
5. Love your latest book Becoming, and I hear you have another book out in April 2017 called Ice Cream for Breakfast? Tell me more!
Ice Cream for Breakfast is about how rediscovering your inner child can make you calmer and happier. Basically, right around the time Becoming came out I suffered burnout: I was diagnosed with low-level anxiety and depression and ended up medicated and in therapy (both marvellous things, that I wholeheartedly recommend!) I took a step back from my “career” and nannied some local kids part-time. On my worst days they were the reason I got out of bed: again, on my worst days, I would go make them breakfast and take them to school, head home to bed and sleep all day, then wake up to go get them from school. I just couldn’t face writing. And over the nine months I did that, I slowly came back to life because of the lessons they inadvertently taught me: things like how to seek out adventure and how to find joy in your body and the importance of saying how you feel and loving fully and forgiving and saying when you’re angry and hugs. So, this is a book that complies all that “advice” they accidentally gave me, because connecting with my own inner child saved me. I feel like a lot of other people would like to know how to do that, too. So the book is me sharing some stories from that time in my life.
6. I follow you on all social media and love your wit, confidence and openness. What is it about social media that you do or don’t like?
Urm, I mean, I have this really lovely but little audience of people who just totally get “it”, you know? Like, the people who follow me are witty and confident and open themselves, I think, so it feels like a really safe space to be who I am because I’m always being told by them it’s okay. Does that make sense? It’s like, the more I share the more I want to share, because the cheerleading is so loud. So: that’s what I like! What I don’t like fades in comparison to that, so I’ll choose to focus on the good 🙂
7. When it comes to daily life struggles there is always a place where you feel most comfortable. Mine is the chair in the window at my mum’s house. Where is your calm place?
I’ve created a really lovely bedroom for myself at home, but the house in general is dreamy. I’m an absolute minimalist in that I don’t keep anything around that isn’t either beautiful or useful. It it isn’t one of those two things, I throw it out or donate it. I’m like that with my wardrobe, my inbox, my friendship circles… it’s gotta make me feel, man!
8. What mantra do you live by?
Just show up. If you wanna write a book, you gotta show up to the blank page every day. If you wanna master a handstand in yoga, you’ve gotta get on the mat. If you wanna meet the man of your dreams, you’ve gotta start striking up conversations in coffee shops and in line at the post office! Just show up. Show up to the occasion of your own life.
9. Are you a coffee or a tea kind of girl?
I’ll have whatever you’re drinking. Cheers, doll.
10. And finally, I ask everyone this, who is your ultimate travel partner?
Megan Gilbride — @Wonderful_U – is a great travel partner. We experience places in a very similar way. I’m not one for ticking every “important” activity off the list of a place, you know? I’d never go to Egypt without seeing the Pyramids, but I’m very much more a “wander off and see what happens” kind of traveller, with not a lot of forward planning. Megs is the same – we’re equally happy picking a spot in a piazza and people-watching, or ensuring a great lazy lunch, over queuing for three hours to see the big tourist attraction that we’re overpaying for simply because everybody else does it. I once lived in Rome for a year, and not once visited an art museum… but I can tell you exactly where to get the best carciofi alla giudia. That says more about me than anything else, I think.
Thank you Laura for talking to me and my followers. WOMEN RULE. Who else would you like me to interview? Let me know in the comments!