Letters from Lockdown 52: Leah Quinn

To the woman I want to be when I get out of here,

You’ve made a lot of progress lately.

When I think of the girl you were two years ago, I remember her fondly. When everything went south, starting from scratch felt like the hardest thing you’d have to do. Since then, you’ve found the girl in you that used to be happy. You got that hilariously cliché tattoo and it’s still the best decision you’ve ever made. You started that blog. You got a job. You worked too hard. You missed sleep. You crashed your car. You got too drunk too many times and woke up at the end of the Tube line. You dated some horrendous people. And some great people. You slept with the wrong person. Again. Some bad stuff happened. Some worse stuff happened. You wrote about it. You’re like this weird Jenga accumulation of everything you’ve been through and everything you’ve achieved. Keep moving.

Do you remember being seventeen and sending a guy your poetry felt more intimate than sending him nudes? You know you now post that stuff all over the place? Basically, got your butt out on any arts blog that will have you.

Your old open mics make you cringe. You can see yourself shaking. You also used to sound even more Hermione Granger than you do now. Your legs don’t shake anymore when you get on stage. The audience is gradually filling up with familiar faces smiling back at you. You’re part of something. They seem to take you seriously. Do more poetry nights. Meet more people. Learn new perspectives and intertwine any expertise nuggets into your work. Do not be fazed by the opinions of people no longer in your life.

Your kitchen is not an allotment. Repeat after me. Your kitchen is not an allotment. Your bedroom is not an allotment. That windowsill is not an allotment. Okay. Count the plants. This is getting out of hand. But they’re pretty and they’re green and you can put all your needy nurturing tendencies into something living. Give in. Your housemate won’t mind. Too much.

You just got accepted onto that MA. You are starting your MA in September. You’ve moved up one enormous, significant ladder rung towards the career that you want. You are terrified, and you will smash it. Read everything. Work hard. Get more work experience and don’t stop until you are a freelance editor in your townhouse with fifty years’ experience and your own work published. Don’t stop then either.

Aw, your lovely little blog. You remember it’s a book blog, right? Not a feminist issues blog? No? Never mind. Keep going with that. Keep writing. Make it better. Grow it. Write some more content. Market it. Social media that bitch. It forces you to write and it looks beautiful on the CV so just sell your soul to SEO and move on.

I’m proud of you. Keep going.

Love from the woman who didn’t think you could make it.

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