Chapter W Co-Founder sat down with writer Laura Jane Williams about the release of her brilliant second book ‘Ice Cream For Breakfast’, talking how Nannying inspired her to take a leaf out of the children’s book, and embrace that child-like innocence to tackle life’s everyday problems…
Can you describe Ice Cream for Breakfast in 140 characters?
A book about how rediscovering your inner child can make you calmer, happier, and solve your bullsh*t adult problems 🙂
What was the writing process like for the all important second book?
It was… quick! The turnaround from proposal to deadline on this was really fast. My publisher had an idea about a book based around embracing your inner child, and asked me if I thought – with the nannying experience I had posted about online, a job I took after my first book came out and I took a writing break – I might be the woman for the job. I put together a proposal, and the day after we sent it off they put in an offer, with France and Brazil following not long after. We knew it needed to be a spring book, and this was all happening last autumn, so suddenly the clock was ticking! The thing is, though, is that I was so ready – so ripe – for telling this story that it flowed out. I didn’t get writer’s block or worry about much: I just wanted to write down, for the memory of it all, what I had indeed learned when I nannied three girls in north London for nine months.
Do the wonderful girls who inspired you realise how bloody INSPIRING they are?!
I tried to explain to them that they teach me stuff all the time, but I don’t think they really “get it”. But, I do choose to believe that they know they are very loved by me, and that’s why even though I don’t nanny them any more I still see them and hang with them and spend time with them when I can. They’re like, my best buddies, man!
What’s your favourite piece of advice within the book?
Honestly? The second chapter, about sleep. Like – we’re so adamant kids get enough, and yet with us, as grown ups, when we’re stressed or busy it is the first thing that gets cut! It’s so counter-intuitive! So I’m proud to be drawing attention to how sleep isn’t a luxury, but a necessity. If you prioritise sleep, you’re prioritising yourself. Your life.
Do you see ‘Becoming’ as a separate entity to this novel, a new chapter of your life?
Yeah, it’s absolutely separate. You don’t have to have read BECOMING to understand ICE CREAM CREAM. In fact, BECOMING was quite niche, really – the story of a twenty-something woman’s sex life – and I feel like ICE CREAM has a much broader appeal beyond other women my age. So. I’m excited to see who this ends up in the hands of! I’m excited to think it might let me access a whole new audience.
Other than these bloody fabulous children, what other women inspire you everyday?
Right now I’m really into the women in the sex blogging community – if you want to see body positivity in action, it’s there! They’re doing it! They’re owning what it is to be perfectly flawed and 200% hot with it!
If you could give a piece of advice to yourself 10 years ago, what would it be and why?
As I was turning 21 I was incredibly unsure of myself. I was travelling, in India, and just on the verge of admitting to myself that I thought I could write and might like to go to university to study it, properly. So. I guess I’d tell myself to trust the process. That it is work to follow your dreams, but they will stay just that without the sweat and tears to make ’em happen. I’d also tell myself to chill out a bit, too: I’ve always worked very, very hard. A vacation wouldn’t have stopped me “succeeding”.
What advice would you give to young women hoping to write their own memoirs?
Sit down and write. No excuses. You can’t edit a blank page and so be the person who actually sits down to write, instead of the person who talks about sitting down to write. And… read! Read novels and other memoirs and sci-fi and the backs of cereal boxes and street signs. You’ve no business writing if you don’t read. Soak up as much as you can, underline and highlight and make note of what you like and what you don’t like, and talk about the words that excite you, too. Engage with literature, basically.
You have such an uplifting and inspiring voice, what do you everyday to find your happiness?
Awwww, that’s really kind of you! Thank you! I work really hard not to be happy – chasing happiness is like trying to grip soap – but whole. Being whole is about knowing up balances down, that anger happens and so does excitement and lust and disappointment and it all counts. It all matters. Feel what you feel, and then let it go. That’s what I try to practice, anyway. Feeling ~everything~, and knowing not of it is forever. Another feeling always comes along to be felt.
And finally – other than Ice Cream for Breakfast – what should we read next?
Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa comes out in June, I think, and I read a preview copy that had me GRIPPED. It’s beautiful. And also, “The New Girl” by Elle’s transgender columnist Rhyannon Styles. That’s a really important book, too.