In this blog post, Gabrielle explains what a typical day is like in the life of a milliner and author.
Order appeals to me – I wrote a book of forms, after all – but I am not an orderly person. My flat is full of books, pictures, too many toys, curios, boxes of hats and things I know will be useful one day. I adore faces, so surround myself with them. Whether it’s a papier-mâché cat mask or Edna from The Incredibles, a face makes me question how someone or something else sees the world.
By virtue of having two entirely separate jobs (writing and making hats), my days are often a juggle but I’m lucky always to have a legitimate distraction from a tricky task. If I’m working on a hat, there are pockets of time, whether it’s between stiffening fabric, blocking a shape or sewing in a head fitting. These are indispensable moments to find that elusive word or check I haven’t just made one up! Meetings, admin and trips to Brockley, where Adèle Mildred lives, my partner in books and hats, impose all the structure I need and ensure my sleep pattern doesn’t become too owl-like.
At home, I work at a small drop-leaf table that spills over onto an old Singer treadle sewing machine, sitting in front of an inexplicably draughty double-glazed window. I have a corner view of the River Thames and overlook a row of six train tracks and their end-of-line buffer stops – it’s my very own Sodor (the fictional island where Reverend W. Awdry set Thomas the Tank Engine). From here I can watch commuter trains to and from Victoria Station and, if I time it right, the Pullman steam train puff past.
I start writing with a pen and paper, but once an idea has found some shape I tap it into my laptop and, almost as proof of progress, print it out. From there I can edit and scrawl ideas, carrying it around for passing thoughts. Liberty recently commissioned me to write a series of poems for their Christmas campaign and I’m certain verse benefits from a good walk (which brings to mind how my music teacher taught me to spell Rhythm: ‘Rhythm Has Your Two Hips Moving’). This week I will be working on a new writing project alongside a very unusual hat that will appear as part of an installation by Italian artist, Annie Rattie. It’s the kind of week where I need to factor in a little ‘that didn’t work’ time.
Sign Here: Twenty-Two Unofficially Official Pull-Out Forms to Apply for Dreams, Pets, More Pocket Money, Report Feelings, File Secrets and So Much More is available to order online or from your local bookshop or library.
Many thanks to Gabrielle for sharing this guest blog post with us and the publicist Liz for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.
Do check out the other stops on the blog tour too!