Lorelei Vashti, Writer & Editor
We love Lorelei Vashti's writing, what she does with Women of Letters, and her hand in the wonderful Jacky Winter artist retreat in the Dandenong Ranges. Her creativity and talent always inspires us. She shares her thoughts on what social media does to us creatively, her current projects, and who her Véra Nabokov is. Thank you Lorelei for sharing your wisdom on the #shemakesnice blog.
What do you do?
I’m a writer and book editor. I also have a couple of ‘co-‘s to my name: I co-curate the Women of Letters events in Melbourne (with Marieke Hardy, Michaela McGuire and Gabi Barton), and I also co-manage Jacky Winter Gardens, a guesthouse and artist’s retreat in the Dandenong Ranges (with my partner, Jeremy Wortsman).
Do you have a maxim that you live and work by?
"If you’re going through hell, keep going!" (Winston Churchill actually said it first, but it has given me strength during various times in my life, from writing a book, to renovating a derelict cottage and turning it into a beautiful guesthouse, to childbirth.)
What are the three milestones that have led you to where you stand?
In 2010 I somehow got a job as a TV reviewer for The Age’s Green Guide, despite not owning a television at the time. I had to review TV shows every single week for a year, and it taught me so much about writing and discipline and never reading the comments on the internet.
In 2011 I left that job to travel through Turkey and France and to work on my weekly blog Dress, Memory. That led to a book contract with Allen & Unwin.
In 2014 the book of that blog was published, and I still can’t believe I got to write a book about my dresses and my life!
What is your dream project?
There are too many to mention—but I’d love to write for the theatre, or film and television.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
I’m currently finishing up a book about baby’s surnames. I know it sounds weird, but it came about because my partner and I had no idea what surname to give our daughter. So I’ve written a kind of handbook to help other parents-to-be who have two different surnames. It’s actually a surprisingly fun read!
I’m clearly obsessed with names, because I’m also starting a podcast about them. I can’t think of a good name for a podcast about names though. Send me suggestions, please?
What are you listening to, reading, watching of late, that is inspiring or entertaining you?
All the usual television suspects: this season of Girls has started off really promisingly, as has Broad City. I’ve found it hard to concentrate on a novel since I had a baby, but there is always something non-fiction and self-helpy on my bedside table: at the moment it’s Buddhism for Mothers and Gretchen Rubin’s Better than Before. I listen to a lot of podcasts because I drive a lot, but there’s too many great ones to mention: ask me and I’ll send you a list. And, like most of the Western world, I also can’t stop listening to the Hamilton soundtrack.
How can we find our more about your work?
If you could choose to hear any female contemporary present at Make Nice, who would it be and why?
I know this is a weird suggestion, because your un-conference is all about creative women who make stuff, but I would love to hear from more female sportspeople and the challenges they’ve faced over the course of their career because I suspect they might vaguely relate to mine in an obscure and interesting way. I think that if you’re talking about discipline and commitment, it’s not a massive stretch to compare a sportsperson’s life to an artist’s life (except that sportspeople are usually waaaaay more fit), and I’m really inspired by people who push themselves to achieve ridiculous goals like running really fast or shooting lots of goals. I also think exercise is crucial for we creative types, because the connection between a healthy mind and body is ineluctable, so the link is less vague than it at first appears. Do I fail at this question? I don’t care. My answer is Cathy Freeman!
What is the best advice you’ve been given, or wish you had been told sooner?
There are twenty-four hours in a day.
(It’s so logical! It holds out under intense fact-checking! It’s inarguably true! And yet it’s so often difficult to keep sight of this fact in a busy life crammed with deadlines and needy toddlers clinging to your leg.)
Do you have a supportive female network in your field? Was it always this way?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t. From growing up in a family of three sisters, to the earliest days of primary school friendships, to my time in an all-girl band and, now, watching my daughter and her friends play together, I’ve always been so much more interested in what women think and do. And my friendships with women have always been more passionate than my relationships with men.
In terms of work, I wouldn’t get by without my women writers’ network—I specifically have one friend, Sofija Stefanovic, who I send all my stuff to. I can’t publish anything without her reading it first. She’s my Véra Nabokov, except that I’m definitely not Vladimir Nabakov.
What is one facet of your field that you want to see change?
I’m having a lot of trouble at the moment navigating the social media aspects of being a writer. It takes up so much energy. I know other writers who can do it and not even think about it, but I’m a very slow writer, and a perfectionist, so even writing a Facebook status update takes me hours.
Becoming a parent has made me less of a perfectionist, but I’m still slow, and I have even more limited time now. I often take breaks away from Facebook and Instagram and when I do I feel this space opening up inside me and I feel like I am me again. I find I have more room to write from, better ideas, and this interests me. If I went off social media for an entire year, maybe I would actually be able to write something good! However, I also like to use it as an incubator for ideas; I often test ideas out on Facebook first, so it’s a bit of a dilemma.
I know this isn’t really something for the industry to change, and we all need the internet and it is a really great thing. But I would like to see my own individual expectations for what I am able to do on it change, and this also comes from the community’s expectations of what I should be doing in order to be a success. I want to find that balance where I can use the internet to enjoy having a connection with other writers and artists, as well as promote my work to my audience, but I still want to have some words left over for me.