Note from Sasha: I’ve been doing a series of happiness interviews with Londoners who I think are inspirational or happy or funny. Sian Meades was an obvious candidate – she has her own blog Sianyland where she writes about life and love and what is great about London. She is also the founder and editor of Domestic Sluttery which fills my inbox full of cute clothes, cakes and nice things for my flat, and also A Change Of A Dress. I wanted to ask her whether the process of writing itself makes her happy, how she finds all the treasures she writes about and where she goes in London when she needs cheering up. I love what she wrote (and it reminds me that a lovely winter’s day out is a walk round Greenwich park and lunch in a nice warm pub, long overdue…):
Photo of Siany courtesy of David Hobby: http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/
1. Have you always wanted to write? If not, what did you do before?
Yep! I’ve flirted with other creative careers, but I’ve always written. I did work in advertising sales after University, but that was to keep my lifestyle in London, rather than a dream career. I’m happiest when I’m doing something creative. I started blogging four years ago, and I’ve just started to send my novel to publishers.
2. What led to your setting up the Domestic Sluttery blog? What sort of response have you had?
Domestic Sluttery was a test blog for a publishing company. It wasn’t actually meant to be seen as it is, but things changed, and we decided it should go public anyway. We knew there was something about the content that would work. That was the best thing I EVER did. I work with the best group of girls, the opportunities I get through the site are amazing and it’s so much fun.
I think women like that we cover everything from interiors to cooking – something that I’ve never thought were miles apart from each other. The tone works, and the fact that the girls are all so different in their tastes mean that we cover a whole range of stuff! We do get women arguing that we’re part of ‘cupcake feminism’ which is frustrating, but any popular blog is going to have it’s negative feedback. I can’t spend my time getting upset about that, I’ve got a site to run and clients to keep happy! We’re never going to please everyone, but we don’t try to.
3. How do you discover what you write about – i.e. are you signed up to any good mailing lists or publications? And how did you find your network of Domestic Sluts?
I knew some of the girls from other projects, some of them got in touch, but recently we’ve been advertising and have found some excellent girls who fit into the team really well. A lot of it is just knowing that someone will fit perfectly. They’re a massively talented bunch, and they’re the reason the site works. Otherwise I’d just be writing about plates and wallpapr on my own.
The research into the site takes longer than anything else I do. Most of my Sunday is spent trawling magazines, the internet, blogs. Everything that inspires me. A lot of the London-based stuff is just found from walking about the place. But mailing lists I love are Daily Candy and the newer Keynoir. Qype (who I work for) always get news of openings before me. Pesky buggers. If I told you my other sources, you’d know all about the stuff I wrote about before I told you!
4. Your personal blog is upbeat and generally positive – like your recent posts on sending lovely emails or what you love about London. Are you a naturally happy person?
You want me to say yes to this, don’t you? I am happy, but the last post on my personal blog was about battling depression for the last two years, so I can’t say that I’m permanently happy all the time. I’m a positive person, which I think is something very different (and tends to result in me being happy). If something isn’t going well, I’ll do my best to change it for the better. You can do so much to improve your life, moaning about it is the least helpful thing you can do. I’d rather concentrate on the happy, but the little ‘happy list’ you see on my blog is me forcing myself to look at the good things in my life. I forget sometimes.
5. In general, what makes you happy or inspired in London?
My friends. Walking about for miles. Spending the day with my camera. I don’t need anything else. Oh, and the Rhodes bakery in Greenwich does an amazing pecan tart, that makes me super happy.
6. Do you find the process itself of writing how you feel, or things you like, makes you happier? Are there any downsides?
I don’t often write about the big stuff until it’s happened. Not even in private. Writing is what happens once my little brain has formulated everything. I know that if I can write about it, my head is doing OK with everything. I think that’s why my blog is as cheery as it is. Once I’ve dealt with something privately, it’s rare it’s still in my head, so it’s rare I remember to write about it.
That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy writing about happy things – I often use blogging as a form of escapism. And I love that people can read the happy posts and get enjoyment from them. But I’ll never write a blog post to cheer myself up. I just happen to be writing whilst I’m cheery.
7. The HPL believes you need to connect with, and give to, your wider community to be truly happy. How have you connected with the London blogging community and what benefits has this brought you?
The blogging community in London is fantastic. I’ve made friends for life through blogging, and that’s really important to me. It also helps that I have friends who blog, because the ones who don’t (as much as I love them) don’t understand that I’m happy to spend hours staring at my laptop screen. I try and get involved with LBM events (expect something very exciting early next year) and want to promote good blogging practice throughout. Or, go to the pub and have a beer. That works too.
8. What do you do or where do you if you’re feeling down or uninspired? Have you found any places in London that always cheer you up?
Greenwich cheers me up. I live down the road, and I can’t be grumpy there. There’s too much exploring (despite having lived there for nine years) and great cafes for sitting and watching the day go by. But the area is home to me, so being there makes me smile. So do the churros at the food market…
Food at Greenwich market, photo courtesy of Sian: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sianysianysiany/
9. How are you able to fit all this writing into your daily London life?
I work from home Seriously, people have an idea that freelancers are running all over London every day but that’s only true some of the time. Most of the time I’m sat on my sofa and working whilst watching the telly. If I’m good I’m allowed into town to work from a lovely cafe, or to finish early and go to the pub. I’m more flexible with my time, but running a website means long hours. I get to go to amazing places, but that sometimes means I’m working until 2am the next night. I’m happy with that, it suits me. I don’t think any freelancer ever manages the 9-5 very well. Most of us kinda like it that way.
10. And finally… imagine your perfect day in London – where would you go and what would you do?
It starts and ends in Greenwich. I want it to me more adventurous, but like I say, it’s home and it makes me happy. So brunch in La Fleur, the secret garden cafe (it’s my perfect day, so the sun is shining), beer in the Greenwich Union. A walk to the top of the observatory, nosing about the Painted Hall. Exploring streets I’ve never walked down for no reason. A walk around the market, spending too much on vintage dresses and Spanish food. Dinner somewhere fabulous and then ending in the jazz bar near the park. Way too much red wine, my favourite people, and a taxi home. Via the kebab shop.
The Painted Hall, photo courtesy of Sian: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sianysianysiany/