Slipping Back into Normality

And as a result, I’m feeling exhausted. Anyone else?


On Monday, just after 7:30 am, I boarded a train for the first time since March 2020. The chilly air wrapped around my face but gave me some welcome relief from the claggyness of wearing a mask. It was a bit of a surreal moment, but an important one for stepping back into normality — whatever that’s supposed to now mean.

Apart from a brief three-week stint in the run-up to Christmas, Monday was my first day back at work in fourteen months. If you had told me at the beginning of March this was what my life would be like for over a year; I would have laughed. It’s funny how small things — like getting a train — have become so abnormal in the last year. Amidst the excitement of something that seemed so ‘new,’ it was nice to be able to sit on a creaky train and rumble into the town where I work.

Despite customers not fully returning until next week, I found the day to be exhausting, to say the least, but it was nice to see colleagues I haven’t seen for the best part of a year. As I ease my way back into what my life used to be like in March 2020, I want to continue the writing habit I formulated during those empty months. It’s given me a great form of release, creativity and an integral coping mechanism to this uncertain year. It might be harder to fit around work and everything else, but I will try.

I hope this week’s newsletter finds you all well and gradually slotting back into ‘normal’ life. Remember, it’s perfectly acceptable to go at your own pace. Only do things you are comfortable with.


Article recommendations 

  • For those of us who tend to have an addictive, obsessive personality, it can be easy to slip into unhealthy patterns of exercise, eating, and restriction. When I used to run regularly, I would beat myself up every time I hadn’t improved my distance or pace. I’ve since been able to have a better relationship with running (on the rarity that I do go!), and Sophie F. writes about this so well — My Experience with Disordered Eating and a Fitness Obsession.
  • A refreshing and uplifting take on why age is predominately a societal construction. For those of us who fear edging slowly but surely towards our 30s, this is a brilliant read by Dan Cadmus — Why I Don’t Fear Turning 30
  • Sometimes I think even I am too old to want to be a writer/journalist and I should have started years ago (I’m 23 for reference), but I know this is silly, as some people start way later in life. This is an inspiring and uplifting article (Are You Waiting To Be Too Old To Start Writing?) about always being prepared to pursue your dreams, even when you think it’s too late. By Vishnu*s Virtues.
  • Everyone has had a different experience of the pandemic. This group article by all the Backbench editor’s (including me!) really shines a light on this difficult year — The Pandemic: Our Personal Perspectives.

Book recommendations 

Image created by the author using Canva

Merging the Drift, Tom Bray

Although this took me a long time to read, this is no reflection on what I thought of the book. I’m reading everything at a snail pace at the moment because that’s all I can do. Also, I read about 3–4 books at once so it’s bound to take me that bit longer with every read. I thought this was a highly original and uplifting book. It’s an intriguing story with lots of twists and turns that all comes together with a satisfying ending. I may be a little biased, as I interviewed Tom for a feature in A Thousand Lives, but I highly enjoyed his first novel. I will be writing a full review soon.

Stoner, John Williams

It’s been a while since I read this (2016, in fact) but I can remember absolutely loving it. It’s a strange, untypical novel that follows the life of William Stoner, born at the end of the nineteenth century. He studies English literature, becomes a professor and falls in love with a student, which is a million words away from his upbringing in a farming family. As a result, he’s estranged from his parents and lives a life of perpetual loneliness. It’s a novel about circumstance, regret, love and the shortness of life.


What I wrote this week



This hefty chunk of reading material should be enough for one week! In all seriousness, I need to up my reading game. Not because I feel pressured to read loads of books this year (quite the opposite) but just because I miss having that quiet time curled up with a book. I hope you all have a great weekend, Violet x

If you enjoyed this newsletter, please consider giving me a tip at paypal.me/Violet977I don’t feel comfortable charging anyone for this newsletter, but I am a graduate who is just starting and trying to make a living. Whether you can donate 5p or £5, I’d be forever grateful. Thank you.



I Went Back to Work for the First Time in 14 months

Observations and thoughts from this momentous day and returning to normality


The sun was already shining into the room before it hit 6 o’clock this morning. I knew as I had been awake before my alarm. The night before, I panicked that I would sleep through because I am not used to being awake at that early hour.

My body was high on the excitement and nerves of returning to work for the first time since March 2020. I briefly did a stint at another store in the three weeks before Christmas, but this was going to be something else. I had to brave public transport, the commute and a whole set of people I haven’t seen for fourteen months.

Despite the lack of sleep and being awake at 6:30 am on a Monday in May, it made me think about how much the world had changed since the last time I took that journey. And most importantly, how much I had, too.


The town I work in somehow looks emptier but packed full of life

As I wandered down all too familiar streets as the morning sun hit the shiny windows, I was struck by how many places were boarded up and empty. Many livelihoods and local businesses had obviously not made it out to the other side of the pandemic. Those people would never be able to make a return journey to a place they knew and worked in before. It was all gone.


But as I walked, I noticed that there were new leases of life everywhere. Another set of people were willing to take a shot at owning a bar, pub, shop or restaurant when a lot of the street had given up hope, thanks to the pandemic. As I went about my day and eased myself back into work, I found myself taking frequent glances out of the window. I was shocked to see streams of people — having been on my own for most of the year.


People were sitting outside in the sun, walking dogs, carrying children and living life for all of us to see. Because for months before this, it has largely been behind closed doors, and our streets have been stagnant.


Life was bursting out of the seams when I looked out of that window, but yet there was so much that had grown lethargic, even motionless.


There’s something entirely comforting about being surrounded by books and like-minded people


I’ve been curled up in my flat for the best part of the year. In the darkest months of the pandemic, I would go for weeks without seeing another person (aside from my partner.) Today felt better. Being surrounded by books in my flat felt like being in a room full of lots of people and stories, because in essence, that’s exactly what they are, aside from physical objects.


And I was getting hints of that familiar feeling by being back at work. In case you hadn’t guessed by now, I work in a bookshop. A wonderful bookshop in a busy high street, staffed by some of the nicest, most welcoming and friendly people I have ever met. As I walked through the door, I was hit by that familiar book smell and the comfort that being surrounded by shelves full to the brim with books often brings.


It takes a particular type of person to walk (and browse in) a bookshop. But we are usually all pretty similar. Being back there today made me realise just how comforting it is and how much it was missed during the empty months that have just been.


Getting up before the rest of the world is tough but endlessly rewarding

Okay, 6:30 isn’t that early. I am exaggerating a bit. However, a lot of people aren’t up at that time. I was dreading it the night before, as I always get this feeling of nervous anticipation before starting something new. I wasn’t worried about going back or anything like that; I just had butterflies in my belly and found it hard to settle (and sleep.)

The thought of getting up at 6:30 when I’ve been treated to a year of getting up on my own terms and having lazy mornings was tough. But when it came round to it, I was raring to go, even waking up half an hour before my alarm.

As I sit here and write this, fourteen hours later, my eyes are weary, and I can feel an enormous weight of tiredness washing over me. My feet ache, and my brain is tired from the constant socialisation. But was it worth it? Yes, always, for the accomplishment it brings. I know my day has been spent well, and I have made another step back to normality.


I wanted to write today, but I didn’t quite know what I would feel up to because of the long day I’ve had. I’m not sure if this adds any value for anyone else, but that’s okay. Writing doesn’t always have to. It’s a means of expression at its finest, and sometimes, it’s okay to be selfish and only mean something to the person writing it.

At its core, this is a snapshot of my day, but maybe it will be enjoyable to read for others. I’m going to try and push through and continue to write whilst I’m at work, even if I’m tired because I love it. Writing to me is one of the only things that make sense in this world, so I have to do it.

I hope you have all had a good start to your week. What are you up to? Let me know if you like 😊

Further reading:

I Was One of the Top 1000 Medium Writers In April

3 History Books That Will Change the Way You See the World


Please note, this was originally published on Medium.com

Lots of Words and Heavy Rain

From the moment I woke up, until well into the evening, the rain has been constant and unrelenting.

But I don’t mind, I’ve always been someone who finds great comfort in the gentle pattering of raindrops on the windows. It makes me feel cosy, I can wear a jumper and indulge in hot drinks without breaking a sweat.

When the alarm went off this morning, I thought it must be a joke because it looked like the dead of the night. The sky was a dark blue and the only glimmer of light came from a flickering lamppost in the distance. Reluctantly, I dragged myself out of bed and went to make some coffee.

Today I’ve felt sleepy and a little demotivated, but I still managed to get my words done and have ended up writing over 3,000 in total.

I’ve started to do a morning ritual exercise called “Morning pages” that I’ve only just learned about. Instead of doing it by hand, I’m using a website called 750 words. The idea is that more or less as soon as you wake up you just write about what comes into your head straight away. It’s a bit like stream of consciousness journaling, I’m quite enjoying it and find that it gets the cogs turning before I settle down to do anything else.

I chose to exercise from home today, as Covid-19 cases are dramatically increasing in recent days and we were put into Tier 2 last week. The gym does feel safe, but from now on I’m going to limit my access more. And as today was rainy, I didn’t particularly want to go out and walk to the gym in it as I’d be soaked before I got there.

If all goes to plan, I should be back to work by November so I’m trying to get as much written as I can, so I have things to post alongside working. Although I expect to be working fewer hours than I was on previously, and if Boris orders a circuit breaker, then I guess the whole return would be halted.

If you’re in the UK and feeling a sense of dread due to the handling of this crisis, I can truly emphasize. But we must stay positive. I hope this finds readers optimistic, despite the hardship and difficulty that living through this time is.

Violet 🍂 

Sunday Post #6

In this weekly wind up, I recap what I’ve published during the week and share with you what I’m currently reading. I hope you’ve all had a great week, and continue to stay safe in these challenging times.


I’m going to be honest – I am struggling to write and I’ve been feeling like this for quite a few days. I have so many ideas for things, but when it comes down to sitting and writing, I lack the motivation and will to string words together.

This weekend I’ve been feeling very low in general, and I think that’s partly to do with my hormones and everything that goes with that – so I’m not going to be too harsh on myself, but I am disappointed as I wanted to get lots of writing done this weekend. I wouldn’t mind usually but I’ve been commissioned a lot of copywriting work to do next week which is going to take up most of my time, so I’d hoped to get some posts written that I could publish. It hasn’t happened – but I guess it’s not the end of the world.

I’ve haven’t even felt like reading these past few weeks – which is very unlike me. Every time I pick up a book I find it hard to concentrate and get absorbed in the story. As a result, I’m still reading the same book I was about three weeks ago when I updated you. It feels like a bit of a failure, but we can’t be perfect all of the time. I’m hoping I’ll get my reading mojo back soon.

The seasons have well and truly changed and we’ve had constant rain for just over a week. The leaves are beginning to fall and the nights are drawing in. I do love Autumn but this year it’s filling me with a lot of anxiety due to the uncertainty that remains. October is the last month of the furlough scheme, and after that, I have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s only a few weeks to go and yet I still don’t know what’s happening with my job. The virus is picking up rapidly, and we had over 12,000 reported cases yesterday – and it feels like it’s going to be a very bleak winter. But I’m trying to stay positive – as always, and continue to write.

This is a bit rambly to read but quite cathartic to write, I hope you don’t mind!


What’s Been Published (2 week round-up)

Book Review: Such a Fun Age

Time is All We Have: Reflections on Grief, Loss, and Living Peach Street Magazine

Is Reading Productive? Medium, An Idea

An Essential Read: The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Medium, Curious

5 Reasons Why You Should Read “Such a Fun Age” (Can you tell I really liked this book?) Medium, Books Are Our Superpower


So, October was a big milestone for me in terms of writing as I made over £100 on Medium, which was up from £0.95 from my first month. I’m writing for me and because I love it, but it’s amazing to be getting recognized for my efforts and I’m starting to feel like I’m building up an audience over there. I think Medium is a fairer platform for writer’s and eventually, I’ll publish solely on there, but this blog will always be here for reviews and everything else.

As I said, I’m still reading the same books I was in my last update so I won’t repeat myself and tell you again. As always, you can always follow me over on Goodreads to stay up to date.

I’ve got a few things in the pipeline that should be published soon – including a piece for Black History month and a lifestyle piece exploring adult acne. I’m hoping that next week is going to be more positive and I can get out of this slumber!


Happy reading and keep staying safe!

Sunday Post #5


In this weekly wind up, I recap what I’ve published during the week and share with you what I’m currently reading. I hope you’ve all had a great week, and continue to stay safe in these challenging times.


Things already seem incredibly different this week compared to last Sunday. The UK is seeing rising Covid cases and we’re already running out of tests before the Winter even begins. There are murmurings that something is going to be announced, but who knows what, the government are unpredictable by nature and I wouldn’t be surprised if something changed overnight.

I had a tweet blow up Friday night, and couldn’t believe some of the comments – I even had to block and report people who were saying Covid-19 was a hoax. But there you go, that’s the kind of world we live in.

I’ve been writing a lot this week and have continued my success on Medium, nearly securing 2.3K views on one post. It feels different there and I feel like people read what I have written. Yesterday I managed to write a whopping 4,000 words and I’ve still been keeping to my daily habit of writing something every day. But as always, some days it’s easier than others. This weekend I’ve written practically nothing, but figured I probably deserved some time off. 

It is starting to feel like Autumn in the mornings, as we’re getting the golden kind of sun that I know and love. It’s still fairly warm during the day but the nights are drawing in and I’m probably a bit too excited about having to wear a dressing gown in the mornings.

There’s still a lot of uncertainty about my job, as there is only one month left of the furlough scheme. It is a worrying time, but hopefully, I’ll be able to cling on.

I’ve posted relatively little this week, but I have been writing daily to try and make sure I can work to publishing something every day. Here’s what I published this week.

There are lots of things in the works for the weeks ahead, so hopefully, I can work towards establishing some kind of publishing schedule to spread things out in an organised way. If I go back to work, I’m going to need to do this to try and manage my time better.


This Week on the Blog

Book Haul #1 ~Ali Smith, Ottessa Moshfegh, Zadie Smith & More

This Week – Elsewhere

5 ‘Difficult’ Books Worth Reading, in Books Are Our Superpower

The Daily Routine of a New Writer


I’m currently reading the same books as I was last week, but I’m nearly finished with Such A Fun Age – I am enjoying it so far and I think it will be one of my favourite books this year. I’ve been dipping in and out of Quiet, as it’s quite heavy going because of its academic approach. I’m finding that I am relating to it a lot though – due to being a natural introvert. I suspect it will take me a while to read but I don’t mind that. 

Next week you can expect a review of Such A Fun Age, though I expect it will be quite a difficult one to write, as it’s a complex book.


Happy reading, and keep staying safe.