Leanne and Dan have asked me to write a blog a few times now and my usual response is to wrinkle my nose and sassily roll my eyes like a teenager who has been asked to tidy their room. This is not because I wouldn’t love to write one, but I didn’t feel confident to do so for two reasons. The first is that I am dyslexic, so any sort of written task fills me with dread. The second reason is that I simply can not find the words to express how much this bookshop has impacted my life. However today I found myself asking if I could finally write my blog. With a heartful of love and excitement and a little dash of fear, here I am. So here it goes, please excuse my spelling mistakes and bad grammar.
I will start by telling you how I got the job as a bookseller at Bookbugs and Dragon Tales.
One day on my way back from one of my many jobs (a newly graduated Actor trying to make ends meet) I messaged my Ex drama tutor, fellow actor, friend and honorary theatre Mum, Leanne, to see if she needed any help with her BOOKSHOP!!!!! Having extremely long arms and Leanne standing at a very respectable 4ft 11”, she needed my help taking down some shelves which of course I was happy to. After the initial catch up and excitement for her new life as a bookshop owner Leanne began talking about needing to employ staff. Ironically I had read the advert incorrectly, I explained that it would be a dream to work her for my ‘mum’ but I couldn’t commit to 6 days a week to which Leanne explained I was a fool and it was a job share and I would be working three days. What followed was a lot of hugs, tears of joy and high-pitched squealing. (We are both actors, so it was a very dramatic moment). I was going to be working in mum’s bookshop!!!!
Opening day came and I immediately knew I had made the best decision.
Now comes the part where I struggle to describe how lucky I am. I will be soppy and say that it has changed my life, now that may sound dramatic but here are my reasons. It is very rare as a freelance artist that you find a part time ‘bread and butter’ job where your boss actively encourages you to take the day off for auditions. It is even rarer that that boss is like your second mum. More than the practicality of it, it is the energy that this shop has that has enriched my life and I see daily how it enriches the lives of others. BUT, the biggest thing is… I AM READING!!!! This is a big deal for me, it is something I have always struggled with, at the age of 21 I was told I had a reading age of a 10-year-old. This would make sense as the last books I can remember enjoying were Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom and Phillip Pullman’s The Firework Makers Daughter, both of which I always recommend to children struggling to enjoy reading. When I started working at Bookbugs and Dragon Tales it was the source of a lot of friendly banter that I, ME, Poppy, worked in a bookshop.
Leanne made it her mission to help me find my confidence in reading, a mission that she has accomplished. The book that started it all off was her recommendation of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I devoured this book, at my own pace and I never thought a book would have such an impact on me. I sat on my sofa weeping through the last chapter. Bereft that I had finished it I came into work and got a new book straight away. I chose The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I chose this because I love thrillers and I hoped that it would help to increase the momentum of my book reading. Which it totally did. I am now coming to the end of Never Greener by Ruth Jones and I am looking forward to moving onto Normal People by Sally Rooney. THIS, is why I finally wanted to write my blog, I have found a hunger for reading. I am chuckling at myself now writing this because I still cannot believe I have been consistently reading for 5 months!
Among the novels that I have enjoyed, I have also been reading numerous poetry books, collections and pamphlets. I am also a poet but have never had the confidence to do anything with it, but reading energised me and encouragement from everyone at Bookbugs and Dragon Tales has meant that I attended workshops and I am now writing more and performing my poetry.
I have learnt that reading can be enjoyable even after years of it being scary. I will be running a creative writing workshop in February Half term for 7+ years. This is accessible to those who have a dyslexic superpower like me. Everyone is welcome, whether you find writing easy, hard, scary or wonderful. We will be using drama and game play as a way to create story with the aim to take the pressure off being ‘good at writing’ and instead celebrate your imagination and creativity.
In conclusion, what a joy, I am so lucky and forever grateful to Leanne and Dan for giving me the most wonderful job and putting up with all my sass towards reading and writing.
Pops is very humble and finds it difficult to promote herself which, as a self employed Theatre practitioner, isn’t great. If any of what you have read here makes you want to know more, please follow her on Twitter or attend Toast at Norwich Arts Centre where she performs regularly. She also provides creative writing, spoken word poetry and drama workshops to local schools as Grape Arts Theatre Company and you can see a short poem of hers here