I don’t want to be modest.
It’s so easy to be, isn’t it? To give in to the sudden urge to underplay yourself, to quickly say, ‘Oh no, it’s nothing. It’s not a big deal.’ Brushing it off, worried about overselling, about being cocky, being too much.
I find myself doing that a lot when talking about Dear Damsels. ‘Oh you know, it’s just a thing I do,’ I say, after explaining to someone the submissions process, scrolling through the website, making them read some pieces, showing them photos of the annuals we’ve published.
‘A thing I do’, shamefully, does not sum up what Dear Damsels is: it’s every writer, every reader and every woman who has sat down and found herself reflected back in the words that we’ve published.
This is never more apparent than when we put on an event. I can be as coy as I want about what we’ve achieved, but it’s impossible to ignore what Dear Damsels really is when sat in a packed-out venue on Galentine’s Day, surrounded by creative and inspiring women.
I don’t want to be modest. Our event was great. It was a sold-out night in the basement of Waterstones Tottenham Court Road – who were wonderful co-hosts and even made us a personalised cocktail.
Abby and I fussed around beforehand in our matching-but-not-quite outfits (a Dear Damsels trait that you should be familiar with if you’ve been with us for a while), but there was no real need to fuss: the energy in the room was perfect, spilling out from the seats to the stage where we sat.
Our first panel on breaking taboos through sharing female experience was incredibly insightful and powerful. Becky from Anti Diet Riot Club, Chloe from FGRLS CLUB and Becca from Break the Habit Press all spoke honestly about the work they do, what is left to be done, and where we’re at now with the managing of societal pressures as women – leading to a lot of discussion in the drinks break.
The mood changed ever so slightly for the second half of the evening with a series of readings. Dear Damsels favourite Sara Sherwood broke hearts whilst making us laugh as she performed ‘Work in Progress’. Sara Jafari made us consider friendship across species in her piece ‘Narenji’, first published in TOKEN (an incredible magazine founded by Sara herself). Finally, we closed the evening with a set from 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE, whose electric performance and supportive presence meant that at the end of the night everyone wanted a copy of their book.
We were left feeling overwhelmed, high on adrenaline and rather hungry (well done to everyone who snuck meal deals in, we won’t tell). But over a week on, the main feeling we are left with is gratitude.
We don’t want to be modest. But we have to be, a bit, because we couldn’t have done it without our speakers, or you. Thank you all so much for coming, supporting, listening and laughing with us. Our Galentine’s Day Get Together was our biggest event yet. Its success means that we know we can keep growing and pushing ourselves to do more. And that’s a very, very big deal.
Dear Damsels is your collective.
We want to create a space on our website where you can find out what your collective is doing for you. Whether it be upcoming events, publications, projects or podcast episodes, this blog will be where we communicate directly with you about what is going on in the world of DD.