I’ve been published in the Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Kinfolk and others, and write a weekly column for the Scotsman newspaper. Here’s a selection of articles and essays:
Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.
Exits are all around us. They are the difference between travelling and arriving, being on the inside or outside. Whether signposted or subversive, personal or political, choices or holes we’ve fallen through, exits determine how we move around our lives, cities, and the world.
What does it really mean to ‘exit’? In these meditations on exits in architecture, transport, ancestry, language, garbage, death, Sesame Street and Brexit, Laura Waddell follows the neon and the pictograms of exit signs to see what’s on the other side.
How literary culture monetises digital data and how this impacts publishing.
Essay in anthology The Digital Critic, a non-fiction anthology on literary criticism in the digital era with fellow contributors including Will Self, Joanna Walsh, Lauren Elkin and more, edited by Houman Barekat, Robert Barry and David Winters, published by O/R Books, NYC, 2017. It has been reviewed by Kirkus and the Quarterly Review, and the Irish Times said, “It falls to Laura Waddell to make an important point about the disconnect between the users of digital publishing platforms and the code underlying those platforms.”
Working Class Girls and Working Class Art
A personal exploration of working against stereotype and the importance of arts access. Essay in Nasty Women, a non-fiction anthology on being a woman in 21st Century, edited by Heather McDaid and Laura Jones, published by 404 Ink, Edinburgh, 2017
Also produced by Audible as an audiobook
Nasty Women made headlines when it was championed by Margaret Atwood, attracting over £22k of pre-orders by kickstarter. It has been featured in the Guardian, The List, and numerous other publications, was chosen as one of Elle magazine’s “7 intelligent reads” for summer 2017 and a Rough Trade pick for Books of the Year, has been praised by figures including Nicola Sturgeon, Ali Smith, and Shirley Manson of the band Garbage, and was the best selling book of Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2017.
The Pleasure Button
Low income food inequality and my personal habits of high calorie hedonism.
Essay in Know Your Place, a non-fiction anthology on the working class, edited by Nathan Connolly, published by Dead Ink Books, Liverpool, 2017. It has been featured on BBC Radio 4, reviewed in the New Statesman and others, and chosen as one of the Spectator’s Reads of the Year in 2017.
My essay is excerpted in The Pool:
“I take joy in a little round plastic tub of cheese, with its matching round plastic lid, because it was one of the purest pleasures I’ve ever known. I press the pleasure button to order pizza. I press the pleasure button to temporarily forget all of this. I press the pleasure button because the other buttons were disconnected, ringing out.”
Other anthology contributions:
We Were Always Here (404 Ink)
We’ll Never Have Paris (Repeater)
Scotland the Brave? 20 Years of Change and the Politics of the Future
The Speculative Book 2019 (Spec Books)
Times Literary Supplement
Recognise, welcome and affirm: I visit the Decoding Inequality exhibition at Glasgow Women’s Library
“Artefacts from women’s lives, which stand physically, mentally, legally or artistically outside of societal norms, come from this outsider space.”
Read my weekly columns here
I’ve written about US immigration, the Mueller Report, the VIDA count, Valeria Luiselli, Max Porter, creativity in our culture, the last Blockbusters, Fleabag, Limmy, the surreality of Brexit…
Peer Review: Anais Nin
“In Anais’ writing, sensuality gushes everywhere, spilling over.”
Nabokov’s Lolita: the Latest Thing Millennials Have Supposedly Ruined
“The true publication history of Lolita is so much more interesting than boring, bad-faith millennial bashing. To claim that it would never be published now is a red herring; pretending we’re in a new and unique age of outrage obscures the very real sexual puritanism and the fierce opposition the book faced decades ago – and ignores how much we’ve moved on.”
Sequel Rights and Wrongs: Why Some Stories Should be Allowed to End
“I first read the final chapters of Call Me By Your Name through my fingers, completely torn between wanting and not wanting to know what happened next. But ultimately, Aciman’s ending underlines that youth and its pleasures are temporary, that just as the summer, with its heat and ripening fruit, must end, so too must the affair. That it does so makes the novel what it is: poignant and bittersweet.”
Is it Time for a Handmaid’s Tale Sequel, to Reckon with the Trump Era?
“The sharpness of Atwood’s depiction of structural oppression lies not only in the decrees in place to limit women’s freedom, but in psychological pressure. Hope is erased wherever possible, from the means of escape such as books – women aren’t allowed to read – and in more insidious ways, such as obscuring words with positive connotations on shop signs. Offred realises that when her generation – old enough to remember a different time – makes way for the next, there will be no frame of reference for those women to pin their resistance to.”
A ‘darker’ Pride and Prejudice? Oh please, there are other books to adapt
“Every reboot these days seems to be geared towards grittiness, to suit our troubled age. But don’t viewers deserve something truly fresh exploring these themes? Rather than mushing a 200-year-old book into a shape that resembles what we know today, like a particularly miserable papier-mâché.”
We Have Prominent Female Political Leaders – but Where are the Rest of the Women?
“I was struck by the rarity of standing in front of my television after a particularly long day at work and catching an all-female panel discussing the economy and taxation on a news show. They were invited for their expertise on this all-impacting issue and not, as so often the case, restricted to the editorial boundaries of how it pertains to women alone. This, to me, felt like watching the moon landing, in a political media and representational makeup still closer to 1969 than it should be.”
There’s a lot to celebrate in the world of Scottish literature
“Because books are a barometer of a society’s freedom of expression, and who has their voice heard and story recorded influences our democracy, it’s as important to invest in literacy and libraries and to break down barriers as it is to encourage new talent.”
Westminster’s workplace culture is symptomatic of our entire political system
“Everything about the plush leather and polished wood signals private club; shadowy and secretive rather than secure and serious and built on unwritten, ingrained systems of social conduct. Mocking, braying jeers complete a combative atmosphere of privilege initiated by the architecture.”
Pink Vacuum Politics
“There’s a fine line between creating space for women in politics and ghettoising them. Attempts to tackle ‘women’s issues’ must be inclusive, not exclusive.”
Fix The Train, Then Get On It
“A moderate level of dissent and the ability to handle it is the nature of a healthy and productive campaign movement that will avoid stagnation.”
Scotland’s New Women
“We’re nearly at the end of an energetic campaign period. Regardless of which way the vote goes in the Scottish independence referendum, women have created greater space and visibility for themselves in Scottish political discourse.”
Scottish Book Trust
Using An E-Reader Doesn’t Mean Ditching the Paperback
“Books have always been a part of my identity, and for a long time, that has been as physical a belief as my own body.”
Reads of the Year 2016
“I’m tired of Reads of the Year lists filled with men recommending men. To redress the balance and shake things up a bit, I’ve curated my own light hearted Reads of the Year list for TYCI, inviting friends likely to have fun and interesting suggestions to share their tips on their favourite writing by women in 2016.”
Brock Turner and the Nature of Consent
“There is a widespread lack of basic understanding of what actually constitutes rape and what constitutes consent, and the Brock Turner case is only one striking example.”
Issue 1: The Misunderstanding of PMDD
“Unanchored giggling and energy soaring like a helium balloon released from a sticky fist.”
Issue 3: KZNHD (a visit to the opticians)
Barcelona at Edinburgh International Book Festival
” It’s tempting to draw easy parallels between the constitutional debates of Catalonia and Scotland, and poets working in minority languages in both cultures, but the poetry itself, of course, cannot be generalised. It digs deeper.”
Jan 2017 Preview: the Audacious Women Festival
“With its collaborative and encouraging vibe, celebrating personal victories alongside historical groundbreakers, the Audacious Women Fest makes it easy to try something new.”
7/2/16 I’m happy Roosh V’s inadequates are not meeting in Scotland – but it’s not them who threatened me – it’s homegrown sexists
“I don’t believe in such a construct as a “masculine man” who we should expect to be disrespectful to women and who can’t be a victim of abuse. I do believe our society needs to stop shrugging these things off.”
8/5/16 Scottish Parliament 2016: Colours shuffled on map, but gender balance hasn’t evolved
“Since neither men nor women have a better inherent mental ability to stand up in Holyrood or talk tax, where there’s a disparity, there’s a problem.”