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5 lessons we learnt from author Sheena Patels’s podcast episode with CHANEL

5 lessons we learnt from Sheena Patels's podcast with CHANEL

If you haven't already found the time to sit down and listen to the latest 3.55 podcast les Recontres series episode from CHANEL, featuring a conversation with British author and film director Sheena Patel, then we highly recommend you add it to your to-do list this week.

After winning the 'Discover Book of the Year' at the 2023 British Book Awards for her debut novel I’m a Fan, Patel sat down with 3.55 podcast host Erica Wagner to discuss her processes, her women's writing collective, and why she feels most comfortable when she's uncomfortable.


1. Finding creative peers can be transformative

"It's essential, and without it I wouldn't have been writing," said Patel of her collective Four Brown Girls Who Write. Bringing together a group of friends who write gave Patel and the other collective members each a platform to share their work amongst kindred spirits, to which Patel added: "There's something here that we need to look after."

Having these kinds of spaces created where creative work to be developed gives each member the opportunity to be an audience for the other. People succeed in groups, is the common adage, and Patel put it best, saying: "That being witnessed in the writing process and being seen as taken seriously by each other was really transformative. It meant that as an individual we might not have much power, but as a four, we had an energy... a power."


2. She's got great taste in books

Patel mentions several books and reading materials that influenced the creation of her own novel throughout the interview. Early on, Patel sings high praise for Los Angeles-based artist Martine Syms' art book Shame Space. "It's beautiful," Patel gushes, "She is absolutely unapologetically appetite in her sentences. I was very liberated by that."

Other books Patel recommends?


3. Just. Start. Writing.

Patel speaks to her experience of imposter syndrome, feeling unable to pursue the idea of a full-blown book, despite encouragement from her peers. "I don't know how to write a book," Patel had told a friend, to which they respond "We'll help you."

Despite working full-time, lockdown in the UK meant that Patel had evenings and weekends to spend dedicated to writing the book, piece by tiny piece. "Even now I'm like 'How did I do that?' – I don't know how I did it," she reminisced.


4. Don't be afraid to do things a little differently

When asked by host, Wagner, why none of her book characters have names, Patel responds, "I don't know. It just came out that way". The author was unafraid to eschew traditional writing formats in pursuit of her most original and authentic vision for the piece – especially given that it was her novel debut. "I did this not really knowing how to write a book, and not really caring about the rules of it," she says.


5. Be okay with being bad at something

Further to her point, Patel points out that being outside of her comfort zone – "wherever you're most uncomfortable and scared" – is where the good stuff, or the "juice" as she calls it, happens.

"I'm very up for being bad at something. And learning through doing it. I'm actually most comfortable when I'm learning I think, and not knowing how something's been done before, and just... going for it. That's how I feel most comfortable."


Listen to the full episode below:

You can pick up a copy of I'm a Fan by Sheena Patel in bookstores now.

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