The Magic Cottage

I have to mention another life-affirming weekend, way back at the end of January. Not to say the default harrumph-around-the-house weekends aren’t life affirming, but anyway…

The sassy Sas invited me and three fellow self-employed ladies to the Cotswolds for what she dubbed a #ladybossretreat.


We stayed in the gorgeous ye olde cottage above. It was designed to age just so over the centuries, to reach a perfect level of crumbliness in time for the invention of Instagram.


I’d travelled seven hours on the train in lieu of an hour’s flight, to give myself a ridiculous amount of time to switch from introvert to social mode. My plan was to curl up in an armchair and simply observe at first, like a crow lurking on a telephone wire. Or offer to make tea all the time.

But the moment everyone arrived all friendly and laughing, and pretty much immediately changed into loungewear and slippers, I felt a wee jolt of elation and meant-to-be-ness. I was all in, baby!

Once the cosy fire was lit, we gathered round and each said what we hoped to get out of the weekend. My thing was a desire to feel more legitimate about being self-employed. Despite paying my bills for going on three years, it still felt accidental and fleeting, like I was really just noodling around on the internet.


Next Sas each had us draw a card from a deck of animal cards, so we’d have a little symbol for the weekend. I drew a card with a bat on it. A BAT? What the hell? But according to the little book that went with the cards, the bat was a symbol of rebirth. I was up for that.

I wanted to nick that bedspread!

Over the next day, each person had an hour in the spotlight where we talked about an aspect of our business that needed a sounding board. Everyone raised what seemed like a very straightforward, practical topic but they all turned out to be so much deeper and interesting. Layers were unravelled, buttons were pressed, honest conversations were had, emotional ponds were dredged and all the bodies and shopping trolleys came up. It was exhilarating.

I started my own stint waffling on about editing services and content calendars. Then somehow the next minute every long-held long-buried shitty doubt, fear and crazyass thought began to speeeewwwwww out of my mouth. Well I’m actually a fraud and not a real writer and I only got a book deal because it was ancient times with hardly any blogs or weight loss memoirs yet and it would never happen now coz you need 5 million followers on Instagram and zoodles and smoothies and a shapely arse to get published and the running book was an accident too and it’s not like it’s a Kate Atkinson or a Marian Keyes or something…

Then Clare said something that stopped me in my tracks. I don’t know if she’ll even remember saying it but I’ll never forget the moment. She said something like, “Shauna, there are many different kinds of writing. There are many different kinds of writers. But they’re all writers.

For the past five years when a lovely baby bird Up & Runners says, “I’m not a real runner”, we always reply, “Are you running? Then you’re a runner!”. It doesn’t matter if you’re fast or slow or if you take walking breaks, you are doing it. You’re allowed to run, you are a runner, there is room for everyone.

Clare made me see that likewise, it doesn’t matter if you write award-winning novels or inane blog posts about cats and travels… you’re allowed to write, you are a writer, there is room for everyone.

But you know someone who isn’t a writer? Someone who doesn’t do any bloody writing! That’s been me, for long periods, frozen by my wacky thoughts. The you suck voice was no longer the voice of old critics and trolls, it had become my own. And I realised, there by the stylish fire, that it was time to stop listening.

That evening we wrote down all the crap we were ready to let go of, then SET FIRE TO IT in a ritualistic manner. Ooh that felt great. I had some Airmail stickers in the back of my notebook so we stuck those to our letters… FECK OFF old crap! Fly away now!


The next morning I got up early and went for a walk in the mist, peering at other crumbly cottages and feeling so much lighter. Then this little tiny cat tottered over to say hello.


The weekend was over all too soon. I spent the seven hours back to Scotland alternately in tears and grinning like a loon. And texting Gareth, BEST WEEKEND EVER, btw we’re getting a cat… TOMORROW!

Had the desired outcome for the weekend been achieved? Yes, I felt more legit. I also felt totally pumped! That’s how I summed it up to those four brilliant women. PUMPED! So many old cobwebs had been blasted from the brain, leaving room for focused action, as the Sasmeister calls it.

Of course, it’s taken me two months to process it all and actually write something, but I always take a wee while to warm up.

Big love and a gazillion thank you’s to Clare, DeeSas and Tamsyn!


About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for January 2022.

30 thoughts on “The Magic Cottage

  1. I’ve always loved your writing and love reading a new post from you, whatever it’s about. You have such a unique voice, and I’m glad to hear you had a confidence boost if you needed one!

  2. Shauna,
    I love your writing, and I read Dietgirl at least once every year and love it more every time. You have a gift! Also, I buy books for a library system and make sure there are plenty of Dietgirl copies and Up & Running, too. 🙂 Keep writing- we love you girl!

  3. Oh those inner voices that we don’t realise aren’t ours! Out with them! You ARE a writer Shauna, and one with a fan base that many others would envy. 😀

    I so want a therapeutic Cotswolds weekend with my ladies now….

  4. Not a writer? Aren’t we all still here waiting with bated breath for each new epistle? Time to start giving yourself some credit and kick the naysayers to the curb.

  5. I suggest you read Chuck Wendig’s blog Terribleminds about writing and being a writer (and occasionally his toddler. or cooking. or photography. or how people found his blog by searching “unicorns with beards fornicate satan” or something). Stay away if you are offended by profanity.

  6. Ow Shauna, you silly git. You are a brilliant writer and one day I’ll manage to pull you into one of my projects. I’d love to work with you! Also, I need a weekend like that. Because every now and then I feel like a fraud too 😉

  7. You cannot, CANNOT, write too much! I love reading every word you write! I even read it in what I consider to be your very cute accent. I’m a Texan, so that’s an achievement! Keep ’em comin’!!

  8. I miss looking out the window and seeing a million Scottish sheep roaming the hills, everytime we travel by car now. . .

  9. Top bloggage Shauna and wonderful writing as always. Thank you to you via Clare for validating all of our writing, now I will say I am a runner and a writer with none of the errm and uuhing I usually preface both of these statements.
    And v nice train pic – one day all train windows will be blob free 🙂

  10. Looks like a gorgeous cottage – helps to lift the soul to be somewhere this lovely – but good company also helps and you sound like you have a wonderful supportive group there because doing your own thing means that the only person to blame for shortcomings is you rather than HR or payroll or management! But I think your writing is fantastic and glad you got some good feedback on seeing yourself as a writer.

    As an aside we have only just returned from a trip to Edinburgh and thought of you when we went to lovecrumbs (just posted on it). If I had been a bit more organised I might have contacted you but the trip was planned in two weeks after E’s dad died so it was all a bit odd.

  11. I have read your blogs from front to back..and I have your BOOK. That you WROTE. Of course you’re a writer. And a bloody good one. Keep doing it…cos I love to read it and you clearly are good at it.

    1. Thank you so much Jacki! I’m feeling like a real boofhead for letting this consume me for about five years! (and then to admit it publicly!) But it was really helpful to identify the crazy then set fire to it. And to know kind folks like yourself are out there, well bloody hell, all the more reason to crack on! Thanks again 🙂

  12. Yesyesyesyesyes, of course you’re a writer. You write beautifully and we wouldn’t read you if you didn’t. And you’re also a lovely person.

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