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Hello beautiful people!!

You might be thinking but it's a Thursday, this isn't 'I've Been Meaning to Say...' day?! You would be correct. It is, however, the newsletter's second birthday and I wanted to send out an extra special edition to celebrate. 

I know time has become a slippery thing but I'm struggling to believe I've been typing and crying and oversharing in this space for...two whole years. Whether you've been here two years or two weeks, thank you for coming on this journey with me — for not only holding tight but for sending so many wonderful replies and intimate thoughts back to me. I love having these conversations with you and will always encourage you to hit reply if you want to carry on the chat. Nothing means more to me than this. 

Oh, and to celebrate the milestone, I have a surprise for you...

Introducing 'The Poetry Collection" — eight original prints that are a fusion between my art and words, available to buy officially from...NOW!

I've been drip-feeding these designs onto Instagram over the last couple of months because I never intended for them to become actual, tangible, real-life prints. I never believed anyone would take an interest in my poetry (I have a hard time permitting myself to associate with that word... 'poetry.') But, they seemed to go down well and, well, voila! The collection also features a couple of never-before-seen pieces so I'd love you to have a peek!

Thank you again for helping me turn this newsletter into what it is today. May you always hold space for the things you've been meaning to say...

Onto today's bonus essay...


(C.W. mild reference to an eating disorder)

It’s a kind of joke in the therapy world that you’ll make your breakthrough on minute 49. That it’ll take all of 49 minutes to build up to something right before oh, times up.


It took me a year of therapy — 50 minutes after 50 palliative minutes, sometimes 5 days a week, to build up to an unmasking of some kind. To a minute 49 on the very last day: I’ve figured it out. But by which point I’m being funnelled out of the door and bundled into a car going down the M25 until I’m sat in a seminar room being asked to write a news story about something that has happened to me recently and all I have known in the months and the year gone by is tentacle-wires stuck to my chest and a please step on the scales.


So fuck it, I type it out and then go get drunk or something to similar avail. And my university friends know I made it here by the skin of my teeth, that my past is less than pristine. That there was a school on paper but one class a week can barely constitute anything remotely resembling an attendance. That there was a whisper in the ear of my closest flatmate which said please do not let me go to the bathroom alone. But that the rest would be hush hush, a folder of notes and an emergency relapse plan shoved under my bed. Because for the most part, I didn’t know.

I didn’t know the absurdity of one day home being a room with cream sofas and a box of tissues to my left, to it being a row of iMacs and an archive of Vogue, the next. How did Sally Rooney conclude Conversations With Friends? “You have to live through things before you understand them.” So I print off my ‘news story,' hand it to my tutor and don’t speak of what’s on the page again.


What’s on the page has always been where I can pin myself up against a wall. To make sense of a life unmoored. Where I can put down what fails to, time and time again, rise up through my throat. To hold myself accountable in ways I otherwise don’t know how. I do it because I don’t know how to not. Because when the spark kicks in and the language flows, that is the closest thing to magic I have ever known.


I love how I can stop to have a conversation with a Balinese man on the side of the street, him asking me to repeat the word “mermaid” over and over again because he is marvelled by the way the word's voiced bilabial nasal phonology makes my lips pucker up.


I love how he tells me the Balinese word for “mermaid” translates in English as “princess fish.” Because, well yeah. Because language is fascinating, because as Carl Sagan once wrote: “we invented phonetic writing so we could put our sounds down on paper and, by glancing at a page, hear someone speaking in our head—an invention that became so widespread in the last few thousand years that we hardly ever stop to consider how astonishing it is.”

I wish there was a specific moment I can recall wanting to become a writer. I know that on January 19th 2013 I pressed ‘publish’ on my first ever blog post and I have been sharing on the internet ever since. That 16-year-old me was much cooler than 24-year-old me. She wrote about couture and held no prisoners if Chanel presented a bad collection. My blog, louisvuittononthehook — which later became Hook Magazine, got way more views than I’ll probably ever have subscribers to this newsletter. My mum will say I have always written and my primary school teachers will tell you they always knew, but there is not so much of a pinnacle moment for me. Not so much a clear-cut memory of that time. Those years I was invested in surviving, not remembering.


I’ve been thinking about bad times and how lessons eventually transpire. How, the time in my life that I was the most not okay, the thing that would routinely go on to make me feel the most okay (writing) also had its emergence. It’s a well-worn metaphor in songs: Hell was the journey but it brought me heaven, sings Taylor. And if I had to do it all again I would because, babe, in the end it brought me here to you, sings Lana. Except, for me, illness didn’t bring me a man, it brought me a bountiful infatuation for words. It kickstarted the most all-encompassing love affair of my life. 


The first essay I wrote for this newsletter, two years ago today, was about how I don’t believe in the tortured artist. Or at least, I don’t believe in its glorification. Which is somewhat ironic given that I came to writing as an escape from a time void of a lot of joy. I stand by my original essay in that suffering is not a prerequisite for creativity but I definitely think there’s interesting intel in the things we reach for when in need of joy or comfort.


On my first day of university, the tutor said to us raise your hand if you want to be a writer. Every hand shot up. I’ll ask you again in three years, just before you graduate, he said. You’ll be surprised at how many of you no longer do. He wasn’t trying to discourage us but make the point of there being so many more roles within journalism that are not just words in magazines; roles we are yet to discover. We all sniggered. Three years later, he asked us the question again. Only a scattering of hands shot up. Mine remained raised.


It'll always remain raised.


As always, I love to hear from you. If you liked today’s newsletter, want to carry on the conversation or have any thoughts or feedback at all, do hit reply. Or feel free to share or forward this email to a friend. Thanks for reading x


"When the language lends itself to me, when it comes and submits, when it surrenders and says, I am yours, darling—that’s the best part."

- MAYA ANGELOU, The Paris Review

🍄Songs, Songs, Songs🍄
(click to listen/follow on Spotify)

Losing Sleep — Dylan Fraser

numb — Tom Odell

All Night — Marika Hackman

That’s When (Taylor’s Version) — Taylor Swift, Keith Urban

Tights On My Boat — The Chicks

Symptom of Your Touch — Aly & AJ

Little Bit of Love — Tom Grennan

Blame It on My Ex — Charlotte Sands

America — London Grammar

Where the Time Went — Ex:Re, Josephine Stephenson, 12 Ensemble



Esme Rose Marsh is a writer, artist and the founder of Hook Magazine. She publishes a bi-monthly newsletter called I’ve Been Meaning to Say… which contemplates what it takes to live a meaningful life and her collage prints can be purchased in exclusive drops throughout the year. Esme is a recent cat-convert, a current adoptive ginger and a frequent user of the em dash. She has contributed a variety of creative works to the likes of The Coven, Restless and CONKER and is available for freelance commissions…

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Esme Rose Marsh, Retford, Nottinghamshire DN220BU
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Esme Rose Marsh · Hook Magazine · Nottingham, Nottinghamshire DN220BU · United Kingdom

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