Diary, She Wrote: Podcast on complexities of sex, coping with grief and London's dating scene to launch next month
PUBLISHED: 11:59 16 January 2020
Liz Beardsell was 12-years-old when she began keeping a diary. Twenty-six years and more than 9,000 entries later, she's still yet to miss a day of writing.
At first, she had no intention of publishing these stories. But this changed after a recital at a spoken word event in Shoreditch elicited a response from friends and strangers alike.
"I followed a lady called Poorna Bell who read an extract from her book, Chase The Rainbow, which was incredibly moving," explains Beardsell. "So before I stepped on stage, I was naturally comparing my reading to hers and feeling like it wasn't good enough.
"But as soon as I sensed the audience were engaged in the story I relaxed, found the mic and in turn my voice, and began to enjoy myself."
Beardsell's goal that night was to get recognition from someone she didn't know. If a stranger felt compelled to seek her out and say something, she reasoned, it would give her the green light to take this further.
"To me, that felt like I'd had a genuine small impact on someone, giving me the confidence I needed to do it again. I thought potentially there was something more in this, so I spent six months thinking about it - do I want to share my life with everyone?"
Well, as it happens, yes she does. With more than two-and-a-half decades worth of material to work with, the 38-year-old is about to launch a new podcast: Diary, She Wrote.
Episodes will be "all focused on different stories of my life," she explains. "One on a medical condition called vaginismus and how that effected an 11-year relationship, ones that are focused on a holiday fling, relationships where you are treated like s**t, an episode on grief - I lost my dad when I was 15 - and specific stories that could have happened over 24 hours or 20 years."
Originally from Cheadle Hulme, a suburb of Stockport in the north-west of England, Beardsell has lived in Hackney for 15 years and says that "naturally the stories feature many local establishments."
What's it like for her to be able to select a date at random and revisit that time in her life via her own commentary?
"What I absolutely love is reading those moments when you meet someone and you don't know the impact that they're going to have on your life. You capture that moment - your first impression of them. Also those really cringe moments that you read back over; it's really lovely to have it as a time capsule.
"The references change - for example at university we had a lecture on the internet! There are also times when I'm burning CDs before I go travelling, it's lovely to have those comparisons."
Diary, She Wrote is set to launch on February 9 with a new episode planned for release every Sunday at midday thereafter. Beardsell will introduce her podcast with a launch event at Hatch, in Homerton, three days earlier, with all ticket sales and money raised on the day going to the Vagina Museum in Camden.
Inspired by Yrsa Daley-Ward's mantra that "there is always something in your stories that will impact others in some way," Beardsell reckons the podcast would be most suited to "single girls living in London." Other subjects covered in series one will include what happens when you start saying yes instead of no, navigating the London dating scene and one night stands with consequences.
"On my Instagram, a big chunk of the following are women aged 25 to 45. It's a free form of therapy [for me] to be able to relive these moments. One of my friend's daughters struggles with writing - she's eight and has just started a diary as a way of expressing herself. A couple of other friends have told me that they're going to start one."
Beardsell's new podcast will cover plenty of themes likely to resonate with women in their twenties, thirties and forties, and there's one aspect in particular that the host is keen to start a dialogue on.
"The reaction I have got from sharing these stories was enough to spur me on, especially the story with vaginismus. I think more people suffer than we're aware of, I had friends who were going through it. I'm hoping this type of content will help others."
The first episode of Diary, She Wrote will launch on Spotify, Acast, Castro from February 9. For more details, click here.