conversations with bianca

Gala Darling: Writer, Blogcademy Headmistress, Philanthropist & Radical Self Love Queen

The one-of-a-kind, Gala Darling, is a living testament to just what the power of positivity, damn hard work and Radical Self Love can do for a gal! The New Zealand native – now proud New York resident – has a passion for “teaching women how to fall in love with themselves… & how to have fun at the same time!” What’s not to love?

I’ve been an avid reader of Gala’s site since its humble beginnings in 2006. I’ve watched as she’s grown and travelled the world spreading the Radical Self Love gospel (and a little magic) empowering and inspiring folks to take life by the horns and ride it – to accept personal responsibility to create the life they want – all while being her beautiful (inside and out) self.

To me, Gala’s writing has always been the cornerstone of her work and something I feel often gets overlooked by many dazzled by the glitter, fabulous frocks, business savvy, designer connections, epic events attended and close-knit circle of talented, creative folks she calls friends. When I read Gala’s work, I feel as though the words of advice, encouragement and kindness are from a good friend that has my best interests at heart, that wants to see me win at life. Her writing is engaging, sincere and a beacon of positivity—a real extension of her best self and Radical Self Love in action! Truly connecting with people isn’t something all writers can do, there’s a definite art to it.

I recently interviewed Gala about her craft, inspirations and one of her favourite projects yet The Blocademy! Peep the video below for a Gala primer:

When did you begin writing?

GALA DARLING: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember! Actually, to rephrase, I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I have a vivid memory of sitting at the kitchen bench — this is pre-1990, so I wasn’t even 7 years old — writing a story, stapling the pages together, & even drawing a barcode on the back. I remember my father being impressed by my use of ellipsis (…)! Ever since I learned to string the written word together, I’ve been doin’ it on the daily!

On your site you’ve mentioned some of your favourite writers such as Roald Dahl, Hunter S Thompson, and Francesca Lia Block to name a few; what does their writing mean to you? What is it about it that speaks to you?

GD: Now that you mention it, I think what they have in common is their ability to create a sense of fantasy & wonder. Their books all have that thread of reality shot through with magic & a dose of the surreal. I love that, I worship that! I aspire to that in my own writing.

Which one book had a profound impact on your life? What was it about this book that impacted you so deeply?

GD: Francesca Lia Block’s Dangerous Angels was an absolute revelation to me when I first read it as a young teenager. It felt like a new world of possibility was unfolding in front of me.

How does your writing come into being? Where does it start? Is it something you have to really work at?

GD: It starts anywhere & everywhere. Ideas start to form & coagulate in my brain as I walk around New York City, when I am on a plane to Las Vegas, as I rise in an elevator in Melbourne, Australia. I make notes constantly; I am always scribbling on napkins & hands & emailing myself! But I do most of my actual writing sitting at my desk in the East Village. I am always working at it, endlessly editing, trying to refine & focus.

How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?

GD: Somehow, motivation is not something I ever really struggle with. I worked so many years in terrible, soul-sucking corporate jobs that now that I actually get to do what I want every day, it’s easy. I am motivated by being better every day, & I only ever compete with myself.

What’s your favourite piece of work that you’ve ever done? What is its significance to you?

GD: I haven’t written it yet!

Do you ever return to your old work, out of interest?

GD: Rarely. Looking at your old work is always embarrassing!

How do you feel you have grown as a writer since starting the gig as Beauty Editor at XOJane?

GD: It’s been interesting for me, it’s a really different style of writing, & a different audience from my one over at galadarling.com. But it has been a great challenge, I’ve enjoyed it!

What’s the greatest thing you’ve learnt from (your editor at XOJane) Jane Pratt so far?

GD: That it’s important to give compliments freely!

What kind of advice would you give to someone who would like to write?

GD: Bukowski’s poem, so you want to be a writer?, is the best advice I could ever give.

Where did your confidence come from? You seem to exude so much of the stuff!

GD: I was always a really confident child, but then when I became a teenager, it all seemed to go away; maybe it just got buried by self-loathing. Once I started to shed that old skin, & step into myself more fully, it came back, & it’s still building…

Your TEDxTalk was very inspiring; were you nervous going into it? How did you prepare for it? Do you feel comfortable with public speaking?

GD: Oh thank you! I was absolutely terrified, but totally exhilarated (one of the best combinations, don’t you think?!). I wrote the entire thing, then broke it down into sections & made my slides — I memorised each section based on the slides. Then I practiced it like mad! You cannot imagine the anxiety as I paced around my hotel room that morning. My god! I was the second person to speak that day, & was so pleased to get it out of the way early on. But I absolutely loved doing it. Public speaking is one of my favourite activities.

Both you and your work inspires countless people across the globe; who is the biggest inspiration in your life right now and how do they inspire you?

GD: I am really inspired by people from the past, Diana Vreeland has always been a big one for me. But beyond historical figures, I have been incredibly blessed to have a cast of bizarre & wonderful characters in my life who inspire me to do great things & push myself. Veronica Varlow, Rachel Rabbit White, Shauna Haider & Kat Williams are all huge inspirations to — & supporters of — me.

I know that you have an interest in, and often meditate (me too!); what difference has it made in your life?

GD: Meditation helps me to be productive, to focus on what really needs to be done. As a self-employed gal, I have to wear a lot of hats. Meditation allows me to slow down, think instead of react, & work smarter, not harder.

Over the years that I’ve followed your work it’s been wonderful to observe the philanthropic work (such as donating to the Bowery Mission women’s shelter) you do and I applaud you for raising awareness of, and being an advocate for things such as animal shelters and rescue dog projects etc. What drives that?

GD: I always want to do more philanthropic work! I think it’s so important for us to reach out beyond ourselves & help others. It’s an essential piece of the radical self love puzzle!

What are you currently focused on? The Blogcademy ’s first visit to London?

GD: Yes! We’re so excited about going to London, as well as plotting more dates for the year… & I am working on some big personal projects too. I’m sequestering myself until Christmas because I want to squeeze the maximum juice out of the end of 2012!

For more Gala Darling. Gala at xoJane. Gala’s column Hello Darling! Gala’s book Love & Sequins.

Love & light,

 

 

*All photos courtesy of Gala. Photo credits: 1 + 2 – Made U Look Photography / 3 + 4 – Chloe Rice / 5 – David McNeil

8 Comments

  1. The Dame Intl
    December 4, 2012

    Gala is who inspired me to start my own blog where I can have a voice and in turn inspire and entertain people, Im far from being as good a writer as she is, but it is great to have someone I can relate to, to look up to. There are not a lot of alternative go-getters around, Gala lights the way for the rest of us.

  2. Bianca
    December 4, 2012

    Thanks for stopping by Lisa! Peeped your blog too, nice work :) I noticed you’re in the UK; will you be attending The Blogcademy there next year? Best wishes, B x

  3. Cat Treadwell
    December 4, 2012

    Inspiring words – thank you so much! Another UK blogger here, found you via the amazing Veronica Varlow. I write my words as they evolve in my brain, but the best compliment is when folk message me after, or comment telling me that my witterings have helped. This is the true blessing of blogging, I think – creating community by reaching across distance to touch, help, inspire… and be inspired in turn!

    Bless you, honey, hope to catch you on a UK visit soon xxx

  4. Bianca
    December 5, 2012

    Glad you enjoyed the Gala interview Cat. I agree that connecting with folks and creating community is one of the raddest things about blogging. Your blog has some really interesting features that I’ll have to bookmark and go back to when I have more time to get into them properly. Wow! your’re a Druid Priest! That’s really neat. I hope all is well in your part of the world. love & light x

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