Welcome to The Clearing
A newsletter and community for wild minds, winterers and enchantment-seekers
I’m Katherine May, author of Wintering, Enchantment, and The Electricity of Every Living Thing, and host of the podcast How We Live Now.
This began as an author newsletter; no particular purpose, just whatever’s on my mind. But over time, I’ve realised that I’m trying to create something very specific here, and it’s a place rather than a topic. I’m clearing a space in which we can gather, and see each other, and ruminate over the question of how to live.
That’s a big question, isn’t it? But we’re all circling it. Most of us are weary of the same old story, the noisy encouragement to bring about endless growth, to stay positive, put on a brave face and hide our uncertainty. Many of us are wondering how we can be more gentle with ourselves and others, can learn to bring rest, integrity and beauty into our lives. And I hope I’m not alone in being heartily sick of gurus, the people who claim to know all the answers. It’s a scam. Nobody knows the answers anymore—too much is changing. We need to figure this out together.
That’s why I chose the name: ‘The Clearing’. I love the image it conjures, an opening in a dark forest; a safe, secret place where we can gather. Perhaps an enchanted place, a place where magic lives, where the possibilities are different. I also like the connotations of the word ‘clearing’—the process of finding clarity, of silt settling in the water, a de-fogging of the mind. Will it all come clear eventually? I don’t know. Probably not. But I don’t believe that we should be seeking to finalise our happiness and contentment. The process is the point.
When you subscribe, you’ll get a free newsletter twice a month. This is the best place to find my latest news, events, podcasts, book launches and other projects. You’ll also be able to follow me on Substack Notes.
If you’d like more, consider joining the community as a paid subscriber. You’ll gain access to:
Exclusive posts and journalling prompts.
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True Stories Book Club: A digital book club for lovers of life writing, wisdom and ideas for living.
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Discounts on my workshops and events wherever possible.
A year’s subscription is $70, which works out at $1.45 a week. There is also a special tier for people who want to offer extra support and work a little more closely with me, which includes two online retreats per year. But regardless of what sort of subscriber you become, you’ll get a vibrant stream of content and my deep appreciation.
In the spirit of this newsletter, this community, I want to say a word here about personal sustainability. So many of us are expected to be on our game year-round. But I know I never am. I get ill sometimes, or take a holiday. Sometimes I have deadlines that take up the entirety of my being, and I can’t find any more words. Sometimes, winters visit me.
I will be bringing my whole humanity to this place, and I hope that will be understood. Every now and then, I might find a ‘supply teacher’ to take my place or even pause subscriptions for a while. But however I manage it, I will be honouring my own need to rest. I think it’s important to voice that. I invite you to do the same.
The Clearing is a place to dream and to awaken, to find the world’s quiet magic and to revel in the luminous mundane; a place to ask questions and to hold space for complex or incomplete answers; a place that invites connections with other like-minded souls. I hope you’ll join me.
We expect members of this community to treat each other with kindness and respect, and reserve the right to remove anyone we judge to have behaved uncivilly in this space. We do not tolerate racist, homophobic, transphobic or ableist slurs.
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Katherine May is an internationally bestselling author and podcaster living in Whitstable, UK. Her most recent book, Enchantment became an instant New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller. Her internationally bestselling hybrid memoir Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times was adapted as BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week, and was shortlisted for the Porchlight and Barnes & Noble Book of the Year. The Electricity of Every Living Thing, her memoir of a midlife autism diagnosis, was adapted as an audio drama by Audible. Her essays have appeared in a range of publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Times, The Observer and Aeon.
Katherine hosts the chart-topping podcast, How We Live Now, and has been a guest presenter for On Being’s The Future of Hope series.
She lives with her husband, son, and various pets in Whistsable, UK. She loves walking, sea-swimming and pickling slightly unappealing things.