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Write to the Centre


When I was writing Mansfield and Me and thinking about how I became a writer, meeting Helen Lehndorf was a key element.


The fact that she was a devoted Smiths fan helped cement our friendship, and she went on inspiring me as an original punk, poet, zinester, and creative force of nature.


I went on to make many other wonderful writer friends, but Helen was my original collaborator, who pushed me to write poetry and put on fringe festival shows when my energies could’ve easily been sucked up by my design career.

The really cool thing is that Helen has a book out now too. It’s called “Write To The Centre” and you can find out more about it here.


It’s a super inspiring book about creative journaling, combining memoir and philosophy, and lots of practical advice as to how to go about journaling yourself. Also it has beautiful collages and illustrations.


It’s the kind of book that you really should read with your own journal and paints in hand, because Helen gives you so many angles to approach it with and doesn’t make it seem like an intimidating task. She is also very honest and revealing about how journaling has helped her through difficult patches in her life, and how it’s honed her superpowers of noticing.


Helen gave me a copy so I have one spare – leave a comment here and I will pick a random person and send you it! I am happy to post anywhere in the world.



25 Comments leave one →
  1. 21/10/2016 9:35 am

    Looks awesome!!!

  2. 21/10/2016 9:41 am

    Woah Nelly! I’d love to win Helen’s book, but if I don’t I am buying it anyway!
    (PS See you tomorrow at South Library)

  3. 21/10/2016 9:58 am

    I was just thinking about you and thinking, how did/does she do it? And here was this fabulousness in my inbox! I see “energies that could’ve been sucked up by my design career” and really relate. Freaks stick together. We need to help one another out and sometimes that just means being ourselves. Thanks for being you Sarah Laing.

  4. Catherine Lee permalink
    21/10/2016 9:59 am

    Agree with Donna — if I don’t win it I need to buy it — and both your book and hers will be on my Xmas gift buying list…

  5. Louisa permalink
    21/10/2016 10:01 am

    My gosh this looks amazing! I used to journal and would love to get back to it (I think it will ease me back into my art again after uni), so will be picking this up when the funds allow – thank you for sharing this beautiful work

  6. meliors permalink
    21/10/2016 10:11 am

    I’d love to win Helen’s beautiful book! She’s such a warm generous inspiring creator.

  7. Louisa permalink
    21/10/2016 10:15 am

    My gosh this looks amazing! I used to journal and want to begin again (I think it will help me ease back into art after the uni hiatus), so will be picking one up when funds allow – thank you for sharing this work

  8. 21/10/2016 10:38 am

    [Looks at crappy old austere Word doc I’ve been journal(l)ing on for last thirteen years … pfui.]

    Don’t include me in the giveaway, I’ll pick up a copy (my way of supporting arts 🙂 ), looking forward to it. And have been meaning to pop in and say well done, Sarah, on Mansfield and Me.

  9. Jane permalink
    21/10/2016 11:13 am

    I would love to read it, and be inspired to start a journal. Please include me in the draw.

  10. ninapowles permalink
    21/10/2016 11:49 am

    This book is so gorgeous. I’d love to win a copy!

  11. 21/10/2016 12:42 pm

    This book looks so great! Have always admired Helen Lehndorf, from way back in the 90’s when I was a student at Massey. Currently a stay at home Mum and too broke to buy books! I still have a box of journals written in my teens and twenties in a wardrobe, some held together by rubber bands. X

  12. 21/10/2016 12:44 pm

    I’ve always admired Helen Lehndorf, from way back in the 90’s when I was a student at Massey. This book looks so great! I’m currently a stay at home Mum and too broke to buy books!

  13. 21/10/2016 1:30 pm

    This very morning I told myself that I wouldn’t buy any more books for a while. And yet, I just bought Helen’s book. I had to. Because a. I love the Smiths. b. At 14 I felt like a freak in my small town. c. Keeping a journal has always terrified me, but I love collage.

  14. 21/10/2016 1:46 pm

    I would like to be in the random draw to have it! I’ll share it with the teenagers. Promise.

  15. Aroha Lowe permalink
    21/10/2016 2:00 pm

    Very nice Sarah. So good to honour women who inspire us. Easy to see you hold Helen in high regard, and rightly so! I cheekily asked for both of your books at Whitcoulls yesterday…will heard to McKenzies instead. I’m hoping to give your books as Xmas gifts this year, and to the artists I work with at NOA Open Studio at Te Manawa. Hoping you might both sign a few copies for me at Helen’s opening next week 🙂

  16. 21/10/2016 2:05 pm

    Both of these look amazing, can’t wait to read more.

  17. Emilie permalink
    21/10/2016 2:47 pm

    Oh that sounds like the dream book! E

  18. aeriddell permalink
    21/10/2016 3:28 pm

    I attended a workshop taken by Helen at a Creative Writing block course some years ago and have taken an interest in her writing ever since.

  19. eitsallinmind permalink
    21/10/2016 4:11 pm

    Nice tho!

  20. Caren Wilton permalink
    21/10/2016 4:56 pm

    Love that dandelion pic, and could do with some creative inspiration, ha ha! But I too will buy one when I don’t win 🙂

  21. Zoë permalink
    21/10/2016 5:28 pm

    Perfect is boring!

  22. jacquikelly permalink
    21/10/2016 5:46 pm

    I have known Helen for about four years now. I’m so proud of her new book and she is an inspiration.

  23. 22/10/2016 9:44 pm

    I love every single thing about this book of Helen’s, and could dearly do with the inspiration it would provide.


  1. Sarah Laing celebrates Helen Lehndorf’s new book (Write to the Centre) | NZ Poetry Shelf
  2. To journal or not to journal: Helen Lehndorf’s Write to the Centre | NZ Poetry Shelf

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