ME!, Taylor Swift and The Tortured Writers Department

ME!, Taylor Swift and The Tortured Writers Department

Taylor Swift's new album, The Tortured Poets Department is released everywhere today. And since I am writing a book about her, I have some thoughts.

FIRST OF ALL; Don’t you DARE get me started about the fact that track five is called “So Long, London” if I have spent the majority of the first four months of this year not knowing how much longer I will be able to stay here. I've been up since 5am listening to the new songs and I still don't know how to put my feelings into words. 

If I’m being honest with myself, I started writing Taylor Swift: The Story of Eras, in the summer of 2008, at the end of my first year of high school. There was a song on the radio that I would hear every time I was in the back seat or passenger seat of my parent’s cars. I learnt the words pretty soon after and I started to believe them even quicker. “It’s a love story, baby just say… yes.” Even back then, I was always a hopeless romantic. In the pandemic when I self-published my first poetry anthology about the ocean, I had a thought bubble to the surface: if I’m writing about the things that I love, surely one day I could write about Miss Taylor Alison Swift. 

How did this girl who had blonde curls that rivalled my mum’s, find her way into my heart and plant a seed of fandom in my brain? How did she transport herself from Nashville to my tiny corner of Australia and onto the covers of every school book I owned? I had the posters, I started to collect the merchandise, and I started to twist my fashion sense to be like hers. I even sang with a country twang without a single singing lesson in my life. To be an Australian Swiftie is to be a patient fan. I waited until February 2010 to see her in concert live. And by that time, she would have already won her first three Grammys.

I think almost up until 2019 for me at least, it was somewhat unpopular to like Taylor Swift in my family and some of the friendship circles that I floated in. I had my fangirls, and I didn’t listen to the haters. Now I have to stop myself from laughing because the people who once made fun of me for liking her were showing up in droves to her Eras tour in my hometown of Sydney in February. I'm going to two of her shows at Wembley Stadium, in June and August, and it's been a long time coming

In the middle of January, when Black Spring Press approached me and I signed a contract to write about Taylor Swift I was preparing myself to pack up and go back home. I’ve been in London for nearly two years, and I wasn’t comfortable fluking my way through a cost-of-living crisis in one of the most expensive cities in the world. I missed my parents and my cat. There's a song called "You're On Your Own, Kid" from the 2022 album Midnights (the Spotify link is below) and it captures such a melancholy side to chasing dreams. 

The jokes weren't funny, I took the money | My friends from home don't know what to say | I looked around in a blood-soaked gown | And I saw something they can't take away | 'Cause there were pages turned with the bridges burned | Everything you lose is a step you take | So make the friendship bracelets | Take the moment and taste it | You've got no reason to be afraid | You're on your own, kid | Yeah, you can face this
At first, I didn’t think the book deal was real, but here we are almost at the end the manuscript. When you can get paid for writing what you love, that’s the real delusion. The anxiety part of my brain says “Don’t be ridiculous no one will buy it.” But I had to learn how to ignore that voice in the last few years, it does me no favours. When I get paychecks that reflect the passion and joy that storytelling brings you; that’s a thing that I’ve been chasing for a long time. I am in constant denial that people are going to want to read my words, but it looks like this is the real thing.

Taylor Swift is an interesting figure to write about because you have most of the world who believes they know everything about her because they read the tabloids, you have another part deep in the fandom, some are happily ambivalent and some are aggressively anti-Taylor (because she’s not their taste in music) and they don’t enjoy the focus of the spotlight. I’m certain every category I’ve listed would benefit from the book I am writing because I wanted to share the knowledge and factoids that have been swimming around in my head for the last fifteen years.

In the book I am going to discuss fan culture and the dichotomies of celebrating it and criticising its grip on society in the book, because I still don’t think you can be so negative about something someone is so passionate about unless you sit and listen to them, if only for a few minutes. Everyone has their something.

Having completed a trip down under recently to rival the Beatlemania that washed ashore in June 1964, sixty years later it is a country-pop blonde thirty-four-year-old who plays a sparkly guitar who has an iron grip on small children, teenagers, and grow-ups, parents, chaperone dads and grandmas alike. You can’t argue with seven stadium shows that run for over three and a half hours, with 288,000 people in Melbourne and 324,000 in Sydney in February of this year. Taylor sadly didn’t include New Zealand in her Eras Tour but the population of her crowds in Australia overtakes that of NZ’s capital city, Wellington, with 425,000.

The release of this book heralds a new era for me, one where I can say someone trusted me enough to know what I had been shouting about for a decade and a half was finally worth something special, and I have slowly started to give up just a little of that niggling self-doubt in time to say, ‘hey I am actually, properly writing a book about my favourite musician!’ I hope 2023 and 2024 marks a change in the culture of how prominent, successful, talented and powerful women are seen, heard and listened too.

I hope you come along with this musical journey with me and pre-order your limited hardback copy of Taylor Swift: The Story of Her Eras. It’s filled with fun memories, a historical time travel back to 2006 to now, the pages are soundtracked with catchy choruses and bridges that will burn...into your memories, if you understand the double entendré there. If you like sparkle, you'll like this book.

Go and listen to The Tortured Poets Department - EVEN - if you're not a Swiftie but ALSO... please preorder my book.

Preorder Taylor Swift: The Story of Her Eras here, now.

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