Lana and Nadia

About the TinyLetter

“Books & Beaches” is an irregular dispatch co-written by friends, writers Nadia Bailey and Lana Guineay. Loosely dedicated to two of their favourite things in life, each letter takes the form of two short pieces sparked by the themes, one from each writer. The topics are slanted ways into ideas, thoughts, experiences and intrigues; with episodes deep diving into anything from memory to Instagram to life in Australia.

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I live near a weird part of town, just off a long stretch of road that runs like an artery through metropolitan Sydney. It starts in the east at the city’s central train station, and then heads in a relatively straight line west, towards Parramatta. The road is encroached on both sides by crumbling terrace houses converted to shopfronts: mainly bridal boutiques, bike shops, and brothels. Why these three business types? Who knows. But there they are: the wedding boutiques foaming with lace and tulle and sequins; the bike shops with interchangeably bearded employees; the brothels with blacked out windows and flickering neon lights. 

Between these proliferations there are other oddities. There is, for example, a luthier, its unlit window hung with violins and violas. There is a fencing school. There is a costume store called Priscilla’s with an enormous model swan in the window, turned soft focus by a thick film of dust. Over a long-abandoned butcher shop, a faded awning reads MEAT MEAT MEAT. There are several shops that deal exclusively in LED signage. There is a haunted milk bar. 

It is an ugly road. But when the sun sets in the west and it’s lit like a corridor of fire, well, even ugly is its own kind of wonderful. 

My favourite oddity on this ugly road sits near three terrace shopfronts painted in Wes Anderson shades of pastel (blue, mint, yellow). It is a Chinese medicine centre emblazoned with a slogan in large, eccentrically kerned letters:


It is a large and generous proposition. Don’t tell me what’s wrong with you, because I will find out and tell you. It requires nothing of you and yet promises so much. A cure. A solution.

Why did you start a TinyLetter?

We were inspired to start “Books & Beaches” as a way to maintain a regular creative practice, as well as an excuse to write about our two favourite things. Inspired by the Tinyletters of writers like Ruth Curry, Rachel Syme, Helena Fitzgerald, Ana Kinsella and more, Books & Beaches is intended to be a private-ish space to deep dive into the weird specificities of the things that drive us.

What is your experience of the community?

The TinyLetter occupies a unique space in Internet discourse. Like social media, it generates a sense of what Leisa Reichelt has termed “ambient intimacy”, in the way that it straddles the once-clearer line between private and public. However, its subscriber-only nature makes it err on the side of privacy, making it feel like a safe space (especially for women writers, writers of colour, queer writers and minorities). For these reasons, we engage, support and foster the community of writers using TinyLetter as a mode of address.

What advice would you give?

TinyLetter is a safe space – without deadlines, analytics, expectations – that kind of permission is a warm, rare, beautiful thing. Do it for your own delight. Make it as small, as weird, as niche, as personal, as sporadic, as contradictory as you like – in short, it’s an intimate way to explore what you’re most drawn to and perhaps find others who feel the same way. Oh, and enjoy that thrill every time you hit “send”!

Lana Guineay and Nadia Bailey are writers. They met on Twitter back when it was still the sort of place where people did that, and later moved the friendship IRL. They have written for magazines, newspapers, festivals and state governments, published non-fiction, poetry and fiction, and are both working on books. To their great sadness, they live in different cities.