Pen To Print

Click "Enter" to submit the form.

Monday Moments: Chance And Change

Introduced By Amber Hall

This month, our new theme is ‘Change’, and I’ve been thinking about the interconnectedness of chance and change. So much of life hinges on a moment. Our trajectories are shaped by nanoseconds we might not even notice. These ‘sliding door moments,’ as they’re known, can alter our lives in mammoth ways. Often, we only realise how significant they are with the gift of hindsight.

I think about happenstance a lot, and about how strangely coincidental many aspects of our lives can be. Some of the most important relationships we have are the result of serendipitous meetings. Our chosen families – our partners, our friends – often come to exist out of chance encounters. It’s sheer luck, really, that we grow to love to the people we do.

That’s not to say we don’t have choices; of course we do. And our actions, whether conscious or not, can have a huge impact on our lives and on the lives of those around us. So, when those magical moments of chance do come along, we’ve got to take heed. We’ve got to nurture the things that come out of them, whether it’s a relationship, a job opportunity or a new idea for a story.

After all, creativity can be serendipitous too. It’s a journey of twists and turns, and the end result sometimes feels like a happy accident. For me, this is usually driven by things beyond my control. I might have heard or seen something in passing, or read another piece of writing that demands my attention and sheds light on my own work. There’s real merit in looking outside of ourselves; external forces have a habit of shaping work, and it’s important that they do. For what is writing, if not a hot take on worldly matters?

The pieces I’ve chosen for my page this month explore the relationship between chance and change, revealing the surprising and spectacular ways our lives can unfold.

First, we have some prose by Lucy Kaufman, who writes about the inspiring nature of change, marked by a recent house move.

Following My Gut 

The only thing that is certain is that things change. That can be scary for some and, for others, expansive. When I was training to be a counsellor, our tutor told us in the gravest tone, “Never under-estimate the client’s fear of change.” Those were wise words. Most clients – most humans, even – have, at the very least, a complex relationship with change. As babies, there is a forward-momentum: to crawl, to walk, to talk, to be able to do what our caregivers or older siblings can do; later to grow up, be adult and put away childish things. But there also seems to be another drive, pulling in the opposite direction: to stay dependent, to hang on to our favourite people and familiar environments forever and never let them go.

I love change. Or rather, my forward-momentum drive is stronger than my keeping-things-the-way-they-are drive. I love progress, I love improvement and I love embracing newness. However, I am not naïve enough to believe that I wouldn’t suffer if unwanted change was forced upon me, or that I don’t go through periods of transition, where change has to be fully processed. Change is real and it does have profound effects on us.

I am currently re-discovering myself through change. I moved two months ago, relocating from London to the south coast. I had no real push or pull forcing me to make the move. I had lived in my house for 17 years and could have comfortably gone on living there for another 17. But maybe that was the problem. I had become too comfortable, too much in a rut; perhaps I was no longer challenging myself, and therefore not developing. Maybe I would atrophy if I stayed any longer.

Deciding to make the move was both exhilarating and terrifying. Supposing I was doing the wrong thing? Supposing I was getting myself into hot water financially? Suppose my whole identity as a Londoner (going back multi-generations) was called into question? Suppose I felt lost and didn’t know who I was any more, or – worst fear of all – that being in a new place at my middle age was just too unfamiliar and difficult to navigate?

Yet, for some reason, my gut told me different. It was drawn to the new area, to starting a new life, to throwing all caution to the wind and embracing whatever the future held. In counselling terms, I was being open to my experience.

I won’t pretend the move wasn’t stressful. It’s not for nothing that buying and selling property tops the charts as one of the most stressful life events. There were times when it felt crazy to be attempting to do this, that – if I was spiritually inclined – you might say the universe was suggesting it had alternative plans for me. However, here I am, in my new house, in my new location and I have no regrets. In fact, with every new day there are myriad pleasant surprises. It’s as though I’ve opened a window and let in lungfuls of fresh air. Every single thing I look at, everyone I meet, is new. Far from being terrifying, this is fascinating and constant fodder for my curious brain. Like a child encountering the world for the first time, with every new experience I wonder and question and stay open-minded. By widening my experience, I am learning. I am confronting my biases, challenging who I thought I was and transcending the limitations I previously placed on myself.

Of course, I have no idea what the future holds, but nor does anyone. Just because I felt safe in my old life, it doesn’t mean I was. And who knows what this will mean for my writing? There’s no question that needed shaking up as well.

Change is inevitable and, ultimately, change is good.

© Lucy Kaufman, 2024

Connect with Lucy on X: @lucykaufman_ and on Instagram: @kaufmanlucy.


Next, poet and ‘Thoughtful Tuesdays’ editor Eithne Cullen writes about a difficult yet epiphanous moment. The sentiment, ‘Life is short’, is one I think we all ought to remember. It’s something I try to remind myself of whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed by day-to-day stressors.


Life Is Short

And in the moment
when the news is broken
words like diagnosis and prognosis
fly out the window
all I know is life is short.
And the fear in their faces
and the fluttering in my chest
put the world on hold –
bring up faces of my family,
voices tell me that I do not
have to tell the world
and one chirps on
like a finch in a cage
repeating well-worn phrases
notes tumbling in a thousand
delicious, medical forms
and I am smiling
though all I hear is
life is short, life is short.

© Eithne Cullen, 2024

Connect with Eithne on X: @eithne_cullen and Instagram: @eithnecullen57.


Next, our ‘Thursday Connectors’ editor, Farzana Iqbal, reflects on some standout moments of chance from her own life.

My Lucky Chances 

A fond memory I have from my teenage years is when I was handed a scratch card outside Curry’s on Oxford Street and me sitting in MacDonald’s later with my friends and finding out I’d won a mobile phone!

“You lucky ducky,” said my friends.

When I went to claim my prize, I was chuffed because it was my first-ever phone. It was 1997, and in those days, mobile phones were not all that common (none of my friends had one and neither did my siblings). The trip to Oxford Street turned out to be a great milestone for me as I got a new phone and, with it, a sense of freedom and empowerment. Guess what, I still have the number!

Another lucky chance, I remember, was of the first-ever National Lottery draw. In the nationwide hoo-ha, I bought a £1 ticket and when it was being announced in the first programme on a Saturday evening, I got four or five numbers! I remember getting £60 and bought some Nike trainers as soon as I got the money at the local Sainsburys. Thinking me lucky, my gran would make me choose her numbers too, until we found out that doing the lottery was not Islamic, so we all stopped buying tickets.

Anyway, these small wins were significant for me at the time and gave me great joy. I don’t think I would’ve been allowed a mobile phone at 16 years of age in those days. And I wouldn’t have been able to justify spending £60 on a pair of trainers then, either. Lucky!

So, I guess, the same thing has probably happened to me in adulthood. About ten years back, struggling with my health and feeling myself wasting away, I took the chance and sent my novel to Pen to Print for a competition. When I was shortlisted and won, I got an agent and my book was published. All by chance. I felt like a ‘lucky ducky’ again.

However, unlike the lucky encounters of my teenage years, this chance gave me so much more. It gave me the validity I was after to carry on writing and follow my passions. This win brought about a much-needed change in the direction my life was taking me. I was put on a track and my life has been running along nicely on it ever since, picking up opportunities and dreams along the way. This lucky chance has made me happy and continues to make me happy.

Lucky chances in life do happen and can change things for you for the better.

I believe in chances. And I also believe change can be positive.

Good luck!

© Farzana Iqbal, 2024

Connect with Farzana on X: @farzanahakim and on Instagram: @farzanahakimauthor


Issue 21 is available to read online here, you can also find it in libraries and other outlets. Read previous editions of our magazines here

You can hear great new ideas, creative work and writing tips on Write On! Audio. Find us on all major podcast platforms, including Apple and Google Podcasts and Spotify. Type Pen to Print into your browser and look for our logo, or find us on


If you or someone you know has been affected by issues covered in our pages, please see the relevant link below for ​information, advice and support​:

These ‘sliding door moments,’ as they’re known, can alter our lives in mammoth ways.