brain chat

Ringing in some changes

I am balancing a pot of tea, a cup, a teeny milk jug and a large slice of cake next to this laptop, on a table designed to hold about a third as many objects. I’ve set everything up now, though, so I feel obligated to do something while the tea steeps. So I’m here! Hi!

If you’re new here, welcome. If you’re not new, I feel like I should reintroduce myself. I’m Francesca, I’m a writer and an undergrad at I’m Not Telling You My Uni, studying I’m Not Telling You That Either. I’m from Southend, which is a sprawling, disjointed town city in a corner of England that is hard to get to by accident. It’s so large that I don’t mind telling you I’m from there. Also, parts of it are said to be haunted, which is cool. Also also, it’s the sort of place most people don’t give a shit about even if they live there, so you’re not going to expect nice photos of cute cafes or pretty buildings in real time. There aren’t many of either.

Anyway, I’m writing from Uni Town, which does have nice cafes and pretty buildings. I might talk more about it once I’ve moved off campus and would be harder to track down. Don’t look at me like that, I have no idea if you’re weird.

If you’re not new and raising your eyebrows, I promise I’ve not been replaced by an android (not that I’d know if I had…). I just wanted to make a fresh start, write a post I could stick to the top of the site for newcomers. I nearly removed this entire blog from the internet, actually, but decided to redecorate instead. I’ve been blogging for over a decade, which in internet years is half a century. I needed a change. I was tired of logging on and seeing the detritus of unfinished posts, and notifications from readers who are, upon closer inspection, actually crypro currency blogs. I was going through my subscriber list the other day, out of curiosity – I don’t think I’ve looked at it for years – and I recognised about three names. The rest, I kid you not, are crypto and syndication sites which I am assuming are run by Vladimir Putin’s propaganda department. Most readers from the pre-Covid years have moved on or passed away. So, change. I was going to make a whole new site, and leave this one as a monument to my incredibly unadventurous youth, but I couldn’t be arsed with the admin. Plus WordPress kept telling me I had a free domain to snaffle from the Internet Gods, and I thought, that’ll do.

So. Welcome to Francesca’s Thoughts. If Indifferent Ignorance was predominately opinions and grumbles and adoration of My Chemical Romance, Francesca’s Thoughts is going to be musings and questions and adoration of My Chemical Romance. I started Indifferent Ignorance to share my thoughts on Huge Things, but back in 2009 you had about one seismic global event per year. These days there’s a genuine chance World War III will have broken out before tea. Anyway, I’m no longer interested in speaking for the sake of sharing. If I have a point to make, I’m more likely to make it in a short story or a book. I’m not going to put away my soap box completely, and I’ll be cynical until the sun explodes, but I don’t know if I want to contribute to the general feeling of irritation that permeates the internet nowdays.

On a sort-of related note, I’ve had a shit few years. Handful of years. Almost coming up on a decade, probably. Not completely fucking terrible, but a definite series of unfortunate events. Have you read or seen Good Omens? In one not-spoilery event, a demon conspires to turn the original design for the M25 orbital motorway into an enormous Satanic sigil. The road’s shape, coupled with the fact that most journeys on the M25 naturally inspire feelings of pure hatred, ensure that the entire motorway is a constant source of low-grade evil.*

That’s what my day-to-day has been feeling like, for ages now. A gentle smog of low-grade evil. Not all day, and not every day. But I’ve had enough anxiety and bouts of depression, enough work-based dead ends, enough physical health issues that it really does feel like something’s in the air. I don’t think it’s just me, either – a reoccurring theme in conversations with friends is how out of balance everything feels. Work, home life, the climate, world events. A lot of us are at the end of our tether. I’ve written about it here before, and it’s not improving naturally. I can’t do anything about the wider world, but there might be something I can do at my end of the phone? Maybe?

I was thinking I could start here. I’m crap at having hobbies, because they nearly all become my job. This site never really materialised as a source of income, so I’m going to make a concerted effort to make it a space to hang out and chat. No pressure on me to create or you to cough up. I was thinking I could talk about the tarot – I’ve been shit at reading for myself lately, it’s been months since I did a reading just for me – or my bizarre writing processes or my quest to make the perfect peanut butter biscuit. Or something else entirely. Who knows!

I don’t know what I’ll continue from Indifferent Ignorance. Probably Read, If You Like, because I bloody love reading. Probably occasional income round ups, because my patrons seem to like them and I like holding myself accountable to them. Definitely my ongoing Killjoy Jacket project. Definitely plant posts. In fact, here’s a bougainvillea. I’ve shared photos of bougainvillea in posts before when I’ve needed a photo, and they’re just such a good plant to look at. This is a crap photo but it still makes me feel, I don’t know, warm and summery. ‘Where do you want to go after you graduate?’ ‘I want to embody a bougainvillea in July.’

bougainvillea close up

I’ll leave the little book reminders at the end of posts, too, because I wrote a book, damnit.

I don’t want to remove all my old posts – some of them are quite sweet, in a ‘this kid is an idiot’ way – or pretend they weren’t there to start with. Half of my problem with internet culture these days is the lack of nuance and lack of desire to let people learn. I think it’s important to show that people evolve.

So, in the spirit of evolution, I hope I’ll see you here soon. I hope I’ll be back here soon.

Look after yourselves!

Francesca

* If you want to leave or reach Southend by car, there’s a good chance you’ll meet the M25. I’m saying nothing about what that does for residents’ psyche.


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

brain chat

A quick chat and a cool tree photo

Hi hi. Happy palindrome day! Apparently today’s date is also an ambigram, which means it looks the same upside down. This feels fitting. A bloke on the radio this morning* kept referring to Russia invading Ukraine as a bit like the Cuban Missile Crisis and let’s just say that if this was 10 years ago and I was still doing GCSE history, I would appreciate that reference! As it is all I can think of is that X Men film.

How are we all? Dealing with the weather? I keep hearing about ancient trees that have come down in the wind, and I think it’s fair to say my transformation into antisocial forest-dweller is well on its way, because I get emotional when I think about it. I was ninety per cent asleep at the time, but a different bloke on the radio** was talking about a thousand year old oak. A thousand years! He said something about it having seen Vikings invade, and I got distracted trying to figure out how many generations of birds would have nested in the tree and missed whether or not the weather brought it down.

I’m not going to Google it.

Did I come here with something to say? I genuinely can’t remember. Every item of news this morning made me sad or furious so I think I was just thinking ‘let’s talk about something fun!’ Oh, that’s why I started talking about palindromes. But I’m not that into maths, so I’ll be honest I’m struggling. This is why I write book reviews or talk about my plants. Letting me start a blog post with no prompts except that I learnt the word ambigram is a terrible idea, especially when the whole point of popping in to chat was to take my mind off – and hopefully your mind off – World Events. I will not feel bad if you tell me it hasn’t worked.

I’m going to sign off and get some caffeine, but here is a photo of a cool tree in Angkor Wat from five (five!) years ago:

tree at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Bloody love a tree. Look at that. Humans make cool buildings that last centuries and trees just… grow through them.

Right, caffeine. See you soon!

Look after yourselves,

Francesca

*Health secretary. He was the Health Secretary.

**Definitely not the Health Secretary.


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

Books · brain chat

Things from 2021 that I liked and you might like

Happy nearly 2022! I don’t love those look-at-my-great-year posts, so I thought I’d do one talking about some of the lovely things I’ve come across this year:

  • Roman mosaics turned up in Rutland and they’re super duper old and super duper cool
  • The Magnus Archives wrapped up with a truly epic finale
  • Time Team is coming BACK and it’s going to be on the internet for all of us to enjoy
  • David Attenborough survives and, going on the assumption that he has a new show out, thrives
  • The guy who founded the We Rate Dogs Twitter account started a charity providing financial support for shelter dogs with complex medical needs, so they’d be more attractive to potential new owners. I can’t tell you how wonderful the 15/10 Foundation’s Twitter feed is, and how much better you’ll feel if you look at it
  • The Ever Given got stuck in the Suez and I know it was terrible for the economy et cetera et cetera but it was also ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS
  • Football didn’t come home but the idea that it might was quite nice (in the spirit of focussing on the good stuff, let’s not dwell on the racism or that bloke who stuck a firework in his arse)
  • While we’re on the subject of contests won by Italians… Eurovision came back! And Måneskin took their place as the world’s best rock band, Under 25s Category.

I’m staying in for new year’s eve, just to be on the safe side – although I’ve realised my favourite bit of NYE parties is getting to chat to my mates and cuddle with the hosts’ dog(s), so I’m not bothered about missing General Revelry. Last new year was difficult because there was no option but to stay indoors; this year I’m grateful to have the choice. And I choose to sit in my socks, eat panettone with my grandmother and think about all the books I want to read next year!

Seriously, though, I have a good handful of titles I cannot wait to dig into. I fell off the blogging wagon a little this year, but I hope to continue with book recommendation posts in 2022. A few titles I haven’t gotten around to enthusiastically recommending yet are Queenie, the Six of Crows duology, Robin Ince’s The Importance of Being Interested, Hitchhiker’s Guide (which I’d read once before but it’s like a good wine, it just improves with age), The Starless Sea – wait, I might have written about that. I can’t remember. 2021 had some really shit bits, but it excelled itself book wise. I was going to say it excelled itself film wise, but I’ve only been to the cinema once since Covid started and nearly all the films and TV shows I’ve seen were released ages ago. I liked, um, the animated Netflix one where Tim Minchin voiced a koala.

I just remembered that I almost went back into education to study film. Ha!

What were your highlights of 2021? What are you hoping for as we head into ’22? I’ve got a few modest goals – sort out my sock drawer, finish reading a copy of Frankenstein my friend T leant me on Halloween, get to the end of the academic year in one piece. I’m looking forward to some really mundane things, like Peaky Blinders coming back, new leaves on the trees on my uni campus, new Stiefvater novels, my fourth Covid jab. Ooh, I think there’s an extra bank holiday for the Queen’s Jubilee. I’m not sure if it’s a pandemic side effect or if everyone does it at some point during their twenties and the pandemic’s amplified it, but I’m far more interested in little things these days, things I used to consider insignificant. I saw a cool looking bird the other day. I’m not sure if pre-pandemic Francesca would have spent so much time trying to identify it on the RSPB website (consensus: male chaffinch, possibly). So, yeah, more books and more wildlife in 2022, I guess. Oh, and some of those shows that were originally scheduled for 2020! I’ll believe it when the lights go down, ha!

Happy new year!

Look after yourselves,
Francesca


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

brain chat · Internet

Reflections on this blog and where it’s going (with a little bit of tarot, it is Halloween)

A few moments ago I pulled a tarot card for this blog. It’s Halloween, it’s the site’s spiritual birthday, it’s a good way to start a post. I thought about the last twelve years as I shuffled, and I was expecting to feel a little melancholy as I did so. It’s Halloween, after all, which for my money is a much better time to reflect on things gone by than new year is. It’s also the blog’s twelve year anniversary, and after I hit five years of blogging I found it impossible to reach this date without reflecting on years gone by. Most blogs last about twenty minutes. It’s discombobulating to think back to what I was doing at fourteen, at eighteen, at twenty one, and know that throughout that time I was here, talking to you.

As you’ll know if you’ve been following for the past few months, recently I’ve been making a more concerted effort to appreciate the seasons. (Autumn, you have been stunning this year.) I wondered today how I would organise this blog into seasons – or sections, because four seasons feels too finite. I think that 2009 through to around 2014 or 2015 was when I was in full ‘this is my space and if you’re here, you can listen to me’ mode. When I finished school, in around 2014 or so, I came a bit unstuck. Partly because my home life was coming unstuck, and partly because leaving school is weird. Both together were a recipe for uncertainty, and I struggled to define what I wanted to talk about.

2015 through to 2018 or so was a series of attempts to identify what this site meant, to me and to the few readers who remained from my school days. I spoke about travel, and being a professional creative, and art. Looking back, it was my entire life that needed redefining, not this one tiny corner of it. Gradually, as I got further and further into finishing The Princess and the Dragon, and as social media seemed to fall further and further into a plague pit of performative, po-faced judgement and toxic positivity, I found it harder to figure out what I was contributing to the world by sharing my thoughts. I was increasingly aware that if my fiction work grew in popularity, I would be more and more at risk of someone reading those old, soap boxy posts circa 2011, finding something badly worded or ignorant, and proclaiming that I should never sell another book. It sounds overdramatic, but in the young adult fiction space, you’re either a saint or you’re cancelled. My work Twitter feed, when I still looked at it, was awash with book bloggers debating the evils of problematic authors and/or their equally problematic content. One author recently edited a couple of lines of dialogue out of a published novel because people online were giving them hell for supporting the Israeli government. Or something. I wondered if I should semi-jokingly cancel myself before someone else could do it for me. I wondered how long it would take to, say, livestream a dramatic reading of all my old posts, during which I could reassess my teenage opinions and, more practically, remove photographs of people I’m no longer in touch with. I wondered if it was worth continuing to blog at all. I’ve been wondering that a lot for the last two or three years.

So you’ll be as surprised as I was that when I was shuffling my cards and thinking back on this site’s many incarnations, I felt happy. I was thinking back to how enthusiastic I was when I started, how hopeful I was that just by shouting into the void, the void might pay attention and change a little for the better. Now, as I write, I’m thinking about all the lovely conversations I’ve had on here over the years, how grateful I am to all of my readers, and how cool it is that I’ve been working on one project longer than quite a lot of people have been alive.

This was the card, the Three of Wands:

Three of Wands tarot card, part of Maggie Stiefvater's Raven's Prophecy deck.

For those of you not into the tarot, spiritually or otherwise, it’s all about sharing your work with others. Sit with your friends by the embers of that fire, the card says, and see where you go.

It feels hopeful, and I am not used to feeling hopeful in regard to my creative work. I don’t say that to elicit sympathy, or pity; being a professional creative is a numbers game. Statistically, I won’t ‘make it.’ I’m not sure what ‘it’ is, to be honest. Creative work as a full time job? I don’t know anyone who’s creative as a full timer, including authors with big fancy book deals. Most of us teach on the side, or speak at conferences, or write articles for magazines on subjects that aren’t necessarily creative. Some of us run podcasts or livestreams, or are fortunate enough to have proper radio shows or full time teaching jobs. Some sell our books to film companies, I guess, and if we’re lucky get to be a part of the production team. Most of us would say that the extra stuff helps fuel the creative work (although the dynamics of balancing the two is a conversation for another day).

I don’t know if this is a blog that will keep going, or how long for. As reader numbers have waxed and waned, I’ve asked myself again and again what the point of talking is if there’s no one there to listen. I’m never going to stop asking myself if there’s any point to sharing what I’m thinking, or what I’m doing. I’m not sure that’s something that can be answered just once. I have a feeling I’m only ever going to get more private, too, as my offline work evolves and as I spend more time working on the Do Something Directory as a relatively professional, sensible managing director whose sharing of personal views are not necessarily conducive to building a non profit organisation. And what’s a blog if not a type of online journal? Maybe we’ll find out.

If I can look back on this blog and feel hopeful, then I can look forward and feeling hopeful, too. I know that as May of next year inches closer, I’m going to want to show you guys my Killjoy jacket and, most likely, write a thousand words about the spiritual experience of seeing My Chem again. Do you remember when I wrote something soppy exactly two years ago to mark this blog’s momentous decade of existence and then MCR had the audacity to steal my thunder and announce a reunion? So rude.

Maybe I’ll share other things, too, like what I’m writing at the moment (social media copy for the Directory, to be quite honest), what I’m reading (I’m about to start a lovely copy of Frankenstein my friend T leant me, I can’t wait) and what I’m up to when I’m not doing those things. Hint: higher education. I could write a whole post on how much more I sleep now compared with before I went to university. Was I just not using my brain that much beforehand, or has close proximity to teenagers rewound my body clock? I don’t know how much I want to talk about uni online (I’m not going to talk about where I am publicly until second year, at least, because I live on campus). And I like having something that belongs to just me. Well, just me and the nine thousand people my mother has been telling about it.

Happy Halloween, lovelies. Go and reflect on the past, this is the best time to do it! I personally am going to make pasta. Look after yourselves and don’t forget to blow out the candles on your pumpkins before you go to bed. No one wants to celebrate Halloween by actually crossing the veil.

Francesca


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

brain chat

Autumn in August and other moderate feelings of discombobulation

Good evening! Is autumn creeping in where you are? It is here, as I listen to the new Lorde record and try to figure out how many edits I can make to this before my fingers are ruined for the weekend. Just a scent on the air, really. A hint of scarves to come.

How are you? I rarely leave it this long without coming by here, but in the last few weeks and months I’ve found that when I reach for words, they just… aren’t there. There’s two types of writer’s block: the one where you stop because you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere in the depths of what you’ve already written, or not planned a piece thoroughly enough. Then there’s the one where it’s not really about writing at all, it’s about the person doing the writing. For the first one, you just have to retrace your steps. For the second, you have to figure out what’s up with, well, you. There’s a little bit of both going on here, I reckon.

Are you superstitious? I’m not, usually, but lately I’ve felt that I might like to wear my evil eye twenty four-seven, throw open every window and do my level best to improve the atmosphere. Maybe it’s because the seasons are turning more obviously than they do in midsummer, or maybe because we are Back to Normal but not really here in the UK. I think I have written about this lately, but so many people I know are just feeling… wonky. Out-of-balance. My instinct regarding this very first world problem of creative apathy is that I need to go into hibernation. Turn off the internet, mind my own business and get on with things that are more practical than creative. Autumn is good for that, isn’t it? Most creatives work in cycles as a matter of working practice. Create, promote, wind down, hibernate, observe, create, promote, wind down, hibernate et cetera. Maybe I didn’t leave enough time between projects back in spring and summer, and now my brain needs me to piss off and do some boring life stuff. Finish my accounts for the last financial year, deadhead my house plants. I don’t quite know how this ties into my desire to cleanse my bedroom with a homemade herbal infusion to improve the vibes.

As for the rest of the world, that’s just going to keep spinning into oblivion, isn’t it? Can’t change Afghanistan. Can’t change Haiti. Can’t change that climate change report. Might as well turn it all off and focus on what’s in front of my two eyes. Except that I do have a tiny bit of power over the rest of the planet, because I run a website that helps people find ways to support causes they care about. My desire to remove myself from Twitter forever lest the washing machine of news sends me mad is at war with the necessity of running a Twitter account focussed on the washing machine of news. (Please follow the Do Something Directory on Twitter.) Perhaps that’s what’s buggering up my creativity: the push-pull of the me who wants to communicate with my readers entirely through a newsletter and live in a cabin in the woods before all the forests burn down, and the me who wants to stop the forests catching fire in the first place. Not a metaphor, since the Mediterranean is on fire. But also a bit of a metaphor, ha.

I don’t have long before Solar Power finishes, or before my hands say ‘enough, Francesca, or we will wake you up at night.’ This was not the cheery note I envisioned when I was planning this year’s blog posts! But I wanted to pop in, say hi, feed the algorithm gods just in case those ads finally pay up. Let you know that I might stay a bit quiet for a while yet. Does anyone even write blogs anymore, or is it all YouTube and TikToks? I don’t talk about politics or social issues too much anymore, which are the main reasons I first started this page. I don’t need to discuss them here, because I write stories and have the Do Something Directory instead. That makes this space a personal blog, and I don’t want to write one of those either. So we’re at an impasse, reader.

Perhaps I will see you again around Halloween, or the autumn equinox. I like those definite seasonal markers, they make me feel grounded. Until then, look after yourselves!

Francesca

PS As I was writing about creative apathy, I thought ‘didn’t I used to call this creative constipation’? When I was typing into the tag box, I discovered that yes, I did. Say hi to 2015 for me.


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

brain chat · Money

Quarterly Income Round Up (April-June 2021)

How are we already in a new financial quarter? What is time? Anyway, here’s the juicy details of my eclectic income, including book royalties in double figures:

  • Book royalties: £41.41
  • Income from the No. 1 Readers’ Club on Patreon: £142.07
  • Income from miscellaneous writing/blog work, e.g. Kofi and PayPal one-off donations, WordAds on this blog, Amazon affiliate links: £0
  • Shop ‘royalties’: £60
  • Freelance work: £162.45
  • Total: £405.93

In the first income round up, I explained all the various streams, so this month I only have to say: this wasn’t too bad. Better than last quarter, when I was chained to my desk writing essays about leadership theory. I mean, I’ve paid out more in website fees than I earnt in royalties, but all in all… not bad. I was a full time student for about half of the quarter, and spent several weeks after I handed in my final project with brain fog, so I reckon all things considered, I did a fair amount of work. My shops are quieter this time of year but still open – well, until I close on 1st September – so I can still skim a bit off the top for wages. I should add that I didn’t pocket all of those book royalties – some of it goes to one side for business expenses. Obviously I’d prefer if there were an extra digit on the numbers, but I’m still pleased that they are higher than they were in Darkest Winter of 2021. And they’re better than they were when lockdown first hit. Freelancing and making art in the pandemic feels like rebuilding a Lego building when the previous one was knocked over, several bricks were stamped on, and you don’t know if you want to recreate the previous building or try something new.

I don’t know what to expect from this summer quarter. Probably fewer royalties because I don’t have much of a promotion budget and the sparkle of a new release has worn off. I don’t think affiliate linking will suddenly increase either? But the No. 1 Readers’ Club always has room for new members! Come and join us if you like magicky stories and tarot readings! This is what I look like when I’m writing a story with a patron’s name as a character’s name:

Kermit the frog typing manically from Giphy
from giphy

Speaking of, I am meant to be working on the next story RIGHT NOW. I’ve done something to the little finger on my left hand that’s making typing feel a bit weird; I might do some edits. I’ve typed this sans little finger and it’s not impossible, but it feels disloyal to my fingers to say that I might not need all of them. I LOVE YOU ALL EQUALLY. PLEASE WORK.


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

brain chat · Christmas

Chilling out with Lorde and a lil chat

Good evening lovelies,

I hope you’re all well. Today is the fifth anniversary of the Brexit referendum, so here’s to another five years of national stability!!!

(Seriously, though, did that go very quickly or very slowly?) I do not have any news or suchlike for this post; I am working on some bigger ones and today thought ‘it’s been a while, let’s say hello.’ Again with the wonky time, but it feels strange to have already passed midsummer. I usually feel more awake and generally more alive and plugged into nature this time of year, but this year it hasn’t really happened. I’m consistently swinging between insomnia and excessive sleepiness. I don’t think the weather’s extreme changes has helped, or the constant yo yo-ing of Covid restrictions. Everything feels a bit unbalanced at the moment, even though this time of year usually feels very together.

Still, Lorde is back! With a song about the sun, no less (she gets it). I’ve helped several bees leave their accidental prison of the kitchen window. My remaining courgette plant has survived the latest deluge of rain. I had Christmas dinner with some extended family last Saturday. We ate in the garden; it drizzled. It felt weird but also right to be eating Christmas pudding on an overcast day in June. My friends are getting vaccinated by the dozen. Things are… finding their way towards an equilibrium? Maybe I’m putting too much emphasis on Lorde as the saviour of 2021. I mean, I have also been listening to Månneskin and although they are sonically quite different to Lorde, they give me hope for the future of rock music. I think they might be as good at bonkers music videos as MCR are.

I‘m going to overlook that they are all in their early twenties and I am no longer in my early twenties and am, in fact, racing with alarming speed to what could be considered your late twenties even though we should all be allowed to take at least two years off our age to account for the time lost to Covid.

I am getting tired and distracted. The Great British Sewing Bee is finished so I don’t know what I’ll do with my evening – I guess I could… try sewing? – but it’s time to turn off the internet and look at the sky now it’s not hidden by several thousand clouds.


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brain chat · Lists

A Week in the Life of an Author/Freelancer/Stationery Shop Owner ft. Chronic Pain

When I was doing the quarterly income post I remembered that the life of a creative person/student (well, not a student now my work is handed in) is a bit opaque. I’ve had people tell me I don’t have a job, or don’t work, so I figured, let’s keep a diary of a week in my life. This was a good week to record, because it’s the first I haven’t had a single college commitment since I started my diploma back in September, so I was trying to figure out a new routine. I had Patreon work, stationery shop work, and writing. Well, Continuing Professional Development, in the end, more than actual writing.

It was also an up-and-down week in terms of my health – I’ve spoken about my chronic pain before. This is it in action! I have fun little spells of depression, too, which I wasn’t initially going to include but then I thought, fuck it. We should talk more about this stuff, if only because it gets in the way of the rest of my life. I left out some details, because this isn’t a gossip column, but otherwise this is a pretty accurate look at the menagerie of work I do on a daily basis. I’ve split the days into sections so you don’t have to scroll forever. Enjoy!

Monday

6:30am

Awake. Ish. My new year’s resolution was to spend an hour every morning ignoring the rest of the universe, aka not using the internet. It’s evolved into making a cup of coffee to take back to bed, doing some meditation on the Headspace app and maybe having a read. Then I make more coffee and go for a walk. I’m on chatting terms with multiple neighbours. I can’t tell if the whole routine is very pretentious or very hippie, but I don’t care. It’s nice to go to work with a clear, news/social media-free brain. Also, today I saw some ducks.

8am

Sit down to some writing. I’ve been working on this one story for months and I’m not sure if it’s dragging because I need to focus or I’m dragging because the story lacks focus. Give in trying to figure out which is is, have breakfast.

9am

Remember I have not showered. Shower.

9:30am

My hands are aching so I do some very exciting physiotherapy with some putty and a squishy ball. Physio gets boring quite quickly, especially when you have been doing it for eight or nine years, so I have a read – Bertrand Russell, get me – while I’m using the ball. I learnt the hard way that putty requires your full attention, or it gets everywhere. It’s like the ectoplasm in Ghostbusters meets playdoh.

10:15am

Walk to my nan’s for coffee with her and my mum. Three of us are inside! Having coffee! So weird.

11:30am

Do some freelance work for a long time client.

11:45am

Work on my next newsletter and some blog posts. Break for lunch and come back rejuvenated. Well, less hungry. Post today’s blog, about getting the second Covid vaccine. Work on this post.

2pm

I’m trying to build in more breaks and not sit at my desk for long periods, so I list some clothes for sale online and organise some laundry. Between 2pm and 5pm I’m mostly useless, so I try and make that the time I do non-work things.

3pm

Work on the Do Something Directory. Trying to figure out a new page. It’s going to look great.

3:30pm

Take a walk, because it isn’t raining.

4pm

Fuss about online for a bit, checking sales for the paperback of The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes. They could be worse! My biggest fear was that no copies would sell. End up on a YouTube Q&A with a mortician (verdict: I’m not sure I fancy being embalmed). Poke about on Goodreads, because I’m smug I’ve read a lot of excellent books this year. Find the page for my favourite novel of the year so far. Some of the reviews are terrible. I don’t mean to be rude, but what did these people read? It was a masterpiece. Read the book in self defence.

4:30pm

Do some physio – knees and back this time. I live large – and pack an order from my stationery shop. Read the news: apparently a man in Spain has been found dead, trapped inside a papier-mâché dinosaur. It’s thought he dropped his phone inside, climbed in to get it, and got stuck. How appalling.

5pm

I lied. I’m not productive yet. Do some ironing in front of A Place in the Sun. What is one without the other? Read the news (terrible). Get an email from my critique partner (good). Give up on the day and make dinner (better).

7pm

Waste time chill out on YouTube, which is almost productive because I’m also messaging a friend, S, who’s working on the Do Something Directory with me. Fuss about on writing groups.

8pm

Remember that today is the anniversary of the day my littlest dog, Adonis Wheezeface Bean, passed away. It’s somehow worse than last year. Also, the news is still shit. Someone’s body washed up on Southend beach this morning. It shouldn’t surprise me, but it does. Today becomes is what we in the mental health department call a Bad Day. There’s not much to do when one of those descends, so I spend the rest of the evening on a clothes swap group – bye my purple jumpsuit that doesn’t fit, hi to a new wrap dress that hopefully will – and on Reddit. Learn that David Yoon, the author, is lovely.

10pm

Do a Pilates routine I found on YouTube because I’ve been sitting down for ages. Bed.

photograph of a webpage with squares showing photographs and words overlaid, including 'LGBTQ+', 'Children & Young People', 'Environment & Climate Change' and  'Mental Health'