Health · weather

Thoughts on other people’s cold remedies. Also it has been raining

Good morning, if it is still the morning when I post this. The odds of it being this morning when you read it are slim, but maybe you are catching up on your internet based light entertainment on your Monday commute.

If you drive to work, please stop reading.

How are we? Autumn in Uni City has once again proven itself to be, in equal parts: colourful, misty and extremely, noisily, rainy. The sort where your bag won’t dry and then you realise that it was never truly up to the job of keeping your stuff dry in anything one could call weather and now you have to search for another. I usually try to get my clothes and accessories second hand or in a swap these days, but I think I’m going to have to buy a new-new backpack. It’s got to last two more years of my degree at the very least, and it’ll leave the house with me six days a week minimum for, what, forty weeks of the year? And most of those weeks it will be raining.

I kind of feel bad for typing that because this morning’s rain has given way to clear-ish skies and I can hear birds singing, which is almost too bucolic to feel real. I can also hear sirens, though. Cheers England.

Other than getting drenched on my way to work and/or classes, I have been busy trying and failing to shake fresher’s flu. I think I’m on my second or third bout now, unless it’s just one long virus-driven party in my nose. My house is coughing like we’re Marge’s sisters in The Simpsons. It’s not Covid, we’ve checked. Other viruses are available. The one upside is that I can’t rush about too much, so I’m taking things slowly and trying to enjoy the little things in life, like going more than half an hour without sneezing. My favourite cold remedy, sticking your head over a bowl of hot water, is a lot less practical when the only big bowl you own is your crockpot, so I’m mostly taking a lot of too-hot showers and hoping it has the same impact. It does not. I’ve just remembered my nan telling me a story about someone she used to know who had a Lemsip every evening. This wasn’t if they were ill, it was every evening like you might have a herbal tea or a cocoa.

I have so many questions.

Are you permanently buzzed on paracetamol and whatever they put in Lemsip, or does it wear off really quickly and just mean that if you were really ill you’d have to go straight to morphine? Does it have any impact on the health of your gut? I’m remembering that some of you are not from the UK. This is what I am talking about:

Why does the logo include a sword? Is it a metaphor for destroying your cold? The questions pile on…

I ought to go and get my day properly started – I need to go bag shopping! And the rain might hold off for a bit, so I should probably go and enjoy that blue sky while I can see it. Also, I got an email notification that a survey I put online for my stationery business in 2018 has had a new response. I mean, sure, I’ll take a look…

Let me know your cold remedies. I am curious as to whether any of them include knocking back mild painkillers every day whether you need them or not.

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?)

DISCUSS. · Indifferent Ignorance

In Which I Have Been Blogging Ten (10!) Actual Years

Today I have been blogging on here ten years. My first ever post wasn’t today, it was sometime in November, but Halloween always felt like a good day for a birthday. I’ve thought about writing something long and heartfelt, or doing a big old retrospective where I comb through old posts ripping the shit out of 14-year-old me. But to be completely honest, I can’t be bothered. Ten years is a lot of posts to go through. Although I’m fully expecting a shitty teen to dig something up and cancel me in the near to medium future and would prefer to cancel myself as a precautionary measure, I’ve got other things to think about.

Ten years is quite a while though. What’s changed in my life? Most things, since I was 14 a decade ago. What has changed on this blog? The quality of my writing has improved, mostly. I know what alt text does now, I credit my images and I’m less of a dickhead, mostly.

In terms of the wider world, I’m fairly sure we still had a new Labour government in 2009. Nigel Farage was just a bloke with a few weird opinions. Donald Trump was still a badly dressed businessman. Game of Thrones was merely a nerdy book series. Ugh, what a time.

Congratulations to me, I guess, for sticking with a project long enough for it to reach double figures! Huge props to you if you’ve been reading since the good old days of 10-long comment threads and arrogant teenage ignorance (oh the irony). Hi if you’re new – welcome aboard! Don’t look at anything from earlier than 2017.

I could say something about plans for ten years’ years time, but I am not where teenage me thought I’d be at 24, and it feels like too big a topic when I’m not even sure what I’m doing over Christmas. I mean, I hope Brexit’s bloody done or has been cancelled completely by 2029. I’d like Donald Trump to have been impeached and consigned to history, although since he’s not the picture of wellbeing, I’m not convinced he’ll actually be here in a decade.

I like to think I’ll be financially and mentally stable enough to have a dog, but beyond that (and the Brexit thing) I’d rather not look too far ahead. Wait, no, I want The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes to be an ebook. And to have written some other stories that are strange and kind of funny and a bit magical. I also like to think I will still be chatting away on here about whatever takes my fancy. Realistically about the dog and the stories. Maybe that’s the direction I should take Indifferent Ignorance. Dogs and books. Although now I think about it, it’s been about dogs and books more than it’s been about anything else, except maybe My Chemical Romance.

Frank Iero fuck off gif
still my favourite gif of all time. Found somewhere on Tumblr in 2017, @ me if it’s your work of art

I wanted to commemorate this almost-momentous day with an photo or sketch also I know why images are important for SEO now but in the spirit of looking forward, not back, I decided to make one instead of sharing something old:

Sharpie sketch of a sad looking ghost with the words 'I can't believe she's been doing this for a decade'

It’s clearly a gem, so I’ve signed it. I think it might outdate the little Boozy ghost Frank Iero draws on merch, but do ghosts even age.

What were you doing a decade ago? What would you like to be doing in a decade? Tell me what we should name the little ghostie, or I will be going with Little Ghostie.

Happy Halloween!

Update: I can’t fucking believe some band stole my birthday thunder.

(All Hail) Creation · September 2016

There’s Snot in My Hair, and You Really Needed to Know That.

My body’s 21st birthday present to itself was to catch a cold, so I’m interspersing work with those violent sneezes where you projectile snot over your hair/clothes/arm/phone. I watched that Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs programme yesterday, which was also the first time I’ve taken more than one paracetamol at a time for months, so I’m debating whether just to fill a mug with hot water and some honey (we have no lemon and I can’t taste anything anyway), curl up and read about witches in Essex. The perks of being freelance, blah blah blah.

I was going to take more photos for Etsy – why hello, Halloween – but with the snot situation I think I might be better off just doing inventory… there was a point to this blog as well but I’ve already forgotten it. Maybe I will go and write thank you cards next to a box of tissues, and pray my reactions are good enough not to accidentally infect everyone I’m writing to. There’s an anthrax joke there somewhere.

Sod it, I’m going to find the honey and work out when I can safely take more paracetamol. And the witch book is for work, so I will see you when I’ve crawled back out from under a blanket…

Art · Books · Colour · Internet · May 2016 · Tumblr

Behind the Scenes, Friday 13th Edition

So it was on this very day, sort of, that I released my Ghost Stories zines last year. If you haven’t read them – and you should – they’re full of short stories, advice columns, quirky advertisements and art all pertaining to death, the afterlife and magic. And I hadn’t even heard of Maggie Stiefvater then. Anyway, I don’t have a Volume IV to share with you all, but I have made even more ridiculous death/the afterlife/magic work since, so I thought I would take today to share a bit about how and why I ended up with so many macabre-ish, funny-ish arty-ish things in my portfolio.

Ghost Stories

A couple of years ago I wrote a (very) little story for The Story Shack about something that in retrospect sounds suspiciously like the church watch on St Mark’s Eve. It was sitting by itselfie on the internet and last January I noticed that 2015 contained three Friday 13ths. I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth and it’s useful to have solid deadlines, so I thought I could do a project to practise my Photoshop, actually write and maybe have a laugh. My friend Ruby, who proofread, had less of a laugh. By 13th November I had three relatively well-formed zines, a more thorough understanding of the YouTube playlist format and a healthy respect for the black and white filters on Photoshop. I kind of love Ghost Stories – I mean, I also hate it because I read it back and think ‘ew’ – but it’s the first thing I made after I finished school for the hell (ha) of it, and it reminded me why the term ‘black humour’ warms my soul. Now go warm your soul.

Ghost Stories Volume I by Francesca Burke

 

Hell’s Belles

You know that feeling when you’ve recently quit a job, rediscovered supernatural YA novels and decided to dye your hair pink and commit to being a full time eccentric? Last autumn I tried to supplement my income with waitressing, which to cut a long story short was not the career for me. When I rejiggled my freelancing so I could afford-ish to go back to marketing full time, I realised how much I valued being my own boss, muttering swearwords, blasting Fall Out Boy and making ridiculous things because I could. There’s a stall in Southend high street selling home accessories that say things like ‘eat glitter for breakfast and shine all day’, ‘life’s a journey’, etc.; I always wanted to paint them black and ad lib… so I did.

I even made stickers. Hell’s Belles – which was also influenced heavily by the pastel goth tag, 9 years of listening to My Chemical Romance and the exact colour I wanted my hair – is one of my favourite lines on my Etsy. It’s weird, either offensive or funny depending on your sense of humour and made of everything I’ve been interested in over the last couple of years: magic, cynicism, cursing, cynical cursing and inspirational Instagram posts.

I have a suspicion I’ll make more of one or more of the above. Look out around Halloween.

(All Hail) Creation · Christmas · December 2014 · Internet · Magazines · Scriptures

New Spooky Story Shack Piece!

I’ve got a Christmas present for you guys! It’s a superduper Halloween story that I wrote in September! It’s illustrated by Daniele Murtas and I think they did an excellent job.

If you liked it (or even if you didn’t) please leave a comment either on The Story Shack or here. I was tempted when I wrote it to make a longer story out of it, but I liked the ending so I wasn’t sure if continuing it would have made it less good…

Anyway, I have to get off my phone and get on with freaking out that it’s Christmas Eve tomorrow. I might do a Christmas Eve post. Hark the herald angels and all that!

Update: this is the last Five Ways to Celebrate Five Years of Indifferent Ignorance celebration, unless I’ve miscounted… which is entirely probable.

Holidays · October 2014 · Zakynthos

Goats in the Road…

I can see tourists looking at goats. Goats are good, they are very relaxed and like to walk down the road with you.

IMG_5390.JPG

Quietly reflecting today about how a) I am never running a contest again, lazy sods and b) it’s almost Halloween, and there is no evidence of it except for an olive tree I saw earlier which was decorated with a pumpkin. It was also decorated with bits of coral, so don’t get your skeleton outfits out.

Speaking of ‘holidays’, I suppose I am on one a bit since I’m sitting in a restaurant roughly 50% of my waking hours and not getting paid. But I am also planning for another one…

CHRISTMAS!

Not celebrating (Jesus, it’s not for months) but regarding my Etsy shop. I’ve been brainstorming, as they say in school, and if things go to plan there will be very cool things there soon. Think physical items, snowflakes.

But not actual snowflakes. Bit fiddly. Quite excited to get back and put my plans into action (and endlessly talk about them here) but then, England does not have goats in the road unless there has been a motorway accident involving a lorry and livestock.

(All Hail) Creation · Art · December 2013 · Indifferent Ignorance · Internet · Scriptures

Merry Christmas Snowflakes, Here’s a Delightful Story to Warm Your Bones

I wrote it and everything.

Big thank yous to Lakshmy Mathur for the artwork and Martin who runs Story Shack for sorting out my weird formatting.

Season’s greetings snowflakes!

If you could tell me what you think it would be like receiving a gift from you. As opposed to for you, and let’s face it every blog ever is a gift for you. A badly-wrapped, misshapen Dobby-like gift.

Okay it’s time to hit the Christmas snacks. Happy birthday Jesus!