For seven whole days
Seven days without the Internet
Seven days without my emails
Seven days of sun (probably) and food (definitely)
And maybe turtles.
Today is 25 years since the start of public access of the world wide web (thank you for my jobs, Tim Berners-Lee) and I wanted to find something to encapsulate why the Internet is so important, but to be honest I think this shit hole of a website does the trick. I can’t find evidence of what it looked like back in 2009 (shout out to anyone who put up with the luminous green type) but here are some other gems from the last six and a half years.
I am still so proud of that tagline. I only got rid of it when I started The Webways and wanted to avoid brand confusion. (October 2011)
Oh god that’s where my graphic designing started. Also, shout out to Sweet Pea! (October 2011)
I don’t know what went wrong here, but I do seem to remember archiving it on the Way Back Machine so I could remember it in years to come. High five, 17 year old me. (December 2013)
This was a total accident. I was playing about with new theme ideas, because the Bueno one (see above and every post for about five years) wasn’t supported by WP any more – I didn’t realise that I had activated a new one, not just previewed it, and couldn’t get the original back. This was as close as I could get to how it was, and I’m still not sure how I feel about those circles. (August 2015)
My Goth phase. (October 2015)
And that concludes this post, because I have to go use the Internet to look at crap people have written on a micro blogging site.
Last week I got philosophical/grumpy about what it’s like being mere mortal during the Olympics, and in the spirit of WINNING THAT GOLD MEDAL, here is a list of ambitions I would like to have fulfilled by the next summer Olympics. There are other, more personal, things as well – but these are the things I want to brag (and complain) about publicly between now and summer 2020.
And then have it optioned in record time by the BBC and win five BAFTAs. Obviously.
It doesn’t have to get anywhere (statistically, it would not get anywhere). I just want to finish one before I qualify for OAP cinema tickets.
I’d love to know the odds of getting a book published next to the odds of having a screenplay made, but since I would be responsible for almost all the content of a book, as opposed to one of many, many people making a film, I prefer my chances of actually holding a novel in my hand. Plus, I’ve had more practise. Still gotta double check how to spell practise, though.
Half of all authors in the UK earn less than £10.5k a year, and although I will never be bothered about making a million pounds a week, I would like to have found something by 2020 that affords me the time and financial security to make things. In the mean time, my Patreon is here, hint hint.
Britain will have Brexited by Tokyo 2020, and there’s nothing like a deadline to spur one on to visit Slovakia while it takes minimum effort.
Where is Slovakia.
I could probably stand to miss Baghdad, Aleppo and the North and South Poles, but places I haven’t been to yet that I want to write postcards from include but are not limited to:
They never taught us aerial yoga, maybe I could try that… or trampolining. Ooh, or dog walking.
Possibly this is cheating because if I pass my theory test on Friday I will technically be half way there. Then again, I started learning in 2014, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I strive for Maggie Stiefvater-esque skill and style, but I think I’m going to be more like this:
I have some deadlines to attend to (and theory to study for) so I will leave this here and maybe revisit it on a periodic basis to brag/complain/mentally compare notes with the athletes aiming for Tokyo. Do you have any goals or four year plans? Let’s compare ourselves to Olympians together!
I’ve been having really odd reactions to the Olympics so please help me out and tell me if you’ve experienced anything similar (no, I’m not talking about checking out the Team GB diving team, although I do encourage you to do that). When I’m watching TV, usually with a plate of food or a cup of tea, I either think:
This is so incredibly inspiring. Look at that perfectly regular human being who has worked their bones into dust for four-plus years to become one of the best sportspeople in the world. They are so deserving of our attention even if they don’t win anything because they are a testament to the human spirit and work ethic. I think I will put down my food and do my physio and go for a run tomorrow.
That person is my age. That person is five years younger than me. What was I doing five years ago? I was blogging about MCR, which has clearly propelled me into a fascinating, rewarding and financially secure life. That person has more visible muscles on their stomach than I do in all my limbs. I’ve been curled on Instagram checking out Team GB’s diving team for approximately four hours and haven’t done physio for days. But I’m actually just going to eat some carbohydrates and compare myself to a world class gymnast, and feel bitter that my PE teachers were nearly all so shit that I’ll never know if I could have been able to do a somersault.
Sometimes I veer from one reaction to another in the time it takes an athlete to fall off a pommel horse. Sometimes I eat carbs then do physio then eat more carbs. Is anyone else experiencing this? Is there a cure?
One thing I do like about the Olympics is the idea of working in four year cycles towards a goal. Athletes aiming for the Olympics have a clear deadline and an ambition that will get them out of bed when they would rather be anywhere but where they are, and I could do with that – or anything that would help me focus on something that isn’t my growing resentment toward everything I’ve ever done to ensure I’m a money-strapped freelancer with a broken desk chair and a complicated CV.
This isn’t me drowning in self pity; four years ago I had just finished my GCSEs and was in the middle of learning that supermarket bread wanted to kill me, and now I’m a healthier-ish indie writer who was self employed at 18 with zero debts and a burgeoning business. Not many 20 year olds can say that they decided what they wanted to and immediately did it. My life is not terrible.
But I want it to be better.
I think I might work on those four year goals.
I’ll be 21 soon, which is basically the last giant birthday I’ll ever have where I can ask for things without being a dick. Also, I’ve been clearing out some cupboards recently and noticed that I own a lot of shit. I own too much shit. Emphasis on ‘shit’. So I thought I’d make a little list for my loved ones to refer to when scratching your heads in the Yankee Candle aisle. If you’re unsure as to whether a potential gift could also be shit, put it back and write a cheque for a leishmania charity. (Please do not ever buy me a Yankee Candle.)
Is it possible to do one of those wedding list things for birthdays? Because I might have lots of marriages, but 21 only comes around once.
I have lived through several Olympic cycles, and I can actively remember the last three (Athens: I was in Greece at the time and the Greeks were so into it. I was eight and hated sport. Beijing: I was in Greece at the time and the Greeks were less into it. I was 12 and hated sport. London: I was in Greece when it started and couldn’t believe nothing broke at the Opening Ceremony. I was 16 and hated sport).
Now I am 20 and have gone for three runs in the last month. Three! I still hate sport, but have learnt that the Olympics are relevant to my other interests, so I thought I’d put together a little guide for everyone who has bad memories of PE but wants to get their money’s worth from the TV license.
Usually I do this during the news. Now I can do it during the 500000m semi sprint or whatever it is Mo Farrah will win. Check out the schedule for a sport you think you can really get into while eating popcorn/shouting.
I’ve done a quick recon (read: Googled volleyball) and here are just some of the sports with maximum exposure to god-like muscles. NB: some of the competitors are minors. Check who’s still in school before you do anything weird.
The Olympics is basically a free way to explore your sexuality, yes?
Does anyone know exactly where Samoa is? Or St Kitt’s and Nevis? Or Kazakhstan? Me neither, but I’m going to find out – and I’m going to cheer on the refugee team and holler at random people I’ve never heard of from countries with zero funding when they come last, and curse at the Internet when
Boris Johnson someone makes an inappropriate comment.
‘Yeah so the American women’s football team is really spectacular… did you know there’s a record number of out LGBT athletes competing at this Olympics? Hey, I read that one of the girls in the GB shooting team uses pink cartridges…’
I did zero research to write that. Unless you count scrolling through the news when I don’t want to work as research, anyway. I also did zero exercise.
Bring it, Rio.
So I might have mentioned I went to the Young Adult Literature Convention. Here is a brief summary of my day.
I came into town on the Liverpool Street line, which is a) shittier than the Fenchurch Street line and b) obliged on Sundays to stop at every station in east London between Shenfield and Stratford. I necked a coffee somewhere around Rayleigh and by Billericay was thinking ‘yeah this carriage could really use a toilet’. By Stratford I was actually going to die so I hopped off in search of one. The only facilities in the entirety of Stratford station, as far as I could see, were out of order – so I made a quick detour to Westfield. Pro tip: Westfield is a ghost mall at 8:30am on a Sunday. Go then.
I clocked in just after ten – too late to muscle in on the first event I’d bookmarked, too early to spend all my money – so I got another coffee and sussed out where the fire exits were.
Which was easy to do
Because it was almost deathly quiet
Because everyone who wasn’t a vendor
and probably some of the vendors
Was reading The Cursed Child
Which I had forgotten about
Because I am broke and try not to dwell on the things I can’t buy yet. Spoiler: it turned out I wasn’t too broke to buy an illustrated Philosopher’s Stone that was on sale. So I don’t know what past me was thinking, but she was a plonker not to reserve a copy. Pro tip: make sure you have money for Potter-related purchases. Another pro tip: cons are supposed to be buzzing. People in a group reading is wonderfully quiet and stupefying. YALC might be the only con in the world where stupefying is better. Go to it.
There’s quite a large part of my soul that belongs to the book industry, and the Agent Arena talk on publishing filled that part of my soul with hope that I might be able to work in it one day. Could I work in publicity? Maybe. Could I work in editorial? Maybe. Could I work in foreign rights? Probably not, because my grasp of foreign languages is shite. Pro tip: sit up the front because whoever designed Kensington Olympia forgot that sometimes small groups convene and like to hear one another.
See Stories from the Bathroom Floor for why a packet of crisps and a pot of melon three hours apart does not constitute an acceptable meal. In the end I found the food court at the main London Film and Comic Con (which looks way more chill than MCM, for the record) and scarfed a baked potato. Pro tip: bring more snacks than you think you’ll ever need. Especially if there’s a chance you’ll join a queue.
Around about the time I was exploring the fire exits, people turned up. I turned a corner and oh, shit, there’s a fucking large queue to see Maggie Stiefvater in conversation. I should mention at this point that I went to YALC by myself, not expecting to see anyone I knew. I met a lot of people at various points, from bloggers and readers to agents. I completely forgot to ask names and swap Instas. So if you met someone wearing Blue Sargent dungarees and hair that vaguely resembled the bisexual pride flag, leave a comment. Pro tip: if I looked like I wanted to kill someone, that’s my normal face.
Some of you may yet see Maggie on tour, so I’ll let her tell you the story of the broken sunglasses. And the story of setting John Green on fire. And the story of her child vomiting on a long haul flight. Pro tip: there are no Raven King spoilers.
Only in Britain would you be made to queue for tickets that determine your place in another queue. Pro tip: get in there before number 238 of 250 if you want more than one book signed.
‘Come back in an hour.’ I did another round of exploring. I sourced a pot of melon. Then I sourced a baked potato. Numbers zero to 20 had become numbers zero to 40. ‘Come back in another hour.’ I made two phone calls. I took a photograph.
I discovered that my bag made a great pillow. I wrote some notes. I reflected that the last time I queued sitting down was the last time I saw Mindless. I missed seeing Mindless. Pro tip: bring friends to talk to for this bit, or learn to chat.
It was 5:55pm. The con was closing. The queue was urgently shuffled forward. My number was called. I met a girl named Lizzie who had brought a notebook for autographs. I gave a lady my phone to take photographs. I gave another lady my book with my name on a Post It. A girl in front said ‘please pronounce the name of the boys’ school.’
‘Aglionby,’ Maggie said. Pro tip: she pronounces the G.
The other lady gave Maggie my book, plus Post It.
Once upon a time an interviewer asked Gerard Way what fans usually said when they met him. ‘They usually just say thank you,’ he said.
‘Thank you,’ I said.
Then I said, ‘my dad told me to offer you his car.’ Then I said, ‘it doesn’t have a clutch.’
IT’S AN AUTOMATIC. I MEANT THAT IT’S AN AUTOMATIC. Also it is a Mustang and was either born in Texas or assembled there.
‘What colour is it?’ she asked.
‘Red.’ Officially I think it’s called something like “Midlife Crisis Ruby Metallic”.
‘Tell him to paint it black, lower it an inch and a half, and then we’ll talk.’
I have told him, but it’s probably a good thing that she has a no-driving-readers’ cars policy. Southend Borough Council dislikes paying out for road maintenance when the cause is drag racing down the seafront. Pro tip: they usually catch you drag racing down the seafront and moan about you in the paper. (No, that’s not a confession. I don’t think my Micra could drag race. I will wait until the Mustang is unattended.)
Then I hobbled back to the Liverpool Street line (my blisters actually have blisters), did a lil bit of Instagram bragging and thought that I might, like, go to Venezuela.
Remind me to never ask you guys’ opinion ever again.
Moving swiftly on.
I’ll be signing autographs at 2pm. Look for pink/blue/purple/still mostly brown hair if you want to say hi, because I’ll be the one wearing it. I’ll also be clutching my copy of The Raven King to present to Maggie Stiefvater. It’s dogeared already because I sometimes read it in the bath. If you say hi, do not mention the bath. Compliment my dungarees or whatever I’ll be wearing to deal with the weather (could be a ski jacket by this weekend, who knows).
I have to go back to my quarter-life crisis now, which today has been exacerbated by Horrific 2016-Worthy News StoriesTM and half an hour counting the float for my craft fair on Saturday which I didn’t even need to do because I did it after the last fair. I also booked my drivers’ theory test yesterday for very soon and I’m just starting to comprehend that a) it’s very soon and b) my knowledge of road signs and motorway etiquette is almost as bad as my knowledge of when it’s okay to go at a roundabout.
I suppose that when I pass both tests I’ll be able to drive away from the crises.