Francesca 1, British Winter 0 | Where’s the Best Place to Go in Barcelona?

Is it weird to feel bad on a good day? I feel kind of icky, because I’ve had a cold and my copy of Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor finally came into the library – I reserved it in July. July! – so I’ve been reading more and sleeping less (well, reading more than normal and sleeping less than normal. That was a bad comparison now I think about it). But it’s a good day, because I’m seeing Lorde in London tomorrow and I just booked a holiday! In fact, I’m having a mini-holiday when I see Lorde, because it’s easier to stay in Wood Green and take the tube to work in Portobello on Thursday than it is to go home at midnight and get up at seven for a two-hour commute. The big holiday is four days in Barcelona with my friend Ruby in January, because what’s the point of January if not to head south. Technically we’ve only got as far as booking flights, which is what I wanted to talk to you guys about.

I’ve never been to Barcelona – the last time I was in Spain, the term ‘eurozone bail out’ hadn’t been coined yet – and Ruby has, but on a school trip in year 10… We both want to see the Sagrada Familia and Picasso’s museum but other than that, we’ve got four days to explore and let’s see everything. If you’ve been to Barcelona, tell me: where would you recommend for two faintly antisocial, faintly arty people in their early twenties? One of us – ahem ahem – does not get holiday pay and will be on a strictish budget. I’m fairly sure we’ll bump into some Gaudi buildings and museums and La Rambla, and I’m aware that Barcelona takes ‘faintly arty’ to another level, but unlike the last trip I took, I won’t have three months to read Lonely Planet and decide whether or not I can stomach another jade buddha. Am kind of banking on not seeing any jade buddhas this time around, you know?

Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
(from Pixabay) 

Let’s assume I’ll be making a similar decision regarding crucifixes… anyway, tell us your recommendations!

Happy Publication Day to My Story About Homicide and Garden Shears

Happy publication day to my latest story! It’s the third in the Everyday Acts of Murder series, Gardening, and I’m quietly excited because it’s the first one I ever worked on back in, I think, 2015. I have a sneaky feeling I had the inspiration for it when I was watching a gardening programme, so thanks, imagination…

I’ve planned two more EDAOM pieces, and then I’m going to move on to witches and/or mermaids and/or something else entirely. I keep finding old scraps of stories to improve, but some are a bit too scrappy. Occasionally I’ll find a line here and there that’s great, but I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking when I wrote it. I think I’ll make a rule that whenever I have a brainwave, I’ll transcribe my exact train of thought plus my ideas for the plot, main characters and language, form and structure. With a little date and perhaps a selfie.

One thing I can guarantee, of course, is that your name will be in whatever I publish if you’ve pledged a dollar to my Patreon. I know I keep banging on about it, but a) being given money in exchange for writing has been a substantial desire of mine since approximately 2008 and, b) I have bills that the money could really help pay for. Since I started that other driving-essential job, I’ve got two days free to write and work on my Etsy and whatever (today I also booked my mum a holiday and researched trains to Colchester I’m so versatile). I worked out that, according to the living wage and Google’s exchange rate, 740 people would have to pledge a dollar per month for those two days to equal a day’s work in a company, assuming the company paid the living wage. That’s before Patreon and PayPal take a cut, though, so let’s round it up to 800. I must say it wasn’t the most uplifting bit of maths I’ve ever done… I suppose 80 people could pledge $10. I think for now I will focus on writing good stories and trust that, in time, people will either fall in love with my work or take pity on me.

Tom & Jerry GIF (from Twitter)
This is it, this is the gif of the inside of my soul (from Twitter)

I’m going to go and actually write now (spoiler alert I think the next murder story’s going to be about walking the dog). If anyone has any concrete story ideas that may or may nor accommodate supernatural creatures, drop me a line…

You Have to Read This Because It’s My Birthday

No, really. I’m 22 today, which means I should probably stop telling myself that I’m in my late teens. I should probably accept that 2005 was more than three years ago as well, now I think about it, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole…

Last year I made a list of things I want to do before 2020, then promptly forgot about it. I just had a look and I’m quite smug, because I can tick off passing my driving test and visiting South East Asia. Publishing a book and finishing a screenplay are still works in progress – arguably they are not even ahem in progress – and I haven’t been to anywhere new in Europe or taken up a sport, but I am currently at two jobs, not five. I’m getting somewhere!

Possibly the thing to do with life lists is to hide them away and only refer to them occasionally so you don’t stress yourself out. Then again, it’s nice to have little reminders of where you want to go and how far you’ve come. A year ago I couldn’t picture what Laos looked like, I couldn’t parallel park and the idea of actually finishing short stories and posting them on the Internet hadn’t actually occurred to me. Possibly I should add ‘be less dense’ to the 2020 list…

Luang Prabang, Laos
For the record, this is what Laos looks like.

I haven’t got a list of things I want to do at 22, or at least I haven’t got anything concrete and quantifiable. By 23 I want to have written loads more, and kept up my Etsy, and stopped having heart palpitations when I drive, and I’d like to have as good a laugh as I’ve had this year. No one I know has been ill, there have been no accidents or massive dramas. All things considered, 21 was a year well lived. If 22 is as good, I think it will be a success.

I am going to see my family and overeat now, so I will leave this. I know a lot of people prefer to make goals and resolutions in September instead of January (and why not it’s the best month) so if you are one of those people, or even if you aren’t, let me know what you’ve aced in the last year and what you’d like to do in the next year. Maybe we could keep each other accountable?!