Indifferent Ignorance Awards 2017

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Book of the Year: Backpack & They Both Die at the End

Two books have defined my year. The first is Backpack by Emily Barr, which was actually published about 15 years ago. It’s about a girl who goes backpacking in South East Asia, and I found a second hand copy in a shop in Hanoi. It’s also about a string of murders of backpackers in South East Asia, so I possibly made a mistake by staying up late to finish it in my bunk in Laos in almost the exact place where some of the action happens. It’s a brilliant take on the whole ‘British person goes travelling to find themselves’ narrative and has some good twists, so you should definitely read it from the comfort of your English armchair and then book yourself a flight to Asia.

The second book is They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. I started using GoodReads this year to keep track of all the books I see on Instagram and in those often questionable ‘recommended books for x’ lists, and I’m really glad I listened to the recommendations for this one. My review of it is here.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera UK edition on a map background

Special commendation to: Angie Thomas‘ debut The Hate U Give. I want to do a proper review for it so I won’t say too much except pick it up right now and read until you reevaluate your world views.

Album of the Year: Melodrama

I know who my Lorde and saviour is, thanks.

 

Right, onto the news.

The ‘I Can’t Believe I’m Living Through This Shit, Although it Will Probably Kill Me So At Least There’s That’ Story of the Year

There are so many options, so I’m just going to list my favourites, aka the ones I’ll be complaining to my grandchildren about:

  • Trump’s inauguration
  • Another election how many fucking elections does one country need
  • When the DUP won the bloody election
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg’s opinions

The ‘I Witnessed this Shit Live and Wish It Had Killed Me’ News Story of the Year: Brexit

Brexit. All the Brexit. Big Brexit news on the actual news and little Brexit conversations in my house. Blue passports. The Daily Mail. Random people on the news with opinions about Brexit. The fact that, despite the entire country’s obsession with Brexit, very little tangible Brexit has occurred. So Ireland won’t have a boarder? Was anyone ever really going to look the Irish people in the face and say ‘hey I know there was a decades-long violent war in this beautiful land about boarders and sovereignty that was concluded with great effort on both sides, but I really feel that we ought to put a giant bloody wall up and reopen wounds that are only just starting to heal because BREXIT MEANS BREXIT’?

Probably not.

Special commendation to: the American government. Obviously it was tough to choose between Trump and Brexit, but on reflection I have decided that Trump will eventually be impeached, die from all those Cokes he drinks or come to the end of his term and deny he was ever president in the first place. The clean up process won’t be pretty, but I have confidence in the better part of America. Or the part that doesn’t want to die from climate change and nuclear war, anyway. The process and effects of Brexit, on the other hand, are likely to chug on until I reach retirement age which I am assuming will be 95. But who cares as long as we have blue passports!

Outstanding Achievement for Distracting Me from the Horror of the Year for Five Minutes: Blue Planet II

Thank you, little puffin families, for restoring my faith in the husbands of this world. You guys saw what puffins go through to bring back food for their pufflings, right? And the parents split the childcare! I wish I understood science because studying puffin families sounds like a nice job to have. And did you see the sea lions hunting tuna? How do humans think we’re the smartest species I frequently can’t locate tea bags.

Special commendation to: the country of Australia for passing equal marriage (congratulations, you have one-upped the UK) and every Women’s March placard, poster and pussy hat for warming my feminist bones.

Outstanding Social Media Moment: the Big Green Bookshop vs Piers Morgan

The Internet has been a double edged sword this year; the news is so important that it’s hard to look away, but so awful and consuming that it’s equally as important to know when to look away. But sometimes humanity proves it’s all right, and my favourite example of that this year is when the a man named Simon, who co-owns the Big Green Bookshop in London, tweeted Piers Morgan the entirety of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Until he got blocked, anyway. If there’s one thing the people of Britain can agree on, it’s that Piers Morgan should piss right off – and I feel the Big Green Bookshop gave us all a chance to rally together and express our collective love for Potter and our collective loathing for Piers. Please support your local independent bookshops.

Indifferent Ignorance Homophobic Dick Award: Everywhere?

I can’t remember their names and I won’t look for them because I don’t wish to give them further exposure, but some ‘gay cure therapy’ people were on morning TV this year. I think it was Good Morning Britain, but I won’t check and give the news articles any more views. I can’t dish out an award without knowing the names of the people I’m awarding, though, so this year’s winners are the member states of the United Nations. News broke some time in February about the detention and murder of perceived gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. The UN has confirmed and condemned it, but as far as I can tell the only country to have actually done anything to help is Canada. It’s also still illegal to be gay in 72 countries – countries whose human rights records are generally lacking. The Guardian did a handy map indicating levels of legal status of LGBT people globally, and it looks a lot like maps indicating press freedom and women’s rights. I feel like if one of those things can improve in a nation, the other two will follow, but I would also like to learn more about how that can be done in the next year. Primary education? Free access to the Internet? Democratic election processes? I will report back with my findings.

Indifferent Ignorance Ignorant Fuck Award: The Donald

Ugh. Ugh. It’s Trump. It was always going to be, really, but Jacki made a point in her comment on my nominations blog: Trump is a figurehead. If someone who had never heard of Trump were to take everything that is ignorant about Western culture in 2017 and mix it up and cook it and craft a little figurine, that figurine would be Trump. He represents the worst of us.


Look, a line representing the end of the year. A fresh start. I’ve been thinking about all the winners (and losers, ha) and next year I’d like to reboot The Six O’Clock News but with a twist. Every time I’ve turned on the news this year, either on an app or Twitter or the TV, the ratio of awful story:nice story has been about 9:1. So next year I want to find a story that has a happy ending or a fun twist. Like this 16 year old who got into Harvard (thanks Jacki!) or this dog whose bones were surgically regrown in a lab so she didn’t need her leg amputated. I like to think there will be enough material out there to fill a blog post or two… what do you reckon?

I won’t be back on here until some time next week and/or when the NYE fug has lifted, so happy new year! May your return to work on 2nd January be as painless as possible.

Introducing the Nominees for the Indifferent Ignorance Awards 2017! Your Input, If You Could

I have my first ever work Christmas lunch this afternoon, which means 2017 is fast ending and I am gearing up for my annual hibernation. Before I do, though, I have to finish the Indifferent Ignorance Awards 2017. This year’s awards are trickier than I thought they would be, because there is almost too much material to choose from! I have my personal favourites when it comes to books, films and all that… but when it comes to the main awards: the Homophobic Dick Award, the Ignorant Fuck Award, Greatest Social Media Moment, etc., I am stuck. I blame the Trump administration and Brexit. And the Internet, because I would be way less informed about those things if I didn’t have broadband. I’d probably also be happier.

Anyway, I’m writing to you all today and asking for you to submit your suggestions for the following categories:

  • The ‘I Can’t Believe I’m Living Through This Shit, Although it Will Probably Kill Me So At Least There’s That’ Story of the Year I’m considering the Muslim ban, when Trump retweeted Britain First and the entire UK general election
  • The ‘I Witnessed this Shit Live and Wish It Had Killed Me’ News Story of the Year Trump’s inauguration, the general election and possibly Weinstein?
  • Outstanding Achievement for Distracting Me from the Horror of the Year for Five Minutes The Women’s March, my trip to Asia, Blue Planet II and books by Adam Silvera are all strong contenders here
  • Outstanding Social Media Moment Frank Iero posted some gems on the Internet this year, but so did everyone I follow. Twitter might be the world’s largest example of confirmation bias, but when it’s funny that’s a joy to behold
  • Indifferent Ignorance Homophobic Dick Award I’ve never given an award to an entire government before, what do you reckon?
  • Indifferent Ignorance Ignorant Fuck Award Contenders are Trump, Trump and… Trump. I feel like this award was created for people like him, but in the spirit of competition I feel like there should be more contenders. SUGGESTIONS PLEASE.

For inspiration, here are last year’s awards.

Indifferent Ignorance Awards 2017 Vote Now

I’m going to call it a vote, but in reality if you all could hit me up in a comment, I’ll make an Executive Decision about the ultimate winner some time between now and new year.

A Crowdfunding Question: Patreon or PayPal? (Answers in the comments, please)

This is going to be a quick little blog because there is a potato baking in the oven with my name on it, and potatoes come before all things but I would like to ask you guys for your opinion, please. Today I published the final part of The Sea Witch’s Revenge (magic! Cursed sea life! Seagulls?) and also discovered how to add a PayPal button to WordPress, which I have now done to both my stories blog and here. I didn’t realise it, but you can either do one-off donations via PayPal or make a monthly donation.

So my question is: if you were going to donate to my work, would you rather use Patreon or PayPal? And if you were going to donate, would you rather do a one-off donation or a ‘subscription’ donation, if you had the choice? I ask because it occurred to me that in the 18 months that I’ve been on Patreon, I’ve never actually put that question to you. I’ve also only had one dollar in pledges, so clearly the site is not working out for me. Plus, the site might not work for anyone soon: Patreon is changing the way it collects processing charges, so although creators get a little more per transaction, patrons are being charged the processing fees on top of what they already pledge, which makes it more expensive to make lots of little pledges (this article explains the maths better than I can). I can’t in good faith ask you guys to pledge more than I would consider reasonable, and I don’t find the new system reasonable.

Patreon pledge changes graph explanation
from Patreon

Basically, you guys would be charged 2.9% and $0.35 per pledge, which makes a pledge of $1 cost more like $1.50. If you pledge $1 to 10 creators, you’re suddenly paying $15, not $10. Just read the article I can’t explain maths.

I wrote last week about how I need to find ways of making my writing work for me or stop doing it, and that includes this blog, so if you have any thoughts on whether you would/wouldn’t consider supporting me, let me know so I can make a decision going into the new year about where I focus my efforts.

Okay that potato is possibly burning.

Update: the potato didn’t burn! It was nice and crispy. Also, Patreon has announced it’s not rolling out those changes. I would still like to hear what you think about donating/pledging in general!

The Three Types of New Year’s Resolution

I got a pitch email earlier from an SEO company saying ‘your Instagram is great and deserves to be seen by more than 186 people!’ I nearly replied with ‘actually that’s 185 people, get with the programme – some new bookstagram account followed me yesterday and has since disappeared back to the Instasphere. Thanks for the encouragement though!’

It’s funny that should happen today though, as I was already going to talk about goals and growth. 2017 is drawing to a close, thank god, and although 2018 will probably be another tyre fire of bullshit, I would like to start it off with good intentions. Case in point: new year’s resolutions. I didn’t have any last year, because I had already resolved to get the hell out of England and did so in the first week of January, but twelve months on I have the itch to resolve… something. I also know that I’m more likely to keep to the resolution if I talk about it publicly, so I thought I would talk about different types of resolutions and the things I’d like to do in 2018.

Resolution 1: The Vague Gesture

My resolution: learn to do my hair? A bit?

I think I may have mentioned my hair is sometimes-often-frequently partially purple. It’s also getting really long, because I enjoy the illusion that I’m a princess in a kingdom with favourable tax laws, but I do nothing to it. Literally nothing. I wash it twice a week, comb out the knots with a tangle teezer and tie it in a bun or ponytail if I’m working. Then I ignore it until it needs another wash. I read somewhere that the longer your hair is, the less you do with it and I want to call bullshit on that. I also want to channel Daenerys Targaryen wherever possible, so in 2018 I resolve to learn how to, like, braid my hair or something. That’s not a huge commitment, and if someone says ‘hey Francesca nice fishtail plait’ I’m going to know it’s working. It’s also not the end of the world if life gets in the way and I don’t learn a fishtail plait, because my hair looks great they way I wear it already (there’s a reason I never brush it dry and that reason is frizz).

So in theory, the Vague Gesture is a good resolution to have. There’s no pressure and I won’t feel bad if I get to June and realise I’ve forgotten it. I suppose a similar one would be something like ‘eat less processed sugar’, because instead of saying ‘eat no processed sugar’, there’s no line to cross, no crushing disappointment of one’s self esteem. It’s  something that would be nice to do in the long run but no one cares if you don’t do it, including you.

BELOW AVERAGE from The Perks of Being a Wallflower from taylorbtw.tumblr.com
from taylorbtw.tumblr.com (if I don’t use this gif once a year assume I’ve died)

Resolution 2: The SMART Goal

My resolution: Look after myself  better? Look after myself more? Practise self care a day a week until I achieve nirvana?

I looked at a bad website today – not bad as in broken links but bad as in the two thirds of the page was bright pink and white diagonal stripes. My eyes hurt. I’m not even going to link it, it was so hard to look at. Good for marketing, bad for retinas. Especially bad for retinas that already require glasses. And since I am heading into my 23rd year of life and already have to run a bath to get my bones to stop aching when it rains, it’s about time I sopped complaining about my ailments and found a form of exercise that wasn’t physiotherapy. It’s about time I got some sort of blue light blocker on my computer. It’s about time I stopped overriding the Freedom app to check Twitter at 10pm. My 185 followers clearly do not care if I am tweeting at 10pm, so I probably shouldn’t either.

The problem with the resolution to ‘look after myself better’ is that there’s no qualifier. How do I know if I’m looking after myself? I will never not need glasses and I’ll never not ache when it rains. Realistically I will need stronger glasses and more baths year on year. So maybe I should take a leaf out of every business blog’s book and set specific goals I can measure in an achievable, realistic time frame. Something like ‘I will download a blue light blocker to my PC by January and I will sign up to a running club that requires payment in advance because the only thing I hate more than running is wasting money.’ (I actually don’t hate running. I hate that feeling that I’m about to puke up my lungs while I run. Aren’t lungs supposed to keep calm and carry on in those situations?)

I’m going to sleep on the running club, but this type of resolution sounds like one of those you should set if you want to get to December and think ‘fuck yeah I want to high five myself for SMASHING IT’. I kind of think everyone deserves that ‘fuck yeah’ thought.

Gerard Way fist pump I'm Not Okay I Promise video by My Chemical Romance
look this came from Google all credit to G Way and Warner Bros

Resolution 3: The This Has to Work and I’m Going to Make it Work Come Hell or High Water

My resolution: earn more money from my work? Earn increased amounts of money? Don’t sell a kidney to support a hobby?

This is the hardest type of resolution, because it’s a mix of the other two. Saying ‘I want to earn more money’ could just be another way of saying ‘I earned some money this year and would like to continue earning next year’. Realistically I will; my stationery and accessories will still be for sale and I will still crowdfund my writing. There will be money! But I don’t just want to continue, I want to expand. I need to expand if I’m going to continue to justify putting time into both those things. I know the numbers I have to hit if I’m to continue publishing writing with no upfront fees (about $10 a month would cover my website expenses, and $30+ would cover some writing time contribute to my bills). I know I need to double my stationery sales – and grow those follower counts, damn it – to justify using prime space in my bedroom to store stock and to justify spending my evenings and weekends thinking up jokes about Greek gods.

I also can’t ask people for anything other than moral support, because most of the people I know – in real life and online – are as broke as I am. A short story or a funny print is a luxury and if people won’t buy or pledge, there’s nothing I can really do about it except plug away until they go up a wage packet or change their priorities. So going into 2018 I know that, if I don’t get more sales or pledges, I will be shutting up shop eventually – and that’s shutting my Etsy shop, my stories blog and possibly even this place because my spare time will only ever decrease and my bills will only ever increase. I’m not 14 anymore and I have to be pragmatic about where I put my energy – especially if I want to look after my health, because running a shop is eighty per cent adrenaline and twenty per cent pure relief when something goes right. There’s a reason most successful entrepreneurs retire early. They want to spend as much time as they can with their remaining nerves… There’s also reason most novelists have day jobs and eke out books on the weekend – statistically I am not playing a winning game.

So although my resolution is to make my work fucking work, I also know that ‘hell or high water’ will come in the form of a bill I can’t pay in my current status as an intern/freelancer/stationery designer/storyteller. Or in a final argument with one of my parents. Or when I finally decide to trade following what teenage me wanted for adult me and start following what other adults want for adult me.

That took a dark turn there, I didn’t actually mean for it to. I want to know about your resolutions! Tell me the ones you’ve succeeded in keeping, the ones you stopped caring about, the ones that didn’t make it past 1st January. Tell me what you want for 2018, what you don’t want for 2018. Tell me what you did in 2017. Other than swear at the news and drink a lot, presumably…