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.

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This is a story about tarot decks and YA novels.

This evening I bought two sets of tarot cards. Officially it’s because I’m going to a Halloween party at the weekend. Unofficially, I feel really guilty about a small amount of book piracy in 2015.

Officially, I need tarot cards for my costume. I don’t, really, but the dress and shawl I bought in a charity shop are actually just a regular dress and shawl, so I feel like I might accidentally just look like an eccentric  if I don’t bring props. I left it way too late to buy anything fancy – and it’s a house party, not a seance – but I probably could’ve just bought a used deck off eBay or Depop. Instead, because I’ve been meaning to learn more about the tarot for ages, I trawled Etsy and Folksy and eBay and Depop looking for a deck with I genuinely like. No faux realistic graphics. Nothing with too many cats. No pictures of ethereal nymphs wearing gauze.

I found this cute major arcana deck on Etsy with incredibly sweet coffin-shaped cards, but the processing time is up to two weeks! So I bought it anyway because I wanted to support an indie artist (and because incredibly sweet coffin-shaped art, it turns out, is totally not an oxymoron). But I was still thinking, you can’t just dress as an eccentric, Francesca. You already are an eccentric, Francesca. So I trawled for decks with one-day shipping. They were all ethereal nymphs! Or quite expensive given this is a house party not a seance.

Then I remembered that in 2015, I bootlegged a copy of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Dream Thieves. If you’re new here, Maggie’s Raven Cycle series, in which The Dream Thieves features, is my favourite book series. I’m trying to be kinder to myself when considering past actions, so I am going to reflect upon my reading of a pirated copy-and-paste edition of TDT as a minor moral misstep during a time in which a fictional world brought me great comfort. Also, my library was taking forever to get its copy in.

I knew it was a shitty thing to do though. Then I bought a couple of Maggie’s books used off Amazon, that tax paying, small business supporting gem. Have I mentioned I’m now an indie author.

I’ve since atoned for my sins: I have a print from Maggie’s official store on my wall; at least three of the Maggie books on my shelf were purchased from a bricks-and-mortar shop; I’ve bought copies of her work for family; my YALC ticket that time was absolutely not scalped unlike My Chemical Romance tickets 9 years ago but that’s for another day; her next novel is pre-ordered at my nearest Waterstones.

But my grandmother was Catholic, so every time I see her post about book piracy and The Raven Cycle, I feel completely responsible.

So when I was considering one-day shipping and a costume prop I will realistically be too drunk to focus on, I got Maggie’s Raven Prophecy deck from Waterstones. Express shipping straight to the front door.

cover of Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Prophecy tarot deck

Officially, I’m a professional indie creator and a little bit into karma. I can’t ask people to buy creepy cute art from my Etsy shop if I don’t get my own coffin-shaped tarot decks on Etsy; I can’t ask people to buy my weird magic YA novel instead of moaning about why it’s not already on Amazon if I don’t buy weird magic YA novels somewhere that isn’t Amazon. Or, in this case, buy the tarot card-companion to the weird magic YA novel. And really, if we’re being spiritual, the whole reason I have a vague interest in the tarot is The Raven Cycle, so this is quite… cyclical.

I’ve just now realised I don’t have a tarot guide. I have no idea how to read the multiple decks I’m expecting in the next one-to-fourteen working days. Good thing I’ll be three sheets to the wind for most of this party, then!

Did I ever tell you guys about the time I had my tarot read in Thailand? I can’t remember if I ever wrote about it. I can’t remember much of the reading, to be honest, except that I think I was supposed to get married at 24 or 26. It was dark, though, so maybe she interpreted marriage when she should have interpreted huge professional success. Or the desire to drive on motorways. Not sure how specific these things get.

If either of these decks actually turn up by Saturday evening, I’ll post pictures of them with my costume. I’ve bought a lace scarf and gloves off Depop that was originally for an ’80s night… I’m starting to think I’m just going to look like one of the Shelbys.

Update: I did in fact look like one of the Shelbys. I’ve put multiple card/costume photos here.

9 Raven's Prophecy tarot cards with a hand

Royal Wedding Retrospective

So I was watching the Royal Wedding earlier and thinking about how much has changed since William and Kate got married (please come back, Obama) and I was sure I wrote a blog post that day. It turns out I did, but I’m not link it to you because my writing style back then made absolutely no sense. None. I think I was going for some sort of teen-narrated family sitcom or something. I was rude about Eugenie’s hat. I mean, I was rude about her hat today as well, but I was such a dick back then! If someone from the Internet had looked up ‘entitled white girl with a strong sense of her own opinions’, this site would have come up.

At least part of that sentence has changed.

So I suppose if I’m ever famous, someone will probably trawl this blog to find all 15-year-old me’s badly-phrased skeletons and then drag me on Twitter. It’s tempting to go back over all those posts and dissect them. I mean, it’s good to go back over old posts for SEO purposes but I feel like there’s a discussion to be had on the Internet generally about personal growth. So many minor celebrities have their homophobic jokes from 2009 dusted off and are suddenly ‘cancelled’, but it’s not as though the people doing the cancelling were born making civil rights speeches. We’re supposed to grow as people.

Gerard Way shrug gif
from sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com

Anyway. I liked the Royal Wedding. It’s always nice to see a ginger marry well. I’m knackered and got distracted by at least two Facebook posts between the last full stop and ‘I’m’ so I should probably go to bed. I’m procrastinating because tomorrow the news will be back to being five headlines of horror with a quick mention that summer’s on the way. But I finished my Open University course last week, so I can concentrate on finishing dragonnovel before Prince George gets married. Have I mentioned you can have a character in dragonnovel named after you? I really enjoyed my course, but it will be nice to focus on something else for a bit. Speaking of royal weddings, actually, there might be a hint of royalty in the story somewhere. Maybe. You’ll have to help fund it to seeeee….

I Took a 2 Week Break from Instagram. Here’s What Happened.

Bye Instagram, it's not me it's you

Spoiler alert: I got loads done.

Soooo a couple of weeks ago I wrote about how fed up I’ve become with Instagram and why I wanted to take a little break. I turned it into a mini protest against Insta’s crappy algorithm, because why not, and I took a solid 2 weeks off from the app. I thought I’d end up on there via work, posting for a client or something, but that didn’t happen in the end, so it’s been a full two weeks with zero Instas. I’ve never kept a note of how long I actually spend on social media, because some of it is for work and all that, but in the first week I think I probably had a good half an hour every evening where I found myself looking for something to do. It also snowed awfully that first week, and usually being stuck inside is Prime Internet Browsing Time, but after a few days I stopped reaching for Instagram and started reaching for Twitter instead. Then a few days after that, I stopped reaching for Twitter. I think that during the last week or so, I have hardly even been using my phone. More on that in a minute.

Here is a brief list of the things I got done that in retrospect I might not have had the discipline to do if I hadn’t had one less app to look at when my concentration wavered:

  • 2 separate pieces of art that I’d been thinking about for ages and hadn’t got around to doing properly
  • Posted a bunch of stories online to sites I hadn’t got around to joining
  • Made about 3 spreadsheets for work and actually used formulas and got my financial shit together which is probably the highlight of my year
  • Researched some events and markets and stuff, which I hate doing because selling at events means acknowledging my business requires people to survive ugh
  • Ran a survey about Patreon and did some proper market research
  • Researched potential wholesale partners for my shop, which I have avoided for 2.5 years because it requires talking to people
  • Reorganised my dressing table which is something I have steadily put off since last summer, and if I hadn’t been stuck for things to do I think I would have kept putting it off until I drowned beneath an avalanche of spare hair pins

I also started editing the first draft of the Giant Writing Project (you know, I’m just going to start calling it a book because at this point it is long enough, damn it), made macaroni cheese, had lunch with my dad, did some Pilates and listed some stuff on Etsy. I probably would have done those things anyway, but the weirdest thing about coming off Instagram was that I realised how much time I spend online generally. At first I replaced Insta time with Twitter time, but gradually I kind of just stopped looking at my phone. I think I messaged a few friends a bit more, because WhatsApp and Messenger were the only apps on my phone that didn’t require m i n d l e s s scrolling, and I think I’ve been more disciplined with work in general. I have the natural attention span of a gnat, but taking away one major distraction definitely helped me get away from other distractions, if that makes sense?

I think I also benefited from not seeing, or posting, the highlight reel photos we all post to Insta. I don’t really know any other writers and the people I follow who are also freelancers or on Etsy aren’t of the bragging variety, so I wasn’t missing anything that would directly make me feel inferior – but taking time away from all the likes and the popular page and the constant struggle to get a post noticed helped me to focus. I didn’t have myself down as someone who lets other people’s posts, highlight reel or otherwise, make me feel bad. But I must feel bad on some level, because in the last couple of weeks I’ve felt oddly at peace. That’s the best way I can think of to describe the feeling: I’m focused on what I need to do in the next few months, and I feel confident about how I’m doing it.

That being said, there are a few things I’ve missed. A handful of accounts I follow are by people who aren’t online anywhere else, and I’ve found myself missing their posts. When I go back to Insta this evening I’m going to catch up with Gerard Way’s photos, because I heard he’s got new music on the way, and @lgbt_history, which is possibly the most informative account on the whole of Instagram.

I might trim down who I follow, so I’m not seeing the same photos on Twitter and Instagram, for example, and I might set some sort of timer so I can only spend a certain amount of time on Insta per day. The good stuff on there is great, but I am ready to keep my distance from it, partly for my mental health but partly because god I’m getting so much done! This book might actually be ready to be pitched to agents by the end of the year, for one thing, and for another I can actually find I need on my dressing table which probably hasn’t happened since 2007.

Has anyone else taken time off from Insta or social media? How have you found it? I’m tempted to avoid Twitter for a few weeks next. THE SKY IS THE LIMIT.

Brownout 2.0: the To-Do List from Hell

Tom and Jerry goldfish bowl head

Morning! I don’t usually write blogs before lunchtime because mornings are for Serious Work but a) I have to leave the house soon and can’t get my teeth into anything in case I forget to leave and b) I’m feeling a bit pffft. I would like to blame the weather, but I think I’m getting a bit of brownout. Again. And this time it’s a peak first world problem, because I know exactly what’s causing it. I have so much to do that I don’t know where to start, and then I end up doing none of it! I probably should have learnt how to get over this during my GCSEs (how did I cope with TWELVE SUBJECTS?) but I didn’t, so this is what my internal monologue was like at 9am:

Do I start off today working on an Etsy plan for 2018/19? Do I do some ads for my freelancing services? Do I go back to my Giant Writing Project for a stage of edits and the next draft? I’m really excited to get back to that! Or do I rework my Patreon plans? Do I write another blog post? Is a blog post going to translate to cold hard cash? Probably not. Maybe that’s why I should focus on freelancing or Patreon. Except, I want to use Patreon to support my writing and blogging, and no one will support me if there are no new stories and blogs! Wait, what about Etsy. Oh and the printer needs rebooting and the car needs petrol. Go and buy petrol you idiot you literally can’t get to work otherwise. You have an appointment today. The end of the tax year is coming up. That feels momentous.  Hang on that means you were in Asia a year ago. A year?! God that went quickly. Have you finished that blog post about Laos yet? No, because blogging about Laos won’t make any money and you’re trying to focus on money stuff, remember? Go and work on your Patreon! By the way you’re behind on your uni course.

[continue for half an hour, break for coffee, start again]

Tom and Jerry goldfish bowl head
from Twiter

So I’m here. Definitely not making any money, but not tearing my hair out either. What do you guys do when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Usually I am a big fan of the list, because it helps me prioritise, but I don’t know what to prioritise! I want to work on my Giant Writing Project but if I’m going to spend time on that, I need to have more traction on my Patreon because otherwise I can’t really afford to write. I also need to keep up with my uni course because it’s good for my brain development and future prospects, but I have to finally work out what’s up with my printer because I can’t keep putting it off and I want to write that Laos blog but I can’t keep justifying all the time I spend on blogging when I have the Giant Writing Project to finish. Ughhhh.

Right, I have to get ready for my appointment, and I’ll get petrol on the way. I can tick writing this week’s blog off the list, ha, and Google the shit out of fixing my printer. I’m actually doing a bit of market research about Patreon and crowdfunding in general because there’s no point having a Patreon if I’m not using it properly, so if you have three minutes to spare I’d really appreciate if you’d let me know your thoughts. I’ll go from there. And Etsy… I’ll spend half an hour today on a plan for that. After I’ve done some course work.

Hang on. Did I just make a list? HAHAAAAA HELL YES. THANK YOU BLOG. Maybe I’ll keep you around after all. Spiritual nourishment and all that. That being said, I’d love to be able to work this blog into my Patreon plans as well (two or three or ten birds, one crowdfunding stone) so if you have any ideas about how to incorporate blog posts into reward tiers, leave a comment! And/or do that survey. Please and thank you.

Help Me Decide My Next Story!

Kermit the frog typing manically from Giphy

IT’S A NEW MONTH. WE HAVE SURVIVED JANUARY! SPRING IS ALMOST NEARLY HERE. I’m feeling dangerously new years resolution-y, mostly because the sun is out and I am about to re-dye my hair. New beginnings are upon us! Or upon my washed out highlights, anyway.

Followers of my fiction work may have noticed a new story popping up on my stories blog. The Elastic Band Theory is brilliantly strange and inspired partly by a drunken conversation on New Year’s Eve about Pablo Escobar and partly by people’s suggestions of posh town names when I asked for ideas online, so I should probably thank a) my friends, b) the power of Facebook and c) gin. I’m working on a big old project at the moment have I mentioned that so I’m rooting around for ideas for my next short story that aren’t too long or convoluted. Since The Elastic Band Theory felt a bit like a group effort, I thought I’d expand the group and ask you guys. Yes, you, reading this on your mobile while you wait for a bus. You.

Continuing with the new-month-new-start theme, my current ideas are:

  • Something about rebirth
  • Springtime?
  • Easter/Mardi Gras/Lent/resurrection (which is kind of like rebirth if you stand on your head and squint?)
  • The commercial evils of Valentine’s Day
  • Okay Valentine’s is not very spring-like
  • But I have mixed feelings about it which can come in useful when writing characters
  • I mean, I’ve made an entire print collection taking the piss out of Valentine’s Day, but people buy those prints thus earning me money what does that say about my relationship with commercial evils?
  • I mean it might snow here before March so possibly I should just do something about the weather

What do you think? I’m leaning toward something that explores my complex relationship with V Day, but I’m aware that in a week or so, no one on the planet will want to hear the words ‘Valentine’s Day’ again for another year. Let me know and I might, I dunno, get writing.

Kermit the frog typing manically from Giphy
from giphy

PS The next instalment of The Elastic Band Theory will be available tomorrow for those of you signed up to my Patreon, and on the story blog on 6th February. Shit gets real. I’m excited.

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

Indifferent Ignorance Awards 2017 Vote Now

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)

Patreon pledge changes graph explanation

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!