A Week in the Life of an Author/Freelancer/Stationery Shop Owner ft. Chronic Pain

When I was doing the quarterly income post I remembered that the life of a creative person/student (well, not a student now my work is handed in) is a bit opaque. I’ve had people tell me I don’t have a job, or don’t work, so I figured, let’s keep a diary of a week in my life. This was a good week to record, because it’s the first I haven’t had a single college commitment since I started my diploma back in September, so I was trying to figure out a new routine. I had Patreon work, stationery shop work, and writing. Well, Continuing Professional Development, in the end, more than actual writing.

It was also an up-and-down week in terms of my health – I’ve spoken about my chronic pain before. This is it in action! I have fun little spells of depression, too, which I wasn’t initially going to include but then I thought, fuck it. We should talk more about this stuff, if only because it gets in the way of the rest of my life. I left out some details, because this isn’t a gossip column, but otherwise this is a pretty accurate look at the menagerie of work I do on a daily basis. I’ve split the days into sections so you don’t have to scroll forever. Enjoy!

Monday

6:30am

Awake. Ish. My new year’s resolution was to spend an hour every morning ignoring the rest of the universe, aka not using the internet. It’s evolved into making a cup of coffee to take back to bed, doing some meditation on the Headspace app and maybe having a read. Then I make more coffee and go for a walk. I’m on chatting terms with multiple neighbours. I can’t tell if the whole routine is very pretentious or very hippie, but I don’t care. It’s nice to go to work with a clear, news/social media-free brain. Also, today I saw some ducks.

8am

Sit down to some writing. I’ve been working on this one story for months and I’m not sure if it’s dragging because I need to focus or I’m dragging because the story lacks focus. Give in trying to figure out which is is, have breakfast.

9am

Remember I have not showered. Shower.

9:30am

My hands are aching so I do some very exciting physiotherapy with some putty and a squishy ball. Physio gets boring quite quickly, especially when you have been doing it for eight or nine years, so I have a read – Bertrand Russell, get me – while I’m using the ball. I learnt the hard way that putty requires your full attention, or it gets everywhere. It’s like the ectoplasm in Ghostbusters meets playdoh.

10:15am

Walk to my nan’s for coffee with her and my mum. Three of us are inside! Having coffee! So weird.

11:30am

Do some freelance work for a long time client.

11:45am

Work on my next newsletter and some blog posts. Break for lunch and come back rejuvenated. Well, less hungry. Post today’s blog, about getting the second Covid vaccine. Work on this post.

2pm

I’m trying to build in more breaks and not sit at my desk for long periods, so I list some clothes for sale online and organise some laundry. Between 2pm and 5pm I’m mostly useless, so I try and make that the time I do non-work things.

3pm

Work on the Do Something Directory. Trying to figure out a new page. It’s going to look great.

3:30pm

Take a walk, because it isn’t raining.

4pm

Fuss about online for a bit, checking sales for the paperback of The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes. They could be worse! My biggest fear was that no copies would sell. End up on a YouTube Q&A with a mortician (verdict: I’m not sure I fancy being embalmed). Poke about on Goodreads, because I’m smug I’ve read a lot of excellent books this year. Find the page for my favourite novel of the year so far. Some of the reviews are terrible. I don’t mean to be rude, but what did these people read? It was a masterpiece. Read the book in self defence.

4:30pm

Do some physio – knees and back this time. I live large – and pack an order from my stationery shop. Read the news: apparently a man in Spain has been found dead, trapped inside a papier-mâché dinosaur. It’s thought he dropped his phone inside, climbed in to get it, and got stuck. How appalling.

5pm

I lied. I’m not productive yet. Do some ironing in front of A Place in the Sun. What is one without the other? Read the news (terrible). Get an email from my critique partner (good). Give up on the day and make dinner (better).

7pm

Waste time chill out on YouTube, which is almost productive because I’m also messaging a friend, S, who’s working on the Do Something Directory with me. Fuss about on writing groups.

8pm

Remember that today is the anniversary of the day my littlest dog, Adonis Wheezeface Bean, passed away. It’s somehow worse than last year. Also, the news is still shit. Someone’s body washed up on Southend beach this morning. It shouldn’t surprise me, but it does. Today becomes is what we in the mental health department call a Bad Day. There’s not much to do when one of those descends, so I spend the rest of the evening on a clothes swap group – bye my purple jumpsuit that doesn’t fit, hi to a new wrap dress that hopefully will – and on Reddit. Learn that David Yoon, the author, is lovely.

10pm

Do a Pilates routine I found on YouTube because I’ve been sitting down for ages. Bed.

photograph of a webpage with squares showing photographs and words overlaid, including 'LGBTQ+', 'Children & Young People', 'Environment & Climate Change' and  'Mental Health'

Top 10 Reasons to Read The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, by someone who is in no way biased

I haven’t slept properly because I spent yesterday in a Magnus Archives-ending bubble, then woke up at 5:30am which is probably not related but also I had at least one dream about [spoiler] so who knows. It’s the Easter holidays now, so I’m officially off the clock academia-wise for a few days, and between Magnus and holiday brain, my words aren’t working. So here’s a post I put together on a lark recently and figured I might as well finish because the world is on fire and I’m empathising with a boat stuck in the Suez Canal (that poor boat driver. I’m never going to feel bad about a work fuckup again. If a boss ever calls me out, I’ll look them dead in the eye and ask: ‘have I held up 12% of the world’s trade?’).

Top 10 Reasons to Read The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes*

*well, my top ten reasons. Yours might be different, but you’ll have to read it to find out, won’t you?

10) Upcycled fashion

9) Dragons that are people

8) Dragons that are dragons

7) Small to medium-sized nods to Real Life Events, although unfortunately none of them are boats stuck in the Suez Canal

6) Irritable psychics

5) Teenagers with ethically questionable levels of responsibility for those around them

4) One My Chemical Romance reference

3) Breakfast meetings

2) Rabbits wearing little harnesses so they can go for a walk

1) Cups of tea in difficult situations

ereader mockup of The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, on a Lilly pad/leaf background
Art by Nell from Instagram!

What more do you need from your fiction, honestly. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of retailers but you should be able to find a copy in most ebook stores or app, including library apps. Actually, while I’ve got you here and have a couple of spare braincells: would you, hypothetically, prefer to consume a hardback print copy of a book or an audiobook version of a book? I’m not saying that this question pertains to the rest of this post but, hypothetically, if it were to pertain to the rest of this post, which would you prefer? Potentially, at some point in the future?

Let me know. Imagine I’ve pasted four eyeball emojis here.

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?)

The Beginner’s Guide to Working from Home

The Beginner’s Guide to Working from Home

Try as I might, I can’t seem to stop being a freelancer. Sometimes I go to an office, but usually I don’t, especially now I’m getting into the final stages of my Open Uni course and working on dragonnovel. I’ve learnt a lot during my time of commuting down a set of stairs or across my bedroom to my desk, and I thought it high time I share some tricks of the trade.

Your wardrobe should be work-appropriate

For example, your trousers should be elasticated to account for all the caffeine you’re drinking and all the angry snacking that takes place after a less than fruitful Skype call. Matching socks can help one focus on the day’s tasks, but as long as they’re clean you’ll be able to sit at your desk with pride. Just kidding – if you’ve cleaned your teeth today, you’re already 99% set for work!

Sometimes working from home does require you to leave the house – perhaps in search of your sanity, which you fear you may have lost underneath paperwork. In these situations, I recommend you consult WikiHow to re-learn what deodorant is. For those days when you’ve got people over, or have an emergency video chat, I recommend you keep a couple of unstained outfits at the back of your wardrobe. Remember, only the parts of you that are visible need to look like you’ve got a self care routine.

 

I wish I could tell you where I found these gifs, but my computer has eaten that information. It was in 2015?

Your workstation should be organised

Even the most organised work from home-er has a tendancy to multitask, especially if you’ve accidentally overbooked yourself, so you need to ensure that your paperwork, computer and faintly stained coffee mugs are well-organised. I find that keeping stationery in odd places, like the key tray by the front door, or in my dressing gown pocket, helps make home feel more like an office, and there’s always the old trick of piling all your papers onto one tiny allocated space so you look far more official than you actually are.

You need several planners

One or two, at least. Probably a wall calendar. They contain nothing but deadlines because you last saw your friends on Halloween 2016, but they’re a nice reminder that the end of the tax year is coming up and you’re not as rich as you thought you would be by now.

Invest in quality headphones

Not to block out your neighbours! Not to listen to interesting podcasts while you work! Your headphones are there for when your family members come home and you’ve accidentally read Atlas Obscura all day so you have to catch up during the evening and need to look focused.

Disconnect your wifi

So you can get lots done with no distractions! Wait, you need the internet to work from home in the first place? Hm. Well. If I ever work out a happy medium, I’ll let you know, but I spent a full thirty seconds this afternoon watching a Facebook video of someone’s pet fox zoom around their living room. You should probably just go and work in a coffee shop or something. Or a library.

Or an office.

 

Sunday Night Broadcasting

Mum is on holiday and I have the house to myself, so I’ve been warding off potential burglars by making as much noise as possible. I’ve decided that this week will be the week in which I learn to cook, so today I made chips and a lasagne. Unless you count melting a bowl and dropping a box of cornflour over a small section of the pantry as issues, which I don’t, the day was faultless. I was too busy eating to take photos, so you’re going to have to trust me on this, but it turns out that if you follow the recipe then cooking is actually quite easy.

Here is a small roundup of my post-Asia attempts to get my life together:

(1 = good, 4 = bad if I remember my school target setting sessions)

EMPLOYMENT: Effort 1 / Attainment 4

PHYSIO & GENERAL HEALTH: Effort 3 / Attainment 3

CLEARING OUT SHIT IN CUPBOARDS USUALLY IGNORED BECAUSE THEY’RE FULL OF SHIT: Effort 1 / Attainment 2

ABILITY TO GET UP BEFORE 7AM: Effort 2 / Attainment 3

CATCHING UP ON BOOKS & FILMS BORROWED FROM FAMILY BETWEEN 4 & 24 MONTHS AGO: Effort 1 / Attainment: 2

So far I’ve seen Girlboss on Netflix, read two books (one of which I think someone gave me when I was still in the womb), sent about forty job applications and/or speculative enquiries, removed about three kilograms of clothing from my wardrobe, dyed a portion of my hair purple and seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and I’m so buzzing I’m telling you all at 10pm on a Sunday. Or that might be because I ate two thirds of the lasagne and I might never sleep again.

Tom and Jerry GIF
from Twitter

Chips are one of your five a day if they’re homemade, right?

Indifferent Ignorance Awards 2016

I’ve been coming up with the annual Indifferent Ignorance awards for long enough that I know to keep ’em cute and to the point. But there’s something about 2016 that’s been so thoroughly appalling that I couldn’t just list a few bits and pieces. So here is the best and absolute worst of 2016.

Book of the Year

The Raven King, because of cars and kissing, or Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, because of cars and kissing. Mostly. Just read them.

Album of the Year

Troye Sivan’s Blue Neighbourhood, or the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. Neither of them were released this year that’s further proof of 2016’s shittiness. (Actually Frank Iero’s Parachutes came out this year and it’s a gem. Whatever.)

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

A parent had To Kill a Mockingbird banned from a high school in Virginia, US, for its racist language.

Please kill me soon.

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

Tough one. Brexit? US election? The return of Poldark to our screens? Nah man. The only moment my stomach really dropped at the news this year was at maybe 6:15 on a January morning when Nick Robinson interrupted my dozing to inform me, with audible shock, that David Bowie had died. I did not think anything could shock a Today programme presenter, let alone audibly. The return of Jesus couldn’t have redeemed 2016 from that moment on.

Outstanding Achievement for Distracting Me from the Horror of the Year for Five Minutes

Or an hour, depending on the broadcast.

Nominees:

  • Ed Balls’ Gagnam Style on Strictly Come Dancing It aired the week Trump was elected. Coincidence? Or does a benevolent god exist?
  • When Newsnight listened to their critics and played God Save the Queen Stand up, please.
  • The Twitter users who liveblogged the Rio Olympics and came up with 40 different jokes about green swimming pools
  • The Rio Olympics themselves
  • Whoever started those Joe Biden memes
  • American Idiot (the song, not the people)
  • Planet Earth II

Winner: this song, which someone shared the morning Trump was elected. I really, really felt better and so will you:

Outstanding Social Media Moment

This is another new prize, and the competition was tough.

We have Gary.

(In case you were wondering, Gary came back for more.)

We have when James Blunt dropped some news.

We have Joe Biden existing on camera. (I am genuinely not sure what he did in the Obama administration. I don’t care.)

We have when Sam Smith thought he was the first gay person to win an Oscar and, um, wasn’t.

Coincidentally this is the year I learnt what ‘throwing shade’ means. Oh, I didn’t pick a winner. You guys choose (I assume I can trust you with this more than I did Brexit).

Indifferent Ignorance Homophobic Dick Award

Donald Trump’s voters. All of them.

Indifferent Ignorance Ignorant Fuck Award

Donald Trump’s voters. All of them.


I thought I’d put a line there as a metaphor. Because a line is like a wall, right… seriously though I nearly wrote an essay about how the name I gave my blog aged 14 is coincidentally a term that sums up this year’s election results, but I held off because everyone else was writing the same essay and I am so tired of being tired of all the bullshit I’ve lived through recently. I think in 2017 I might use my outraged liberal millennial viewpoint to make art instead of complaining. And by art I mean small stories and postcards about people who are full of shit.

Anyway that is me done for the year. I wish you all health and happiness in 2017, although at this point it’s probably enough that I wish you make it there. Happy new year!

So Marie Kondo Probably Has Competition

It’s been a week since I last blogged oops. I’ve got a genuine reason instead of the usual ‘I couldn’t think of anything to say and that GWay gif is wearing thin’; I’ve been so busy the week has flown by. And because I’m feeling smug, here are some of the things I’ve been up to lately:

Getting really well acquainted with my local postbox

I’ve had the busiest week on Etsy since February… there’s just something about Halloween that makes people very open to stickers which include the phrase witch ‘n’ bitch.

Francesca's Words Hell's Belles Halloween stickers

Clearing out ridiculously overstocked bedroom cupboards

I can’t show you a photo of my newly organised shelves, because I don’t really want to admit how many toiletry bags I own, but let’s just say that binning a handful of broken hairbands and two years’ worth of Private Eyes (don’t worry, I recycle), putting one adhesive hook into a wardrobe and buying a couple of plastic filing cabinets is both good for your mental health and ridiculously tiring. I’ve even put an empty box in my room to fill with things I don’t need any more, and as a natural hoarder I’m quite surprised (and totally ready to #humblebrag) that I’ve filled and emptied it about four times. I’ve still got clothes to go through, a couple of cupboards that I’m not brave enough to look at yet and way, way too many socks… but I highly advocate browsing Pinterest for cute storage ideas and going through your shit occasionally.

Oh I went dancing

https://www.instagram.com/p/BLmBiaOhdvI/?taken-by=francescagotconceited

Solid tens. Also, I won a pamper day in a raffle. Pretty sure it’d take more than a day to rescue all my cuticles, ease out the knot in my shoulder and cleanse my inner soul, but you gotta start somewhere…

Reading Game of Thrones

So now I understand the fuss about Ned Stark.

I must dash, I have stickers to post. Oh and if anyone has any tips for getting a lot of storage out of a small space, hit me up.

My To-Do List for 2020

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.

Finish a screenplay

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.

Publish a book

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.

Earn enough at 1-3 jobs that I don’t need 4-5 jobs

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.

Travel to every country in the EU before my lazy arse has to fill out paperwork to do so

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.

Travel to basically everywhere

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:

  • The Colosseum in Rome
  • South East Asia
  • The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland
  • San Francisco
  • The Edinburgh Fringe Festival
  • South America

Travel GIF
I normally can’t stand these GIFs, but in the spirit of optimism… from Twitter.

Learn (or rediscover) a sport that doesn’t bring back horrible memories of PE

They never taught us aerial yoga, maybe I could try that… or trampolining. Ooh, or dog walking.

Pass my driving test

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!

 

Things You Can Get Me for My Birthday

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.)

My 21st Birthday Gift List

  • Car insurance. As in, mine.
  • Patreon support. If you were going to spend £5 on shit I don’t need, pledge that much over however many months you like. Then I get to upgrade my blog and you get art and no one has to clean their cupboards out
  • Etsy support. If you were going to spend £5 on shit I don’t need, spend that much in my shop then send your friends everything you bought (for the love of God please do not give it back to me)
  • A book shop gift card. Not Amazon. Not iBook. Something for a shop where I can smell the products before I buy. I fully intend on contributing books to said shops, and I won’t be able to do that if they’ve all been put out of business by tax-avoiding conglomerates amirite
  • Get me an Etsy gift card or a Society6 gift card so I can buy weird fan art and afford the shipping charges
  • Pretend you’re listening when I talk about my job(s). Just for five minutes, pretend you want to know about professional hashtagging
  • Okay you’re going to give me stuff, declare that £5 to be spent in the MCR store. I do in fact always need MCR shit and I don’t think Warner do gift cards.

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.

Gerard Way from sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com
from sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com

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