Autumn in August and other moderate feelings of discombobulation

Good evening! Is autumn creeping in where you are? It is here, as I listen to the new Lorde record and try to figure out how many edits I can make to this before my fingers are ruined for the weekend. Just a scent on the air, really. A hint of scarves to come.

How are you? I rarely leave it this long without coming by here, but in the last few weeks and months I’ve found that when I reach for words, they just… aren’t there. There’s two types of writer’s block: the one where you stop because you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere in the depths of what you’ve already written, or not planned a piece thoroughly enough. Then there’s the one where it’s not really about writing at all, it’s about the person doing the writing. For the first one, you just have to retrace your steps. For the second, you have to figure out what’s up with, well, you. There’s a little bit of both going on here, I reckon.

Are you superstitious? I’m not, usually, but lately I’ve felt that I might like to wear my evil eye twenty four-seven, throw open every window and do my level best to improve the atmosphere. Maybe it’s because the seasons are turning more obviously than they do in midsummer, or maybe because we are Back to Normal but not really here in the UK. I think I have written about this lately, but so many people I know are just feeling… wonky. Out-of-balance. My instinct regarding this very first world problem of creative apathy is that I need to go into hibernation. Turn off the internet, mind my own business and get on with things that are more practical than creative. Autumn is good for that, isn’t it? Most creatives work in cycles as a matter of working practice. Create, promote, wind down, hibernate, observe, create, promote, wind down, hibernate et cetera. Maybe I didn’t leave enough time between projects back in spring and summer, and now my brain needs me to piss off and do some boring life stuff. Finish my accounts for the last financial year, deadhead my house plants. I don’t quite know how this ties into my desire to cleanse my bedroom with a homemade herbal infusion to improve the vibes.

As for the rest of the world, that’s just going to keep spinning into oblivion, isn’t it? Can’t change Afghanistan. Can’t change Haiti. Can’t change that climate change report. Might as well turn it all off and focus on what’s in front of my two eyes. Except that I do have a tiny bit of power over the rest of the planet, because I run a website that helps people find ways to support causes they care about. My desire to remove myself from Twitter forever lest the washing machine of news sends me mad is at war with the necessity of running a Twitter account focussed on the washing machine of news. (Please follow the Do Something Directory on Twitter.) Perhaps that’s what’s buggering up my creativity: the push-pull of the me who wants to communicate with my readers entirely through a newsletter and live in a cabin in the woods before all the forests burn down, and the me who wants to stop the forests catching fire in the first place. Not a metaphor, since the Mediterranean is on fire. But also a bit of a metaphor, ha.

I don’t have long before Solar Power finishes, or before my hands say ‘enough, Francesca, or we will wake you up at night.’ This was not the cheery note I envisioned when I was planning this year’s blog posts! But I wanted to pop in, say hi, feed the algorithm gods just in case those ads finally pay up. Let you know that I might stay a bit quiet for a while yet. Does anyone even write blogs anymore, or is it all YouTube and TikToks? I don’t talk about politics or social issues too much anymore, which are the main reasons I first started this page. I don’t need to discuss them here, because I write stories and have the Do Something Directory instead. That makes this space a personal blog, and I don’t want to write one of those either. So we’re at an impasse, reader.

Perhaps I will see you again around Halloween, or the autumn equinox. I like those definite seasonal markers, they make me feel grounded. Until then, look after yourselves!

Francesca

PS As I was writing about creative apathy, I thought ‘didn’t I used to call this creative constipation’? When I was typing into the tag box, I discovered that yes, I did. Say hi to 2015 for me.


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Graceless Nights With Lorde at Alexandra Palace

Afternoon. I feel like I should apologise for not posting on my story blog this week, but since approximately five people read it and at least four of them are direct relations, I think I’ll save the heartfelt messages for when there’s more like six of you. I really did mean to have a story up, but I only wrote it last week because I’ve been busy settling into my new job, and I’ve promised myself that I will get my writing critiqued properly before whacking it online, and I’m still waiting on feedback. BUT NO MATTER. I HAVE CONTENT TODAY.

I saw Lorde at Alexandra Palace last week and I’m still buzzing. I hadn’t been to a live show in three or four years, and my usual brand of live music is, you know, not Lorde. I also went by myself, which is one of those things you read in self help books titled Coming to Terms With Your Own Company (Because You’ll Die Alone), but actually I just didn’t have anyone to go with. I also had work central London the next day, so I stayed up there and learnt how contactless cards work on the underground (spoiler alert: next time I’ll just get an Oyster card). Anyway, the show.

I’d never really seen a pop concert – is Lorde even pop? – so it was quite heartwarming to queue with a group who’d seen Twenty One Pilots perform live and were also wearing Doc Martens (it was kind of more heartwarming to name drop that I once saw MCR at Wembley, because I am a dick). I’d never even heard of the warm up act, Khalid, but a bunch of kids were well into it and as soon as I got home on Thursday I saw him on TV, so when he’s up for a Grammy you’d better believe I’ll be name dropping him, too. During the obligatory wait between doors and warm up and warm up and main act I got chatting to two girls who’d decorated their faces in glitter, which made me wish I’d thought ahead. The atmosphere was actually not that different to one at an MCR show – there was a good mix of people, with parents with their kids and groups of friends and couples, all waiting with baited breath for the lights to go down. It’s quite hard to explain what happened when the lights did go down so here, have a video.

I guess one upside to a pop show versus a rock show is that the act changes clothes along with their set?

Lorde Alexandra Palace London September 2017 Europe Dance Tour

Lorde Alexandra Palace London 2017

Yes, that’s a red sparkly jumpsuit with a pair of trainers.

It’s always hard to describe what it’s like seeing an act you really love play live. The last band I saw that had already fused to my rib cage was MCR when I was 15. My dad took us and we dressed up in our finest Killjoy glamour and it was probably as close to a religious experience as I got during my teens. At 22, with a very different life and in completely different circumstances, I got to have that experience again. There’s nothing like howling a song with a few thousand other people, knowing the person on the stage is having as much fun as you are. I have a cold this week – one of those where you think you’re okay to breathe through your nose and then you sneeze phlegm onto the nearest piece of clothing – and I can’t wait to be fully awake again so I can go and make things as cool as the music Lorde makes. I might also get myself a red sparkly jumpsuit, as clearly they bring good fortune…

Indifferent Ignorance Awards 2014

This year has some new categories and tough competition!

Books of the Year

I’ve stopped trying to pick one.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, which I thought was going to be about whiny teenagers and is actually a lovely story about twins with great names who go to university in Nebraska. One of them writes a fanfiction that has thirty thousand hits a day. Whatever you think it will be like, you’re wrong. Read it if you’ve ever read or written fanfiction.

Or How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper, which I read in Greece. It’s about Doug, a 29-year-old widower who hasn’t left his house in a year except to buy Jack Daniels until his sister comes to stay. The characters are incredibly real and although they’re not nice, you want to spend time with them… I wasn’t sure at first but it is A*.

Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan. Because Nico and Reyna got their airtime and it was beautiful.

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I tried re-reading this recently and I couldn’t because after the first page I remembered how much my stomach was tied in knots the whole flipping book. If I could write like anyone, I’d pick Khaled Hosseini. The power to make your readers cry, man..

The True Lives of My Chemical Romance by Tom Bryant. I read this the Sunday after the #revenge10 meetup in Camden, which was the fist time I’d been able to listen to live MCR since MCR ended. It was lovely hanging out with other fans and not having to explain or justify how much I love this band. The book made me sad in a lot of ways because it opened a window to the inside of MCR, and it was contrary to the image portrayed by the media (and maybe the band) at the time… But by reading the entire history, told objectively by someone who understood and respected the magnitude of MCR, I felt like I could really start to enjoy MCR again. Listening to songs didn’t make me sad any more; I was genuinely excited for the guys’ new work. So thank you to Tom Bryant! Also I met him at #revenge10 and he is a good dude.

Best New Musician

Lorde. Lorde Lorde Lorde. I ignored her stuff for ages because I was bitter and twisted that someone younger than me had a) such great hair and b) worldwide success. I am now over that. Partly because girls should support girls on their quests for awesomedom, and partly because her music is excellent.

Best New Album

Stomachaches.. Hesitant Alien. May Death Never Stop You. Come on, was I going to pick anything else? I haven’t bought anything else! I am turning into an old lady when it comes to new music. I hope to change this in 2015 buy physical copies of the music I like.

Live Show of the Year

King Lear (amateur production) in my town. Lear almost dropped Cordelia. Unlike the Sam Mendes production, there was a little room for audience participation – mostly because there was all of 50 people watching and you could make eye contact with most of them.

Most Interesting TV Event

Eurovision… Conchita winning was pretty brilliant in itself, but I think this part of the show may have been the most entertaining for the viewer:

Rudest Person on the Internet

Either most of Tumblr, the person on DeviantART who told me they’d ‘just print’ my artwork instead of buying an official copy, or the people featured in @TheDMReporter’s screen shots.

Indifferent Ignorance Homophobic Dick Award

This was such a hard one to choose I was wondering if you guys would like to suggest any examples? I mean, there’s the usual US-pastor-saying-something-offensive, and recently a UKIP MEP who is actually gay called equal marriage “false bollocks”. I dunno, I feel like we need to expand our horizons. Anyone got any horror stories

Indifferent Ignorance Ignorant Fuck Award

It was very hard to narrow the nominations down this year. So I haven’t.

The purportedly Muslim group calling itself Islamic State. You sirs are giving Islam a terrible name and you ought to be ashamed. My knowledge of Muslim theology is not as thorough as my knowledge of Christianity (A Levels, huh) but I’m pretty sure the Quran is not telling people to behead aid workers and use people as slaves.

Vladimir Putin and his inner government group. (I am not sure what the Russian name for that is.) Do you actually think no one minds or has noticed that you’re rebuilding the Iron Curtain? Please stop. I would like to go to Eastern Europe and Russia in my lifetime without feeling like I’ve stepped into 1965.

The citizens of America who think it is 1965. It’s not. Shooting people is not even remotely a good thing. Shooting them based on their skin colour is even worse. You’re embarrassing your country.

Okay I think that is enough for one post. Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions for different winners or new categories? I couldn’t think up a category for Chantal Claret’s Pledge campaign, for example, or one for Lola, the chimp who does Gerard Way’s PR. 2014 has been an action-packed, sometimes-hilarious-but-mostly-depressing-news-stories year!