Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Free not free

I read a thing this morning. The thing, written by artist Rebekah Joy Plett, said this:

"When you buy from an independent artist, you are buying more than just a painting. You are buying hundreds of hours of experimentation and thousands of failures.

You are buying days, weeks, months, years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You are buying nights of worry about paying the rent, having enough money to eat, having enough money to feed the children, the birds, the dog.

You aren’t just buying a thing, you are buying a piece of heart, part of a soul, a private moment in someone’s life.

Most importantly, you are buying that artist more time to do something they are truly passionate about; something that makes all the above worth the fear and the doubt; something that puts the life into the living.”

I don't have a dog or birds. I have children and a hamster-by-proxy. However romantic homelessness-because-creative may seem, the reality is that I like roofs, particularly over my head. And Haribo. I like Haribo.

I have written for free. Most writers have. Many publications ALLOW free writings because it is an HONOUR to be included, and, you know, it DOES feel good to have another website featuring your name when you Google yourself. Particularly one which is read and enjoyed by real people. But you need to know this: that website, it makes MILLIONS of pounds yet it doesn't chuck a hundred quid bone to writers with dogs and birds and hamsters-by-proxy.

Just to be contrary, I want to point out that sometimes I like writing for free. Some literary magazines make just under enough money to keep going, and if I'm INCLUDED I feel proud. I will waive my ten pound payment because the magazine is important. I'll be a HERO.

I wrote a book. I called it Volcano. It took a while from conception to finale, and it ate a bit of me. I wrote much of it whilst drunk and I did that pacing thing – clutching a glass of vodka and coke; thinking; twiddling my hair; smoking; rubbing my eyes; feeling my brain wobble inside my head. I published it on Amazon. Occasionally, I sell a copy. I make royalties. £1.65 a download. That's one whole bag of Haribo-on-offer with change to put towards the next.

A month ago, I decided to pay a tenner to advertise Volcano on Facebook. I offered free downloads for a week, and gave away just under 400 copies. 400 real actual downloads. Amazing. I GLOWED with happiness. Just imagine that number of sales if they generated money. SIX HUNDRED AND SIXTY cold hard coins. So I advertised again. But this time the download – the ten years of work, the hundred bottles of vodka, all the cigarettes – cost TWO POUNDS AND EIGHTY-EIGHT PENCE. Less than a six pack of Diet Coke to top up that vodka. Less than a hamster-by-proxy. Two and nearly-a-third bags of Haribo-on-offer.

I sold three copies.

The Girl Who Does Writing For Money

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Girl Who Does Work and Child-rearing Simultaneously

So, the baby (Egg, we shall call her) is nearly 3 months old. Maternity leave isn't all it was cut out to be – self-employment means tiny amounts of money and babies need stuff, you know. She doesn't sleep too well, so needs at least 35 new and slightly different gadgets each week, all purchased from Amazon or eBay in the grubby hours of the night, promising to ensure Egg will sleep without being held. Anyway, I quite like the holding. And the shopping. But it needs funding. So, I have ten 'Keeping in Touch' days and will eke these out over the coming 5 months, and they'll pay for more gadgets. Or the tax bill. Can't remember which. And also, we moved in February and the house is shit. Dark and hobbit-like, so we need to move. Keeping in Touch will fund that too. So, here's what will happen – I'll work and Egg will sit in Bouncy Chair Number 7, gurgling and cooing beautifully and if she becomes unhappy, I shall move her either to Sleeping Gadget Number 4, or Entertainment Mat Number 43.

I'll blog it.

Watch this space.

The Girl Who Does

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Dearest Jeff. Don't look back.

Wishing you all the joys of the Season and every happiness throughout the coming year"

Hi, your mate Jeff here.

This is just a quick email, rather than bothering you = with a call. I trust you are well ?
I wanted to see if you've been injured lately at home = or work ?

If so then parliament is willing to compensate you.

It's shocking that 7 out of 10 people in the UK who we= re injured don't bother claiming the compensation they are legally entitled= to.

Don't become one of them! It takes only 30 seconds to = get the amount of money your entitled to.

Get your quid today.

Click here now to see how much you will receive.


Dear Jeff,

I thank you for your email and your concern. At first I thought this was just another spam email, until I read between the lines. 

Although I have indeed recently injured myself at home - by way of a disastrous cheese-grating incident - the injury has now healed. Sadly, I don't even have a scar. Back to that day - the cheese was more rubbery than anticipated, and the force I put behind it during the grating was, in hindsight, disproportionate. I can liken it only to trying to put on a condom using a mallet. Have you ever tried this, Jeff? I haven't the parts to indulge in such an activity myself. Your feedback would be appreciated. 

Anyway, back to the issue in hand. I suspect you are soon to fall in love with me. I'm not sure I can cope with this. I adore you as a dear, dear friend, but I cannot afford myself the luxury of falling for ANOTHER accident claim technician. Do you wear a uniform? 

The last accident claim technician left me, quite cruelly and literally, in the gutter following another 'fall'. I appreciate that he was becoming a little frustrated with the numerous 'accidents' I was having in and around the home, and his argument that most of them were, in fact, my fault, was harsh but sadly fair. I would hate for us to part in the same way, Jeff. 

It is with great reluctance that I turn down your proposal and decline your quid. Keep it, Jeff. Don't look back. 

Best wishes, my love. 

Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Girl Who Purchased the Wrong Type of Coffee

Imagine the situation.
Online shopping.
Ground coffee.
Shopping delivered.
Coffee beans.
But that's ok, right? I have a grinder.

Follow the instructions and you too can have freshly ground coffee.

Equipment required:
Coffee beans
Mechanical grinder
Potato masher
Pestle and mortar
Hand-held blender
Smoothie maker
Food processor
Another mechanical grinder
Electrical tape

1/ Purchase wrong type of coffee, as outlined above.
2/ Think to self, "That is ok, for I have a mechanical coffee grinder. Today is a good day."
3/ Place twenty-three coffee beans in the top of the mechanical coffee grinder. Move the handle round in a circular motion for three hours and forty-seven minutes.
4/ Open drawer underneath mechanical coffee grinder to view contents. Feel utterly dejected, hopeless and dismayed at the contents.
5/ Empty contents of drawer into scoop used for measuring coffee.
6/ Stare at scoop.
7/ If half a scoop of coffee (x) takes three hours and forty-seven minutes in time (y) to produce, calculate how long it will take to produce the required four scoops of coffee. X multiplied by (y x 8) = 1816.
8/ You will be unable to work out how to convert this into hours and minutes. Type BOOBIES on calculator. Do a lol.
9/ Consider your next option. Your next option is gadgetry. Look for gadgetry.
10/ Line up the following items: hand-held blender, smoothie maker, food processor.
11/ Add remaining coffee beans to bowl. Using hand-held blender, blend with gusto. Coffee beans will hit your face, lodge in your eyes and somehow find their way into your pants. This is a nice feeling. Wiggle while you work.
12/ After one minute and thirteen seconds you will stare at the coffee beans. This is ok. The previously intact coffee beans are now slightly chipped coffee beans. You will realise you would have been better off hitting them with a hammer.
13/ Hit the coffee beans with a hammer.
14/ Clear up broken glass. Strap broken fingers with electrical tape.
15/ Study a coffee bean. At this point, it will look like this.

16/ Add coffee beans to smoothie maker.
17/ Try to smooth coffee beans. Note that whilst blade is whirring satisfactorily, coffee beans are sitting in the well underneath the blade. You will feel like the coffee beans are laughing at you. They are not.
18/ Empty the laughing coffee beans into the food processor. Clap your hands in glee upon realisation that the food processor was designed to make big stuff smaller. You will feel smug. Process the coffee beans.
19/ Empty the julienned coffee beans into the cafetiere. Add hot water. Leave for two minutes. Pour resulting liquid into a mug. Add sugar. Drink sugar-flavoured water.
20/ Grab another handful of coffee beans. Holding one coffee bean in your left hand, use your right hand to squeeze firmly with pliers.

21/ Use a similar equation to the one in Step 7. The result is 349,681.38. Calculate that this is perhaps approximately maybe just a little less than a year.
22/ Add another handful of whole coffee beans to the bit of the pestle and mortar which looks like a bowl. Using Google, find out which part is the pestle and which part is the mortar. Immediately forget. Using the other part of the pestle and mortar, pound the beans into what will again look like exactly like a slightly chipped coffee bean, as in step 12.
23/ Hit the coffee beans with a hammer.
24/ Discard broken bowl bit of pestle and mortar. Add splint to strapped fingers.
25/ Add a handful of whole coffee beans to a plastic bowl. You will feel stupid, but you are not stupid.
26/ Mash with potato masher.
27/ Stare at slightly chipped coffee beans, as in steps 12 and 22.
28/ Hit the slightly chipped coffee beans with a hammer.
29/ Add Savlon to open wound.
30/ On the bank holiday Monday, go to a boot sale.
31/ Note a seller with a mechanical coffee grinder, which is slightly larger than yours. Ask seller if mechanical coffee grinder is effective. Believe him when he says it works. Forget to barter, pay seller two English pounds in exchange for a mechanical coffee grinder which is slightly larger than yours.
32/ Return home. Phone entire family and invite them for coffee. Do not mention you are setting up bean-grinding factory.
33/ Set up a bean-grinding factory. Work shifts around the clock.
33/ After four days of twelve hour shifts, stare at perfectly ground, perfectly beautiful, perfectly wonderful coffee.
34/ Make coffee for your entire family. You have now used all the beans. Get the second bag of coffee beans out of the cupboard. Return to step 32.

Friday, 2 August 2013

The Girl Who is Fed Up With Bras

It's a well-documented problem. Girls and bras and bras and girls. I have a drawer full of bras which looked beautiful on hangers in shops, but when on they make bits stick out and squash under and it is all disastrous and not even marginally alluring. So, yes, The Girl Who is fed up with bras. So much so, that she has, after much pondering, come up with a solution. You will find yourself wanting to follow the steps below for your own, easy to fit, problem free, mammary supporter (this is NOT the same as mammary fan, despite the phrase 'football supporter' being similar to 'football fan'. A mammary fan is, in fact, a member of a very specialist group, which is probably found gathered around an iPad playing the Breasts section of PornHub on a loop).
Electrical tape
Wear clothes
Wrap electrical tape round and round and round your chest under your breasts. The underside of your breasts is now supported, as with a bra only nicer. Add a strip to either side, reaching from under-breast tape to armpit.
For extra loveliness, you will find you want to use a beautifully coloured tape, such as brown or red or blue, to add straps and other details. Do this. Don't use googly eyes or other stupid stuff.

You will find this will suffice.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Girl Who Tried to Use Stamps as Currency

Dear Stagecoach,
I once heard that stamps could be used as legal tender. This was around the time that I heard one could go to the Bank of England and demand ingots of gold in return for banknotes, which is sadly something I have never got round to doing. Have you?
Last week, I spent too much money, and have found that this week I cannot afford to purchase a Megarider or DayTripper ticket. I prefer a DayTripper, as it allows me to travel beyond the orange zone into the blue zone, which includes Pebsham tip. If I don't have enough money, or if the weather is too unpleasant, I do not allow myself the luxury of a weekly visit to Pebsham tip, and indeed tend to stick to the 99 'Wave' bus, which takes me past the fire station on Bohemia Road, stopping outside Lidl. This is where I ran into trouble. I usually spend £2.97 in Lidl. This gets me tomatoes, pitta bread, Jaffa cakes and a bottle of toilet cleaner. I seem to get through a lot of toilet cleaner; I suspect Lidl's own is not as effective as a brand such as Toilet Duck, and indeed a 'false economy'.
On Tuesday of last week, I noticed that Lidl were stocking a fine range of 'incidentals' in the middle aisle. I am ashamed to say that I succumbed to temptation. I returned with far more than my usual purchases; I also had a fan, a circular saw, and one of those metal things with suction pads on which you can place all your toiletries and flannels within easy reach whilst in the shower. I don't know why I am still crying about this, but it caused an almighty row with my (now ex) partner, who told me it was useless and pointless and asked how on earth it would hold the weight of all the 'lotions and potions' I insist on using on a daily basis, which serve simply to render my skin red raw and my hair like a birds' nest. In all fairness to him, I shouldn't have gone at him with the circular saw, and he WAS right: it certainly wasn't strong enough to hold my industrial-sized bottle of TRESemme.
Last week also happened to be the birthday of a family member, along with an occasion on which I needed to send a thank-you card. Since you ask, the thank-you card was to thank Lidl for cleaning up my spillage with so little fuss. So, I stamped my cards and posted them, before realising that there were four stamps left in the book. This made me ponder.
My Megarider expired on Monday, and I have no means to get back up to Lidl to return the circular saw (I cleaned the blood and screams off it), suction thing, fan and tomatoes. The fan, may I say, has turned out to be a godsend during the last few weeks of hot weather. It only seems to blow the electrics if I use whilst in the bath, but, in its defence, I do splash a bit.
Stamps are quite expensive now, apparently sixty pence for a first class, and a little less for a second class. Why people can't just be satisfied with an eCard, I have no idea, and I suspect this is an issue I will have to bring up over Christmas dinner, although I loathe to do so at that time of year. Last year I asked Uncle Doug if, this year, he would be happy with a handwritten poem rather than the usual Old Spice gift set. I will not repeat his reply, nor will I regale you with the tale of the painful placement of the turkey leg. He was, suffice to say, livid.
So, I have four stamps left. Four times sixty is twenty-four. Twenty-four pounds will buy me two and a bit Megarider tickets. I do hope you will not think me bold for offering stamps as currency on the 99 'Wave' bus, but I do so need to pop to Lidl.
Kind regards,
The Girl Who Does

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Girl Who Does Collections

Following my proposal to Hastings Borough Council regarding the regeneration of Hastings' Pier, which, incidentally, they have not replied to (I can only assume this is because they are still researching as to whether lions or bears are the animals which do/don't eat you when you stare them in the eye - I do hope that nobody has been mauled or injured in any way during this research task), I have been patiently waiting for the shortbread tins which will render the pier fireproof and avoid another occurrence of massive scary fire and unprecedented levels of local distress. Today, I received a tweet from @candyflippa. She has kindly kicked off the collection with a rather fetching traditionally styled Scottish shortbread barrel. I am hoping the lid could be used for decorative effect on top of one of the turrets in which I plan to keep the lions/bears. I have acquired several useful items myself, mostly from my own cupboards. Oh, what treasures cupboards hold! A Marks and Spencer tin depicting snowmen and children killing each other (some of the scenes have faded, so I am unsure as to whether this description is wholly accurate); a tobacco tin depicting blackened lungs and death (not strictly shortbread, but I shall cover it with tartan paper); a roll of bright blue electrical tape, the outside of which is covered in biscuit crumbs; a padlock for which I cannot recall the combination, but will be useful for the tin gates at the entrance to the pier; and a misshapen fork. So, friends, anything you feel will be useful to get this gig rolling will be gratefully received.