Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Weather Update

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Word on the street is that it is cold – and I concur. Last week, it was with great pain and general disgruntlement that I put on my winter coat for the first time. I hate admitting that it is cold but chilly winds had made the temperature drop from a balmy 12 degrees to a knuckle-reddening 4. This morning on my run, I went past the SUPER ELECTRONIC signage outside Manchester University on which, through the wonders of technology, it announces the time, date and temperature in a rotating sequence. It was 1.8 degrees Celcius and my wet nose and numb hands believed this to be accurate. It was also the first morning where I almost lost my balance as I ran onto invisible ice. Damn invisible ice… It is very tricky to see. Probably because it is invisible to eyes that are watering due to cold winds blowing into them.

I am currently sitting on my own in my office space avoiding going home. It is raining outside and I don’t really wish to get wet. I have had an unusually productive day considering last week I spent 60 per cent of my time procrastinating and the other 40 per cent eating. Today I went for a run, had a meeting, did some work, payed bills, did some more work, and started writing a hopefully convincing description of why I should be allowed to study a masters degree next year. Does anyone enjoy writing about themselves? I certainly don’t, particularly when I need to explain why I have spent the last four years of my life avoiding responsibility and career paths. Being a travelling nomad sounds romantic and fun but it isn’t academically sound. No one really believes in the School of Life, except for perhaps myself and my dad.

I have no exciting adventures to write about this week as the weekend involved a lot of cooking and the painting of skirting boards at Sir Pubert’s ‘Renovator’s delight’ house. That was fun as it involved a visit to an even bigger B&Q and we went to the Tameside Environment Centre, a poetic name for the rubbish tip. Another highlight of Greater Manchester for me to tick off my list of ‘must visit’s.

Ok. Enough blabbering. It’s time to go home.

On This Day…

Monday, November 17th, 2014

I have just had a quick skim read of my blog posts on and around the 17 November in 2010/11/12/13 and it has made me quite pleased that I write all of this random drivel and chuck it into big bad world of THE INTERNET. So what was I up to, I hear you ask with excitement and vigour? Well!

In 2010, I was in Sydney applying for my first travel/work visa to go to France. These were exciting times as I suddenly had permission to go and live in my favourite city in the world and I was in Sydney eating cheese with my best friend, Gill. What more could a girl ask for?

In 2011, I was writing 50,000 words in one month for NaNoWriMo (a task I managed to successfully complete) and I had tripped over whilst running along the Canal Saint Martin in Paris, horrendously injuring my knees. Or at least, that’s how I made it seem.

In 2012, I was eating cake and enjoying Beaujoulais Nouveau in Paris while attending exhibition openings that I made a small appearance in. Ooh la la!

In 2013, I had recently met the Queen. That’s how I roll.

So that’s not bad really. Not bad at all.

Movebubble and Shaker

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

As Friday evening draws closer and my working week comes to an end, I thought I would clear up the misconception that some people seem to have that I don’t actually do any work. I have some how managed to create the illusion of being a lazy unemployed bum, but sadly this is not the case. I am quite lazy, I am unemployed (self-employed technically) but I am not a bum.

Over the past few months I have managed to build up a lovely group of clients and have worked on some interesting projects. One of the best things about my job is that I have to learn about a very random range of subjects – this week I wrote about data protection, recycling, infectious diseases, security systems, and community gardening.

One of my most regular writing projects is for a start-up company called Movebubble. They have created an online platform for homeowners to list their houses for people to view and rent. You can set up an online profile with previous rental history and referees and connect with homeowners looking to rent. It’s BRILLIANT. Especially the blog that features some fantastic posts written by various genius writers, including yours truly.

So should you feel like moving to London any time soon and you want to learn more about Islington, landlord insurance or what handmade gifts to give this Christmas, check out the Movebubble blog.

Team Library

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

I have failed to mention that I have been kicked out of The Classroom. I didn’t plagiarise my exams or call the Principal rude names – the agency running The Classroom clearly felt that it wasn’t making the big turnovers it was after and therefore my fellow freelancers and I were asked to leave. The worst part about this wasn’t the loss of the space but the potential of not working around my fellow Classroomers. There was a great bunch of people working there and it would be sad for us to all split up.

We had a month and a bit to find ourselves some new working quarters and so as one big team of hot-desk searchers, we tweeted, Facebooked, and physically visited various office spaces across Manchester. Some were fancy and even offered the potential of comfortable seats, but most were far out of our price range. Then we discovered MadLab, a communal office and workshop space in the Northern Quarter that was undergoing renovations. They have offered us an amazing deal and are looking after us as if we are their children. While the renovations continue, a group of us are working from an office space above Terrace, one of the Northern Quarter’s most hipsterish bars. We are being given this space for free which is just music to the ears of poor freelance writers. Big thumbs up and high fives to the folks at MadLab and Terrace for being so accommodating. Everyone drink beer at Terrace and do tech workshops with MadLab. DO IT.

The only downside to working above a bar is that the space is occasionally used for meetings, classes and other ‘stuff’, plus it doesn’t open until 11am. As a result, some of us have migrated to the Manchester Central Library reading room where silence and the sound of intelligence prevail. My co-workers and I somewhat ruin that vibe with occasional giggling and over zealous ‘shhh!’s but I am particularly enjoying my new leather and wood work surface.

library desk

Smart desks.

I like to imagine that hundreds of very intelligent people have sat at these library desks, studying, learning and becoming generally smarter and that some of that is rubbing off on to me. I can’t say I feel any more intelligent. The domed roof is beautiful, too, and the shape of the room means sounds bounce off walls so I can eavesdrop on what people are talking about on the other side of the room. Fun times.

Reading room

Giant dome.

Happy Classroomiversary to Me!

Friday, May 9th, 2014

You know I love celebrating anniversaries. Any excuse to potentially eat cake. So here’s another one! Today is one year since I started working in The Classroom office space in the Northern Quarter. A lot has happened in that time – I have done some work, spent a lot of time checking email and being distracted by the internet, and I have met some interesting (and weird) people. The atmosphere in the office has changed over the year as different personalities have come and gone and it has grown into a fun, vibrant and friendly place to be. I really enjoy coming to work – it is far more entertaining that checking Facebook at home alone on my couch. I would have brought in cake to celebrate, however it is Friday, which means there’s hardly anyone in here because who does work on a Friday? Ah, the joy of freelance.

Working hard in the classroom

Working hard in the classroom

Who is She?

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

This week I went to the Bay Horse pub in the Northern Quarter. I was with Sir Pubert Gladstone (He requested a pseudonym, so he got one.) who informed me of a ‘lady in a glass box’ located downstairs in the basement. I went to investigate and sure enough, there she was. A blonde, sunglasses-wearing lady staring at a bird in a cage. Who is she? And what was she doing in the basement of a fairly average pub? This lovely lady and a bit of Nick Cave and the Black Seeds have prompted the following story.

Lucy and the Bird

Lucy’s limbs flail as she dances in the corner of the Bay Horse basement to the music that only she can hear. She dances alone in an almost empty room, everyone else settled in booths sipping whisky and beer, conversation underway. She has been here before. Every night, in fact, for what feels like forever. Next to her a bird sits silently and motionless in a silver cage, watching the scene unfold. Only its eyes flick back and forth, back and forth as the clientele pass. Few people notice the bird and those who do are disappointed by it. A dry martini sits untasted on a small mantle next to a half-melted candle and a stack of Jim Beam coasters. Lucy has the same drink every night but never takes a sip. The owners don’t ask what she would like; they simply nod at her and pour. Her blank face shows no response, she simply treats the small glass as a fee for being there.

Lucy is given a wide berth as she dances, her eyes covered in dark, rounded sunglasses. Her peroxide blonde wig is dry and frizzy; fibrous strands pickup static charge as her hands brush past it. Her legs are encased in criss-cross stockings; shoeless, she dances unflinching as her feet stick to years of sticky alcohol accretion.

Upstairs the bell rings for last drinks and the small crowd finish the last drops of precious liquid, pull on jackets and leave. Lucy continues to dance in her corner, bar staff collecting empties and placing chairs on tables around her. A quick mop just for the sake of it, the final glasses washed and put away for tomorrow. The doors are locked and the lights turned off, leaving Lucy and the bird together in the darkness of the Bay Horse basement.

Lady at the Bay Horse

Lady at the Bay Horse

Web Content Overload

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

For the past few weeks I have been spending a lot of time looking for writing opportunities and exploring the big-bad-world of THE INTERNET. I have become somewhat horrified by the excessive nature of web content and the number of sites that exist purely for people to write “SEO articles” to increase user traffic to their websites. I realise that as a copywriter I should be joining this bandwagon and writing articles about how to avoid procrastination as a freelancer, why SEO is important, or perhaps how to “Smoke a can of tuna with toilet paper.” You know, important stuff. But I just can’t – it hurts too much and there are already enough people writing exactly the same things, quoting exactly the same people and raising exactly the same points. I wouldn’t be bringing anything new to the table.

My search for writing work has taken me down some dark and torturous paths, mostly involving websites advertising freelance writing jobs at ridiculously low prices. There are bidding wars for who will complete the jobs for the lowest price. Write twenty 500-word articles for £20 – at an hour per article, that’s £1 per hour. Who is actually willing to do that and why are they making it hard for all of us to make a decent living?

Perhaps I am lazy for not participating in this battle but I am not willing to accept that my industry and my own professional skills are worth so little. Copywriters are often the first to be taken out of a creative project when budgets are restricted because ‘everyone can write.’ Perhaps, but not everyone can write well. So I am continuing on my search for exciting, positive and creative projects where people are wanting to produce beautifully crafted work. I know there are other people who feel the same way – let’s create our own band wagon. Ours will have streamers and novelty horns.

Bad Language at the Castle

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Fear not – this blog entry does not include excessive amounts of swearing. You’re safe with me, kids. Bad Language is a monthly spoken word and poetry open mic night held at the Castle Hotel in the Northern Quarter. I had been wanting to go to a spoken word event since discovering them in Paris and two years later I finally achieved this goal.

Last Wednesday I went to Bad Language with Hannah and Damion, two friends who work in The Classroom with me. After purchasing reasonably priced beer from the bar, we made our way past the regular Castle residents and managed to squeeze our way to some seats in the very packed room. An usually large turn out meant that there weren’t enough seats and lots of people were standing at the back or perched on the stage with the performers. The vibe of the room was relaxed and welcoming and a bit of squishing, bumping and finding a seat on the floor didn’t worry anyone.

The performers read with varied degrees of success but everyone who got on stage was supported and appreciated. Getting on stage and reading your words aloud isn’t an easy thing to do. Poetry was the main focus of the night and as I have previously mentioned it is not my preferred style of text. Some of it was good, some just passed over my head and left me pondering what it was all about. It was great to see the passion that some of the writers had for their work. I wish I was currently feeling the same level of passion for my own words.

I want to set myself the challenge of performing something at one of the Bad Language shows but need to write a piece that is worth performing. Any topic suggestions are most welcome.

A Potentially Stupid Idea

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

I am having a ‘stuck’ moment today where I am doubting my ridiculous insistence at trying to be a writer. I am thinking it would be best for me to give up, study accounting and get a real job. However, whenever I have these days I always concoct a stupid plan to distract myself from the reality of my life, such as setting myself 108 challenges to achieve in 108 days or running a marathon. Today’s idea – sign up for NaNoWriMo (again.)

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month – a month long period where people across the world set themselves the goal of writing 50,000 words. I successfully completed it while living in Paris in 2011, however have always felt that I cheated slightly by writing a memoir, rather than a fictional novel. Last year I contemplated trying it again but failed as fiction is just not my thing. However, maybe these additional 12 months have developed some sort of creative impulse in me and I will now be able to do it. I highly doubt it. But maybe.

I feel that I will need some sort of plan for the story – otherwise I will start writing and become instantly bored and annoyed with my characters and story line. So what will I write about? If I can come up with a decent story idea, or at least an interesting main character and location, I will agree to participate in NaNoWriMo. Of course, I only have 8 days to come up with this as it starts on 1 November. So… any ideas?

Wednesday Write-In

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Every Wednesday I receive an email from a writers’ group called CAKE with a list of words to use as inspiration for a piece of writing. The idea is to write something (whether it be fiction, non-fiction, poetry or just a ramble) using one or more of the words provided. Then you should share it with the CAKE network for feedback and just to prove to yourself that you have actually done some writing today.

I have been meaning to participate but my lack of direction and efficiency has meant that I have always thought of an excuse not to. Not today. Today’s words were tide : short-sighted : reflective :apocalypse : gloom. I started writing about an old man sitting by a window, looking outside at the gloomy Manchester drizzle. But this then turned into a children’s story about a boy called Sam. Here is my story. *Please remember that this was written in a short period of time with zero editing. It will not be award winning.

Sam’s Glasses

 

Sam’s mum made him wear glasses. They will help you see things that are far away, she had said.

Sam didn’t like his glasses – they hurt behind his ears and fell down his nose whenever he tied his shoes or looked at ants on the ground.

Children at school teased him. His mum said he should explain that he was short-sighted, but that didn’t help. They just called him “Short-Eyed-Sam.”

Sam liked to take his glasses off and see the world through his own eyes. He would see colourful shapes and blurry forms that no one else could.

Without his glasses, his backyard would turn into an adventure land with green spindles and mumbopikes, flying jiggernots, and the endless cavern where the three-nosed humbert lived.

One day before school, Sam stopped to inspect a beetle outside his classroom and his glasses fell off. As he stood up, he felt the metal frames crunch under his foot – his glasses were broken.

His teacher called everyone inside and Sam sat down at his desk. As he looked around the room, Sam started to smile. Gone were the Times Tables charts, spelling books and school projects. The walls of the classroom stretched and expanded, towering blue, yellow and red poles sprouted high into the air and a big black screen hovered in the air infront.

Rows of robots with flashing lights and buttons churned and whirred as a giant orange flower walked and talked back and forth far off in the distance. From above hung lime green vines filled with exotic three-armed creatures, the more daring of them sneaking a wave at Sam from high above.

The giant walking-talking flower invited Sam to come forward, beckoning him with a floppy petal and a large smile. Sam skipped past the robots, pushing the buttons of a few as he passed and laughing at the yellow bellied shoddies and flapjaws.

When he reached the front, Sam danced and sang with joy – this was the best day at school ever. The robots clapped at the end of his performance and Sam felt like the King of the Schoolroom Jungle.

The giant walking-talking flower held out a set of silver Super Space Goggles which Sam placed on his face. As the world around him became clear again and his teacher’s concerned face peered back at him, Sam found himself back in his classroom.

Sam walked back to his desk, sad that his adventure was over. But as he sat at the back of the classroom Sam lifted his glasses on and off his nose, shifting between a maths lesson and watching a giant walking-talking flower.