Good with words

Fear... distractions.... the efforts of a self-employed writer to pay the mortgage.... all that jazz.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Booker prize, here I come

I have started my first novel! Okay, so I started one when I was about 10, but since then - nothing. I always figured I would one day graduate from short stories and feel ready for a novel (like a literary maternal instinct that eventually matures), but in the last three years I don't think I have written a single story. Not since my collection was turned down by a Welsh publisher.

Over the last week, an idea has been brewing - thanks to Shirley, who started it, and the books I've been reviewing for CBUK - and it's been building in a state of excitement. I read the latest issue of Mslexia in the bath yesterday, and kept storing away ideas until there were too many to keep in my head much longer.

Today I started! And - shock, horror - it was great fun! I am terribly excited. It is aimed at young pre-teens, and it is about a drama-queen teenager who keeps a blog.

I have written 1,146 words so far. And really enjoyed it, and have so many more ideas. I am SO not going to do any work today. And it's good! Well, I think so.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Worst porn ever?

Couldn't help noticing the latest batch of spam in my junk filter: it's from someone named Frank (of course) and the subject header is "delightful incest videos".

Reminds me of the time Steve brought some porno mags home, having seen them on the ground by a bench where some kids hang out on BMXs, and told me it was his "responsibility" to pick them up. Although I was appalled that the stuff was in my house, it was oddly amusing porn. One magazine was about men who dress as French maids, and the other featured a lot of unsightly middle-aged men being spanked by unsightly middle-aged women.

And I mean unsightly. If you had the misfortune to be arranged a blind date with one of these women, you would walk out of the pub on first glance.

I have been trying to cure Steve of his wombling instinct, and think those pictures may have done the trick.

Run, ratty, run

I've tried everything, trust me: coaxing Charlie out to the garden, banging about in the shed loudly, tidying away all the interesting nibbly things, even just simply ignoring the rat colony in our garden.

Unfortunately our neighbours got wind of them on the weekend, and our neighbours are the sort to obsess about things like rats, and lose sleep until it is resolved.

Thus the Rat Man came out yesterday. My neighbour and I liaised over the pest control companies, and both rang different ones to try to get a good price. He picked "Assassin Pest Control" and rejected the lovely old man I found at "The Pied Piper". He said, "You only picked that because you want him to come with a tin whistle and lead the rats away on a happy dance," and I said, "Yes."

Anyway, Assassins are cheaper than the Pied Piper, so that was who came. The rat man looked like a rat with gelled hair and a pointy nose, and made uncool jokes about them. He pointed out the clues: a little trail of droppings here, some nibbled wood there. He explained that at night they drop into our shed, then wander out through the door and skip over to our pond for a little drinky. Eating some snails on the way. "Good job," I said, but they still wouldn't let me keep the ratties.

So now I am waiting for our garden to turn into a rat mortuary. And hoping the cats don't get any of the poison, or the rats (although there is an antidote, you'll be pleased to hear). Not much fun at all.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

What can I get for you today?

The trouble with being a commercial writer is that I am on lists to receive EVERYthing. Catalogues for cashmere, worms, horse-riding boots, lingerie, toys and books. Email newsletters for local business, copywriting, marketing, digital media, online marketplaces, toyshops, drinks, gadgets, fine food, children's pyjamas, designer homewares, fashion sites, gossip columns, even skincare science.

It's not fun, especially on a Friday when everyone and his PA is sending out bubbly emails trying to sell you this, that and a spare hat.

On the other hand, it does mean that I know where to buy anything and everything. Maybe I should set up a shopping blog? Questions, anyone?

Today's highlights:
A Snoring Dog from Hawkins Bazaar:

A daffodil-scented candle from Kiarie:

A novel about an eccentric Barcelonan detective:
(won't let me show the piccy - looks good though - find it here)

Plus hiking gear, children's books, 50% off at Laura Ashley, and a giant orgasm (apparently).


Today I have entertained three visitors in my home office, wearing pyjamas. (Me, not them.) It is a sign of slipping standards, if you ask me. Britain's workforce is becoming a nation of duvet-wearing home-workers, and I am undoubtedly the worst one.

My day goes like this:

8.35: Alarm goes off. I press 'Ignore' and roll over.
9.11: Sunshine through window gradually rouses me into consciousness. Look at phone, grumble, and get out of bed.
9.14: Tickle Holly's tummy for approx. 5 minutes. Let her out for a wee.
9.17: Switch on the computer and check emails.
9.35: Let Holly back in. Force her to fetch the post from the mat for me.
10.00: Quick wash. No work has yet been done.
10.04: Put washing in machine, and wonder whether to get dressed.
12.58: Realise time with horror. Wonder what I have done all morning. Make lunch for me and Holly. Get back to doing nothing.
14.03: Time to walk Holly. Shall work when I get back. Honest.

I am about to change, but only because you can't go dog-walking up hills without a bra. Otherwise, who knows how long I would stay in the same clothes?

See, Holly - you are definitely good for something. Getting me out of my jim-jams.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

All I want for Easter

... is a little bit more work, so I can pay the mortgage and buy myself some summer equipment. Firstly, I have run out of Dr Feelgood (silky balm that makes face look smooth and bright).

Secondly, I am lusting after this dotty dress. No idea where I would wear it, since I mainly work at home with the occasional dog-walk, but who cares...

Now, guess which of the two costs more?!

Monday, April 10, 2006


I have lots to do, and am determined to have a productive day. But Holly, the fighting cats, the new issue of Glamour, and some new books for reviewing, all say otherwise.

On Friday I met another copywriter for lunch. Her name is also Anna; she lives in Brighton, and she also never does any work. I told her all about my time-warp desk (where unspent days are consumed by the week) and she sympathised. She said that she has to start getting some more work in order to get the Taxman to pay her maternity wages in the autumn. Apparently you have to prove that you are earning before he will give you money for nappies. It is a hard life being self-employed.

Apparently now you also have to prove to the mortgage company that you earn money, before they will give you a mortgage. I am very lucky not to have had this problem. Our mortgage company allowed me to make up my salary, which I happily and optimistically did. Oh yes, and I wonder why the mortgage payments are so ridiculously high. It's because I told them I was a squillionaire - that's why.

In pursuit of paying the mortgage, I put my rates up on April 1st (not as a joke). This month I also need to find out how to increase my income, because - surprisingly - my rates have little relationship to my monthly wages. How that works, I will never know. I have NO FINANCIAL CLUE.

Anyone know why I am self-employed? Hee hee hee hee hee hee (giggles like an elf).

I made a mistake on an invoice last week. "Is that why you work with words not numbers?" the client asked. Do you see what I have to put up with? Honestly, even the clients mock me.

Lots more thoughts on self-employment at the moment, but it strikes me that I should hop over to my other blog and write about them there. They are all a bit businessy and boring for this lovely pink place.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Go Fetch!!

Spring in the woods

Holly in the buttercups

Ain't she a looker?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ambition of the Day...

.... is to write books for teenagers. I think I am ideally suited: melodramatic, weird, and still in possession of a vivid memory about all my crushes.

I have just written my very first book review for Children's Books UK - in fact I would, also, quite like to become an acclaimed reviewer and have lots of lovely free books in the post every day. Seems to be ideal job (apart from chocolate-taster). And... chef's assistant. Hm. So many ambitions, how is a girl to fulfil them all?

Book Review - Style Sisters: Friends First by LIz Elwes

Okay, my real job is pretty cool too. Something new from me:
Greener Living Starts Here: Five Top Tips
(thanks, Jon and Jodie!!)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Drop the Dead Donkey?

So I am slightly worried now. has nobody noticed that these donkeys aren't moving? For heaven's sake will someone call the donkey doctor?

I will check again in a few minutes. Maybe it is a dead webcam? Or maybe the donkeys have revolted and put it on a loop? Donkey privacy?


The Donkey Sanctuary has a webcam! I can talk to the donkeys from my own PC!



Our friends came to Devon with their two children last week. At 3-year-old Ryan's insistence, we all trooped off to Diggerland.... and, well, suffice to say certain members of the party left rather reluctantly.

We drove dumper trucks and sat in the shovel of a GIANT JCB and got swirled around in the air! Fabby! Wow, who cares about nobody wanting to go to the Donkey Sanctuary with me when you can sit on a dumper and ride over muddy banks? Okay, so I do care a bit. But the dumpers were ace. Can't decide between donkey and dumper for when I retire.

Loving the theme song.....

And another,,,,,

Yep, there's a sequel. Even more embarrassingly funny.