How Blogging Can Change Your Life

I spent my last post bemoaning the fact that my printer was behaving like a total helmet, thus preventing me from printing out my latest magnum opus (or 26,000 word nonsense for 8 year olds, if you want to be pedantic).

Now, it’s quite often hard to know who is reading this blog (assuming anyone still is aside from the spam bots, who are as vocal as ever – shout out for my home boy Ben Sherman Shirts, Great Prices). Since I finished the initial ‘write 12 Books in 12 Months’ thing, the site has been a strange mixture of stuff aimed readers, stuff aimed at writers and amateurish attempts at photography. But the ‘my printer needs to stop being an arsepiece’ post provoked the most tangible response I’ve ever had, namely that one of my best pals got in touch after reading it to ask if I want a new printer for my birthday next week. What a result!

I swithered about this for approximately ten minutes before deciding that the post, rather than a childish rant, must subconsciously have been my equivalent of Amanda Palmer’s TED talk about asking for help – and replied saying YESPLEASETHANKYOU.

The upshot of this is that I have now printed out a nearly readable first draft of a bookish piece of writing I’ve been working on for more than a year, and I’ve even started scribbling edits on it (using a schmancy Parker pen gifted to me by another friend. Thinking about it, I’m pretty lucky that they all humour me in this way…).

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To explain why printing is important to me – I’m not sure if anyone does do edits onscreen, but I can’t work that way myself. I get to the point where whatever is on a computer screen seems to be written as I meant to write it, but as soon as I have a printed version the typos (and plot holes) make themselves known much more readily. And now I have such a print out, hooray!  Or boo, because it means no excuses for procrastination…

My aim now is to finish these scribbles and transcribe them back into the word doc before I head south for the Birmingham Beer Bash this Thursday. This timeframe is probably slightly over optimistic, given that this morning I put my alarm on the other side of the room to make myself get up at 7am to edit before work only to get up, switch the alarm off, and go back to bed again. Oops.

Still, last time I blogged I was despairing of even getting this far without an expensive trip to an Internet cafe, so maybe the mere act of writing this statement of intent will be enough to make it happen. After all, blogging can change your life. It says so in the header!

(If you still need some convincing, how about this story from the BBC about how starting a blog changed someone’s life in a much more dramatic way than mine..)

P.S. Thanks again Jo! x

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A Letter To My Printer

Dear Printer,

Why must you be such a colossal arsepiece?

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You recognise there is a full black ink cartridge in your belly, and yet you blast my attempts to print with an error message:

‘Uh, that cartridge is recycled. I’m not printing with that.’

Why not, you fussy sod? It’s not like I didn’t try to get brand cartridges, but there were none to be had because, dear printer, you’ve long since gone out of style. Quite frankly you were past it when I bought you, in a sale, at Tesco – nestled in amongst cheap kettles and cutlery for the student crowd heading to uni for the first time. EVEN BRAND NEW UNDERGRADS KNEW TO AVOID YOU, PRINTER. You ain’t all that.

Also,’ you press on, dear printer, oblivious to the anguish you are causing, ‘also, there’s nothing left in the colour cartridge. So, y’know. That’s a problem.’

Why, pray tell, is that such an issue for you? I am not trying to print in colour, printer. The text of my manuscript is black (arial size 12) and you’ve got a brand new black cartridge ready to deal with it if only you’d give recycling a go. And what is so wrong with reusing an old cartridge, exactly? Something something printer heads, foam and alignment… I call bullhockey. You’re probably one of those climate change denying printers, too. You probably think the weather’s super erratic these days because women have the right to vote now. YOU MAKE ME SICK.

I will not be wasting any more of my time looking for on brand cartridges, printer. You are obsolete, and I will shortly be sacrificing you to the gods of Freecycle or Gumtree with a strong recommendation that your future owner considers using you for parts.

Kind regards,
Ali

PS If anybody wants a couple of recycled black ink cartridges for an HP 4200 series printer let me know, apparently I can’t use them.

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Silent(ish) Sunday

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As some of you may remember, I am involved in a relay writing project with a bunch of lovely people I met on the internet. Entitled ‘The Life and Times of a Working Barbarian’ it involves each of us taking it in turns to pen instalments of a gripping fantasy saga containing lots of Strong Female Characters and, apparently, a fair number of worms.

For various reasons the barbarian took a bit of a break at the start of this year, so what with one thing and another I haven’t written a chapter since the start of October 2013. I’m therefore spending my afternoon reminding myself what has happened since, as it turns out my next chapter goes live tomorrow. There’s nothing quite as motivating as having totally forgotten an impending deadline…

I strongly urge you to do the same, and check back tomorrow to vote on what happens next.

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Put the lime in the coconut

I just filled my hair with coconut oil on the advice of RocknRoll Bride. I smell completely amazing, and I’m sorry you can’t all come and smell me. The only thing stopping me from eating my own hair at this point is the fact that I think it’s one of those things, like chewing gum, that stays in your intestines for a hundred years. Also it’s quite difficult to ingest more than a strand at a time, which is very time consuming. Continue reading

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Operation Stop Pootering And Write (day 3)

I think we could call today a write-off, although not in the sense that I actually wrote anything.  Well, actually I wrote quite a lot but none of it was creative. I did eat some mushrooms, though, so that was pretty rewarding.

I’m not going to berate myself for my lack of actual writing, though, because I did a lot of thinking about writing – and wanky though this might sound it was probably necessary.  I’ve been thinking about what I need to do to make my current project better (in brief: a lot), and about how to approach that in a sensible and constructive manner (ie not creating another whiteboard of shame situation).  And tonight I am going to go to bed at a sensible time so that I can get up early in the morning and start putting that thought into practice.

In the meantime, here’s one of those Vines I keep making instead of writing anything proper…

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The Make Time To Write At Any Cost Diaries (day 2)

This week I am making a concerted effort to find and protect my writing time, because life has gotten on top of me recently and all I’ve really done is make a couple of Vines. This is day two…

7.56am haul myself out of bed, late again. Tomorrow I will put my phone on the other side of the room so I can’t hit snooze.

7.58am Realise I am going to have to make a decision between coffee and removing the onion smell (if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, read yesterday’s post). Fall to knees screaming ‘noooooo!’ Choose to shower because I work in an open plan office and don’t particularly want everyone in it to spend the day sniffing the air going ‘what is that?’

8.20am wrangle with some hair related angst. When exactly are you too old to do your hair in two plaits? It is a worry.  There again, I have the stylistic tendencies of a 9 year old girl in most other respects – I probably shouldn’t fight it.

8.30am read a tweet on my way out of the door claiming that Sarah Waters redrafts things up to 34 times before sending to an agent or publisher. Nobody should live at that speed. Seriously, I’ll be dead by the time I’ve done that many redrafts.

6pm get home. Open post, drink some water, consider going for a jog.

6.40pm head out for a jog.  Just call me Haruki Murakami.

8pm congratulate self on not dying. Open up my shiny new copy of Mslexia for some ‘sit down and write’ inspiration.

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8.15pm my brother comes round for a visit (and to collect a phone charger. Multitasking). We catch up over some minstrels.

9.25pm brother heads home. I sit and finish drafting an application for a mentoring project. This involves 20 minutes of editing fiction! Result!

10.55pm write a blog post about how incredibly well I’m doing. 20 minutes in one day!  With momentum like this, who needs writing retreats…

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Protect Your Writing Time At All Costs (day 1)

This week I have resolved to find and protect a little bit of creative writing time every day. I’m off to a flying start…

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7.40am realise I have slept through my alarm. Decide writing time will be in the evening.

5.45pm arrive home from work. Read a good article (via Twitter) about writing – 4 signs that you’re not writing enough and 4 things you can do about it – and resolve to crack on with things.

6.05pm wash a load of dishes

6.20pm decide that whilst I am doing said dishes I might as well research some book vloggers on the YouTube. I hear video blogs are all the rage these days and am concerned I am behind the times.

6.25pm decide to go with the Lizzie Bennett Diaries, which is apparently used by school teachers doing Pride and Prejudice these days and is generally a good and popular thing on the Internet and in the field of education.

8.50pm realise I have watched 25 episodes of the Lizzie Bennett diaries and done no writing or editing. NB – the only reason I notice this is because my other half arrives home and interrupts me.

9pm he puts on Doctor Who (The Face of Evil, if you’re curious – it’s a Tom Baker one involving lots of manly RADA thighs). I pretend to write a blog post, but am actually on Twitter catching up on feminist music to listen to this June.

11pm notice I smell very strongly of onions. Probably because at some point during the YouTube experience I made a load of onion soup.

11.05pm write blog post on my phone.

Maybe I’ll do better tomorrow…

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