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Job hunting, part 2.

May 9, 2012

I write mostly for free, and that is mostly – but not entirely – why last night I slept on a mattress on the floor of a “studio flat” (aka bedsit) with two other people who had also spent their respective days doing piss-ant unpaid “creative work” for other people. 

Despite studying creative writing formally for four years, and therefore being told repeatedly that there’s “no money in it”, I’ve never really had a proper career plan and have just assumed it’ll all come out okay in the wash. “The wash”, I’m now beginning to understand, is my mid-twenties, and I’m still up to my tits in cider every Friday night and hungover in my retail job every Saturday morning and my “career plan” is looking more and more like that episode of South Park with the underpants gnomes.

Instead of stealing knickers, I’m writing short stories about grilled cheese sandwiches and wondering how I’m going to pay for my little habits, which include but are not restricted to: agreeing to go on holiday with people when I’m drunk, buying festival tickets and then changing my mind, buying twelve books at a time and then reading one I find under my bed instead, going into Whole Foods for a tub of their frankly rather sexual peanut butter and then spending an additional £40 on “groceries”, returning from the bar with “shots for EVERYBODY!”, trawling eBay for discount Patti Smith records and then spending four times as much on a brand new 180g vinyl in Rough Trade because “I might as well whilst I’m here.”

I have a weekend job in a bookstore and a small freelance writing gig for £0.02 per word. This is not enough to keep me in the finest Tatty Devine jewels, so I’m job-hunting. In these penny-pinching times, jobs are scarce, but there are options. I was dicking around on Gumtree and, once I’d exhausted the ads for writing jobs, I decided to have a gander at the “general jobs” tab to see if there was anything I’m remotely qualified for. Turns out, there was.


In my head, this is charming and not creepy. Whilst we’re on the subject, the word “charming” only counts when it comes out of Zooey Deschanel’s face; otherwise it is said with sarcasm. The lowest form of wit. 


This sounds like a magical adventure of glitter, false eye lashes and being yelled at for dreaming on the job. Unfortunately I can’t drive and I’m not handy in anyway, shape or form.


Thwarted once again by my lack of driving license. I feel so inadequate, I’m going to eat a whole thing of sunblushed tomatoes, oil ‘n’ all.


Job hunting, part 1.

May 2, 2012

It’s fine, I’ve found the ideal job so I won’t end up destitute after all…

“A book is to be written that requires a ghost writer. It is a self-help book, with auto-biography & narrative. 

SO do you want your name in print*!!!!! 
(obviously it will be mainly my name, as the writer but writing isnt my strong point and i’m getting fed up trying).

Wage Negotiable with publisher on acceptance of job 

it will be split of the fee, split of the book sales and also my dad is unwell so some inheritance will be coming my way and i will give some of this aswell. (varying between £400-£1000??) “


Sounds batshit. I’ll take it. 

Mslexia Short Story Competition 2012

March 13, 2012

Image copyright Rebecca Evans

Mslexia is a cracking writing magazine aimed specifically at women, as is this competition. The Mslexia short story competition has always been a thorn in my side: why, in the age of Facebook and Twitter and YouPorn, create a competition that’s exclusively snail mail? Who has the time to go to the post office? No, wait. Who has the energy to go to the post office? I have nails to paint, here. Anyway, this year entries via the web are accepted, although this is something I only discovered late last night, hence the rather late-to-the-party heads up. Oh well – there’s always next year.

Website:  Mslexia

Deadline: 19th March 2012

Word count: up to 2200

Prize: Publication, 1st, £2,000 plus a week’s writing retreat at Chawton House Library, a day with a Virago editor, £500, £250, 3 x £100,

Fee: £10

Judge:  Tessa Hadley

Results:  Mid-May 2012

Romance Comp Bans Same Sex Couples (Yes, in 2012).

February 11, 2012

So, I just found this outrageous news story via For Books’ Sake (which is a great female-oriented book blog) and I couldn’t read it without airing my cider-soaked opinions on the matter.

In a nutshell, Oklahoma-based writers’ resource Romance Writers Ink brewed themselves a shit-storm this week by banning  same-sex couplings from their romantic fiction competition. Their excuse for the flagrant discrimination was that LGBQT literature “is a genre” of its own. When challenged, the publication shrugged its metaphorical shoulders and compared LGBQT literature to young adult literature – also ineligible according to competition rules. Read The Guardian’s take on the issue here.

I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to give these bigots any further exposure, but as it’s pretty much just me and my cat who read this blog, I reckon I’m probably not making things any worse. Anyway, this post has a point: I believe it’s the responsibility of the writing community to fight this battle – which will crop up again – as we’re not just writers: we’re first and foremost readers. We have more power than the editors of McSweeney’s in that we can choose which publications to support, which stories to read, which websites to visit. We, as readers, provide hits for blogs, entries to competitions, traffic for websites. We can fight this bullshit by keeping our ears to the ground and by boycotting publications that discriminate.

Fitter, Happier and More Productive: Alternative Ways to Exercise

February 8, 2012

“Exercise is for people who don’t know how to have fun – did you “exercise” as a kid?” asks blogger Lorra of Passion School fame. It’s true: every Saturday morning my father took my brother and I to the Britannia Leisure Centre and it never felt like exercising. It was just fun. As an adult, I found swimming to be a lonely past-time. I’m too distracted by the constant battle to keep my breasts from bobbing out of my swimming costume to think about making up stories, and anyway, you can’t listen to music or watch Adam Scott sitcoms or drink strong cider whilst you swim, and those are three of my favourite things to distract myself from the physical pain of exertion. Unfortunately, my other two favourite past-times – having opinions in drinking establishments, and then writing about them – involve sitting on my arse and consuming calories.

Don’t get me wrong, I accept my body shape for what it is, and there are worse things that can happen than putting on a few extra pounds in the name of art, but I don’t want to “do an Elvis” and die on a toilet seat after a lifetime of banana sandwiches. And look at all the dancing he did, y’know?

Anyway, I tried swimming and it was a chesticular nightmare. I’ve also fallen into the trap of getting an expensive gym membership and then – for no discernable reason – never bothering to go. In fact, instead of just cancelling the membership, I kept it for well over six months out of embarrassment – as though the staff of Fitness First would clutch their pearls at the thought of someone having a gym membership and – gasp! – not using it.

And so, I’ve been thinking about playfulness and ways in which I can combat what Wannabe A Writer? author Jane Wenham-Jones calls “writer’s bum”, and here’s what I’ve come up with…

Hula hooping – I seem to remember these costing a tuppence and being all sparkly and fun, but the only hoop I could find on the highstreet was Davina McCall’s alarming EXERCISE HOOP. It’s weighted and padded and really big and snaps into pieces for easy storage when you realise the hula hoop was a terrible idea, so it’s probably better than a frivolous pink glittery one, but still. Way to take the fun out, Davina. I like to shake my ass in the garden with a bit of upbeat rock circa 2002 to keep me motivated. Nothing gets me going like Josh Homme. As I’m utterly crap, my general rule is to hula hoop for five songs. Sometimes, if the ol’ iPod is on shuffle, this can backfire horrifically. Crying whilst manically hula hooping to Nick Cave’s 17-minute lolfest O’Malley’s Bar isn’t a good look, even in the privacy of your own home. Hula hooping is good for toning, and apparently if you aren’t shit, it’s a good aerobic exercise too.

Poi – Based on a traditional Maori form of dance, you might be familiar with this potentially obnoxious circus skill, which seems to be mostly demonstrated by twats twirling glowsticks attached to string in the confined dance floor of a club. Don’t be intimidated by fancy-pants equipement, just fill two knee-length socks with a tennis-ball-sized amount of dry rice and get twirling. Check YouTube for tutorials – here’s a good place to start. This is what you’re aiming for. The aim is to not die in a firey inferno. Poi Spinning: A Jam-packed Guide by Michal Kahn and Lucy Jane Batchelor is a good book on the subject. Prepare to have sore arms.

Juggling – This is a skill I still haven’t mastered. It’s hard, yo. I have a collection of juggling balls which I like to drop from time to time, but I figure if I can just get over the hump of keeping three balls in the air, my whole life would be at least 2% more enriched. Start with cheap hacky sacks (apparently also known as “footbags” which I think is hilarious, like American football being called “handegg”) and work your way up. I reckon once you’re past the constant-dropping stage, this would be a good little ditty to crack out indoors when the weather is nippy.

Contact Juggling – like juggling for lazy little bitches. Start out with a heavy-duty ball like one of these puppies and remember, “slightly sticky” is a good thing when we’re talking contact juggling. You’ll want a copy of Contact Juggling by James Ernest, and check YouTube for lessons in the basics. Once you’re rolling with confidence, I reckon contact juggling to music would be a grand old way to get your heart rate going.

Let me know what you do to keep your heart healthy.

Pod Casts

February 2, 2012

There are three pod casts up on the National Short Story Week website that might titillate you radio fans out there: they’re on the subjects of British Short Stories, Women’s Fiction and Children’s Fiction. Click here to check them out – they’re about forty minutes long each. I haven’t listened to them yet because I just received my sixth rejection in as many days, so I’m going to watch four hundred hours of Masterchef in my pyjamas, and the I’m going to watch my cat attempt to tackle his cat flap with the gusto of a lager lout at a football match. Standard.

Costa Announce New Short Story Award

January 26, 2012

Costa announced yesterday that they plan to add a short story prize to their annual book awards. This is really exciting news, as the Costa awards have a lot of market power. A short story award that means something outside of the writing community could change the way short stories are considered in the UK. There’s no “Bridport Prize winner” or “Fish Prize winner” stickers in Waterstones, but as an established brand name, Costa could drag the elusive short story into a limelit spot on bookshelves. Here’s hoping, anyway.