My other blog, The Everyday Radical, turned one this week. I wrote a little Happy Birthday to me post earlier on to mark the occasion – six days late, as is often the case when I try to write a post to mark a specific occasion. Better late than never, I guess.
Since I can write about whatever I like over here and it doesn’t have to be even vaguely related to saving the planet, I’m doing a self-indulgent brain dump of my current thoughts about writing, attempting to establish a freelance presence, not having enough time, feeling increasingly pissed off about lockdown, and other chirpy things. Hope it fills your hearts with joy, readers!
I started writing The Everyday Radical blog when my husband and I chickened out of getting involved on the front line of the Extinction Rebellion protests on Waterloo Bridge this time last year. To be fair, it was more me chickening out than him – he would’ve stuck it out, but I got all panicky about the police and my future CRB check status (important for the NHS career which I’ve since terminally (?) ditched). So we went and got sloshed in a pub in London Bridge instead. I was cross with myself and feeling like I should do something, within whatever limits it is possible for an individual to do something about the climate crisis, so I started writing. The idea was to document the various switches we made at home to live a more sustainable life.
The other driver for starting to blog was a conversation I had with a friend while on a long walk on the island of Paros, as part of a singing holiday that I’ve been involved with for a few years (info here if you want to join us in 2021, please GOD that we can travel normally again by then). We were just chatting about our lives really, and I was telling him some of the juicier highlights of mine, and he was finding it entertaining, and he said, “you know, you should write this down!”
I always wanted to be a writer, from when I was a nerdy seven year old teaching myself to touch type (from an old school Mavis Beacon typing program that my long-suffering Dad must have bought for me). I wrote most of a novel about my Grandma’s bad-tempered cat, Kitty – originally entitled Grandma’s Cat. Original dot matrix manuscript exists in a box in my loft somewhere, it’s going to be worth MILLIONS one day. I’ve got fragments of stories and poems that I’ve written over the years, but never had the BIG IDEA. And the touch typing was useful when I became a medical secretary, then I got the NHS bug and clawed my way up the management ladder, had a baby, burnt out a bit and ended up at rather a loss as to what to do next.
So I thought, hey, let’s just try a blog about something that matters, to flex the writing muscles, and go from there.
I started out pretty well, posting two or three times a week, but life (and a small person) gets in the way, and I’ve felt like it’s been fizzling out and I’m not doing it justice. I’ve read enough articles about blogging to realise that posting regular content and promoting the hell out of it on social media is the only way to build your following, and I’ve been sporadic at best with this. Monetising is tricky and not guaranteed to even generate enough income to cover the set-up costs. Trying to get sponsors to pay you to write product-placement posts is one option, but I don’t really want to do that – mainly because part of the sustainable living mission is about buying less, not persuading people to buy stuff they don’t need (even if it is Instagrammable bamboo accessories that no self-respecting eco-warrior can do without).
Meanwhile, I’ve got irons in a bunch of other fires too and I feel like I’m scatter-gunning my energy and not maximising the limited time I’ve got. I don’t want to go back to my previous day job, so I do need to work out a way of earning some money from writing, to justify “staying at home” after the boy starts school; hopefully next September he’s going to be at preschool five days a week. So do I focus on creative writing, and hope that someone publishes my novel? (Excerpt here – due to be finished in about 2025 at current rate of writing.) That feels risky, given the success rate of debut novels is pretty hit and miss, even if they do get published. Do I focus on short stories and try to win some competitions to gain some exposure, then pitch a novel to agents? Do I try to claw my way into the saturated freelance copy writing scene? This seems to involve pitching 824 article ideas, getting hardly any response and haggling about money. Time in vs. money out ratio – not great. Yet I do know people making a living out of this kind of writing, but it takes perseverance. Or do I throw myself at the proofreading and editing market and try to earn a reliable income that way?
This is not to even mention all the stuff I want to read and study and absorb and pontificate over. And the fact that my house is covered in a layer of toddler scuzz and cat fur and the freezer is nearly empty. And there’s a loft full of baby clothes to sell before our building work starts next spring.
Honestly, I don’t know how to unlock it. I’ve sat down and written a vague plan of how to get the most out of each spare chunk of day I can (this involves getting up at 5am and not spending much time with my husband). And I’ve written down a bunch of goals and aspirations relating to each strand of writing, to focus my attention. So it’s all there in my head – and my notebook.
But man alive it’s HARD. I’m so fed up of lockdown. And the government. And the media. And, somewhat perversely, all the humans. Especially the newbie cyclists on the FUCKING pavement. This is my biggest lockdown pet hate. You’re a grown up, if you’re not safe to cycle on the road, don’t cycle. The end. (And oh my god those silent but deadly bloody electric scooters, don’t get me started on those).
Anyway. There’s a silver lining of an additional morning of nursery school from the beginning of July, and an increasingly desperate hope that there’ll be a change in the rules to allow my mum to come and stay soon. Until then, it’s a day at a time, a blog post at a time, a session of proofreading training at a time (from these guys – it’s not glamorous but it could be the thing that enables it to be me that picks my boy up from school every day, rather than someone else).
And I’ve made £117 on eBay this week, which is extremely exciting.
If anyone is still reading, thanks for your patience with this very dull post. I will try to write a nice poem tomorrow to cheer us all up.
Love and kisses