Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Ode to the city dwellers.

Shout-out to the Londoners. 

The ones who wear suits and carry briefcases stuffed with papers, who have work phones and read the Evening Standard. 
The ones that commute in every day, and never complain about a fatality delaying them as they get their usual trains home to their precious families. 
The ones who trek far and wide for their perfect lunch break. 

The ones who make full use of that cafe on the Strand for important meetings. 
The ones who tweet photos of the sunrise from their office windows. 
The ones who decorate their desks with photos and bunting, and bring in birthday cake for their colleagues...even though the rule is for them to get their own.
The ones who have 7-7 shifts most days but still go to work socials every other night to network, connect – and get to know the people they share desks with. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Trying new things on the blog! (and in life...maybe....?)

I really like trying out new things on my beloved blog. Even though at times it can make me feel like that awkward old pub just down the road, always putting out a freshly-painted blackboard with the week's many zany events and various new and exotic recipes listed, in the hopes that they'll draw in more of a crowd...I power through and give things a go. 

My new feature 'Just Some Things' is something I'd been cooking up for ages, on the slow burner, but then the crucial fundamental idea – the missing ingredient, if you will – actually hit me quite suddenly. Then I got a plan together and had sent emails out within 2 days. I love it when that happens; inspiration strikes and shit gets done. Sometimes shit happens...but mostly, it gets done. The feature has done insanely well stats-wise, but it's really not about the number of clicks for me. It's about getting some of my favourite writers' pieces out into the blogging universe! I am trying to only post one every week, but with a hefty backlog building up I may have to make it more regular than that...! 

Another idea I'd entertained not too long ago was the #AskGracie thing. That went so well too, and had me all warm and fuzzy; helping others with their problems like an Agony Aunt at times, or just answering the odd 'about me' questions. However, I soon felt that I was indulging myself a bit too much and surely people wouldn't want to be bothered with me begging for Q's that I could I have stopped doing that. At least for a while. I may bring it back sometime, but not yet.

The numbered Facts posts, a really old blog feature of mine, were often used as a space filler in the beginning. A couple of years ago I'd post a list of facts about me, the girl behind the blog, which really read like a stream of consciousness, and was always accompanied with a less-than-flattering photo. I enjoyed writing them. I still do. I actually enjoy posting them that much more now, as they get such an awesome response. Having someone tweet me saying 'I worry about this too', or 'I LOVE crunchy peanut butter as well, smooth is rank' just...makes my heart burst.

One thing I've never really properly tried, however, updates. I actually thought about this when I read one of Debbie's; her posts about what she's been doing, what she's been reading and what she's been seeing make me smile. It's like Emma Gannon's email newsletter – or Fiona's, or Amy's. And of course several YouTuber humans do a monthly round-up, often with a cute punny title such as 'Time of the Month' or 'PMS (here meaning Pretentious Monthly Scrapbook, though)'. I often have to set aside chunks of time to get through those, but I do love them. 
One of my favourite YouTube trends is the 'Monthly Favourites' tag, too. I may draw inspiration from those as well. 

I love a quick snapshot of others' lives and a chance to see what they've seen. Y'know?
So, I thought I'd give that a go next. Also because I really enjoyed doing my 2016: A Year on the Blog post. 
I'll be posting (hopefully) monthly updates on my life; the things I've seen, done, read and loved. Or hated...
I said to my lovely pal Kasim, back when we attended the National Short Story Awards in the BBC Radio Theatre, no big deal (?!), that I kept going to these events or parties or shows and thinking 'I wanna blog about this' but worrying that I won't have enough content for an entire post. Or maybe it's something I'd tweet about, but that would be too...brief? So this updates thing would be perfect, right?! Let's hope so. 

Please let me know in comments or tweets of any blogs you follow that do this kinda thing. I wanna read them and learn (I promise not to copy anything, obvs).

Also if anyone can come up with a cool title for these posts, y'know, I'd owe you a drink. Ta. 

Friday, 13 January 2017

My idea for changing the world...

Caitlin Moran (my hero etc.) said upon the release of her latest hardback modern classic, Moranifesto, that everyone has 1 idea that could change the world. So here is mine, Caitlin my darl. 

(oh, look, it's us. That time we met. No big deal.)

I swear I've said a million times, my 1 idea for changing the world would be: make every human being, at least in our ridiculously privileged First World, work at least 1 week in customer service. And not just in one shop. I'm talking a full 7-day stint in the various branches beneath the Customer Service umbrella: Monday, dive in the deep end and be a barista in a chain cafe, Tuesday you can run in heels working in a boutique, Wednesday you're in a restaurant from coffee time til closing time, Thursday you sell books, Friday you're in the post office, Saturday you get a lie-in but then you gotta be in a central London bar from midday til dawn. Sunday? If you've survived, you can muck in at a garden centre or your local farm shop.

Yep. That'd do it. That would make everyone appreciate the person serving them in various places every day and goddamn it would make everyone a better customer. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Books that give me life.

Hello, my bookish friends! I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of a new release from Two Roads: 'Books for Living; A Reader's Guide to Life', by Will Schwalbe
It's safe to say I was sold on the title alone, when the beautiful Emma first mentioned it to me as we sat down for lunch, but upon hearing more about the idea behind the book and the unique way it's been the end of our lunch date I was demanding a copy. 

Basically this book is made up of a vast selection of other books; books that have all aided Will Schwalbe in some way in his lifetime. His sharing of the titles and their effects on him is perhaps the loveliest gift to us, the readers, and it could be the best thing to begin the new year with. 

So, each chapter is dedicated to a book. And beneath that book's title at the head of the page is the word that indicates the purpose it has served in Will's life. You get me? Like, the opening chapter is entitled quite simply 'The Importance of Living' then under that is 'Slowing Down'. I quite liked that the chapter 'Stuart Little' had the word 'Searching' underneath it. And 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running' had 'Napping' attached to it...

Naturally, this rather gorgeous book made me reflect on my own life and the many books that have influenced and indeed helped me in some way during the more turbulent or just less sure times; I've blogged before about the books that changed my life, and the books that came into my life through school, and the books I'd re-read because I loved them so much...but these books I will be listing now are the ones that gave me things, big or small, that have kept me keeping on. 

Friday, 6 January 2017

Just Some Things #11: Darran Stobbart.

This is the latest instalment in my feature Just Some Things!

I send a writer an individual email with a series of prompts from the '642 Things to Write About' book – chosen entirely at random most of the time – and then when I get the responses, I dedicate a post to them and their piece. It could be short, long, backwards, in another language, I don't mind. It'll be an adventure whatever happens! And they can use or ignore however many of the prompts they wish.

When published on the blog, their piece will be put in first and then I'll add in a little piece beneath it, my response to the same prompt. I will always ensure mine is shorter and less prominent, obviously. It's all about featuring my fave writers.

This post features and celebrates the delightful Darran; blogger, zine editor, Twitter pal of mine, Waterstones alumnus (of 8 years), hard worker at ED PR....and of course an incred, if somewhat twisted at times, writer. 

His prompt was: The advert a young couple post looking for a surrogate grandparent.

Monday, 2 January 2017

In January 2017, imma read...

I will be sticking to a reading schedule this year. That's right, I said it – or rather, wrote it on the internet – and now I gotta do it. I won't tell you all what I have planned for each month, partly because I wanna keep the element of surprise and partly because I may change my mind now and again hehehe...but it'll be fun and hopefully shake me up a bit.

So, January is going to be Middle Grade Month. *cue endless excitable squealing*
I am so thrilled to be dedicating a whole month to this particular genre, as I feel it is so often overlooked in my reading life. I get so many gorgeous MG new releases and ARCs sent to me at work and at home, plus I'm always eyeing up the newbies in the 9-12 section at work as I shelve, and without realising I have been saving a lot of them up for this moment, this month! 

Saturday, 31 December 2016

'This Time Next Year...'

Why thank you to Alice Marshall for suggesting I do this lovely tag that's making the rounds in the blogging world; apparently it's inspired by that ITV show which features guests making resolutions a year ago and then we immediately get to see them 1 year on and see what progress they made. Pretty cool concept for a show, I gotta say. I'm excited/terrified to do the same on this blog - although my resolution transformation won't be quite as fast, it'll be a case of posting on 31st December 2017 saying something like 'hey guys, these are the things I wanted to do and these are the things I was actually able to, oops'. That's my prediction, anyway. Let's hope I surprise myself. 

Now I do this kinda thing most years, although maybe not as seriously as I once did back when I was at uni. I am sharing some of my New Year's Resolutions here for all to see, in the hope that a) it'll make me actually complete or at the very least attempt them, and b) it may inspire others, you gorgeous readers, to add some to your list and/or share yours with me, too! 

Yeah, so 2016 was a bit of a shit storm in places. I had some good times in amongst that, though. But I'm ready for changes. 2017, let's have you. 

Friday, 30 December 2016

2016: a year on the blog.

Yeah, so, this year has been...turbulent. That's the word. I would run through some of the shocking headlines, but to be honest I doubt very much that anything is truly *shocking* any more. Some bad shit has gone down. We have a tough future ahead - a future in which some of the greatest pop and comedy icons are absent and some rather questionable authority figures will be pressing all the big buttons. Let's leave it at that. But we got this, guys. For every 1 big bad thing that happens, there has to be at least 10 little good things. 

I went through a lot this year, personally. My relationship of 2 years ended, I got a new job, my medical situation was up in the air as per but compared to previous years it was a breeze...I also read 68 books over the 12 months. Not bad. I am always happy to reflect on recent reads, and recommend titles wherever possible, and you readers are always so lovely about my bookish posts soooo I thought I'd run through my Goodreads 'read' shelf and pull out some highlights – then intersperse them with posts I wrote around that time as well, both personal and bookish. 

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