PUBLISH! Yes, you can…

self pub

Many of you who read this blog regularly are also writers. If you are one of those, then this post is ESPECIALLY FOR YOU. I hope it helps to encourage, motivate and GO FOR IT!!

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Spend any length of time talking to writers these days, and conversation will end up in one of two places, or probably both;

alcohol consumption, and what a terrible time it is to be a writer.

This has been the case for 1000s of years.

Writers are rarely rich, or entirely sober.

But by any measure, the last few years have been particularly tough. The publishing industry, it is generally agreed by all (including most people who work in publishing, though they need extra doses of ethanol to admit it), is now little more than a frightened, head-less chicken on its knees, with one foot in the chicken grave and its rabbit eyes in the headlights.

Which is not a very comfortable mishmash of similes and animal cross-breeding, let’s face it.

The Old Rules of play (publisher pays writer to write a good book; customers buy said book; publishers and writers make an income and thus do not starve to death; readers enjoy lovely words) have all changed.

The customers’ money has gone.
So have most of the big High Street book retailers.
And so has all confidence in the market.

Even supermarkets, once the Big Shots for writers and their publishers, are buying books very cautiously, as shoppers no longer chuck a hardback copy of Must-Read-Of-The-Day in with their fishfingers and gin.

People are buying books, of course. Possibly more so than ever. But they want to buy a book that took two years to write, for 99p online – or preferably for no money at all.

And it doesn’t take a PhD in How Life Works to know that if you create a product and either have nowhere to sell it, or sell it for 25 times less than the cost of producing it, you’re not going to be in business for very long.

And so it is for many publishers…and, therefore, for many, many writers drowning at the bottomless bottom of the word chain.

Most of my writer friends agree that this change, which has occurred over the last four years or so, has come as something of a shock, and the adjustment has been tougher than a rhino’s mother-in-Law.

Books that, until only a few years ago, would have been snapped up by a big commercial publisher for a 5-figure advance on sales are now tossed onto the REJECT pile without so much as a ‘thank you, but no thank you’ reply from a commissioner.

Because the commissioner is so busy running around in publishing circles trying to work out what buyers want, and concluding that nobody has a bloody clue, that she hasn’t even looked at it.

Books with big, clearly defined target markets, written by established authors and with publicity potential that most marketing interns would wet themselves over, are now pitched and re-pitched and re-pitched for years, with no success.
Or for advances so tiny they would barely cover the heating bill racked up while writing the damned thing.
I would earn more money in a year just babysitting once a week than from some of the book deals I’ve heard about recently.

So it’s understandable that many writers are feeling a bit…down in the nib.

I’ve even met a few very successful authors at book festivals recently who are seriously considering throwing in the quill altogether and taking up full-time self flagellation, such has been the nosedive in their income in the last few years.

But even more painful even than the financial hit, is the emotional one.
That, my writing friend, is the Biggie.

Because when you lose your work, you lose…yourself. 

It happened to many of us.

A heavy depression blew in from the Writing West, bringing squally relationship showers and Force 10 Misery, leaving many writers deeply frustrated, confused and eventually feeling defeated by an industry that just isn’t what it was.
And perhaps never will be.

And, now having effectively been made redundant – though they can’t call it that because, as freelance writers, they never really had a ‘job’ as such – they don’t know what to DO.
And so they feel completely redundant.
And then get very depressed. Which, of course, is just fabulous.

I was in this situation for a few years. I fought it and fought it, trying over and over again to get a deal for a book I was repeatedly told by agents and editors was timely, funny, and should sell well to my large, existent readership.

So why not publish it, then?
Because there is a risk that it might not sell. And publishers are not prepared to take this risk any more. Even if they think it is a very, very small risk, it is still a risk.

Many books whose success agents and publishers would have bet their children’s future happiness on, have bombed spectacularly in recent years. Nobody can explain why; they just did.
It was a bad month. A bad week. It rained. It was too dry. England performed badly at cricket. The Co-op ran out of quilted toilet paper. There were too many Thursdays in the month.
WHO KNOWS WHY?!
It just didn’t sell.

When this happens, people with P45s, pensions and free stationary, lose their jobs. And because free paperclips are very handy, the writers lose theirs instead.

(By the way, I am aware that the answer might also be ‘Because your book is shit.’ We writers need to stay conscious of the possibility of this being true. We don’t like to think it, because we think everything we write is JUST FABULOUS. But sometimes it might actually just be awful!)

typewriter

So, what are we writers to do?!

Whinge? Drink more?
Spend another five years swimming against a huge wave of negativity and rejection?
Keep banging and banging against a door that just Will. Not. Open. Any. More?
Come up with more metaphors involving things that don’t open or flow in the right direction?

Well, maybe not. Because here, at last, comes the GOOD NEWS.

We can take control and publish the books we want to write for our readers.
Ourselves.

And there as never been a better time to do so.

With a few clicks of a mouse – or by bribing a less artistically-challenged friend – we can design beautiful covers (covers that we don’t we hate because they are pink and have swirly writing and totally misrepresent the content, but are deemed ‘perfect for the female market’ by the Marketing Department…SAY. More of this in my next blog..), choose our own title (Halleluyah!), market the book ourselves, publicise it ourselves, and SELL it ourselves.

We can do this! And many writers are.

I have finally chosen to do it too.
And it feels GREAT.

What pushed me over the edge in the end was a fantastic conversation with an Editor At The Very Top, who told me that, ‘Unfortunately you are writing a book for a large section of the market thas never been written for like this [Yes. We call this a gap in the market. We like these things. This is in fact one of the main reasons I am writing it. But let’s gloss over that for now…] and so there is no track record of this kind of book being a success. I think it would sell. But if it doesn’t, I can’t go to my bosses and say ‘Yes, but I had evidence that it should have succeeded, based on previous books of this kind, and so the fact that it didn’t is not my fault.’

This is basically saying that because something hasn’t successfully been done before, we can’t try it for the first time, just in case it doesn’t work.

Shoot. Me. Now.

And so it is that I’ve decided to walk away from this nonsense; to stop crying and shouting and pushing against unopenable doors, and being depressed and sad; I have decided to be brave – and possibly stupid; time will tell – and publish my next book, Lifeshambles, though a well-established crowdfunding publisher, called Unbound.

This is not quite self publishing. It’s crowdfunding.
I decided I wasn’t quite the right character for self publishing – I need imposed deadlines, someone there to hold my hand a bit, give me some feedback, answer emails and occasionally lie and tell me I’m bloody fantastic.

I was also quite sure that if I self published I would a) never get round to doing it at all because there is The Whole Internet to read, and also my fridge to open every five minutes, and b) lose my password or burn my computer, and thus lose everything instantly.

So Crowdfunding it is.
Its isn’t easy. Let’s be clear on that.

There is no advance on sales. There is no income or money to pay the electricity bills or my £200-a-week caffeine habit necessary to write anything at all.
If it doesn’t sell, I will make nothing.

It’s also very strange asking people to buy a book before it’s published, as it’s quite a hard concept for some people to grasp.

‘Hey, want to pledge for my book, which you will get as soon as enough people have pledged for it?’
Blank look.
‘What’s ‘pledge’?’

But crowdfunding is fairly standard now, and people are getting the hang of it. Many books, films, music albums and so on have been very successfully made this way.
It’s a long road, but it’s A ROAD, and I am on it, and moving forwards.

THIS, is the best thing about it.

Gone are the angry frustrations with the industry. Gone are the shouting and the crying at home. Gone are the unanswered emails; the out-of-office auto-replies that read,
‘I’m sorry I am preparing for the Frankfurt Book Fair for two weeks, and then I will be at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and then I will be recovering from the Frankfurt Book Fair. Then I will be preparing for the Godknowswhere Book Fair. Please go to the pub and weep until next year’, followed, inevitably, by the cracker of an email saying,
‘Oh dear, I’ve got your email from six months ago; I’m SO sorry but the lists for 2015 and 2016 are all full now; if only I’d read your fabulous pitch when you actually sent it to me.’

Gone is the depression.

Since being taken on by Unbound, the mood change has been astonishing, not just in myself, but in my whole family.
Mummy is no longer that miserable grumpy old hag who shouts at her laptop and rants about fuckingpublishers!!
Mummy no longer cries for four hours a day.
Before breakfast.

Mummy is writing now. She likes it. She is going to book festivals to talk about her new book. She has made pretty flyers, and a FB page, on which she can update people about the progress of the book. BECAUSE THERE IS PROGRESS!

She has target. She has hope, and energy. She feels like an author again.

She is SMILING.

Of course, I might come back in six months and report that this has all been an enormous mistake, and I wish I’d never tried it; so I hope someone out there is baking a HUGE Humble Pie, complete with a generous topping of Crème d’Embarrassment.

But I’m going to GIVE IT A GO. Crowdfund, and publish, if I can.

This is not a terrible time to be a writer.

It’s just a differently difficult time to be a writer. 
But it’s also newly exciting, wonderful and crammed with possibility, if you are ready to go forth bravely, and try new ways.

So come on, writers! Please don’t do what I did. Don’t sit at home getting depressed, losing your hair and working hard for years to get precisely nowhere.

PUBLISH! – and be happier.

GOOD LUCK! And let me know how you get on….
:-)

If you would like YOUR copy of Lifeshambles, (possibly) the funniest and most reassuring book about the madness of The Middle Years you’ve ever read, then please click here, and pledge: http://unbound.co.uk/books/lifeshambles
I’ll be delighted to do the same for you one day – so go for it.

Follow Liz Fraser on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lizfraser1

And the word is…

words

Authors all have their own routine, and their own way of working – or ‘not working’ as it usually spelled. 

Some get up at 6am, write for 3 hours, polish off 3000 words and spend the rest of the day looking smug.

We hate these people.

Others faff about all morning in their pyjamas, drink tea, read the paper, think about writing, go out, come back, think some more about writing, read the paper again, eat something, clear up, think about thinking about writing, go for a run, shower, eat some more, open the laptop, realise there is THE WHOLE OF THE INTERNET OUT THERE, and this basically means that writing any more is a) impossible, because it will take 27 billion years just to read what’s already there, and that’s just the Buzzfeed quizzes, and b) pointless, as nobody will find our writing among the 85,000 blogs about sex toys and pictures of cats on skateboards….and so they go to the pub.

We like these people.

My own goal is simply to write SOMETHING, every day. It doesn’t have to be much; just one word will do, so long as it is a word, and it’s in the right place.

And because you are here, and I like you, I am going to give you SECRET INSIDER INFORMATION about my new book, Lifeshambles, and share the Brand New Word, which I wrote in it just TODAY, with you.

Here.
Now.

Today’s word was ‘In’.
Bet you want to buy it now, eh??

As I said, it doesn’t have to be much, but…something.

If you are a writer, please feel free to share your Word of the Day with the rest of us.

You never know, it might spur a few pyjama-wearing newspaper readers to pen their own word, and get closer to that magical one, ‘End.’

Tomorrow I might aim for TWO WORDS.
Perhaps ‘Out.’ And then ‘In’ again.

A sort of hokey cokey of letters, but without any turning around. That can get very messy.

By the way, if you would like to pledge for Lifeshambles, which is actually quite a lot better than it sounds so far  – I KNOW! – please do. It would make me SO VERY VERY HAPPY.
And then it will make YOU happy, because it’s a bloody wonderful book, with the word ‘in’ in it.

In exactly the right place.

:-)

LAUNCH DAY!!!!

flyers

Lifeshambles went live on Saturday, and launched at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

Basically this is the MOST EXCITING THING EVER, except for re-sealable bags of couscous.

I did the world’s first reading from Lifeshambles, and at least five people laughed out loud. Some even lolled, but I woke them up eventually.

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In true Lifeshambles style I dropped all of my notes on the toilet floor about two minutes before I went on stage, so they were soaked in…something. This gave a whole new meaning to ‘taking the piss on stage.’

Many of the beautiful Lifeshambles flyers, above, were handed out and some people even PLEDGED TO BUY IT!

Thank you THANK YOU, to those lovely people.

If you would like to pledge to buy Lifeshambles, please find the PLEDGE button at the top of this page http://unbound.co.uk/books/lifeshambles (it’s very complicated, I know) and just GO FOR IT.

Remember, a grand gets you a snog. Just saying…

You will end up with a beautiful, hilarious, useful book, written by MOI. What more could anyone want, eh??

Keep shambling, and thank you for all your support getting this book off the ground and onto your bookshelf.

Liz.

launch 2

10 Essential Tips for the Self-Employed …

work from home

One of the weirdest things about self-employment, is that nobody teaches you how to be self-employed. 

You just….do it. And make a lot of mistakes along the way.
Over the last 17 years at the Freelance Coalface, I’ve learned a few really valuable things that, had I known them at the start, might have saved me a grey hair or 50.

So here they are, in the hope that they do the same for you:

1. BEHAVE AS IF YOU ARE AT WORK. Because you are. This sounds embarrassingly simple, but few of us do it. We slob around the kitchen in our pyjamas at lunch time, send half-baked emails while frying bacon (a piece of culinary multi-tasking no chef would attempt), lose Very Important Documents because we were arseing around on Facebook and forgot to press ‘save’, make work calls from the bath and do our self-assessment online tax return at 11.58pm on January 30th, while downing gin and weeping into the phone at the nice girl at HM Revenue and Customs who sorts us all out…until next year at the same time.
None of this is very conducive towards producing good work…or being offered more.
Even if you work from home, it’s just occasionally a good idea to pretend you are in an office.

2. BE A GOOD BOSS The deepest, most damaging trap that most self-employed people fall into, is not treating themselves right.

It’s obvious why; everything costs, and we pay for everything. From the cheapest essentials like pens and paper right up to the Big Guns of a new laptop or monitor, we cough up for the lot.
There is no stationary cupboard to raid; no Tech Dude who will fix a computer or magically replace a broken mobile phone (whose contract is paid for by the company). Everything we eat, drink, write on, communicate with, wipe our bottoms with, print out and travel on, is paid for by us.
And so, because we are all skint, we try to cut corners everywhere, scrimp, starve, and deny ourselves the basics that we need in order to do our job WELL, and without going insane.
And so we go insane.
So be a good boss, and treat yourself as you would expect an employer to treat you. If you travel for work, travel well. Don’t rent a cold, damp room with no desk or proper lighting, as I foolishly did this Summer.
Be a flipping employed ADULT. Stay in a hotel. Have a nice breakfast. If your ‘properly employed’ partner were going away on business he or she would be in a nice hotel, having drinks on the veranda before going out for dinner with clients. Again.You deserve this too. It’s not a luxury. It’s nothing to feel guilty about, or have to justify. It’s part of being employed, and you will work better for it. 

3. GET PAID. I am terrible at this. Getting and doing the work is the fun part. Actually making sure I’m paid for it feels like an extra chore I have to do, when my brain has already signed it off and zipped onto the next thing.
Over the last seventeen years of freelancing, I think I’m owed literally £1000s in unpaid work, and expenses. I am just hopeless at keeping track, and chasing people up for money. And most of my self-employed friends are the same.
So please, please don’t let this happen to you; keep a note of every piece of work you do – and only tick it off when you have been paid. You don’t need a fancy spreadsheet to do this for you, though they do help. In the Olden Days we did this is notebooks, and that still works: if it’s not ticked off, THEY OWE YOU MONEY. So go and get it!

4. BANISH GUILT. You know how it goes: I’m at work, so I feel guilty about not being with my children. I’m with my children, so I feel guilty about not doing my work. It’s classic lose-lose, and SO many of us do it.
SO DON’T!
When you work, work. When you don’t, don’t.
Easy to say, I know, but if you say it out loud to yourself, and really try to put it into practice, it can work.
In my experience, men are (generally) much better at this than women. When they go to work, they are at work, whereas we haul 10 tonnes of maternal guilt around with us on our aching shoulders all day. And it’s hard to do that without collapsing.
So learn from them, and lose the guilt.
The funny thing is, many children much prefer it when you do this. Mine hate when I try to combine work and parenting, and fail at both. They much prefer when I just say, ‘guys, I need an hour to finish this article’ and just go and DO it, like a calm, working adult setting a good example of work-life balance, rather than trying to write a column while mending a Lego castle, baking a cake, helping with GCSE maths, and shouting at everyone in the process before crying myself to sleep on the landing floor. For example.

5. GET DRESSED Amazing how many people who work from home don’t. I know it’s lovely to be able to hang out in trackies and eat cake all day and ‘work’ on the sofa. And for some people this really does work. But for most of us, getting up, getting dressed and getting into Work Mode really is better for our psyche, and results in us being more productive and professional. It doesn’t have to be a full-on SUIT. But at least not the thing you just slept in, is a good plan. (If you’re a bee-keeper or an astronaut then just wear whatever you have to, to survive.)

6. TAKE A BREAK. You know that thing they say about running a business being like a millstone around your neck? Well I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to live with a millstone around your neck, but I’m pretty sure it’s very bad for you. And sometimes you need to take it OFF.
Take a holiday. Allow yourself sick leave. Have at least one day per week off, even if it can’t be at the weekend. Allow yourself these things! You need them. Yes, you are the person who suffers by not being at work; but you are also the person who suffers if you never stop. And so do those around you.

7. GET A RAISE. You are worth what employers are prepared to pay you, and as your experience goes up, and (one hopes) with it your skills and standard of work, so this should be reflected in your pay. In a ‘Proper Job’ you would have regular Appraisal Meetings with your boss, at which point you would, every so often, go for it and ask for a pay rise. And we can, and must, do the same. They might say no, of course, but you can at least ask, or just increase your standard Day Rate a little bit. Inflation is real, and your income needs to reflect this. So don’t under-sell yourself. How else are you going to afford the £400-a-week caffeine habit of the self-employed??


8. SLEEP WITH YOUR BOSS
Self-employment is one of the only situations where this is not only not frowned upon, but would probably be positively encouraged by your partner. Especially if they could watch. We self-employed types get few perks. This is one. Take a break, flirt with yourself and see where it leads. Then, ‘refreshed’, get back to sending angry emails to sub-editors who are ruining your work. Just make sure you quit Skype before you start…

9. USE WORK-SPEAK I learned this very late in the freelance game, and it’s improved my professional life immeasurably. It applies especially to working parents, whose home and work lives have the terrible habit of meeting in the playground and getting into a massive punch-up.
Here are some career-savers. Use them:

  • “I’m picking Ellie up from school” = I am in a meeting from 3.30-4.30.
  • “We’re going to Legoland for the day” = I am not available on that day.
  • “Jake is throwing up and can’t go to school for 3 days” – I am on annual leave.
  • “I can’t answer that now, I’m at gymnastics with Maisie = let me ask my PA, when she’s back from lunch.
  • “Ohh, I’m SO sorry, haha, I forgot – Mummy brain!” = NEVER NEVER NEVER. Ever.

Speak like a professional and they will treat you like a professional. Which, I have learned, is a lot better than a person in a ball-pit, covered in rice cakes and snot.

10. SAY NO. Self-employed people almost NEVER turn down work. And all of our employers know this. This is why they often treat us like desperate, drooling little puppets, desperate to dance to their every tune, throwing URGENT work at us at the last minute, demanding it NOW! and knowing that we will nod feverishly and get to it immediately, even though it will half kill us. And they actually didn’t need it all that urgently at all.
Sometimes such keen-ness and efficiency is essential, if you want any work at all, and want to get a good reputation. (Which you do. Trust me.)
But being occasionally unavailable ‘for work reasons’ (which we know means I am cleaning out the fridge drawer, but it’s best not to mention this) has the magical effect of making you instantly more desirable to potential employers, and thus getting more work in, in the long run. Try it. Just say, no, I have deadlines to meet, and I can’t do it today. But I can do it tomorrow.
It’s AMAZING how many times they suddenly say yes anyway, and you get to do the work in your own time terms.
Don’t be a drooling puppet. Be a professional self-employed person.

Oh, and finally, as a bonus….. 

HAVE A CHRISTMAS WORK DO. The most depressing time of year for the self-employed is Christmas. And when I say ‘Christmas’ I mean any time after mid November. Office Christmas parties spring up like zits before…an office Christmas party, with sparkly dresses, cocktails and hangovers filling everyone’s diary for weeks.

And what do we have? Nada, that’s what.

So throw yourself a party. Go on! Decorate your kitchen, put on a party hat and some killer heels, give a drunken speech thanking yourself for your excellent work and commitment to coffee-drinking this year, award yourself the Company Employee of The Year trophy, photocopy your bum, and snog yourself in the understairs cupboard. Go wild. You are deserve it.

You self-employed HERO, you.

Liz Fraser’s next book, Lifeshambles, will launch on 4th October 2014.

Generation X-tra Clean…

Xtra Clean

Good news; today’s teenagers are less likely to drink, smoke and take drugs than their predecessors, according to statistics from the Department of Health this week. This, it would seem, makes them the most sensible, healthy and fresh-smelling generation for a decade.

But…is it only good news?

I’m probably supposed to rejoice and crack open a can of sparkling mineral water to toast this announcement of Good Behaviour, Goji-berry eating and the death of the teenage hangover. As a mother of two teenagers myself, and with another hot on their heels, (or Converses, in their case) this wholesome living of our Youth should make me feel very happy indeed.

And in some ways, of course, it does. Tequila slammers, nicotine and hallucinogens are not exactly known for increasing life expectancy or improving general health.

But something about this Generation X-tra Clean makes me…uneasy. And it’s this:

Teenagers are supposed to rebel, and do Bad Things. They are trying to find out who they are – and who they are not – by ruffling their greasy Teenfeathers, getting them burned a bit, provoking their parents into an early breakdown, back-combing their hair into oblivion and fumbling about with tongues at school discos after a can of rum-and-Bacardi-and-gin-and-vodka-and-Malibu-and-coke.

This is an entirely natural stage of development from child into fully fledged Older Human, who still tries desperately to fumble about with tongues – though not in school discos any more, unless they want to be arrested – and now has a crippling mortgage and mild incontinence to boot.

Teenagers are supposed to experiment, take risks, and make mistakes. That’s how they learn what’s good, and what leads to a cracking hangover.
And, of course, they are still experimenting.

But instead of doing it grungily behind the bike sheds, on the school bus and down in the local park with a stained copy of Razzle…they are doing it somewhere else.

And, to an ever larger extent, that ‘somewhere’ is online. On phones. On tablets. On all the time.

And this is where some of my unease comes in.

Generation Xtra Clean conducts ever more of its important human ‘interactions’ alone, but with hundreds of people looking in.. They make friends by accepting Friend Requests. They express their personalities through following carefully-selected Instagram accounts; measure their self-worth in ‘likes'; see thousands of eye-wateringly sexual images a day on their phones if they want to, instead of by passing one well-thumbed top-shelf mag around the dining room in exchange for a KitKat (oh, just me then); and instead of a quick punch-up in the playground they have teenage scraps by silently but pointedly ‘unfriend’ing each other.

Yeah, take THAT you bastard! Click.

It all seems terribly measured, clinical and oddly unnatural to me.

So if I’m supposed to find this sober, controlled and ‘safe’ form of teenage living ‘better’ than the days when I staggered home from the pub in Oxford and played a game of ‘Try To Make My Pupils Look Normal So Dad Can’t See I’m Pissed’, usually before falling over into a plant pot, then I’m afraid I’m going to really struggle.

For me there is something cleanly dirty about hands-on, down-and-messy Old Skool teenage Badness and experimentation.
I would rather my children downed a can of Heineken with their mates in the park occasionally than spent two hours Snap-chatting posed Selfies of themselves in their rooms, with their doors closed, while watching the Great British Bake-Off on repeat.

I would rather they threw up at a friend’s party and thus learned about alcohol tolerance, and that Campari and Special Brew don’t mix and hangovers are bloody awful and mean you stink the next day, than spent an hour staring at Photoshopped images of Cara Delevingne online, and loathing themselves.

I would (almost) rather they had a smoke and snogged a sweaty, pubescent zit-incubator so hard the two of them had to have their braces separated by the fire brigade, than sat alone in Cyberspace playing computer games with people they don’t know, and listening to music whose key message is ‘Don’t I look hot? Please like my Instagrammed bare arse.’


It’s all just so…boring, apart from anything else. And if teenagers become so boring that they bore the adults who bore them (work with me here…) we’re all in trouble.

I don’t want my children to smoke, drink or take drugs. Really, I don’t. At all.
And I’m glad if teenagers really are living more healthily, in some ways.
But I think I would rather see them doing some old-fashioned Teenage Bad Things, getting dirty, relaxing a bit and learning first-hand about people and Life, than watch them grow up living ‘cleanly’ in a disturbingly manufactured, controlled but uncontrollable world they feel they can create for themselves, while having no clue how to deal with the hard knocks and bumps – and the tricky decisions – of Real Life because they’ve lived so little of it that they don’t understand how it works.

There’s a danger in that, to both their physical and mental heath, that I don’t think we fully understand yet. And its one we should be very cautious of.

See you all down the disco on Friday, then. Beers on me. Tongues optional.

What’s in your bucket…?

bucket

In two weeks’ time, I will turn 40.

This, for some reason, seems to be a much bigger deal than turning 39, even though it requires the same amount of effort on my part, ie none.
A lot of people have suddenly started asking me about my Bucket List, as if turning 40 wasn’t already bad enough without also implying certain death.

So to keep them happy, I have written my List Of Things To-Do Before I Kark It.

It’s quite a fun exercise, if only to make you realise how many things you can’t think of that you might actually like to do, and that don’t involve cake, telly or some variety of sex that would probably get you into a lot of trouble.
So that’s three already, then.

Here it is: 

1. Learn Czech. My mother is Czech. Consequently I’ve never understood a word she says. This accounts for quite a lot, I think. Perhaps if I spoke the language, I would finally know where she has put my packed lunch. And then tell her that I never really liked cheese anyway.

2. Fly long-haul. I developed a fear of flying 10 years ago. I’ve been trying to patent it and sell it ever since, but uptake is disappointingly low, frankly. This year I flew again for the first time since The Fear kicked in. My arms still hurt. Long haul is my next big step towards freedom, and free peanuts.

3. Revisit the best bits of my GAP year. It was much more stylish than my M&S year, which involved a lot of nylon. But I do want to see how much some places have changed…and relive the Days Of My Youth, only this time with receding gums and mild incontinence.

4. Run a marathon. I’m a runner, and thus everyone immediately assumes that I’ve run 26.2 miles in one go. Because that, obviously, is what runners do. Doing this would enable me to say ‘Yes yes, you are quite right. Well done you. I have run a marathon. Now leave me alone to carry on running 10kms.’

5. Learn to ballroom dance. Lifelong dream. No more to be said. I will do it. It will be beautiful. In my head.

6. Do stand-up comedy. Done! I had my first shot at stand-up this year at the Edinburgh Fringe. Nobody died, which I took to be a 5* review. I’ll be back…

7. Write fiction. Or write for a newspaper, which amounts to the same thing. I am a terrible story-teller, but I’m a dreamer, so if I could JUST turn some of those dreams into words, then I would have…some words.

8. Get a tattoo saying “I love Jake” on my arm. I don’t know anyone called Jake, but if I ever do, and fall in love with him, I’d like to be able to say I was there first.

9. Stop writing lists. Some work still needed on this one, clearly.

10. Get a bucket. Otherwise I’ll probably just lose this list.

So….what’s on YOURS?

:)

You can follow me on Twitter here: @lizfraser1

Paper porn…

PG

Not everyone is aware of this, but I write a spoof parenting advice column, from my alter-ego, the beautifully filthy, no-holds-barred Ms Parenting Guru.

She gets to say all the things I’m not allowed to say on the breakfast TV sofa.
Which is most of the things I want to say.

Here is the latest letter, hot off the PG press.
http://dearparentingguru.tumblr.com/post//paper-porn

WARNING: contains adult material. Thank goodness.

Enjoy :)