Reasons not to start a blog

I’m going full-on sweary opinionated bitch for this post, because you know I like to tell it like it is.

I just want to throw my hands up in the air and give up sometimes, because every month the Internet gets filled up with more crap.  To be honest, I have stopped reading other people’s blogs for the most part, not because I don’t want to (I really, really love some blogs and feel sad that I’m missing their posts), but because I don’t have time due to my master’s degree (I’m hoping I’ll have SO MUCH time when we move to Asia), and there’s no way to bring them all together in one place (I used to use Feedly, but it kept breaking down and not notifying me of new posts) and keep track of them all.  There’s so many shit blogs out there now, I can’t even look at WordPress Reader, and I’ve made my thoughts clear about Bloglovin’.

This situation is such a fucking joke it’s untrue.  There’s just so many people who think they’re going to get noticed simply by writing a half-assed blog post, they’re drowning out all the good stuff.

So, if you’re thinking about starting a blog, I can save you a BOATLOAD of time and effort.  Here’s a bunch of reasons not to start a blog:

  1. To make money. I’ve been blogging for 2 years now, and I maybe make $200 a month in a good month. It’s hard work, and I can’t put as much time into it as I would like this year, because I’m doing a master’s degree and writing erotica as well. For 18 months I put about 30-60 hours of work per week into coming up with new content, making and editing videos for this site, choosing things to try, researching all the science, writing and re-writing posts, and taking photos, and if I had been able to do that for the last 6 months, I’d maybe be making $250-300 per month. After 2 years. I generally don’t accept product placement or free products (there has been one exception to date, and I got the ebooks free because the author used one of my photos, I just decided to review them anyway), so I make a lot less than some people, but (aside from the bipolar and anxiety) I can sleep at night knowing I only write about things I want to write about. And 80% of bloggers don’t make any money doing this. It’s certainly not easy money.
  2. To “raise awareness” about something. Starting a blog doesn’t actually raise awareness about anything, you’re another drop in the ginormous ocean of all the websites that exist online, and no-one knows where to find your blog. If you want to raise awareness, you have to do something better than write about yourself online. Climb a mountain and blog about it. Raise $10,000 for charity and blog about how you did it. DO SOMETHING!!! Trust me, every month, about twenty new blogs pop up that are trying to “raise awareness” about bipolar, depression, anxiety and OCD. Generally they post six times (I can probably tell you the title of at least half of those posts), wonder why the Queen hasn’t come to visit with their Nobel prize yet, then they give up. So much for the positive thinking that they wanted to sell you. Mostly, they wanted to raise awareness of themselves, not any kind of illness or cause. If you want to raise awareness of yourself, apply to “America’s got talent.” Talent not necessary. Actually, these days, you have a second option: Run for president.
  3. To become famous. Drop, ocean, you, small fish. There are millions of blogs out there — WordPress powers 20% of the Internet.
  4. To sell Avon/Younique/Herbalife/other “not a pyramid scheme” pyramid selling schemes with a limited product range. People who start a blog for this reason tend not to do very well because they broadcast instead of having a dialogue with readers. WordPress isn’t a place for broadcasting your sales pitch. That shit belongs in the 80s with door-to-door salesmen. If you want to sell to people, you need to make damn sure you know what you’re talking about and then you need to talk to your potential customers like they’re actual people (because they are. Everyone is a person first, they are ALWAYS a person, until the day they die, and sometimes they’re also a customer), not like they’re some minions that will flock to your website. Fuck. That.
  5. Because you hate beauty but everyone always tells you how good you look so you thought you’d graciously share your godly knowledge of how to draw eyeliner around your face with us mere mortals. Gee thanks. Now piss off. If you hate beauty, don’t fucking write about beauty. Write about something you don’t hate and leave the beauty blog website names for people who are actually going to enjoy talking beauty. Same goes for hair. I can’t believe how many people do this! No-one wants to comment on shitty patronizing articles when they’re just copied from other people’s, anyway. Which is what the “I hate beauty” bloggers all seem to do. I’ve even seen them copying my stuff. I don’t care how pretty you think you are, if you hate beauty, it really shows.
  6. You are really fake and live your whole life faking things (because secretly you hate beauty but you want to make money). Ugh. Go die in a corner. Then see points 5 and 1, above.
  7. To get free stuff. If this is your only reason for blogging, you’re basically ripping off companies, not writing about their products very well and not increasing their sales. How long is that gravy train going to last for you? This happens in beauty, travel and lifestyle blogging, and it’s so obvious to anyone who reads blogs a lot. The only way to get free stuff constantly is if you regularly write a good blog about something you like and care about. Then apply for free stuff. And be picky about what you apply for. Free crap is still crap.

I mean, is it me, or are there just too many people like this in the blogosphere these days? Usually they last 2-6 posts then they never bother updating again because the universe never recognized their obvious talent for blogging.

The things I’ve just listed are all some potential side effects of writing a blog, not the reason to do it. They might not happen for you. In fact, they probably won’t. Sorry. Blogging should be to share your unique lived experience, your passion, your joy, your sorrows… something you fucking care about, good or bad. Otherwise, you’re just taking up bandwidth. All the best blogs are run by someone who cares about something so much or feels so strongly about something that they shared it with the Internet.

Does anyone else have any reasons they think people shouldn’t start blogs? I’m going to take my bitch hat off now.

the righteous banana of indignation
Behold!! The righteous banana of indignation. I don’t fucking know. I just made it up because I wanted a picture of something.

Reblog from 2015: I’ve Got A Job!!!!

I just stumbled on this while I was looking for something else, and was reading the comments.

Dear God I miss Blah so much. It sears my heart every time.

Invoke Delight and Inspire

So yesterday was exhausting but I tried to catch up with blogs in the evening. I was on the TV set for 10 hours and I was mostly naked and it was very cold. Overall it was a positive experience though and the positives definitely far outweighed the negatives and I spent most of the day pretending to eat someone’s muff. I can’t go into any more details due to the non-disclosure agreement, but it was for a show that airs on the BBC so it’s not porn or anything (sadly lol – I did meet a porn actor but he only did gay porn so had no advice about which straight/lesbian studios were any good).

Then this morning I overslept bigtime and my Dearest was left to make his own way to school. And my phone had 2 missed calls/ 2 messages so I phoned back and it was…

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New Year’s Resolutions

This year I thought I’d make some New Year’s resolutions, so here they are:

  1. Use perfume more often. I went through a phase in late 2013 and early 2014 of buying perfume. Then I stopped wearing it. So now I have a heap of bottles, containing Avon Perceive, Avon Pur Blanca, Avon Far Away, Avon Romance, Charlie Red and J-Lo Glow (I’m dead classy, natch. Actually I went through a phase of only wearing expensive designer perfumes… it got expensive and most of them aren’t good for day-to-day wear) knocking around, and I never wear any of them. This year, that’s going to change. I need to use them all up before I emigrate.
  2. Read more books. I have SO MANY BOOKS that I haven’t read, and yet I find myself either re-reading old favourites or buying new e-books (they’re guilt free because I don’t have to store them anywhere) and reading them instead! Worse still is the fact that there’s so many books I want to read but haven’t even bought yet because I have such a backlog.
  3. Write more books. This year I’ve published 3 books but I have written 7. One of those is coming out on 6th January, but I go through 3 month periods where I don’t write anything! An example of this is the last 3 months, while I’ve been working hard at my MSc in Obscure Science. I want to get 6 books out in 2017; that’s one every 2 months.
  4. Wear my nicest clothes more often. I have some decent items but I tend to slouch around the house in my dressing gown (robe) or nightie, and when I have to go out, I throw on a pair of black trousers and any old top. Since writing is a work-from-home job, and since I no longer have a car and my unemployed husband doesn’t need driving to work, that means there are entire weeks where I don’t get dressed!!! I want to make more of an effort to dress nicely more of the time, just for myself, because I have so many things that don’t get worn enough.
  5. Wear my nicest shoes more often. I own 9 pairs of shoes (excluding roller skates and ice skates); some of them are truly pieces of art, but I tend to gravitate towards my rainbow-soled sneakers or my one pair of Vivienne Westwood pumps, so my pair of Doc Martens, all the jelly shoes, and my Irregular Choice ones get left in their boxes most of the time. I’m probably going to have to get rid of a lot of them when I emigrate, so I should wear them more now so that I feel less heartbroken. Maybe I should start wearing shoes in the house?? Nope, it’s just too weird, I can’t do that!
  6. Go skating more. Last week, I went ice skating for the first time in 6 years. Aside from my ankles being weaker, I was as good as I was last time I went, mostly because in 2016 I took up roller skating since I don’t live within 30 miles of an ice rink. At one point I was roller skating 6 miles a day. However, the last few months I’ve stopped roller skating too, because my bipolar medication made me exhausted all the time and I lost interest in any kind of physical activity. I plan to go skating (roller or ice) at least once a week next year, let’s see if I can’t do that Biellman spin again.
  7. Eat more new stuff. I have a list of foods I’ve never eaten. I need to get back onto that. I bought a tin of smoked oysters this week, and I’m going to try them tonight, to get 2016 finished with ticking one last thing off my to-experience list.
  8. Drink more alcohol. It’s usually found in social situations, and I shy away from them sometimes, and other times I’m just working too hard (I tend to put in 12-16 hours a day, because I really love what I do; people who know me IRL will remember that I used to ice skate 16 hours a day when I worked as an ice skating instructor; I’m also still trying to achieve a level of financial independence that’s bipolar-proof), so I plan to play harder and that starts with drinking more alcohol. The occasional day off won’t lead to financial ruin (says the girl who is, right now, sitting at home editing a manuscript to send in, rather than going out to any of the 4 New Year’s parties she was invited to, because she wants to get that next book in a better place before 2016 is through).

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

The holidays have officially begun!

My projects are all finished, the tree is up, there are fairy lights adorning the walls, and while I was researching something unrelated, I found this really profound quote from the eminent phenomenologist J.D. Lewis-Williams:

“All communities are obliged to formulate definitions of consciousness, various kinds of altered consciousness and madness, whether explicitly or implicitly, for these mental conditions are inescapably part of being human. At the same time, those definitions are always a site of contestation. The resources on which Upper Palaeolithic individuals drew in the construction and transformation of acceptable and powerful social identities therefore doubtless included definitions of various kinds of consciousness. As in many societies and subcultures today, altered, or ecstatic, states of consciousness were a manipulatable resource. Indeed, any account of the past that omits consideration of altered states of consciousness is likely to be incomplete (cf. Sherratt 1991: 52). The hostility of some researchers to discussion of altered states is obscurantist.”

— J.D. Lewis-Williams, 1997, page 812.

I had the distinction of meeting Professor Lewis-Williams in a pub back in 2008 or possibly 2009, and I am sorry to say that I did not understand phenomenology in the slightest, although he explained it very patiently. Maybe that was the point of the conversation, since I started out thinking I understood phenomenology and finished the first pint of beer whilst realizing I had less comprehension than John Snow. Revisiting the whole concept this week has been enlightening, though I’m sure if I met him again I’d discover that I still don’t understand it.*

Happy beginning of December, everyone!

 

*Due to the Spiral Curriculum.

Full reference:

Lewis-Williams, J.D. (1997) “Agency, art and altered consciousness: a motif in A7 (Quercy) Upper palaeolithic parietal art”, Antiquity 71. 812.

 

All aboard the medi-go-round*!

Okay, bipolar peeps; hit me up. How bad/good is olanzapine (Zyprexa)? I could finally afford to see my psych again and she is moving me onto olanzapine because the quetiapine (Seroquel)’s side effects are outweighing the benefits and she thinks it will be more stabilizing longer-term. She’s also recommending sertraline (Zoloft) for that anxiety/depression I haven’t been able to shake since August. Has anyone tried these either separately or together? What were they like? I’m mostly worried about the sedating effect which she says should be improved compared to the quetiapine (oh my God I could stand to be less sedated atm).

I’m not sure I’m in love with the idea of taking a combination of things, but at this point I’ll take whatever works!

*medi-go-round coined by Morgueticia.

To PhD, or not to PhD? That is the question.

Dear The Internet,

My birthday was a lovely day, but I had to still work over some of it, as well as the day before/after, so my actual birthday time didn’t last as long as I wanted it to. I am now officially a grown-up. Mostly.

Wow so it turns out I’m doing pretty good on my essay marks. Like… if I’d had these sort of grades on undergrad, I never would have worried about whether I was smart enough to do an MSc. The difference bipolar meds have made to my ability to achieve and learn things has been profound. I think the fact that my PTSD has receded a lot (compared to even last year) has made a big difference, too. There was a 21 gun salute going on for over 10 minutes beside the department, timed right in the middle of my Evolution class today, and I did not dive under a table. I wanted to… but I didn’t. I definitely got stressed and stopped concentrating, but I didn’t even need to stick my fingers in my ears or show any outward signs of how I felt. And that’s fucking progress.

I mean, I can’t not be happy with the grades I got today… I can’t actually get a higher grade at this point, so going for essay feedback was a strange experience, especially since the university is a lot more diverse now and 90% of the faculty aren’t former Oxbridge dons any more (the dons have mostly retired). So from not having gotten a poor mark, and not having the same type of staff, today (essay marks/feedback day) didn’t go as expected. I didn’t spend all afternoon sitting in various offices around the department being questioned as to why I bothered coming to university if I was going to hand in such complete shit. It was refreshing, but it also wrong-footed me, because I’m so used to getting everything wrong. Since when did the university get so touchy feely?

The thing is, the only thing that’s changed in the 7 years between undergrad and now is everything. Okay, that was a terrible hyperbole and also possibly a bit inaccurate, but y’all know how much I hate deleting sentences once I started them. I’m not sure I can quantify the changes. The university is more relaxed, that’s for sure, and there’s more friendly staff instead of grumpy ones. But their standards are inescapably higher than when I last attended. I don’t think they would let someone on to their undergraduate degree with my high school grades any more. There’s just too much competition for places (and only 1 in 30 got a place the year I applied), so it’s a bit surreal being on a course with people with 1st class degrees and high 2:1s, knowing I’m probably the very least qualified person out of the 140 master’s students in the department. And I’m still getting A-plus grades. Sorry, I’m not trying to gloat, but I know some of you were rooting for me to do this MSc and I wanted to, but I wasn’t so sure it was a great idea (and others of you were convinced it was only going to end in smoking ruins where the university used to be). So I thought it was worth an update.

I am pretty sure the reason I’m a better academic writer these days is down to having worked as a teacher, followed by my recent experiences in academic publishing. I read a lot of articles and I get to fix them and make sure they’re at their best when they get published. That makes a person better at spotting mistakes in their own work. I can’t deny that writing my romance novels definitely improved my overall quality of written work, as well. It’s easier to improve when someone points out specifically what you need to do to fix something, than when someone just yells at you for doing it wrong again, or ignores you.

So anyway, I went to a lecture this morning where one of the department’s more research-focused members of staff explained the procedure for applying for a PhD. And now I’m considering it. Is that such a bad thing? Yay women in science and all that jazz… Except… well… we were planning to move to Canada (or maybe New Zealand) next September, and if I’m doing a PhD for the next few years, that’s going to cause problems. Unless I do one in Canada. But their funding is idiosyncratic – some of the deadlines were in August which is probably fine if you’re on a two-year master’s degree but we cram them into one year over here. Anyway, trying to do my branch of obscure science in Canada makes finding a PhD all a bit more difficult because my subject is defined as something totally different in North America, and I don’t think the stuff I’m currently doing really exists over there, because whatever you think I do, it’s probably not what I do (except one of you. One reader knows what my research interests are, because we hang out sometimes IRL). Case in point: for my master’s thesis, I’m studying a supercomputer.

So the decision over whether to stay and get a PhD or emigrate and get a happier life is currently proving difficult. Britain is really shit right now for those of us with a foreign name, and I don’t see it maturing like a good bottle of wine any time soon, but if I want to do a funded PhD I would need to stay put a while longer. So I’m probably not going to get a PhD, which is a shame because there’s a past version of me who is yelling at me from the entire 90’s, because she’s very disappointed that I didn’t choose education/career over love. Actually, I’m pretty happy with my career and prospects at the moment, so she can shut the Hell up. My publishing placement’s going great and my writing’s mostly where I want it to be; I just wish I had more time for it but that was always the trade-off this year. I guess the PhD would have been utterly gratuitous. My husband’s probably right; I’d get bored in 6 months, and then I’d get distracted by writing again.

Turning 30

At 8pm this evening, I will turn 30. People are already wishing me a Happy Birthday, of course, but for now, I’m letting it wait until the evening before I have to acknowledge the whole thing. Some of my readers are quite a bit over 30, and I know that my thoughts on this probably don’t reflect yours, but it’s ok for us to have differing points of view on stuff without feeling invalidated by one another’s opinions, and so this is my opinion on my own 30th birthday (and why I feel this way).

I’ve been dreading this day since I turned 28, when I realized I’d wasted most of my twenties trying to get a stable income (and stable health), both hangovers from my really shit parents not doing their jobs properly (that’s not the subjective viewpoint it looks like), and suddenly I was filled with the urge to do everything left on my 30 list (the things I wanted to do before I turned 30). I didn’t have the time or money due to the aforementioned problems. Given that last year was a bit of a write off, and I basically have spent at least 5 years this decade just trying to get an education in something I could get a job in, I decided to give myself an extension, to get things done by 31.

But why is it bothering me so much that I’m turning 30? Age is just a number right? My now-husband was over 30 when we first met, and it never bothered me in the slightest.

But part of me knows that it’s different for women. It’s different for me.
I come from a place where most people got pregnant between the ages of 16 and 18, most people my age who I went to school with now have teenage children. And it’s only in the last few months that I’ve worked out what I want to do with my life (I want a job in publishing and I want to continue writing books, too) and finally had the free agency to make that happen.

Beyond that, and maybe it’s my PTSD talking, but I sorta thought I’d be dead by now. I’ve done a lot of pretty stupid stuff in the past decade (and the one before that). I don’t honestly know why I’m still here.

I’ve tried to kill myself on at least two occasions. I’ve walked away from bad situations, taking pretty much nothing with me, more than once. I’ve been electrocuted across the heart at work. I mis-landed a jump on ice skates and landed on the top of my head at high speed. I tried to stand up through a rock and hit my head so bad that, a year later, my pupils are still different sizes. I’ve driven my car through someone else’s because they parked me in. I have eaten a lot of things I shouldn’t, and been hospitalized for alcohol poisoning twice. I fell off a cliff far enough that I was certain I was going to die, and I survived because I landed in a tree. I’ve started fights with people twice my size over things most people take lying down. I skinnydipped in water with heavy metal toxicity (which I had no idea about until afterwards). I once kayaked 2 miles out to sea, to an island, with the tide going out, no lifejacket/buoyancy aid and I can barely swim one length of the pool. I have driven my car so fast that I completely burned its brakes out once on an emergency stop, and I only came to a halt half an inch from the back of an obstruction on the motorway. I nearly drowned as a small child when the priest that was supposed to be watching me went chasing after boys in swimwear and I went straight for the deep end. I climbed a snow covered Munroe (a high Scottish mountain) in January with no equipment or map. When I was sent back to school to finish my A-levels, I used to make a challenge out of running the level crossing — when the warning lights came on to signal that a train was coming, I would start running and see how far I could get before the barriers came down. If the first barrier wasn’t down, I would always keep going. Twice I had to vault over the second barrier to avoid being hit by a train.

None of that was even the stupidest stuff I’ve done (some of which I won’t ever post on here), just some of the most deadly (there’s other stuff, but again, not gonna post it because it’s really bad), but it’s illustrative of why I’m slightly surprised and a little disappointed that I’m 30 and I’m still here. In the words of Terry Pratchett’s Cohen the Barbarian, “You’re upright, you’re breathing; you’re fine.” That was what I lived my life by, and why I didn’t acknowledge or seek help for mental health problems until last year when everything really went to shit.

Before I got my bipolar meds, I was not only a chronic doer of really stupid shit, but I reveled in it. Facing death made me feel more alive, in a way nothing else ever will, and part of me (the part that is heavily medicated and occasionally slurs half-coherent demands for bottles of neat vodka) enjoyed doing all that stupid shit. My psychotherapist says repressing it just makes it come out worse and repeat itself more, so I just accept it. I’ve said it before, but bipolar almost always only makes me do things I wanted to do in the first place.

My parents were both chronic doers of stupid things too, and they both died when I was 27, within 5 months of one another; both were in their early fifties. As a result of their deaths, I simply cannot believe in religion (but I respect other people’s right to). I tried, but I just can’t believe it. I believe that when we die we stop existing. This life is everything. If I have the same lifespan as my parents, I’m already more than half-way through it, and what have I done with my life?

I’m not afraid of death. Sudden death is how I’d prefer to go, not a lingering, clinging one, with plenty of time for the full horror of the situation to sink in. Death doesn’t scare me. I’m afraid of getting old. Enduring. Having to keep living, day after day, fading away and getting more and more decrepit and old until one day, with a whisper or a sigh, I finally breathe my last; old and lonely.

Turning 30 was always going to be hard for me because it’s a sign that I haven’t lived hard enough, and don’t have as much time left as I’d like.

But looking into the mirror, I was pleased to see that I’m not looking so bad. All the cigarettes, alcohol, bad food, sleepless nights, 90 hour work weeks, abusive shit that happened to me, psych meds, prescription opiates, nights of homelessness and sleeping rough on newspaper have not actually had the effect on my body that you’d expect them to. Or maybe all the fresh fruit, vegetables, smoothies, long walks, longer cycle rides, orgasms and moisturizer has offset the bad stuff I did to myself.

It’s not that I worry about not looking my age, as much as I see not looking prematurely old as a sign of being healthy. I remember when my mum turned 30, and I’m looking a Hell of a lot better than she did at this age, so if outward appearances are anything to go by, maybe I’ll take after my Aunts and make it to 60 someday.

And maybe it’s time for me to turn 30. On Thursday, I asked at the security booth if something could be done at the university, and the man just assumed I was an undergraduate student. I was fairly irritated by this, since that was his basis for not doing the thing I asked him to do. But when I was parking my bike, after cycling home in the dark, I realized that I probably should have taken it as a compliment.
I still didn’t.

I fight against my worse nature, but I’m very stubborn when I make my mind up about something. Some people call that ‘driven’ or ‘single-minded’ but it’s basically stubbornness when you get down to it.

I used to name the years, to sum up how I felt about them. I haven’t done that for a while, but 2015 and 2016 have been such a shitstorm that I feel it’s worth bringing that back. Generally I name them after things that mean something to me, not things that sum up the year for everyone (that would be rudely ethnocentric of me). So 2015 is the Year of the Dead, 2016 is the Year of The Glib Toads (who have talked their way into popular votes and other similar atrocities this year. I would always rather be outspoken than mealy mouthed) and 2017 will be the Year of the Calm After the Storm. We can always re-name it if things stay bad.

So I am being dragged kicking and screaming into the Year of the Calm After The Storm. Maybe it won’t be that bad, after the last two years.

Now for the song no-one EVER links me on my birthday (swear warning):