Sunday, 14 December 2014

From Copywriter To Marketing Assistant

As of tomorrow morning I will be starting my new job as Marketing Assistant. This new job came as quite a surprise but a good one none the less! My last role as website copywriter hadn't been going as well it could have, it was a mixture of reasons but my old boss has been supportive and hopefully gives me a decent reference. 

I thought to start looking and applying for jobs at the 3 month mark of my contract as it has proven to take a few months to find a new role, this new role I've been offered was the first interview I went for and I really didn't expect to get it, as you rarely get the first one. It looks to be a promising role, certainly to learn everything on the job and I can start applying my CIM Diploma to the role which is great! 

My suit it clean and pressed, I've got all of the paperwork sorted out, so early bed and relaxing time tonight! Tomorrow I start a new career path!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Chromebook Review

Chromebook Review

I might have convinced myself that I needed a new gadget, and given it also roughly around the time of my birthday, my boyfriend, Tom,  bought me a Asus C300 Chromebook. He really does spoil me! This Chromebook was part whim, part extensive research to fill the void of a writer’s need for the next writing implement. My laptop that has served me well for four years has become a bit slow, and just heavy to lug around. I’ve had notebooks in the past, the old faithful EeePC, may your Windows XP system rest in peace, the epitome of simplicity and portability.

The Needs of the Writer

The Chromebook answered a lot of my needs. I needed something that was lightweight, a bit bigger than a tiny notebook, but fast and a good battery life. The fact everything is done on the internet didn’t put me off, the basic Google docs does the trick when writing on the go and can be made accessible offline. How rare is it this days that you don’t have some kind of wifi within easy access? And even then you can use your phone as a connection to the internet to retrieve important documents (so long as you have a usb cable!).
I also wanted a notebook that fit my current laptop bag. No I wasn’t buying the shoes before fitting the foot. Well, the size of the Chromebook might have had something to do with it. The generous 13.3in screen means I’m not struggling to focus or learning too close and there’s still the feeling of using a full sized laptop. It’s a great size overall. The other impact of the screen size is the keyboard. I quite like the spaced out keys, it has a slight MacBook feel, and I’m not having to alter my typing style as I had to do with the smaller net-books.

I’m not a software expert but I had read about frustrations about the previous Chromebooks using Ubuntu, and how many people preferred to adjust the software to their own specifications. That’s something I can admire, but I’m quite happy for off the peg, one-size-suits-everyone software, and the Intel Bay Trail-M N2830 dual-core at 2.16 GHz seems to be working out just fine. Just don’t overloads the system with too many open tabs and that many videos streaming.

Battery Life

The C300 promises around 10 hours of battery life, and that does seem to be the case, I tend only to need to charge my Chromebook a couple times a week, if that. Again it won’t be a main work computer but it’s perfect for my light internet browsing and writing in the evening. If I do return to life as a freelancer this will do in a pinch for drafts of blogs and articles, but I will likely return to the laptop or even desktop for heavy editing and redrafting.

Portability & Usability

It’s light, and apparently weighs around 3 lbs, I certainly don’t find it a struggle to pick up with one hand or to carry across on shoulder in my laptop bag, my bigger Acer Laptop can leave me feeling a bit out of breath and a distinct pain in my shoulder. This laptop is a joy to take to work and use on my lunch break, I can feel that I have achieved something even it’s a few emails or dashing out a few lines on the current novel. The only shame is that I get a half hour for lunch!

I also like the fact the normal keyboard short cuts tend to work fine on here as well, I've become very used to ctrl+ c etc over the last few years and it can be hard to change the habits of a lifetime.

Does Using a Chromebook Mean That Google is Everywhere?

The short answer is yes, it is getting everywhere! Google controls a lot of aspects of SEO, people use Google everyday for searches, it’s a business tool, a social tool and now a physical tool. I know Google will track everything you do, but let’s not start sounding like Big Brother here. The laptop works fine for me, and I don’t mind Google docs being accessible from any of my mobile devices, I need to utilise it more!

The Drawbacks

One of the small drawbacks if when I try to attach a Google word doc into an email it seems to have difficulty opening for the recipient if they don’t have Gmail, so I have to either paste it or go back to ye faithful laptop, which can be time consuming.

The trackpad works most of the time, yet it seems to lack the finer sensitivity of a traditional mousepad on a laptop, you have to use two fingers and tap gently to get the right click. I’m used to that however and don’t find it a huge struggle, but highlighting things can be a bit tricky.

I also miss the delete button you get on normal keyboards larger laptops, silly but I don't always want to use the arrow keys to delete a few characters or words.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Preparing for NaNoWriMo 2014

National Write A Novel Month is drawing ever closer, and I've got a vague idea of what I want to do and a couple character sketches. I had a great experience in 2012 writing, 2013 didn't happen, I seemed to be too stressed, too busy and generally too tired, other parts of life were vying for my attention so I sadly gave it a miss. In fact, November 2013 felt a bit of a blur. 

But this year is a little different, I'm 25 and ready to go. Mostly. I have a shiny Chromebook to plat with and most importantly it's light, portable and easy to use. The typing on it feels fluid and the 'trackpad' feels ok to use, so overall I feel a but more stable to approach this challenge. The writing juices have been returning, and despite my initial thoughts that writing copy all day would impact on my creative writing ability, I think it's actually a balance of life and stress.

Sure I've got a house to decorate, sure there's suddenly adult things that need doing, like putting the bin out and thinking about future career options, but I've realised that the older you get that the internal spirit of the writer doesn't change that much, it becomes better formed and more thought out. The essentials are still there, you just need to make sure adult life doesn't put it aside. 

I was accepted into the Notting Writer's Studio, something I'm quite excited about, it's just a matter now of making sure I get along to meet ups and make the effort to get back into the writing world. It's been a wonderful experience to get back in touch with everything I love about writing. 

Hindsight can sadly impact on your regret, looking back over the last two years, I should have had the confidence to reach more for the career I should have gone for, not gone for the easy job. Never convince yourself you're in a steady place, look for the next step, the next level up. I don't mean world domination, this links into writing, look to improve your craft, and you will improve yourself and your life. 

As for Nano this year, the usual amount of 1633 words per day feels a bit steep, as I do have to remember I do have other commitments, so I'm aiming for a little less, but the most important thing to be writing everyday, so long it is a few words and I'm enjoying it. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Tick Tock Goes the Writing Clock!

The count down has begun!

This week, I turn 25.

People will think that's nothing, and they would give a left leg or other valuable body part to be 25 again, but for me it's not even coming of age, but a declaration I've made it to a quarter of a century on this earth.

I will have been writing for almost the age of a teenager now, possible a pimply, slightly bad mouthed teenager who shows some promise of becoming a productive member of society. For over half of my life span I have consciously identified as a writer, yearned to write, fed my imagination and attempted become a semi decent writer.

My writing muse has finally come of its long holiday, it seems to have taken a new home and a job with regular, less stressful hours and a stable relationship, a big dose of perspective, and suddenly I'm thinking like a writer. I won't be penning a massive novel any time soon, but heck there's been the odd poem scribbled in a lunch break.

I've even been to a couple poetry reading in the last two weeks. I've also joined the Nottingham Writer's Studio (something I've been rather desperate to do but lived too far away to justify it!). Moving to the city of Nottingham seems to have fired something up, I'm not far from cultural happenings and also back around friends and family, which is great.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

A job! A job!

After 3 months of unemployment I've landed a 6 month contract as a website copywriter. It's sort of in the direction I want to go, the first rung of marketing, and at the end of the day I need to doing some drudge work for the experience. 

This is my third week and so far I'm doing ok. 

Sort of. 

It's become clear that the last 6 months, even year, on a quiet, unassuming sort of level have had an effect on me. Working in stressful jobs, then trying to find a better opportunity, only to find that my luck hasn't been very good, has taken a strange effect on my moods.

I had the implant (a form of contraception) put in last year, and only had it removed over 3 weeks ago. It had in the mean time played havoc with my body and my hormones, left me with mood swings, weight gains, sore bits and emotions that couldn't settle. There were times I would feel my heart tight in my chest, I felt like the breath had been taken my lungs with the gentlest of knocks. I dared not let myself think I had anxiety problems. It's silly, I'm stronger than that I told myself. 

The week before I started work, I hoped I would get bits and bobs done, have a relaxing break before rejoining the world of work. 

Except karma decided not to. I spent all of Monday in A&E with a friend, for a problem that did eventually calm down. whilst at hospital I dropped my phone down the toilet, and by Wednesday my car had broken down. Amongst all of this I dealt with quite bad sexism, the stress of trying to get to a hen party I didn't really fancy, nor could financially justify. Come Monday, I probably wasn't in the best of mental states.

The theme over the last week seemed to be me looking after other people, and getting punished for it. I started work on the Monday, a bit tired. I stupidly worked shifts at the family pub because I didn't get any money whilst having to sign on, and it was going to be a long 4 weeks til pay day. 

That first Wednesday was my worst day, by the fact my boss had commented I needed to be more focused. I've had the misfortune and luxury of poor focus over the last few months, it's been too easy to get distracted and do something else. So checking social media and personal email at work is a big no no. 

I have a couple good days I'm focused, but then my days can be tied into what mood my boss is in, if it's a good mood, I can get on with my work, but at times I can feel weepy, tired, shaky, and struggle to focus. 

He's got good and bad things to say, overall I'm doing reasonably well, I can feel that he hoped for better. I hoped for better myself, but I would have been better a few months ago. It's interesting to try and trace the chain of events back, and you'll be quite surprised what's happened and how much has really taken its toll on you. It's good to stop and take focus, I'm pulling back on things, I am very much living a day at a time, and aiming to improve, and achieve consistency. 

On the plus side my spelling seems to be improving!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Now I love typewriters...

I've had my typewriter a little over a year now and it's still perfectly good and behaving, my spelling isn't really improving but no one is going to read the gibberish I write anyway! I was looking through today and happened to stumble upon this:

I was quite speechless! What a clever piece of art! I never thought that could be possible, I'm still learning how to get the layout on my typewriter but I often end up with a few words stuck together. I think it's very pretty and if I wasn't so short on cash I'd be keen to purchase a few!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Longbourn Review

I have a general theory that is it in the make-up of most women to be a fan of Jane Austen. Flirting with the redcoats and sipping tea all afternoon isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but most of us love a good love story, and that is exactly what Jane Austen delivers in Pride and Prejudice. I had the pleasure to study this for A-Level and subsequently read a few of the other novels, but I feel Pride and Prejudice was her crowning work.

image sourced from

It’s amazing that it’s been such a popular novel, one that has gained popularity over the last two hundred years. There are many reasons for this; from its universal themes of irrational love and a good scandal such as an eloping sister. There have been many adaptions over the years, from films, radio plays to novels taking place before and after. I first heard about Longbourn on BBC Radio 4 where the author was talking about her reasons for writing a novel about the servants, the hidden people of Pride and Prejudice. So being a bit sleepless the other night I decided to download it onto my kindle and have a read.
This novel resonated with me, because at this particular place in my life, I feel I am serving in subservient roles, and no matter how much I educate myself, there is the barrier of dependency between living and money. After I fell asleep I had this intense feeling of being trapped in that servant role, and when I woke I was distinctly glad I was living in a society where people weren’t ruled by their social sphere. It isn’t very often that a novel or story makes me feel glad that I live in the current world.
The author isn’t shy of highlighting the daily grind and grievances of servant life, the constant chilblains, the long hours, falling over in pig poo. She writes with a touch of Jane Austen’s style, it a nod to the period and this author has embodied part of Jane Austen’s world, but added themes such as homosexuality, seducing the young and innocent and children born out of wedlock. Sympathy for otherwise unlikable characters is created and likeable characters are given a subtle dressing down. Overall, all of the characters are reminded that they are human and not above bodily functions when we see Colonel Fitzwilliam relieving himself in some bushes. The author could choose to emphasis this, she could attack the beloved Elizabeth Bennet by saying that she does of course fart like the rest of us, but I’m glad she doesn’t.
I do however feel that the characters are sometimes stereotypes and not always their own true person and there is more historical context placed, the character James is used to show what was happening in Europe and place a less favourable light on the glory of the English Militia. This helped to define his character and give us insight that Sarah lacks. One aspect I love however is how Mr Wickham is suggested to like younger woman and girls a little too much, it keeps in with his character so superbly and I was feeling on edge when he had cornered the young Polly. It was even better when James dealt Wickham a much needed blow.
One thing that strikes me in the novel is that the gentry and upper classes are never truly alone, indeed it is the same for the servants, you are constantly surrounded by those you choose to ignore, the servants try to become invisible, but at the end of the day there is still a human being breathing in the room. The main character Sarah managed to have some time alone, and that must be a breath of air to her. This little breaks for freedom are quickly met with some sort of negative outcome, she falls ill on the way back from an errand, after seeing a man flogged, she is cuffed harshly around the ears by a housekeeper in Kent. However in the she does finally make her break into freedom.
There is a sense of filling a certain role, Sarah fills the role of servant because she came from the poorhouse. Once Elizabeth is married to Mr Darcy, she must fulfil the role of mistress of Pemerberly, a role she is not yet accustomed to, especially noted when giving out the staff wages. Sarah goes from a busy, demanding role as skivvy to lady’s maid who is reduced to mending delicate underwear, Elizabeth goes from a lady doing little, to a lady managing a full household. There is a sense of balance and need within the novel, the upper classes rely on the servant for their day to day living, and the servant class must rely on the gentry for their wage and living.
I had always quite liked the character of Elizabeth, she is witty, lovely and does have her own faults, yet in Longbourn the author succeeds inducing this gentle sense of nothingness to their lives. I felt at times that Jane and Elizabeth were merely breathes of air inside a dress that floated about, and gave off the odd opinion. I don’t know whether to applaud or tell the author off for giving this view of the girls; I feel there is an undertone of feminist disapproval. Jane and Elizabeth can’t help their upbringing and station in life because of their gender and class, so of course they may appear slightly empty, but that doesn’t meant their life is without justification and meaning. In the modern age we have the luxury of applying our social ideas and politics to historical literature; we will look for meaning and new insights with each new generation.
Sarah breaks the mould of servant life by perusing the man she loves, risking the best working position of her life for the unknown dangers of the world. Going by scraps of information and a general direction of north, Sarah leaves to find James who has chosen to vanish. The end of the novel is nicely drawn together, Mrs Hill is able to have Mr Bennet to herself again, it is not a sense of love however, almost reversed ownership, his intelligence and eyesight fading, he relies on her for company. The infamous Mr Bennet has come down a few pegs, and Mrs Hill can throw off the label of housekeeper and be his companion in the evenings. I liked the character of Mrs Hill, she is brisk and efficient, but she loves and protects Sarah and Polly, like her own daughters. She however isn’t a jolly, fat housekeeper, I was glad the author avoided that cliché.

Overall, it was a good novel, and I feel the author has managed to give us a glimpse into another world around Pride and Prejudice, it is a modern novel with a touch of the Austen feeling. However in the recent spurge of the modernised Austen franchise (Death Comes to Pemerberly etc) I feel we are soon reaching the limit of what we can adapt and do with Pride and Prejudice. Jo Baker has however managed to get her novel done before the market has become too saturated, and managed to create a piece that is hugely memorable.