thetillyvanilly

Awkward things.

Sick of Not Being Successful

kurt-vonnegut

I am sick of not being successful, completely and utterly bored out of my mind with the idea of not being who I know I can be. I mean, I thought I’d be there by now. I had a ten year plan. I made lists. I consulted self-help books. I visualised and I created vision boards and I thought positively and… Yeah, no, definitely not successful yet. So who do I have a word with about that? Is there like, I don’t know, a manager or someone I could consult with? Did my wishes go to the wrong address? Is there a delay? Will I be refunded? Who do you blame when your wishes don’t come true?

And I’m trying. I’m trying so hard. I rock a crazy schedule, working and writing and editing and pitching and pushing everything forward, across the gravel with my nose, but it’s like I’ve hit a wall. Of lava. And I have no idea where this metaphor is headed, so let’s just say that the metaphor is a metaphor for me. I have no idea where I’m headed. I’m running blind, just hoping and wishing and tripping over shadows.

You know what sucks about the freelance world? You could pitch something that you think is perfect. It’s completely typo-free and just their style. You’re enthusiastic, complimentary, brief, explanatory, basically all the good stuff that gets an editor going, but two days after the pitch, the rejection hits your inbox like a freaking anvil. Why? WHY?! WHY DO YOU NOT WANT ME?! Who knows, man? You certainly don’t because they’re not telling. So you tweak and pitch, tweak and pitch, over and over until you get accepted or go insane. Or both. Usually both.

Sometimes I think that I just want to give up and lie on the sofa and stuff Pringles in my face. I want to watch reality TV and cuddle my dogs and just not care anymore. I’ve been writing at least one thousand words a day every day for the past year and a half. Some days I don’t want to, and I debate with myself, whether it’ll matter in the long run, and I think hard about taking just one night off,  but I don’t. I write. And I’m glad I did, because I know that one day turns into two, turns into a week, turns into a month, a year, a lifetime. I know that momentum is something that’s hard to get back. And I know that what I’m doing is working. I’m improving. I’m tallying up the little things that would have been big two years ago, but now they’re mundane. I should be grateful. I should be happy.

Neil Gaiman once said something, and I can’t find the exact quote, so I’ll paraphrase. Hey, maybe some of you wondrous research types could track it down? Basically it was about some advice he’d been given. The advice was to enjoy it. Don’t waste your time at the top freaking out about falling. You need to look around while you’re up there, admire the view, be thankful that you got so far, and marvel at how it was possible. But Neil Gaiman, like most human beings, ignored that awesome advice, panicked and worked like a nutcase scrambling to stay up there. I can imagine doing that. When you get somewhere you’ve always wanted to be, the worst thing in the world would be to have it taken away from you. But if you’re freaking out, you’re not enjoying it, so is it worth all the fear and the blind flailing to get to another location where you’re just doing what you did all the way up? Well if it’s good enough for Neil Gaiman…

I just want to get somewhere so different from where I am. I’ve thrown all of my previous dreams out the window. Screw marriage, (he never showed) screw kids, (just NO) screw illustrating, (I have no talent) screw teaching, (I don’t get on very well with grown-ups) screw everything that doesn’t involve putting words in the right order, because it’s all I want. I want a hardback copy of the inside of my mind. I want people to step into worlds I’ve unlocked for them. I want to make people feel all the things. I want to make people think and understand and talk and want. I want my scribbles to mean something. I want to inspire people to be the person that they can be, to be brave, to jump, to fly. I want to do exactly what other writers did for me. I want to teach people to believe in magic and hope and other people. I want them to breath in pages and feel all of their worries drop with their shoulders when they step inside a book shop. I want to help, and this is my way.

So I could just give up, shut up and sit down. I could just lie on the sofa and say maybe tomorrow and let time drip and drip and disappear. But I won’t. I have thought so many times that if I’m not successful by thirty, I’m out. I’m not cheapening suicide here, I mean it. This possible future is what I live for. I have tried to kill myself a few times before. Obviously I’m still here, and I am so, sooo grateful for that. I wouldn’t swap what I’ve known and felt and had for oblivion, not now. But I know that feelings come back, that darkness rises up if you feed it, that your life can short circuit if you let it. There will be days when it seems like the right thing to do, and there will be days when nothing could be better than being alive in that moment. In the words of a great man, “life is a rollercoaster”. So yeah, sometimes things get heavy and life gets hard, but I’m not done yet. I just need to remember that Kurt Vonnegut was a late literary bloomer, and as long as I’m alive, there’s always time.

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I Feel Fuzzy and Woo!

drunk

Ok, so I don’t get drunk that often. And when I say I don’t get drunk that often, I mean it, like seriously. I’m not hanging out in the booze closet with a bottle of brandy in one hand and a tankard of cider in the other, hoping no-one comes to investigate the weird, glugging sound. I mean that in the past year I have been drunk a grand total of three times. Nope, I’m not a saint, but I’m also not a wino, so that’s something cool to add to my CV. I work well under pressure, (pfft) get along well with others, (HA!) and don’t have a drinking problem (yeah ri- Oh no, that one’s actually true. Score!). Everything in moderation and all that jazz.

But when I do decide to get gazeboed, I do it with style. The point of getting totally vajazzled is to grab yourself a good story, right? Hells to the yes times a zillion. And that is what I set out to do. Every time I purchase a bottle of something stronger than a Dr. Pepper, I am proclaiming my intentions to the world. I am out to completely and utterly mortify myself. All in the name of science, of course. And being a writer, there is always that thought in the back of my mind, or the front of my mind, SOMEWHERE in my mind, that this is an amazing opportunity. This is living. This is material. In the words of (my future husband) Jim Moriarty…

thatswhat

So in the interests of studying normal human beings, sometimes I like to make believe that I am one, infiltrate the in-crowd and get utterly and completely carparked. And I don’t just jump into it blind and crawl out of it the next morning, memory-less and grunting for a glass of water and some paracetamol. Oh no. I am no fool, my friends. The last time I was drunk, I made an effort to accost my friends via recorded instant messages. The time before that, I actually took a notebook and a voice recorder with me to sit on a park bench with a crush and glug rum until it was too dark to see the terror in his face. I repeat: Score!

But, as I’m sure you know, we humans are an imperfect lot, and not everything we decide to do goes completely to plan. Or at all to plan. Or even acknowledges that there might have been the merest hint of a possibility of a plan. Such is life. So the notebook and voice recorder plan? The utterly, totally, completely fool proof plan? Yeah, no. Didn’t work. The only things I recorded in my notebook were a few incoherent squiggles and the beautiful line, (that I may get tattooed one day, such is its intricate and delicate description of the human condition) ahem, “I feel fuzzy and woo.” Gold. And the tape recorder got switched off just as the night was getting interesting, because I decided that it was a terrible idea to record my live mortification, and that I’d probably find it hilarious, play it to everyone I know and regret it.

Drunk me happens to be a lot saner than sober me.

I have no idea what happened that night, apart from sending my best friend texts about love and bread, and the fact that I accidently tipped some rum over a stranger’s dog while enthusiastically trying to pet it and then fell asleep on a bucket swing.

When I am drunk, I become me times a billion. I am clumsier, ditzier and surprisingly, more eloquent. I mean, while I was throwing rum at dogs, I was also using words like compartmentalise. My handwriting also becomes this beautiful, calligraphied piece of art. Ok, so maybe it’s not THAT good, but it’s totally legible and everything! Which leads me to believe that being drunk all the time would be an excellent idea, and would probably result in me getting some sort of well-paid stapling job, but then I think NO. No, that is probably the worst idea that I have ever had, apart from that time that I decided to ride a blind, angry dragon to work and all those people died and town smelt like barbeque for a week.

The most embarrassing thing that happens when I am drunk is that my interest in the opposite sex goes into overdrive. Anyone that I’m with gets ALL THE COMPLIMENTS about the dumbest things. Like, “You have the most beautiful sideburns. I want to plait them.” I accost boys that I like with amorous (yet slightly nagging) and badly spelled messages. Luckily the boys I like tend to reply with information about their extractor fans. That or they edge away slowly in digital form, which tends to involve reading the message and NEVER REPLYING.

Side rant: Don’t read the message and not reply! REPLY! Or don’t read the message. But mostly reply. Please reply. Not that I’m needy or anything.

Anyway…

If I’m not messaging boys, I’m messaging my best friend ABOUT boys. Like, “Why is blahblah so booooooooring?” “Why does blahblah like football?” “Should I phone blahblah? I should totally phone him. Now is EXACTLY the right time to phone him. Quick, before I fall asleep and start drooling! I shall profess my undying love for him and THEN fall asleep! Yes! Plan!” Ok, scratch that about drunk me being any sort of sane. Clearly she’s a special kind of special.

And every time I get drunk, the next morning is the time for resolutions. I am never drinking again. EVER. EVEEEEEEEEEEEER! Four months later… Do you know what would be an AWESOME idea? I actually have a video recording that my ex-boyfriend made when he was seventeen or eighteen, where he’s in the dark, (the video is literally just black) and he’s slurringly bemoaning the fact that getting drunk is a terrible idea, and how he’s let everyone down and how he’s, yeah, you know what’s coming next… Never. Drinking. Again.

So I’m not going to say that. I am going to be the snowflakiest unicorn. I plan to get drunk again. I plan to pronounce words properly and to lose interest in writing anything useful. I will aggressively internet stalk boys who are so not interested that they’re considering moving to Canada. I will spill things and drop things and fall over. I will stumble across parks and sleep in inappropriate places and eat ALL THE BREAD, because after I’ve made a complete mess of everything and my reputation has been ripped from shreds to tatters, I will have an excuse.

I was drunk.

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Cosmo Article!

Regular readers and random wonderful people! Yes you!

Just so you know, Cosmo have published my article, “I Lost Six Stone and All I Got Was a Reality Check“.

It would be cool if you read it, but whatever you do, have an awesome day! 🙂

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How do we Solve a Problem Like the Haters?

haters

I’ve got something important and angry to say and I will try to say it in the kindest, least confrontational way that I can, but sometimes I get the urge to just take certain people, slather their face in superglue and slap a picture of Nicholas Cage over it.

This picture of Nicholas Cage:

nicolas-cage-will-be-in-the-expendables-3

It would be a beautiful moment.

Anyway, what I want to say is this:

Stop saying mean shit on the internet!

Stop it. Stop it right now. This has really been bothering me lately, and I don’t know if it’s because there’s more evil, or because my eyes are more open to it. Maybe I’m wandering over to where the trolls hang out, or maybe the trolls have figured out that they don’t need to chill under the bridge and have skulked out to crash the party. Trolling really is the internet equivalent of rocking up to someone’s smart casual, lurching wildly at the host’s wife, (whilst burbling on about how she’s fat and has no boobs) and then pissing in the crème brûlée. It’s gross and it’s rude and, what are we? Five? Grow the hell up.

This is not kindergarten. You can’t just screw with everyone’s colouring, steal the red scooter and rely on your meagre IQ to get you off with a few secs on the naughty step. I mean you do have the diminished intelligence excuse, but really. If you know that you’re a few chips short of a motherboard, just stay away from the information superhighway. Maybe collect stamps or photograph birds or something? Surely there’s something completely harmless that you can take up your time with. Then again, I suppose that idyllic pastimes can’t really compete with telling eleven year old girls to go die in a fire.

How amazing is the internet? Actually think about it for a moment. Imagine explaining the internet to people from, say, Victorian times. Can you? If you’re super smart, probably, (go you! I am not jealous in the slightest of your genius. At all. Really.) but the best I could come up with is saying that it’s a computer magic thingy that allows us to send friends and strangers our feelings about Taylor Swift’s Tumblr and pictures of baby sloths. And then I worried about explaining Tumblr, and then I gave up, because there are seriously enough conundrums in life without having to make people time travel into a land populated by Lolcats.

I really do not know how this internet malarkey works at all, and that confuses and enrages me. But even though I have these crazy intense feels about my inferiority and inability to code, I have no intension of heading over to ilovefluffybunnies.com and flaming some adorable, unsuspecting internet-users. By the way, ilovefluffybunnies.com doesn’t seem to exist, so if someone makes zillions off my awesome idea, I’d appreciate the kudos. But as I was saying… I mean, there are no WIRES! The internet is an incredible (possibly Pagan) device and we don’t appreciate it enough. But do you know who really doesn’t appreciate it? Haters. They could be using it for so much good, but instead they want to hurt people, random people, people they don’t even know.

And I wonder what they’re like, these trolls. I wonder where they are and why they ache so much to scar strangers. In my head they’re the sorts of people who build their own sad faces – downturned mouths and frowns and this permanent misery etched in their skin like their personal dark cloud. They bend over their laptops and they mutter and snipe, clicking on every single thing that they can find to burn down. But how many people like that can there be? They can’t all be the stereotypical trenchcoated loner. I don’t know anyone who would do that. I think of each of my friends and I can’t imagine that they’d have the inclination, or even the time to screw with someone’s happiness. I bet that you’re the same. I bet all your friends are angels, right? Or at least half-decent folk. So where are all these haters hiding?

Wherever they are, we need to hunt them down, with our pitchforks and our torches and our battering ram. We will storm the castle and rescue the girl and- Hold on, that’s a scene in Beauty and the Beast. Scratch that. You kill more haters with pictures of Nicholas Cage than fire. What are these people after? They want to break stuff, right? They want to smash bottles and burn buildings and break bones. They want to screw society from their sofa, and by reacting, maybe we’re letting them. Every time you enter a flame war, every time you give in to Godwin’s law, every time you grab a tub of popcorn and settle down to watch the fur fly, you are saying that it’s ok. And it’s not. It’s so not ok.

So here’s what I think we should do:

  1. Don’t bait haters, UNLESS you are commenting on their bile with the cutest pictures you can find. I’m thinking sloths feeding hamsters, while kittens look on and cross-stitch motivational slogans for miniature llamas. Or something like that.*
  2. Spread the love, man. I’m talking about whenever you read something that you like, even a little bit, why not say something? Even if it’s just a simple ‘I liked this’, or a thumbs up, or whatever. Just make an effort to spread peace and love and smiley faces. If we all work together, we can start a kindness revolution.
  3. And don’t be one of them. Think before you comment or tweet or reblog the hate. How innocuous is what you’re saying, really? You might think it doesn’t matter or it won’t hurt, but stick on the other person’s shoes. It’s hard to put your heart on the internet. It’s hard to create something and set it free, only to have it shot down. If you don’t like something, stop reading. There’s no need to say. Maybe it wasn’t meant for you. Of course, if you have constructive criticism, word it well and send that shit out into the universe. Hopefully you’ll help. But if all you have to say is how you wasted five minutes of your life, YOU’RE WASTING MORE TIME BY COMMENTING. Grab some common sense and click on something that hits the right spot.

We need to remember that people are people, and people have feelings. So don’t trample over their feelings. Make love, not war. Appreciate, don’t spread the hate. And above all things, be as nice as nanas knitting in the snow to a Boyzone song. Or you’ll be waking up and looking in the mirror and seeing Nicholas Cage screaming back at you.

You have been warned.

*WARNING: The most evil people will not be deterred by this, and will possibly respond with comments or pictures about killing said cute things. Proceed with caution and the strongest of stomachs.

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Sleep Problems

sleep

Lately I’ve been having trouble sleeping. I’m usually a crazy heavy sleeper. Like, I can literally pass out anywhere. One of my friends drives like Jenson Button on speed and yet I manage to catch some Zs in his car. I can also sleep through earthquakes, hurricanes and alien abductions. Don’t ask me how I know. I just do, all right?

Also I used to never have nightmares. EVER. Another friend of mine has nightmares all the time and does crazy amounts of damage, breaking teeth and battering her husband and everything. But I’ve always had the type of zen sleep that I’m sure the Dalai Lama gets. That clear conscience, totally just checked a few souls into enlightenment shiz. Recently though, I’ve been jerking awake in a cold sweat. The other night I had a nightmare about the manager of my local coffee shop being a complete see you next Tuesday to me. She was supposed to be giving me an interview, but completely ignored me to play World of Warcraft. We now have a feud in real life that she doesn’t even know about.

I keep a notebook next to my bed that I ignore like it’s my job. It’s supposed to be a dream journal or something, but mostly it’s used as a paperweight. Sometimes I balance drinks on it until I decide that that’s a terrible idea and move the drinks perilously close to my laptop instead. Obviously I suck at learning lessons. But even though my notebook goes unused, sometimes, in a fit of conscious unconsciousness I will find somewhere to scribble down notes from dreams that seem to matter at the time. Not in the notebook though. Never the notebook. I bet that if I ever actually used the notebook, the world would implode, or a genie would appear, or it would be like the literary version of Jumanji… Ok, now I’m determined to never use the notebook.

This morning I woke up to find that I’d scrawled something in pencil onto a piece of tracing paper, which in my sleep-addled state is somehow better than writing in a book specifically designed for that purpose. I lifted it up to the light and squinted at it. “I can’t die now, because my room would make a rubbish shrine.” Yes, I thought, glancing around, it would make a rubbish shrine, and this is relevant to the human condition how? How will this solve the world peace conundrum? How will this generate food for the hungry or shelter for the homeless? How will this cure cancer or HIV or Ebola? Clearly subconsciously I’m much more concerned about the amount of candles that I own.

Also, I think Paul McKenna might be screwing with me. I’ve been listening to these self-hypnosis tapes. Actually, they’re not tapes. I don’t know why I called them tapes. Maybe I’ve finally become one of those constantly confused little old ladies. Every song is a record, every guy under forty is “such a nice young man” and every problem can be solved with a cup of tea and a little sit.

Anyway, so I’ve been listening to these self-hypnosis whatevers, and Paul McKenna is promising to transform me into a skinny, confident, genius billionaire or something like that. I didn’t actually read the small print, but I think that’s what’s supposed to happen. But all that actually seems to be happening is that I wake up at midnight, (yes, I know that to all you young movers and shakers that’s practically the afternoon, but Grams needs her beauty rest) and my ears are aching from the ear buds, my mind is spinning, and all these random lines of nonsense are begging to be written down.

I think that I convince myself when I’m barely functioning that I’m some sort of prodigy, rather than an inept, clumsy moron with a massive urge to go to the bathroom. I’ve met a few people in my life who have been such a special sort of thick that they think they’re genii. That’s me when I’m half-asleep. I’m an imbecilic egomaniac. There’s a massive probability that I will storm the University Challenge stage in my pyjamas, burbling about the nesting habitats of cheeses, or the sound barrier of marmalade. If only I could grab myself in that moment, shake myself and scream “Wake up Alice!” …Or maybe something that makes slightly more sense.

Anyway, it’s not all bad. There are a few plus points to my sleep problems.

  1. I know what the coffee shop manager is REALLY like. Also she didn’t seem that great at WoW, so ha. The next time she gives me a plain soya latte instead of hitting me up with some caramel syrup, I’m totally gonna insult the stupid pandas.
  2. Maybe one day (night?) I will come up with something more meaningful than a commentary on the state of my bedroom. Hey, maybe I’ll write the next great American novel, only in British form. It could happen.
  3. Paul McKenna is totally transforming me into the next Richard Branson/Tyra Banks hybrid. I can just feel it.

So yeah. Watch this space. I’ll just leave you with these words of wis- Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

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