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Things to which I have been up

I think building her a snow throne may have given her ideas above her station.

I haven’t been making blog posts as often this year as I did last year. Partly because last year I had a baby who slept a lot, whereas this year I have a toddler with very firm beliefs about how often Mummy is allowed to sit at the computer before she gets to have a go too. Resulting in the very real possibility that anything I write will accidentally end up with ‘dfjgoehodnvlos!!!!’ in the middle of a sentence. Soon she will learn to type and I’ll probably have to implant a virtual iPad in her head or something, but for the moment, she’s mainly of use as an agent of chaos.

And partly because I’ve kept half-writing posts, then having a crisis of confidence about whether they’re too dull, controversial, niche, obvious, or all of the above. (All of the above would be quite a feat, admittedly.)

However, I have done a few things that you wouldn’t immediately be aware of from this page, so here they are:

- My eight-year-old has written some more stories for her bit of this site. I’m pleased I set this up for her, because it’s motivating her to finish stories rather than getting halfway through and then wandering off to kick trees. (Don’t ask.) I particularly like ‘Friday‘, which features grape-eating cutlery.

- I wrote some ebook reviews, and am in the middle of writing some more (but it’s taking a while – the good books are hard to write about and the bad ones are hard to read).

- I did a guest blogging stint for The F-Word and wrote three posts for them about musicals, porn genies and why I can, in fact, take a joke.

- I wrote a guest post for Choler speculating on whether David Cameron saw himself as a plucky maverick or as a Bond villain.

- I wrote a post on Sherlock Holmes and genderswitching for Bookshelf Bombshells, as part of their blog bonanza for the start of Sherlock series 2 in the US.

- I had my novel reviewed by The Future Fire!

- I created a Pinterest board of all the things you’d have had to own in the 1980s to equal one smartphone.

-  I started using tumblr, which turns out to be fun, although I may be reaching my social media threshold soon.

- I created The Almost Art Project: photos of found-around-the-house art accidentally designed by my children.

I’m trying to write a second novel in theory, but – well, see my first paragraph: it’s hard to find the time. So while I wait for my children to get older and less needy*, I’m working on a couple more genderswitching projects – an illustrated ebook of genderswitched Grimms fairy tales, and an ebook anthology of genderswitched extracts from classics including James Eyre, June the Obscure and The Picture of Daria Grey. To be continued…


*Sometimes people take things I say very literally. I would like to clarify that I am not spending my time resenting my children and waiting for them to get older. Well, not all of my time. Sometimes I sleep.  


Unexpected items in bragging area

Hello! I should really update about what I’ve been doing elsewhere, as it’s all got quite busy. (And also, I was desperate to use this title.)

In December I was accepted into a Guardian writers’ workshop, and a result of that I’ve written three articles for them – two are linked from my Guardian profile, and the third, on genderswitching the classics, is here.

I’m also guest blogging for The F-Word in January and have written one post for them so far, called “Can’t you take a joke?”

So life is busy (particularly since I have a job and two children and technically no free time) but fun. My most recent Guardian article, about the concept of Twitter as a virtual literary salon, led to a Twitter conversation with Neil Gaiman – which, admittedly, involved him very nicely letting me know that I’d got one of my facts wrong, but he was also sweet about the article itself.

It’s been interesting writing for the Guardian, the Huffington Post and the F-Word (and Choler, of course) as well as my own site. The nature of the comments has varied wildly depending on the site: the F-Word has been lovely, the Huffington has frequently involved people rather missing my point (which is the risk involved in trying to be funny on the internet). I have largely avoided reading the Guardian comments altogether because the commentators there are notoriously often very harsh (and also often miss the point), as I know from years of watching people take Charlie Brooker’s articles utterly literally.

In fiction-related news, I shall soon have some print copies of my novel for sale at £6.50 plus postage: please email fausterella at gmail if interested! The e-book remains available on Amazon etc.

Oh, and you can currently get 25% off my short stories or my genderswitched Austen book at with code LULUBOOKUK305.

I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I think 2012 is going to be exciting.


Working for Ribbons

I keep thinking about that Mark Twain quote: “work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do”, and trying to decide which of my activities is work and which is play. Examples from this week:

- I wrote a guest post for Choler, ranting about the idea that it should be unacceptable to be unhealthy in the workplace. Work or play? I didn’t have to do it and I didn’t get paid, but putting it in the ‘play’ column feels slightly wrong too; I did work to write it, and it gave me exposure. (In fact I achieved a personal ambition with this one and got it listed in one of Shakesville’s blog link posts.)

- I wrote my third blog for the Huffington Post. Famously, HP bloggers don’t get paid; again, you do it for the exposure. (Although the downside to that is the feeling of being exposed: I should write about that sometime.) Play, then? Or work, because I’m partly blogging in order to try to drive sales of my novel? Undecided.

- I tried to start writing a short story for a book and a non-fiction submission to a literary agent. Is that work? There’s a whole other post to be made about writing and its work/play status, so I’ll come back to that.

- An easier one: I went to my job, my actual paid job in an NHS IT department. It’s complicated though, because I don’t make any money from it; the cost of childcare plus travel almost exactly equals my net pay. I could leave and it wouldn’t affect our household income, provided I also gave up all childcare. So I’m not obliged to be there; I’m there for various reasons, one of which is that being a full-time mother is not good for my mental health, another of which is that I like it there. But my job is surely work, not play, no matter what the circumstances around it. I think.

- I did childcare. I looked after my one-year-old and my seven-year-old for various bits of the week. Work or play? Well, you’re not obliged to have kids, but once you have them, you more or less are obliged to look after them, so… work? I don’t get paid though. Does it feel like work? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

- I did laundry, tidying, household admin, shopping and so on. Work? Yes, though some of the shopping was buying my one-year-old a Halloween outfit, which felt like play. And again, there’s no direct income from it; in fact it costs money.

- The bits of my week that I can categorically count as not-work: I spent time with my partner, I watched TV, I saw my friends.

Overall, the quote that best summarises how I feel at the moment isn’t that Mark Twain one. It’s from F Scott Fitzgerald’s slightly-autobiographical first novel, This Side of Paradise. Toward the end, the narrator Amory Blaine gets into an argument with an older man who believes that people are only really motivated by money. Amory believes that most people will do a surprising amount of work for non-financial reasons – for badges, memberships, honour.

“Let me tell you” – Amory became emphatic – “if there were ten men insured against either wealth or starvation, and offered a green ribbon for five hours’ work a day and a blue ribbon for ten hours’ work a day, nine out of ten of them would be trying for the blue ribbon.”

The internet has proved Amory to be right: people are capable of doing enormous amounts of work for ribbons. Ribbons of honour, ribbons of recognition, ribbons of personal satisfaction, ribbons of some kind of internal need. Sometimes work you do on the internet leads to money – Charlie Brooker came from the internet and ended up a Guardian columnist and satirical TV pundit – but mostly when someone writes a blog, makes a YouTube video replicating a film in Lego, or rewrites the bible in lolspeak, or spends hours transcribing their conversations with the angel in their head, then they’re working for ribbons. And so am I. And at the moment, I’m fine with that.


Update: Guest posts and more Austen

Guest Blogging

I have a guest post! Mr Brown has written 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Don Quixote and it’s well worth reading. This is part of a three-way swap where I write something for Choler, he writes something for Mr and Mrs Brown, and Mr Brown writes something for me. The only link between our three blogs is that the three of us are old friends, so it’s been a fascinating challenge. Here’s my post for Choler, on the subject of World Femininity Day and what femininity is, and here’s Choler’s entertainingly fictional post for Mr Brown.


Prejudice and Pride

Chapters 2 to 7 of Prejudice and Pride: A Cover Version are up, and not only that, the project has been covered by Austen blog Excessively Diverting and is being considered for review by the Jane Austen Society of North America. I feel somewhat imposter-ish about all this given that I didn’t actually write anything really, but an idea is an idea, and if people are enjoying reading it, that’s brilliant. Some of you are even buying copies!

On the subject of publications, many thanks to Shimmer magazine for posting about my short story collection! (And for publishing my story The Winter Tree in the first place, of course.)



A couple of links from The F Word: join the campaign against forcing young girls to marry; join the campaign to save the last women’s centre in Wales from being closed.




Right, I think I’m starting to get the hang of this website thing. At least, I’m no longer convinced that if I press the wrong button I will explode the internet.*

I even have content. Under Music Reviews you will find several of Troy’s playlists, under Book Reviews I have three of lizw’s posts up, and in Close Up I’ve put up my interview with my friend Alan, discussing his time as a teenage communist revolutionary. More soon!

*I’m fine with the internet in general. Big fan, in fact. I just haven’t taken the hood off before and tried to poke its squishy and/or mechanical inside bits.