Category: Writing

Writing About Writing

typewriter

Recently, I’ve been working on a few different writing projects. Only 15 days in to October, I’ve written more than 60,000 words this month. That’s six times the length of my dissertation. Wowza.

In writing so much I have come across a couple of tools that have transformed the way I work and the way I edit my work. These are Writer Pro and Poetica.

Beginning with Writer Pro, this professional writing software is genius. Firstly, it offers a full screen mode that’s hard to exit. This keeps all kinds of Buzzfeed/Twitter/Pinterest procrastinating at bay. There’s only a single blank screen in front of you. That is all.

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Medium

medium

Over the past year there’s been a lot of hype around Medium, the new publishing platform set up by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone. Like most people, I too was a bit dubious at the start. Just what the world needs – another blogging platform. But then I started reading stories on it.  I started speaking about stories I read on it like I knew the writer and like their stories were my stories. I became a Medium addict. Totally hooked.

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Portmanteau

hanger

(Card from Print Smitten on Etsy)

For years my sister had a special word on reserve for moments when it’d been a while since I’d eaten. Hangry. The combination of being hungry and angry. Anger caused by hunger.

Hangry is an example of portmanteau: the joining of two words to create a new one, with a combined meaning. The term portmanteau was adopted into the English language to refer to Portmanteau luggage, which is luggage with two equal compartments. The origin of the word is French (portemanteau) meaning ‘to carry’ (porter) and ‘mantle’ (manteau).

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A Year in the Life of Hackney Laces

This week we released Hackney Laces’s Annual report. As a community club, transparency and honesty are at the core of what we do. We have made mistakes; we’ve had incredible luck; and most importantly, we’ve learned and grown as individuals and as a club.

An annual review will never fully capture all that we do but we think it’s a good way to shed some light into how we operate. Please have a read and share. And, of course, all suggestions, comments and ideas are welcome.

Don’t Eat Ants (And 59 Other Things Mum Taught Us)

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Today my mum turns 60. For months my sister and I tried decide what we should do for her. What sort of gift or gesture would do justice everything she has done for us, our family, friends and the community. Our mum is an incredibly modest woman. She is never boastful, never seeking attention or reward. She is relentlessly positive and acts altruistically nearly all of the time.

So we decided to make a little book. A book that would share with people the wonderful person that she is and the life lessons she taught all of the children she helped raise.

Mum, if you’re reading this, your physical copy is in the post. It’s just a little late – like me and Missy when we were born.

Big love to Zoë Quirk and Alex Johns for helping us pull it together – Zoe for producing and sympathy crying throughout production; and Alex for late night lessons in book binding lessons and for laughing at us crying. Thank you x

A Green Christmas

This is a little thing I wrote for Book Magazine about having a holiday season that’s not full of waste and useless gifts.

To read the full article CLICK HERE.

The Rules of Spooning

Spooning. The art of a horizontal cuddle.

Spooning is not limited to two people. Spoon trains are common whereby a group of people cuddle each other in a line. Spooning also is not limited by gender, size, shape or age. Parents can spoon children, friends can spoon friends, children can spoon their grandparents and so forth.

It is an important act of intimacy and it has even been known to save lives. Case in point: it’s a cure for hypothermia. One person whose body temperature is stable can heal someone whose body temperature is critically low with human heat. 

There are three rather important considerations when spooning. If any of these three aren’t considered, it’s not spooning that you’re doing.

1. Spooning is not a means to an end.

Spooning with an agenda often results in disappointment. You don’t spoon in hope of a bit of funny business or with the expectation of a relationship. Having said this spooning does occur in exclusive and intimate relationships and is quite lovely, but this happens once boundaries between friends and lovers has been established.

2. There always has to be a big spoon.

This doesn’t refer to the size of the person but rather their position. The big spoon holds the back of the person they’re cuddling.

3. Mind the arms.

Arms need to be taken into serious consideration to ensure proper spooning form. Common places for the arm that you’re lying on include under the spoonees neck, or tucked under your own head with your other arm holding the person next to you. If you fail to find something to do with the arm under your body, it’s highly likely your spooning experience will be sub par as your focus will be on your arm getting pins and needles or cramps. Think strategically and about comfort. If your arms aren’t when they should be then you’re not spooning and likely not enjoying yourself.

There you have it – the ins and out of one of the loveliest kinds of cuddle.

[This article was originally written for Useful Magazine] 

For Forests Sake

Back in 2003 I spent a good while in Guyana. Guyana doesn’t really make headlines. Gold and AIDS tends to be what puts Guyana on a map and in the news. Once famous for allegedly being the mystic place of El Dorado (because of its abundance of gold) and its exceptionally high HIV/AIDS rate (second highest in Latin America) you don’t really hear much else.

I loved Guyana. Sometimes my stories tend to trail off and I start to say “This one time in Guyana ..”. Like this one time, I was teaching four women at the Neighbourhood Democratic council office in Bartica how to use a computer with no internet connection, using an unreliable generator as a power source. I had to teach them how to turn it on, type and how to use windows 2003. Then just last year I received an email from them saying they had learned how to print and how to use the internet but had a few computer and non-computer related questions for me, like if I could help them install a webcam and whether of not I had a boyfriend. They had emailed the organisation I worked for asking for my email address.

Another Guyana memory, which actually brings me to the point of this post is walking in the rainforest and being told that if I turned twice in a row, I’d be lost and likely eaten by some sort of animal.

Three quarters of Guyana is covered by forest, which pretty massive. 76.6% in fact is the percentage of Guyana’s land covered by forest. Dense, hard to navigate forest.

So, you can imagine my delight when I read this week about Guyana in the paper.

Guyana has recently signed a historic deal with Norway to protect its forests. The deal means that Norway’s Government will pay Guyana’s Government around $250 million spread over several years, to preserve their forests. The money will go towards low carbon development projects, such as the installation and maintenance of solar panels to help bring power to isolated communities.

Why is this such an epic deal? Because rather than Guyana, a pretty poor country sell its natural resources to logging companies or convert its land area into livestock rearing ranches, it has chosen to preserve what’s there through support from a Norway, a well off country. Well done on all accounts. It shows grand innovation in sustainable economic development and fantastic leadership from both countries. It would be a very good thing if more deals like this are made.

Biobanking

This week saw the launch of the UK’s first conservation credit scheme. Conservation credits work very similar to carbon offsetting. If an area of land or water is to be developed, the developers can offset their impact by buying credits in biodiversity. Areas of biodiversity will then get developed in designated locations. Biobanking is becoming a really big emerging market.

While the idea of need to compensate for environmental damage seems like a good idea, you can’t manufacture biodiversity. Letting builders or developers essentially pay for environmental degradation, is not doing anything for conservation, if anything it’s just showing that everything has a price tag.

By issuing conservation credits, it inherently implies that a price can be put on biodiversity- but how can you measure and value this? And can it work retroactively? What about damage that’s already been done?

Like carbon offsetting, you are paying to alleviate guilt, pressure, bi-laws. But you cant really put a price on biodiversity. You can’t pay £500,000 to create a panda reserve because something that you want to build just might happen to obliterate a wild turkey population.