September 12, 2017 § Leave a comment
Last week, a copybuddy said she was suffering with the old imposter syndrome malarkey. You know it, I’m sure. She asked Twitter for advice to quiet her traitorous mind, and I advised putting on a silk peignoir, smoking a candy pink Sobranie and reciting excellent lines from the silver screen to her reflection in the mirror.
The older I get, the more I find comfort in small things. Is that my life shrinking? I don’t care if it is. I’ve seen enough.
These are my ways to stop feeling like shit:
Make coffee in the stove-top percolator, then drink it from my Wedgwood cup and saucer. In the sunroom, preferably looking out at some rain and listening to it thrum on the roof. Pyjamas or silken robe must be involved.
Check New Arrivals on Zara. I know, how awful. But it’s the truth that I am comforted and cheered by how Zara just GETS me. It’s like looking at the inside of my brain. Moss green velvet, puce silk and tiny glistering beads on a cashmere blend.
Put on a podcast about serial killers and lay down on my soft soft bed. Perhaps a smol dogcat will come and lightly jump onto the covers, pad across to my face for a snoot boop, and then settle down to tangle their claws in my hair.
Drink something with my best friend. It needn’t be alcoholic but it is a totemic symbol, the chalice. It allows us to cup our hands around our subject and pour forth all the twisty stuff we’ve been storing. It’s easier to untangle with your best friend.
Write. It can take an effort, when you feel like a failure, but I always remember I’m pretty OK at life when I write. I also make money when I write so writing in any mood is a good plan.
Have a gin in a gold-rimmed champagne coupe. Stir with a small, glittery plastic spoon I keep solely for the purpose of stirring magic into cocktails. Probably smoke a fag, to be honest. I’ve stopped a thousand tears with a well-timed cigarette.
Play fetch with my boycat. Scrubble his tummy every time he brings back the sodden mouse and say “You such a good bo-oy! You such a good BOY!” I always insist he SITS between throws, which he’s getting very good at. A pure joy.
Instagram. Yes. I’m sorry. It’s just Instagram’s algorithm knows me so well? I can go on Discover and see thousands upon thousands of pictures of 1950s dressing rooms, hand-shaped novelty jewellery and cat portraiture. I’m sure it’s terrible for my psyche but it’s an indulgence that never fails to bring me pleasure.
Send my workbuddy a dog to name. Just that: one of us will send a picture of an animal and the other names him. The original sender then usually derides the namer for their choice. “Are you BLIND? His name is obviously BRUISER, you idiot.”
Write down outfits (OK, fine, make full-on mood boards). So soothing. Now I have all my clothes on rails, I can flick through them easy pie. Getting dressed is probably my number one hobby. It brings me so much happiness and totally influences my day.
September 7, 2017 § Leave a comment
I was worrying about something on my drive home last night.
They say (who, who is they?) it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything.
I was concerned, because I figured there’s no way I’ve spent that many hours copywriting – how could I look my boss in the face and happily collect my salary?
So today, it came up in conversation and I apologised to him for being such a rookie charlatan. And it played on my mind some more. It was time to do the maths.
I work 37.5 hours each week
There are 52 weeks in a year
I get 25 days of holiday plus 5 bank holidays each year, and probably have for my whole career
So I work 1,920 days each year – I’ll take 6 off for that weird flu I get every spring and the odd furbaby emergency
1,914 days a year for 6 years = 11,494 hours
And I freelance too.
June 12, 2017 § Leave a comment
All of last week, I lived in dread. Absolute dread. You see, I was up for an award.
I love to win but I hate to lose far more. I would mostly rather not set myself up as a vulnerable, hopeful being if there’s a chance I might be cast asunder, beaten and bloodied by defeat. It’s just too humiliating.
Luckily, that didn’t happen. I won Young Marketer of the Year at the Insurance Marketing & PR Awards and did my first genuine smile of 2017.
Everyone was so kind and it was a definite highlight of my long, weary years.
ingenie also won Brand of the Year which is pretty frickin’ sweet.
May 24, 2017 § Leave a comment
What’s your overall take on the ‘salaries/rates’ bit of this year’s survey results?
More women took the survey than men, and the gender pay gap’s still increased. Why do you suspect that is?
Have your own rates changed since last year’s survey?
Is ‘put your rates up’ the catch-all answer?
What’s the best pay-related advice you’ve been given, and what tips do you have for other writers?
“Here’s a strapline for a few hundred quid. That’s yours to slap on every bleedin’ TV ad/item of stationery/T-shirt/novelty hat/website/banner ad/dirigible/200ft-high holographic squirrel you produce over the next 2,000 years.”
Folks, if you’re good, you’re worth good money.
In-house, not freelance, but I was stiffed on my starting salary at my current company. I had an offer below what I wanted (a salary I was actually already earning) and I negotiated, asking for more once I’d passed my probation. That was agreed and I was proud. I later found the job specification with my boss’s salary estimate. It had taken me nearly two years to start earning what he’d set as the maximum for my starting salary.
I still work for the company and took enough of a leap in both role and salary to make that OK – and that particular boss is no longer here, though I don’t blame him for my own mistake. But I certainly learned a little something from that.
You can’t pitch too high if they want you; they’ll come back with another offer and you don’t have to take that either. Once you know you’re good enough for a company to really, really need you, you’ll feel less scared about shooting for that shiny ol‘ moon.
March 3, 2017 § Leave a comment
Yes, I’ve been missing. But missing in action. I’ve written millions of words, I’ve filled pages with pictures, I’ve worked a LOT, and – after a very long wait – I’ve adopted two children.
They’re five weeks old so there’s still eight weeks to go before we can bring them home. They’re so tiny and delicate right now but when we next see them (in three weeks) they’ll already be bouncy creeps who want to play. By the time they’re ready to leave their mam, they’ll be gangly, leggy dog-cats.
After so many years of wanting and nearly a year of waiting on a litter, I couldn’t quite process that they were real. I’ve never seen a kitten that small except in pictures. I held our boy and he was warm and soft and confused. A few minutes later, all six were a sleeping puddle on their blanket, with Bramble the show-winning knock-out laying protectively next to them.
Their names are Dio and Dime, and they’re going to change our lives.
January 4, 2017 § Leave a comment
I used to be constantly moving and shaking. Shaking quite literally: with fear.
Fear drove my pitiful carcass for many years, pushing and shoving me to greater things. I was BRUISED by ambition. And once I started feeling happier and more settled, I worried about losing my much-fetishised ‘edge’. The shining, electric zeal that kept my eyes aching-wide and my brain churning.
Now, as an old lady, I have little need of the hustle. I have a lovely job that challenges me and keeps me too busy to freelance – what would I be hustling for?
I always expounded the virtues of staying sharp, keeping all your profiles sparkly. Sleeping with your shoes on and bags packed, basically. Powder dry.
But it’s tiring. If you’re spending hours a day worrying about how you look and how to position such-and-such little no-pay project, you’re spending less time on the doing bit. The bit that’s actually soulful and rewarding.
I guess it’s about faking it ’til you’re making it; reaching the point where you’re just ticking along, doing the job you wanted, is actually a whole lot more relaxing. You’re doing 10 times the work your 23-year-old self found exhausting – but it feels like home. You’re settled in your own backside-cradling chair and no one’s going to suddenly push you off and make you go run around outside in the cold for a bit. I’d love to see them try; I can just picture my lazy, reptilian stare from under half-closed eyelids. Oh, hun. Oh, sweetie no.
By nature, I’m a burrower. (Not a Borrower, though nearly.) A burrower: one who burrows in and sets up camp, leaving only when its own spreading volume forces a change in scene. I like a home. I do not flit. So my hustling was largely extra-curricular, which is a very unrelaxing way to move through life. Trying to freelance around a full-time job feels like how movies portray working in fashion: running around, crying, dropping things in the street and getting 10 dogs tangled around your legs.
Nay – not for me. No more. Having a few more hats piled on top of my company cloche has been a blessing. It’s forced me to stop hustling. Don’t have the room for it, and life is cosier without. These hats are warm af.
All that said, I have today done an aspirational thing. I bought a domain name that came to me in a dream – yes, that’s right. A dream-sent domain; millennial manna. My dream told me that my secondary initials – Augusta Rose Clement-Hayes – would make a great name for a copywriting venture. Arch also happens to be one of my favourite words. It’s my favoured demeanour: eyebrow cocked, half smile ready to form a sarcastic bon mot.
So, Arch Copy. archcopy.co.uk. I won’t be needing it for a good while but it’s mine. For when that hustle gets kicking again.
December 13, 2016 § Leave a comment
Afraid and crying
In the wrinkled shade of the canyon
He slowly fucks the love back inside
A grimy wrist swings limp in the stale air of her forgotten castle
Once the author of tangled charity acts, polished immortality
Now, some belated chick
Camaro snarls penetrate from out on the blacktop
As the blanket creeps, pilled up, over goosebumped flesh
My mam emailed me to say she’s too thick to understand this. Which actually makes her really smart because it’s assemblage. I just find the most used words on Hello Poetry – a corpus of love and sorrow – and look for interesting patterns. This kind of writing is only asking you to find your own meaning in the meaningless nonsense. It’s your Rorschach.