Sunday 29 March 2015

What Annoys People Most on Twitter

With one cupboard sold, half my clothes in piles across the floor, I have stopped to prepare a Twitter for Beginners workshop. It is hosted by Southwark Arts Forum and there are still places left for this Wednesday 1st April if you would like to attend.

One thing I love about Twitter is how engaging people can be. Today  I wanted to find out what everyone found annoying about this particular social network so I could warn those at my workshop.

The responses flew in immediately and they were so spot on. I'm guilty of a few of the things mentioned. It's always good to be reminded that you're not tweeting to yourself but to an audience who isn't afraid to unfollow you when you ignore Twitter etiquette! 

Is that everything? Please feel free to tell me what annoys you in the comments and together we can make Twitter a better place! 

You can follow me @EmilyBenet 

Wednesday 25 March 2015

The Big Move: Selling It All

I currently have six people watching my cupboard. They're not actually sitting in my bedroom waiting to see if it moves or anything, I've just put it on ebay.  

With 6 weeks left until we move to Spain, the pressure is mounting. It's time to sell the hardcore, heavy stuff. The 'collection only' items. 

It wasn't long ago we started buying things to make our rented flat more homely - a more stylish bed frame, a quality mattress, a sofa bed for guests - now we've got to find a way of recuperating some of the money.  

Every time I open a cupboard I find something big and heavy. I just came across the raclette oven we bought in a spirit of 'let's be more sociable and have friends over!' It probably weighs three times easyJet's luggage allowance.

"It's putting me off going," said the husband, this morning.

When I hear him worry, that's when I panic. He's a cool cucumber. All those things I would get into a flap about - upgrading phone contracts, switching energy providers, doing tax returns - he does all those things without breaking a sweat.    

"I'll sort it!" I said, hurriedly. "Leave the selling to me!"

I don't know how I'm going to shift all this stuff but I'm not letting a portable stone oven stop me going on an adventure!

Are we getting cold feet?

Yes. That's why we're moving to hotter climes.

Of course these next 6 weeks are going to be challenging, but if it were easy, everyone would be doing it, wouldn't they?

In the next blog post, I'll be worrying about giving up my income and saying goodbye to friends! Until then, thank you for reading!



Thursday 19 March 2015

Confession: The Real Reason I'm Selling My Furniture.

So I may not have been entirely straight with you about my reasons for having a Spring Clean. Don't get me wrong, I do clean when I need an idea for a novel, but I don't go as far as trying to sell my furniture on Twitter, which is what I've been doing lately. 

In my workshops. I preach that you shouldn't bombard people with sales pitches on social media, and here I am, trying to sell a 2000 pocket sprungmattress and a leather sofa (subtle or what?).

Do you know what my favourite daytime TV show is? It's A Place in the Sun. If you don't know it, it's a property show,  where a British Couple is shown around a sunny part of the world looking for the right house. Usually the couple is approaching retirement age or already retired. It always seemed a shame to me to wait so long until you could enjoy the sunshine and a life lived outdoors. I'd look longingly at the Spanish fincas; bougainvillea climbing up the walls, a sundrenched terrace inviting me in, making me imagine every meal enjoyed al fresco.  

Have you guessed where I'm going with this yet?
It just so happens my husband and I are part of trend of people in their 30s leaving London, hoping for a better quality of life and a flat that costs less than half a million pounds.The only difference is we're not moving North as so many are, we're leaving the country.  
We're going to Spain. Mallorca, specifically. We both speak Spanish, half my family live on the mainland... is it so crazy?
This is how a conversation went with a patient at the osteopath, (where I work,) on hearing I was moving:

Patient: Wow. Have you spent loads of time out there then and fallen in love with the place?
Me: Uh, no. I don't really know it at all. I only went once for a wedding. My husband didn't come though. He's only been there once for three days.
Patient: But you have friends out there? Family?
Me: No, we don't know anyone on the island at all. Not a soul.
Patient: So you've never really been and you don't know anyone there...  so, why are you moving?
Me: (shrugs) Why not? We don't own anything and we don't have kids. If it's a disaster, we can always come back.
So there you have it, dear readers. We are packing up shop and seeing what life on a Balearic island is like. It's only down the road really, isn't it? We'll be back all the time. In fact, I'm already booked to come back for a Self Publishing Conference and Winchester Writers' Festival, so please do keep offering me jobs!

Good, I'm glad I've got that off my chest. Now I can focus on plotting my next novel. You'll never guess where it's set... 

(If you do happen to know anyone who needs a very comfortable double bed, or a sofa, please share the info. Free delivery withing M25! Thanks a million.)

Sunday 8 March 2015

The Big Clear Out - Making Space for Creativity

It's not easy to follow up that last blog post. However I can hardly keep the 'More Laughs than Bronte' tagline if I don't lighten up the mood soon. We gave my Grampa a good send off on Thursday and yes, there were tears and sadness, but above all there was love. 

I'm back in London now, my next novel #PleaseRetweet is at the publishers, meaning I need a new idea. 

At the moment, I'm preparing for the new challenge by having a big clear out. My Mum's solution to any problem has always been: CLEAN OUT A DRAWER! 

It makes sense to me that clearing and cleaning your physical space, has a direct influence on your mental space, increasing the chance of new ideas and creative energy to arise.

After reading the brilliant The House We Grew Up In, by Lisa Jewell, I feel very lucky that I don't have any hoarding tendencies! But still, even if you enjoy throwing things out, there's always objects that stop you in your tracks:

1. THE 'VINTAGE' TOYS - I went over to my Mum and Dad's and rediscovered my childhood in the loft. I got so much pleasure from seeing my collection of Trolls and all the memorable outfits for my Barbies. Now I can't decide if I should try to sell them on ebay, or whether in 5 years I'll get even more joy from seeing them again. My parents would like their space back though... what would you do?

2. THE ONCE WORN PAIR OF SHOES - During my life I have made so many mistakes with shoes. I've finally learnt my lesson that cheap or synthetic shoes are bad news. Generally I spend more money on plasters and jelly pads than I did on the shoe. I was therefore most dismayed when what I thought was an intelligent selection of leather flats by Timberland ended with a severely blistered foot! My husband blames my feet. Anyway, they are in such good condition and my query has been try wearing them in, or accept defeat and sell them? (I've just decided to sell them - check them out on ebay!)

3.  THE MISCELLANEOUS PILE OF PAPERS - My urge is to rip my way through the pile. I don't think anyone can help with this problem. The solution is grit my teeth and deal with one sheet of paper at a time.

4. BOOKS - What's everyone's policy on keeping books? I'm keeping the signed ones, and the ones I might want to revisit to study their structure... but like most things, it seems a waste if they're not being (used) read by someone! Charity shop?

5. THE WEDDING DRESS - No longer a dilemma actually as I've sold it on ebay. Taking it out of the box and seeing how beautiful it was just reinforced my belief that it shouldn't spend the rest of its life hidden away! I hope the buyer has a beautiful wedding day and feels wonderful wearing it!

6. THE CHILDHOOD TEDDY BEAR - After selling my wedding dress I gave myself a pat on the back for being so detached from my possessions. But then I came across my first Teddy bear. Attachment flooded in. No way am I getting rid of him! The poor thing doesn't even have a name, but my god I'm holding on to him! 

Is this normal?! Do you still have your first teddy bear?

After all the clearing out, I'm bound to have a new idea for a novel very soon...