Thursday, 20 October 2011

Books on the loose

I signed up for the Bookcrossing site back in 2003, excited by the idea that you could release books into the wild and track their journey as people picked them up and read them. After registering a grand total of two books and attempting to leave one in the gym, I quickly realised that I felt too furtive and socially embarrassed leaving anything anywhere, and also noticed that the vast majority of books seemed to disappear without trace as people found them but didn't register them on the site or they got swept away into lost property or whatever. Also the act of printing out a label proved too much for me, I didn't have my own printer (this is eight years ago we're talking about) and, well, lazy.

In the meantime I signed up to, which appealed because you post the books and it just felt generally more user friendly, although less exciting. Although I have recently realised that there is such a thing as a "library" which is kind of similar except you don't have to pay postage.

Anyway, last week I was in CO1, the "church cafe" opposite the library in Colchester, and saw they had a Bookcrossing shelf. What could be easier than picking up a few books (although still with the social embarrassment in case someone thought I was nicking them) and registering them online, now internet access is everwhere. And then I can take them back again. Of course the books haven't travelled far, but rather than taking a "balloon race" attitude to the whole thing I am starting to think it is actually a great way to meet other book lovers in my new community, by exchanging comments about books on the site. I see there are local meet-ups, which will be nice in 20,000 years time when the children sleep properly. In fact I was pleased to see that Colchester has more books "in the wild" than any other Essex town. Go us.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Freelancing and blogging: a question

I have a confession. This is not my only blog. I actually have three. One is buried in the mists of time and no-one will ever retrieve it, besides it only had about three entries. This one was supposed to be my all-things-to-all-men, thoughts on motherhood, journalism and where I live, type blog. It was also originally supposed to be anonymous as I felt more comfortable that way, but since HackneyHackette, my photo and my real name are linked up all over the web (because I am incapable of coming up with more than one nickname) it doesn't take Einstein to work out who I am. Especially as I keep linking to it from Facebook and Twitter. So I don't really mind.

My third blog is the one I want to talk about. I started doing it when I was online editor of the magazine I used to work for, and have continued since I went freelance. It is under my name, with my photo, and is much more professional, supposedly covering the media portrayal of children and young people but actually other issues in that sector as well, with a personal slant.

This was fine when all the freelance work I was doing was for that magazine but now I wonder if it is a good idea to continue or not. On the plus side it keeps my name alive as an "authority" (no, really) in that sector and I was hoping it would help get work not only from the magazine but potentially organisations working in that sector. Also I like doing it.

On the minus side, I wonder if it could be more of a hindrance to getting work than a help. Will it put commissioning editors off from commissioning me if I seem so linked to a particular magazine? I don't work for direct competitors to that magazine anyway, and I can see it won't put off those from a completely different sector, say marketing, but I'm thinking of those in between - not about children and young people entirely but sometimes covering similar areas. In fact, the very commissioning editors that are most likely to commission me.

I'd appreciate any thoughts - especially from commissioning editors, although I doubt any read this. I have already taken the link to my blog off my Twitter profile as I have started to follow editors of magazines I am interested in writing for, but I will continue to post links to it when I write new posts, as quite a lot of my followers are in the sector. Do you think that's OK?

Friday, 7 October 2011

Story sabotage

HackneyChild usually demands stories on the way to nursery. I have invented, or rather adapted from a game I used to play with my cousins, some characters called Seraphina Concertina, Antonio and Plum, and these children have quite dull adventures based on my own childhood. HackneyChild enjoys the known  - holidays, fetes, decorating rooms - and is not too keen on scary things.

This morning however I couldn't think of anything so I started out to adapt The Enchanted Castle by E Nesbit. "Seraphina Concertina, Antonio and Plum found a hole in the hedge. They crawled through and they were in a beautiful garden. There were statues - one of a huge dinosaur, one of a pretty lady - a lake, and a cave."

HackneyChild interrupted firmly and suspiciously. "There was NOTHING living in the cave, and the statues did NOT come to life."

Ah, OK then.

Thursday, 6 October 2011


HackneyBaby calls all beverages "water", in the same way I am told by Scottish-born Hackney_bloke that all drinks north of the border are referred to as "juice" (only by some I am sure).

This can lead to confusion. "WATTER!" "You want milky?" "WATTER!!" "You want some juice?" "WATTER!!!" "Oh, you actually do want water. Here you go then."

Bodies of water are also "WATTER!" so it can also mean "sea", "pond", "puddle", or in fact "wee". It also sounds a bit like his word for cat ("CATTA!"), so life at the moment is a constant guessing game, and the conversation above could equally well end with: "Oh yes, the cat has come over the garden wall." It's fun.