Thursday, April 14, 2011

EBaying - The Rules!

EBaying the Rules

My advice for selling on eBay is roughly the same as my advice for having a car boot sale - if you decide to get rid, get rid.  The price is almost inconsequential... but there are a few things to bear in mind..
Personally, I would never stick a ‘no reserve’ tag on an item or even a first bid of 99p because in all likelihood, it will go for 99p and cost you more to post  than you’ll have gained. When calculating profit, the entrepreneur needs to factor in the amount of petrol/shoe leather it costs to take it to the Post Office. In my case, once I have walked down to save on fuel, I normally find myself in the need of a vanilla latte and a bun. In real terms, this means that I have gained calories and operated at a pecuniary loss. Beware, dear reader, if not from my experience then from the size of my hips.
Adopt the 3 strikes and out rule. If it doesn’t sell after a week, relist it. It just takes 1 click and often all you need is to be in the right place at the right time. eBay often hosts weekends where they list items for free and if, after 3 weeks, it hasn’t sold then give it to a charity shop. Do remember that both eBay and PayPal (the preferred method for payment through the site) take a cut of the final value.  There are links to PayPal on the eBay website
I always find that in selling, it’s best to have a final goal in mind. I once allowed myself a week’s holiday in San Francisco house-sitting if I managed to ‘eBay’ the fare together. This brings me to my next point; don’t spend the money accrued in the account by bidding on other ‘stuff’!  You really don’t need it, whatever it is!!  Again (and it’s the same for car boot sales) don’t sell your old horse-hair wigs in order to bring home someone else’s hot water bottle!   It’s my gambling rule... Have the money you are prepared to lose in one pocket and put all the winnings in the other pocket. Never confuse the pockets as it’ll end with you scratching your head, saying “I am sure I had it a minute ago” whilst the love of your life disappears round the corner with someone who has accrued the air fare to San Francisco.
ALWAYS but always describe the item correctly-even down to that last missing button or faint scratch on the casing. Your Ebay status depends on your getting positive feedback from your customers and although they might buy  ‘imperfect’ if they know of it beforehand, something arriving through the post that was not as it was described, will land you in eBay negativity. Everyone can see (through the star and percentage rating system) who has tried to pull a fast one. I avoid buying from anyone with a feedback score of below 97.5%.  Do not bill PVC bomber jackets as Italian leather lest you wake to find a horse’s head in your inbox. Display 3 clear photos of your item wherever possible as it proves that you are hiding nothing. The site makes it very easy for anyone who can download photos to their computer, to start selling. It guides you through each short step.
When selling large items, such as furniture, it’s always best to make absolutely clear in the item description that it’s ‘Local Pick Up Only’. This is eBay speak for ‘Fetch it yourself’. There are two reasons for this; first of all the cost of delivery makes it prohibitively expensive to buy (and you need to give postage costs in advance) and secondly, if you don’t then people assume you’ll post it to them for free. Indeed, unless you state otherwise, they may have a case.
The ‘Buy It Now’ and ‘Best Offer’ facilities are both useful in their place but bear in mind there is an extra charge for this too.
Finally, eBay can bring people together-:
Each of my children had grown up around my dining room table; they learned how to manage cutlery whilst seated at it, stuck-and-glued upon it and blew out birthday candles round it. When I sold it, the young couple who bought it on eBay simply walked round from the next street and carried it home, one at either end, where our farmhouse table will see another young family through their rites of passage. I find that a comforting thought.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How to be a writer.

I have wondered how to be a writer all of my life.

The things I have tried...
Mills and Boon f'rinstance. I thought it would be easy money when I was a young wife and mother. I dedicated myself to researching the genre to get that famous formula right. Of course I didn't, but my (not yet) ex-husband had the most pleasurable months of his life as I found the books a little racy and quite inspiring. He would have been happy (a word hitherto little recognised in our house) if I had stuck to Mills and Boon and never earned a penny.


 I've written an episode of Casualty that reads like a pantomime, and a radio sitcom for BBC Talent... neither of which won despite complimentary condolence letters. I (nocturnally) nurtured whisky-fuelled poems when I went through my Jim Morrison phase;  food was optional but absolutely anything else 'went'.  I lost two whole days once and those 25 year old poems still win the odd competition. You can see why artists abuse and torment themselves - it makes tremendous economic sense.
There were songs too. I have folder after folder of 3-chord songs that I'd wail across valleys and housing estates, trains and stages in an effort to make sense of the confusion of my life.view details
The short stories were observational and humorous mostly. Maybe they'd count as essays or articles. I am not sure.
I entered the many lands of Bookworld from the moment that I could warble the alphabet and wandered their shores and skies 'til giving birth made it impossible to read and change a nappy simultaneously. I hope the Kindle will change all that for the next generation.
I remember, aged 14, 'helping' my mother by pushing a trolley round Tesco but completely unable to put down  Dumas', 'The Three Musketeers'. 

I wandered down the aisle at a varied pace, mole-blind to my surroundings,  right arm working my pecs to keep the book at the required distance from my thirsty eyes.  I can only imagine that my mother had to shop like someone on a fairground stall, trying to pitch assorted goods into a moving receptacle from her place at the shelves.
But honestly, who wouldn't rather buckle their swash with handsome, devilish cavaliers than be pushing Fray Bentos and Windolene around in their  wonky-wheeled carriage?  I adored Aramis; searching for piety and yet so very flawed. A fallen angel. He made me feel quite hot under the collar and years later, he came to be in one of my poems, in the raw, sexual guise of The Lizard King himself.

My early poems were full of sex. Lust swelled up and spilled out of them, leaving the (male only) readers I allowed to peak at them, a little flushed and heading home for a bit of a lie down. Sometimes I went with them.view details

But back in '79  after the 'Trolley-Gate' incident involving an elderly man, the bagatelle sounds of metal colliding and some bruised fruit, my presence was no longer required in the frozen aisles of this new fangled supermarket way of doing.  I was allowed to read, unhindered by trolleys, in the concrete carousel seating outside the car park. Bliss!

In recent years I have produced training courses, promotional materials and sent enormous e-mails whether people want to read them or not. I keep 3 diaries simultaneously and write shopping lists that I never read. I take hours to write a tiny FB status update since everyone knows that the wording has to flow like a haiku and provoke laughter or stimulate thought. I write letters of commendation, complaint or explanation.

As I sat on the train on Monday and wondered yet again how to become a writer, shy tears of recognition rolled onto my face; hostages of truth gingerly blinking in the light.

Writing makes a writer.

 I am a writer. It's who I am.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Home again.Home again, jiggedy jig.

I am

Home again.

And what have I learned?

I have learned that I do not turn into a pumpkin if I play the dutiful daughter. I have learned that I am not playing. I have learned that it is not the whole of my extended family that is dysfunctional, only my end of it

I have decided to take the option of being happy.

Having met up with my beautiful cousins who have remained in stable and loving, supportive relationships with quite frankly, awesome spouses, it's made me think. This wider family represents my childhood and adolescence (including holidays) and even some of my early adulthood. That is until our grandparents died and by then I had already moved away.
Family support wasn't taken away, I removed myself from it. I buried it. I have not been kind to myself.

My own, tremendously handsome sibling and his beautiful young wife are another matter though. Not stable. Not happy. Trying- they are definitely working on it but they do not support each other in any constructive way at all because they don't know how to-complicit in dysfunction perhaps. I can't find the words to begin the conversation.  He's ignoring, papering over, willing it not to be so. I know this cycle so well because he has not been kind to himself. He is lost and scared, spitting and fizzing to warn others off in a desperate defence reflex.

Not to me. To me he just lies.

All this beauty is in one room, with laughter and memories and cake. I am peppered with compliments for my organisation, for my children, for the decoration, for my ingenuity at keeping the surprise - but never, not once for taking my beautiful place in this beautiful family. I am invited here, there and everywhere and thanked for being the catalyst of the reunion, but no one tells me I look nice -not even my mother.
I am trying to let it wash away. It sounds so petty and ridiculous. It is petty and ridiculous, I know it. It just takes a lot of brushing off.

But, I can choose to be happy. I can choose to believe the gushing texts
that have been arriving all day.
I can remind myself that I
avoided mania-inducing states and
was not tired and lethargic for any of the visit, for what was possibly the first time EVER.

I controlled my cyclothymia.

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