On Facebook, and why it isn’t for me

I quit Facebook three months ago. It’s not the first time. The first time was after I wrote a particular newspaper piece about two years ago. The comments got nasty. Despite thinking my privacy settings were high, some of those below-the-line trolls found me on FB and invaded my inbox with personally hateful messages that made me cry (I don’t have the thick skin for that kind of journalism anymore). But after a period of deactivating my account, I logged back in. All was well with the world, its status updates and photo feeds.

But then I quit again, earlier in May. I don’t know what spurred it on other than the realisation that whenever I logged in, it felt like wasted time. It felt like I was being passive when I could have been doing something active, something more important to me at the time. I got tired of it. I got bored. I got rid of it. It was no big deal.

My brother – who loves all forms of social media and is a Facebook addict – could not fathom this existence. “But you’ll miss out,” he Whatsapped. “On what?” I replied. “Everything,” he said.

I don’t feel like I’m missing out. It’s liberating. I like simple and uncluttered. Life without Facebook, its nuances and updates that read between the lines, is simple and uncluttered. I get that some people love it, and that’s fine. But I don’t. And that’s fine also. Bizarrely, I feel more comfortable with this public and personal blog than I did on Facebook which was ironically claustrophobic.

However, I’ve been struggling with whether I should be on Facebook for my business. Since I left personally, I have no means of bombarding an existing friends list for automatic likes. This means it’ll be difficult to build up a credible number of likes for a business page. I will, basically, have to pay for it and work on it every day to build it up. This is not an impossible task. But I’ve decided I’d rather spend my work time constructively building up my own site, sourcing products, writing my own blog page, working on my packaging – instead of spending my time trying to reach a milestone number of likes on a Facebook page which may or may not even send people to my shop. There are other means of social media which feel more enjoyable and also useful to me. I like Twitter, both as me and a small business owner. Although I keep my personal feed private, I like Instagram (I use this account to share what is appropriate and relevant for my shop). I like the immediacy of connecting with people which I think Twitter and Instagram allow in a more spontaneous way, which I don’t feel I have on Facebook.

So after twiddling my thumbs about whether I should or shouldn’t be on Facebook with a business page, I’ve decided not to be. A lot of people will think this is a mistake. A lot of people say any business, big or small, needs to be on Facebook. But it doesn’t feel like a mistake for me. I think FB works for big companies with lots of offerings and employees to man their account day and night. I think FB works for small businesses which are already good at it, run by people who are already active on it. But it doesn’t work for me. I’m not very good at it. Even in the days I was a FB user, I could rarely think of anything worthwhile enough to post (and yet, yes, I somehow manage to do it here). It would take me days, weeks, months to build up a huge number of likes before knowing whether it would generate virtual footfall in my shop’s direction. I’d rather use the social media that I feel comfortable with.

So I’m going with my instinct. Less is more. And sometimes, less is better too.

Posted in: My thoughts
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house inspiration #1 [ensuite]

Planning a grown-up, childfree, toyfree ensuite in the next move. A tiny but luxe space of our own.

[Tiled floor; black & white laundry bags; patterned tiled wall; penny tiles; white and wood; Muuto the dots hooks; vintage floor tiles; gorgeous products; brass toilet paper holder]

Posted in: Design, Homes, Things I love
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Book review: Family Life by Akhil Sharma

Earlier this year, over on my author website, I pledged to read three books a month and then blog about them. I picked my first three books. I read them. It took about three months, not one. So, as you can tell, that went well.

But weirdly, since having my second baby eight weeks ago, I have somehow managed to finish two books in a fortnight (I put it down to long feeds). So here’s my first review. It’s of Family Life by Akhil Sharma. I knew nothing about the book until I chanced upon it in my local and most loved bookshop, Pickled Pepper (it’s a children’s bookshop with a growing corner of adult fiction). So I had no preconceptions and no idea what to expect, apart from the blurb on the back which described it as “darkly comic” and a boy’s story of “duty and survival.”

This is a slow burner. It took me a while to get into it. But when I did, it moved me. The story is told through Ajay, a young boy, who moves from India to America with his older brother Birju and his parents. They leave because their father has been swept away by an American dream. Ajay and his brother are both fascinated and mildly disgusted by their new adopted homeland. But this is more than just a story of migration and that’s when the story really develops. A family tragedy occurs, leaving the eldest brother devastatingly ill after an accident. And what follows is the story of a family falling apart on the edge and yet staying together none the less, despite all the cracks.

Ajay isn’t a charming little boy. And he doesn’t grow to be a charming man either. He’s a loner, a bit of a weirdo really, alone in his thoughts. And yet by the end of it, we care about him. A deliberate move by Sharma.

As a writer who longs to learn from authors who do it so well, I was touched by Sharma’s simplicity. I was moved more than I expected to be. There is nothing fanciful or showy, and I really long to be able to write that way (I hope to take something from this). His writing is a wonderful example of less is more, of what is left unsaid being deeper than what is said. The ending is abrupt, but oddly uplifting. It gives hope and by the end of the book, you realise that is what Ajay could do with.

While I read, I often make notes of lines that seem writerly, sentences that are constructed to read effortlessly but are actually finetuned and crafted in the way that can only be composed by masterful writers.  Every now and then Sharma would have Ajay describe something in an uncharacteristically thoughtful way which would catch me by surprise. This is one such writely, masterful, memorable line: “This image of love stayed with me for days. It flickered inside me like a shiny bit of glass flashing from the bottom of a stream.”

In a way, Family Life is like that shiny bit of glass. The story has stayed with me, even though I never really thought it would and really only chose it for the sake of having something to read. A simply written yet so thoughtful read.

Posted in: Books, My thoughts, Writing & Reading

On blogging in a new direction

One of the reasons I haven’t blogged in two years is because… I didn’t think this blog was relevant any more.

I was busy writing my book, and while I was writing that – a collection of short stories on South Asian family life – it just didn’t seem to “go” with Her Little Place. My literary agent told me that it was important to keep a blog as an author, to connect with readers, to let them glimpse at who I was. But somehow, it felt like Her Little Place was… too frivolous to let my book readers in on. I didn’t want anyone who read my quite serious, often sad book to jump on here and see things about wallpaper and my attempts at sewing. I guess I was a little embarrassed by it, because it wasn’t (and isn’t) highbrow or clever. So I started another blog, on my “professional” writing page and tried to keep this blog and that one separate. It’s like there were two of me.

Over there on the “author blog” I wrote matter-of-factly about book readings and events I was doing. Over here, where I once wrote about recipes and sofas, I just simply… stopped. For some reason, I’ve always been a bit shy about sharing Her Little Place with work colleagues at the newspaper I wrote for, for fear they’d think it stupid and girly, so I kept it hidden – even though it was popular and getting tons of hits.

Having two blogs is too much. I don’t see why I can’t write about my writing and so on here, and I don’t think that having other interests like design and so on should necessarily impact on being a writer either! So I’m streamlining them here instead and I shall be directing a link from my author page to this blog. My small business has a blog if its own, but that is very specific to the business, so shall stay separate. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to sharing posts on the creative writing experience and books I’ve enjoyed reading here, along with all the other stuff. I hope you will too.

Posted in: My thoughts, Writing & Reading

Things I love: barely-there jewellery

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I have never been one for big, statement jewellery (much to my mother’s despair; statement jewels are the mainstay of south Asian jewellery). I much prefer smaller gems that are tiny and discreet and catch the light knowingly just here and there. It’s more me.

This year I’ve made a few additions to my jewellery collection. I discovered Marian Maurer, a Brooklyn-based jewellery designer who makes exquisite “micro” jewellery that is also ethical. My diamond necklace – which I wear routinely – is made from recycled gold and with the teeniest, tiniest ethically sourced, conflict-free diamond. It’s so small, I feel it’s only me who knows it’s there – but I love that.

I’ve also been building up a small collection of thin bracelets – most inexpensive from & Other Stories – and one or two more precious ones from Astley Clarke given to me as gifts.

With birthday money still in the bank, I plan to purchase these tiny gold dot studs from Felt, as pictured above (photo from the Felt website). I love everything at Felt and have my eye on several things there. They have a small collection of tiny delicate pendants by Marian Maurer too (she’s not easily found in the UK).

If I could get my head around paying against the odds for shipping costs, Catbird in New York has just the loveliest barely-there jewellery collection. But my favourite new find for minimalistic jewellery is Oh My Clumsy Heart, jewellery designed by Sophie Davies in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. The geometric styles are still too big for me personally, but I love the tiny pendants in the Rarities collection – particularly this gold acorn – and the variations on “dot” pendants and earrings. Sophie also has a really lovely blog, which has lots of advice for creatives running a small business which has helped me a lot when starting my own business too.

Posted in: Things I love