It was a simple enough idea; Create a calendar so full of ideas and alternative hobbies, that for an entire year, every time I got an email asking "but what will I do with my time if I don't drink anymore" I could simply point to this calendar and shout "National Cheesecake Eating Day" or "Celebrate the Feast of Wild Men"
I'm a big fan of the second one, truth be told.
It seemed like a really simple idea. Except the fact that no soul is going to want to be greeted by my face on a flipping calendar every day for a year. How boring would that be? Plus where is the contrast in that?
No thank you.
So I asked a lady who has nailed this non-drinking malarkey. And helps thousands of other women do it every day. Someone who is so different to me in every way imaginable that we were always destined to get on like a house on fire.
And, most importantly, a lass who when I called and and said "let's do a calendar now okay",actually made me sit down and do it. As opposed to being distracted by a dog with a fluffy tail, or a piece of cake, as is my wont.
See? Easy! So easy. We agreed to have 6 photos taken each, then reconvene and assemble them, because surely it would be so easy to get the calendars made.
I got excited! I bought costumes. Halloween, Easter, Christmas. You name it, I got 'em. I hate having my photo taken, I seem to sprout extra limbs and am unable to contain them all as soon as a camera appears. There's something about having to stand still that I'm horrendous at.
Anyway. Took them. Got them back. And they were vile. I looked like some playboy bunnies desperate stepmother. No woman is going to want their eyeballs sullied by these images. Not even my own Mam would put it on her wall.
I wanted to burn them. Except they were digital, and on the photographer's laptop, so he wouldn't let me
I had horribly misjudged the situation. I needed something real. Something authentic. And something in contrast to the lovely, graceful photos Lucy had had done.
So I went back over the past two years and picked photos of me just doing stuff I really liked to do. Activities that I wouldn't have even acknowledged in my drinking days. Or just normal moments that would have passed me by in a haze.
The photos were done. Now I wanted to design a calendar. I knew exactly what I needed. But I couldn't have it. Because apparently putting your own dates and little paragraphs on each month isn't a thing.
It has to be a thing. I reasoned with every designer I spoke to. It should be a thing. Please make it a thing. Sometime before the year 2019...if at all possible...ta muchly...
I finally found a company that would make it a thing. But they were eye-wateringly expensive, so I said I would design it myself, to try and keep costs down. Which is probably a perfectly reasonable undertaking, for anyone who doesn't need help with anything more technologically advanced than opening emails...
It took me 8 hours to do the first page. Then the second...then, well you get the idea. Which would've been fine, except nothing was saving properly.
I became a woman obsessed. I stopped seeing other humans. Stopped answering my phone. Every waking moment became an epic battle between myself and my creation. This must be exactly how that doctor lad, you know, that Frankenstein's creator felt.
After a week it was done. I sent it off. Then cried. Then slept.
Then got a phone call from the calendar company asking why I had made 12 different versions. Turns out it had been saving properly. I'd just been creating new ones instead of working on the original template.
But it was finished. Finished I tells ya. All I had to do was wait for a copy to proof read.
I got the copy. I was excited.
I shouldn't have been. It was wrong. All just so wrong. Again Lucy's bits were lovely, photos and writing. It was encouraging and nice. But mine? Photos acceptable. Writing: smug as f*ck.
I was horrified. When had I become a fully paid up member of the Smug Sober B*st*rd Brigade? If I read this cr*p I would just want to punch me. Right in the face. Followed by heading to the nearest bar to put some serious drinking distance between myself and such smuggery.
I asked the calendar folk if I could change it. They said no. They would. I wasn't allowed near their software again. Most likely out of fear l'd make another 16 versions, just for a lark.
I called them so much to make changes I feared I'd become the first person to ever have a restraining order from calendars. That l'd be banned from going within 100 yards of date-related stationary.
But eventually it was done. Now to sell them.
We couldn't sell them on that big website you buy your books on because they didn't belong in any categories. I KNOW ITS NOT A THING. IF IT WAS ALREADY A THING THEN WE WOULDN'T HAVE TO MAKE IT OURSELVES.
And because it's not a thing? We can't put it on that other site that you bid for things on auction. Because nobody is going to look for a non-drinking calendar. Because nobody looks for imaginary things that don't exist. Unless we want to put it in the pet unicorn section, and such.
So Lucy and I decided just to leave the big websites alone. Maybe we will knock on doors and sell them, retro double-glazing salesman style. Who knows?
We wanted to make them the price of a bottle of wine. But we couldn't. Because we had to go with a more expensive design just to get the (now thankfully unsmug) paragraphs in.
Plus we wanted to donate proceeds to a charity. One that affects women who abuse alcohol. So we went with a cervical cancer charity, because we know that woman who abuse alcohol a lot don't get checked enough.
Lord knows I didn't.
So. If you are going to make a calendar this Christmas? Learn from my mistakes.
•don't dress like a wannabe themed-stripper in your photographs.
•understand your I.T. limits.
•make less than 10 phone calls a day to your calendar company.
•try not to get obsessed and spend 15 hours a day on it
•try to only make 1 version of it instead of 12 (if in doubt, see bullet point 2)
•don't make something that ISN'T A THING
•don't hand-write a personal letter to everyone who orders one. It takes bloody HOURS man (totally worth it though).