“weird” “new” “habits”

It was when I joked, “Yep, it makes me feel like a MAN!” and then the women laughed knowingly that I realised I’d surprised myself…

When I’m not doing fee-paying client work over here, I’m parenting or writing. Or researching for the writing. Or applying for grants, entering competitions…you get it.

This time last year I led the Rondo Writers’ Group in Bath. Babysitter ensconced (I’m on my tod), off I’d trot for the night. For single parents, getting out at night can be a pricey faff. But this year, as winter drew in, I knew I’d have to get out and went hunting for a regular babysitter.

Now one night a week, I night-write in a city comfy chair. Researching, scribbling, grinning wickedly in the dark. No housework,  TV, or small person announcing a poo. Just the project in hand. It’s gloriously productive and weirdly liberating.

Writers who parent, especially alone, for 2-3h babysitting cash and the coffee or beer, I’d say it’s money very well spent. I work intensely, freshly, with a sense of having earnt it. There’s no waste and it’s a treat.  If you try it, let us know.


My under-nourished child: writing

I’m writing again. After a year of office work fee-earning, a lot of high heels and suits, mind-shredding guilt and doubt, 800 commuting hours and a host of very unexpected experiences, I’m writing. Again.

And of course, a bit of writing stuff happened in the last year – one stageplay rewrite, a couple of 1-page TV proposals, a film treatment or two. But it was all tinkering, squeezed in around work, parenting and attempts at a life.

My clients – a few hundred miles away – and I knew this day would come. September 2015. My wee one starts school. And next week, a month (a month?!) of two- and three-hour school days ends and he goes full-time. I’ve saved up, cut our living costs and am hoping to buggery one of my writing seeds grows a financial leaf.

I’ve questioned long and hard whether I’m writing for the right reasons. My need to write has not been a pleasure these last 12 months. It’s upset me, tugged at my cuff, tripped me up, made me bloody miserable. I haven’t been able to look after this need – it’s been like a child I can’t nurture, a source of shame and conflict.

So this week, I completed a short monologue. It’s quite good. And I loved it. No big length to achieve – just 2 minutes max. I can still write (ticker tape is falling), I made a new world. I’m working up film ideas with a director and watching several creative friends achieve great things and couldn’t be happier for them (a great sign of optimism, knowing you’re not jealous!).

Needless to say, if you need a writer, you know where I am. And in the meantime, watch this space. (I’m back!)

Writing, kids and all that jazz

No, I am not in Edinburgh, catching all the top acts de nos jours (damn). I am working. Uhuh, as per that list in the previous post. I have one more week left of Daddy DayCare (teacher husband) where I can type all day.

The pressure is terrifying.

Before marriage, step-kids, baby “etc”, I’d do 15 mile runs. I think I ran 500 miles the first year I left London. Sometimes, it was PJs all day, just to write. Or inspiration-filled walks, notepad in pocket (I had a real job, too, like now; it just doesn’t take every day).

Now, it’s constant clock-watching: when’s school over, when’s teatime, have I time to go to the shops? If I go to the shops, is that selfish, ‘cos they’ve given me a quiet house to work in today? Insane!

I could say, urgently, defensively, right now, “I’m not complaining!” But actually, unreasonable, childish though it might be, I obviously am a bit. I’d never swap the kids for the writing time (again, obviously), but it is …different.

Thankfully, I know that while this different way of working can be a bugger to live with (making ME a bugger to live with), it makes me a better writer. Yes, I’m plugged better into the experience of the huge numbers of parents in our society and that is huge. But more, it’s something to do with me being a better empathiser (husband, if you read this, you can get back on your chair now). I was probably just crap at it before and am now reaching the levels of normal empathy acquired by your average 13-year old.

Oh, well. Time to pop into town, then….

image (c) wannabememoirist.com