Why my mum is the best

I'm the type of person pretty used to doing everything myself, and I tend to need to get everything done before I can relax. It's probably driven by internal guilt, but if I'm applying for jobs I call it "work ethic" because that sounds more positive. Anyway, this is great for a writer as my procrastination time is minimal. Terrible, however, for keeping blood pressure at healthy levels, because sometimes perfect storms happen and a la Sheldon Cooper, I can't let it go. I'm getting to my Mum. Bear with me.

So, anyway, we moved house in the last week, and if that wasn't enough, leaving a rental property means the usual clean-all-the-things. Except of course that even declaring I would pay professionals can't get all the things cleaned, not at this time of year. Exit cleaners won't do blinds or curtains. The blind cleaners are on holiday. The dry cleaners have a backlog on curtains until the end of January, and of course we have to have everything sorted before the official end of lease just after new year. Which means, basically, now.

So, me being me I go look at the curtains. Their labels say they can be handwashed, so I drag them to the cottage laundry and do said washing. Hang them, dry them. And then they were crumpled as week old bedsheets. I tried to iron them according to instructions, but those creases were burned in there. Nothing was shifting them. Plus, Master A is trying to crawl under the ironing board, pulling on the enormous curtains or the iron cord, which must look like great toys. Put him in the other room, and, well, screaming.

It took me an hour to realise I was in over my head. The curtains might be clean, but they looked awful, and two of them were bigger than bed sheets - impossible to tackle in a cottage with what felt like a Barbie-sized ironing board. I called professional ironing people, who refused to do curtains. And finally, I tearily called my mum.

Fast forward an hour and a half and my mum and step dad were at my house. They drove 45 minutes across town the day before Christmas eve with a car full of equipment, borrowed my ironing board and iron, and told me not to worry. Two hours later and mum had not only made the curtains look AMAZING (ironing damp was the secret - mum's a fab seamstress and knows these things) but my step dad had cleaned all the blinds, something I hadn't even contemplated yet because ... well, the horror. Mum said she was happy to do it, enjoyed doing it (I don't believe that for a second, but I appreciate trying to make me feel better). 

It was such a relief to have them take that pressure off, at short notice with zero fuss. Not everyone is fortunate to have wonderful parents, but I wish for everyone to have someone in their life who they can turn to when everything is too much. And I wanted to put this up as a tribute to my Mum and step dad - you're wonderful people. Thankyou, and all my love. xxx

December News - The Horseman cover, writing with a baby, and other stuff.

So, yesterday I saw my first glimpse of The Horseman's cover. It looks mad (in the brilliant sense) and I'm itching to show it to you all. I will be giving my newsletter subscribers a sneak preview as soon as the final res comes through, so sign up if you haven't already. The next newsletter will also have a giveaway, some stuff about thus-far unpublished projects, and some useful Christmas-y stuff.

So that's that. Now, to the nuts and bolts of what I do each day, which is write. I'm currently writing the first draft of my next project, which involves the recent research trip to Parkes and a trip to Paris next year (so you can imagine how excited I am about it). I'm just under 30k in, which I've written since the start of December. That's not bad going, given I get about 2-3 work hours a day, and I've moved house in that time. This past few weeks (and months) has taught me a few things about writing:

  1. I work much better with time pressure. When the window is narrow, and I'm desperate to get those words out, procrastination has to bugger off. There's no time to stuff around. This is much like I used to write when I worked full-time. A few precious house in the evening and weekend was all there was, and I was incredibly productive.
  2. Staying in the chair ups the word count. Most of the time, I'm back to writing with the baby sleeping on my lap. Then, I can't get up. So the washing, the cleaning, the whatever else also must bugger off. There's no time for that.
  3. Social media has to bugger off too. This is my first blog in a while. I haven't been on facebook more than a handful of minutes. Nor twitter. Pinterest only for research board. There is zero time to spend chatting, commenting or engaging when you're writing a book.

My goal before Master A was to write 3000 words a day for first drafts. Now I aim for 2000, and most days I'm hitting it; some I do more, some a little less, and I don't expect words on the weekend. What's to learn from this? If you're writing and you can't get words done (and I see the problem a lot in my teaching), maybe ask yourself what else is occupying your time, and why that's so much more damn important than your book. Or ask if maybe someone needs to be figuratively standing over you with a whip - making a deadline could make a difference. Or are you saying to yourself that your writing doesn't matter as much as all this other stuff? (it does, by the way, your need to write is not mutually exclusive with other responsibilities, even parenthood - if this is you, you might be interested in this - I don't like everything about it but the spirit is good). Maybe another blog a later time on the real nuts and bolts of how I'm doing this (writing 2k a day while full-time caring for a nearly 9-month old). But for now ...

... I'll just end in saying, from amidst the pile of boxes in my house, best wishes to all for the upcoming festiveness, whichever variety of it you celebrate. Love and safety for everyone, and I hope Santa brings you good books :)