Friday, 20 January 2012

If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write

I've got to say I'm not a big Stephen King fan. I'll admit he makes you turn the page, but I don't really seek out horror and gore so his novels are never going to appeal to me (I couldn't put down Cell, the only one I've actually read, but I still have nightmares just from the film of Misery (watched as a teenager, stupid mistake) and I can only imagine the book is even more horrendous). But, his On Writing is a classic, a work of genius, a book everyone who has ever considered writing anything should read. (I could write a list of such books: it would also include Francine Prose's Reading like a writer and Dorothea Brand's Becoming a writer, oh, there's a whole post worth of material here).
What was my point, before all those brackets?
It was that I'm standing at a crossroads, to use a terrible cliche. I'm trying to decide what to do with myself for the future, probably the next few years. I'd convinced myself that I needed to go back to work at least part time, for financial reasons, but actually I think we could, with a squash and a squeeze, manage if I didn't.
[brief interruption there as the milk siren went off]
The more I think about it, the clearer it becomes to me that I want to be the one looking after him while he's still small. I don't want him in daycare, not in any kind: I'm scared that no one but me can be tender enough to him. I know, I know, he will be older then, and tougher, and an altogether different baby, but I feel fairly sure that I want to avoid it at least until he can tell me (in words and sentences) how his day was. Plus, I want to wean him slowly and gently, and, and, and. But, and this has onlybecome clear to me by my pretending to myself that I'd made the decision not to go back, I'm also terrified of what I can only think of as the loss of self that would come with "officially" being a SAHM. I need to believe that I would be able to make time to do something else, not big or important or showy, not even necessarily lucrative, but something.
So, as part of the thought experiment, I want to start using all my pockets of time better. Taking as given that I will do the babywrangling, shopping, cooking, housework, life admin, and general erranding, my challenge to myself is to make sure that after all this gets done, and with my baby as contented, stimulated and generally joyful as it is possible to have him, I will do things, things that are in some sense important to me, every day. To make it conscious, I need to start by writing about it on here (yes, in my slightly pathetic idea of "doing things" writing my blog does count). Catching up on emails to those who are dear to me counts. Investigating (as long as it's not just idle web browsing) ways to make money through freelance writing or accounting stuff (any mumpreneurs reading this: would you be tempted to use an accountant who was a mother like yourself and would look after the bookkeeping/tax bit of your business in a way that suited both your and her other time commitments and need to get off the phone in a hurry sometimes? Would the thought that all that aspect of the admin was in safe hands be something that would encourage you to get going with a business idea?) counts. Even reading a book, pretty much any book, counts. What doesn't count? Blank wallying around on the internet; following blogs I'm not interested in (there are only one or two I plan to purge. Most of the blogs I follow have become very dear to me, each in their own way, despite never having met any of the writers); sitting blankly next to the baby while he's perfectly busy and entirely ignoring me; worrying about what people think about me.
If I can do this, if I can get into consciously using the bits of time that aren't occupied with my darling boy, then it gives me some faith that a longer hiatus from work wouldn't break me.
(It would help if he'd sleep, dammit)
(I've overused my bracket allowance for the year already. I could edit them out, only I actually think it illustrates pretty nicely the whirl of thinking that I'm in at the moment).
(So, today's items in this category: writing this post, some time reading fiction (because I am still going to manage to progress my novel); at least a couple of emails (about to be written)).
Did I mention that any positive thought waves would, as usual, be appreciated?


  1. Woooooooooooo! That's some positive thoughtwaves and also some slightly lazy cheerleading for you. Maybe we can sort this together eh?

    Oh, and I know I also make dreadful overuse of brackets, so don't worry about it (it settles my head too, I don't know how I'd do it otherwise). I think it's due to my super-high levels of intelligence and wit, which mean that all my thoughts tend to have about twenty-six sub-clauses, and so I run out of appropriate punctuation fairly quickly.

    (Please don't purge me, I'd miss you)

  2. Beth, how could I purge you, when you were my crunchy mummy inspiration even before I was pregnant?!
    Hurrah for mummies having big plans for the future...

  3. Oh Helen. I didn't reply to your last post because it was in a similar vein, and maintaining a sense of self in face of children is something that I continue to struggle with. It is worth the effort, but beyond a cheerleading moral support I don't think there's much I can offer here. If you figure it out, keep posting, some of us could definitely learn from you.
    (I had hoped to tackle another OU course to help keep the brain cells ticking over in this crazy few years of Weetabix and poster paint, but they've just trebled their fees - quite a hit for a single/no income house just to prevent a woman feeling like she is exclusively a mother).

    And yes, I would utterly trust a mum accountant - who is more on top of things, more used to multitasking, to getting things done than another mum? But no business myself. See earlier bit about lack of self. There are days I have to write my name to sign us into a group and I have to pause and think what it can possibly be, if not 'mummy'.

    Mum... I mean, Helen

  4. Oh, by the way, you're both lovely, thank you for commenting (and for managing to read to the end of such a long piece).
    Helen, that OU thing just sucks, doesn't it? I'd been toying with the idea of picking up something brand new once my current degree's done, but no flippin way am I doing it at their new prices. I promise I'll be posting about it when I find an alternative way of recovering it all.