10 Nov Mum’s the word
There are lots of us writers who are also full-time or part-time mummies. To juggle any kind of work and motherhood is difficult, especially when your children are small and the office is your home. Hectic days, broken nights, early mornings (my children rarely sleep through the night and are usually up by 5am!) can mean by the evening time, you no longer have the motivation or the energy to sit down and write. Sit down in a crumpled heap and eat chocolate, yes. But write coherent sentences? Unlikely. It can be very frustrating but I’d like to share some of the pros I have found.
Having small children around is marvellous for so many reasons. From a writing point of view, it’s wonderful. The things they say and do, how they react or even the programmes we snuggle down to watch together provide a brilliant source of inspiration. My first book, ‘Hodge the Hedgehog’ was written after my toddler struggled to pronounce the word ‘hedgehog’. Up until that point, the book hadn’t even occurred to me. Now I have so many books I want to write for them.
2) Your best critic
Children are great to run your ideas by: does your suggestion grab them? Do they respond with whoops of excitement or are they more interested in shoving Lego down the back of the radiator? And as you read your work in progress, what makes them laugh? And when do they start to fidget or find investigating the contents of their nose more appealing?
3) Fellow travellers
Perhaps my favourite aspect of writing with young children is that they are travelling the Writing Road with me. They wait with me for news from publishers (though possibly with more patience); they delight with me when copies of my latest book arrive (maybe because they spend weeks playing with the large box they come in). They rejoice with me as I share the latest exciting news and if the news is not so good, just being with them reminds me it really isn’t the end of the world.
All this I try to remember when I reach the end of my 2-hour child-free writing allocation each week, frustrated because I haven’t finished writing my chapter. Or when I’m frantically trying to scribble down an idea which has flashed through my mind…while simultaneously stopping a squabble, detaching a child from my leg and preventing the dinner from burning. Even if I can’t sit down and produce the novel I’d like to yet, I can still write in baby’s short naptime (‘unearth the kitchen’ is usually further down the list than ‘work on picture book’!) and I have stacks of notebooks full of ideas I’ll pursue in time to come. My children won’t be small forever. I guess you have to make the most of what you have, when you have it, whether that’s just spending time with the children or grabbing a moment’s peace and quiet to write your blog!