Friday, 26 July 2013

Summer of Love - Andrew Strong

I’m tired. Too tired to play with you. Entertain yourself. I’m too tired to think, let alone write. Life is exhausting. Life is killing me. Dream up your own blog, yours will surely be better than this desperate jumble of vaguely writing related rants.

Listen, don’t read my blog. Look at the hedgerows and the trees. See the sun sparkle on the sea. Listen to a blackbird, or a thrush, or whatever little brown bird it is making all that noise. Smell the newly mown grass, the honeysuckle, the coffee, the roads melting.

Still with me? Oh, fair enough. Here goes then.

I finished the first draft of my next novel back in March, I put it away knowing I was close to getting it right, but too overwhelmed by work and life to sort it out. I put it away and forgot about it. It was nice, the feeling that it was there, simmering, my new book, so I could get on with real life, and specifically my day job.

My day job squeezes every cell of creativity. I’m a headteacher. I spend more and more of my working day fulfilling daft bureaucratic obligations, ticking boxes, writing policies no one will ever read. On those days when I feel completely strangled by the idiocy of ministerial initiatives, when nothing makes any sense, when I have to meet with parents whose children are struggling to read and I have explain that progress might be slow and it won’t be easy, and I have to be careful with each and every word, and, at the same time, thinking of the mountain of irrelevant stuff that I’ll have to sift through before I can go home, then the thought that my book is sitting at home, the world I’ve created, waiting for me to rediscover it, this, more than anything else, keeps me going. When the summer holiday comes, I say, then I shall rediscover my book, then I shall find my book.

And so it’s the summer. Here I am ready to open the file, start work again. Except I’m still too tired, too angry, too twisted up. The residue of the day job lingers like the smell of dead fish. I need the day job, I need the money, I can’t quit. And I have children on the verge of leaving home, they’re ready to go but can’t quite make the leap. I want them to go, I need them to go, they should go, but they won’t. They eat everything, they use up all the electricity and bandwidth, all my patience, they fill the house with their noise, their quirky slang and their discarded snack food packaging. I love my children, I will miss them, but I want to get on, I want to write my book.

Yes, it’s the summer, so I can write! No. You’re wrong. It’s the summer and we must enjoy ourselves. We must be seen to be enjoying ourselves. When I remonstrate that we don’t need to do these things, that all I want to do is curl up with a good book – my book – the children tell me I’m miserable or boring or some such other lazy adjective.

So we zoom to a cottage by the sea. We swim, surf, paddle, kayak, eat outside, visit a dismal local attraction, see a film, laugh at panting dogs, run up and down cliff paths, get sunburnt, make seaweed wigs, spot a celebrity, guzzle Cornettos and finally, when we’ve had our fill, and there is no more work, or fun, to be done, and the children are sated and silent, and the house sleeps, then, perhaps then, I will tiptoe downstairs and be where I want to be, writing my book.


Mystica said...

You are getting there and that is an achievement. I know you want to get there faster but life is getting in the way!!!

Elen C said...

Send the children to live in the holiday cottage. Visit them at weekends to do family stuff. Five whole days of silence for you and an education on looking after themselves for the kids. Win-win!

Oh, apart from teenage parties destroying the cottage and you being unable to sleep for worrying about them...
Good luck!

Heather Dyer said...

I'm amazed that your children still want to go on holiday with you! You must be doing something right ;)

Penny Dolan said...

Andrew, a zillion sympathies! You describe the eternal problem of working as a teacher and wanting to write. And, imo, the summer holiday can increase annoyance and anxiety as all that precious time you'd "reserved" in your mind for writing gets eaten away.

I do so hope you get some quiet time for yourself and your writing before it all starts again.

Joan Lennon said...

For what it's worth, people always tell me to have faith in the festering time. But yes, it's hard, family.

Good luck!

Carole Anne Carr said...

We are all torn like this. When teaching, too tired, family. Now I'm old, invalid husband, but I keep pushing on. Good luck. :0)

sensibilia said...

Think of your pension, and it will all fall into place. When you are receiving a steady secure income for doing nothing, you can go back to writing.

Re holiday cottages - well as a mother am slightly different. A lot of my happiest family memories revolve around holiday cottages.

Nicola Morgan said...

Andrew, you sound very very tired, and totally understandably so. Your nearly grown-up children need to understand what this book means to you, how it gives you life and heart and how you need it. I think it's hard for others to understand, but sometimes it's hard for us to understand how hard it is for them to understand if we don't show them. You love your children, as parents do, but you deserve and need something for yourself, too.

Anonymous said...

The holiday sounds brilliant. Let the book go, enjoy the outdoors and the activity. These memories are priceless.