Monday, 10 August 2015

Summer Days and Writing Ways by Eve Ainsworth

If I told you that this post nearly didn’t get written, would you be surprised? Those of you that know me wouldn’t. The fact was, I was lying on the beach, having my feet buried in a ton of wet sand when suddenly my brain clicked into gear.

“What date is it?” I asked my husband.

“The 9th. Why?”

“The 9th!” I jumped up spraying sand everywhere (most notably in my poor husband’s eyes) “It can’t be! I’m sure it’s only the 2nd or 3rd? Oh my god, I’ve got an ABBA post to write!”

“Abba?” He looked genuinely confused. “But you hate that group?”

(NB: I don’t hate the group but don’t I certainly don't love them enough to blog about them!)

“Oh god! Where have the days gone?”

Because that’s the truth of it. Summer comes, my kids are mine again full-time and my brain turns to putty. I no longer have routine. I barely know what day of the week it is, let alone the date - and my diet consists of ice cream and squashed picnic sandwiches. My poor work diary is buried under a pile of kids’ drawings and my Twitter feed is full of amusing kids’ quips rather than interesting writing facts. I’m no longer on writing forums. Instead I’m pleading for help on Facebook, asking where to take two high-energy bickering kids in the rain.

And writing. Huh? What’s that? I managed to squeeze some editing in while they bounced like deranged Tiggers on the trampoline, and I scrawl down ideas where I can. But in the main my mummy-autopilot is on. All I’m capable of saying is “don’t touch that!”, “please don’t hit” and “that doesn’t belong up your nose.”

Just last week I was standing at the cashpoint, one child tugging at my coat screaming “why can’t we put the paddling pool up?” the other child was circling on her bike whining “I’m bored” in a manner that drills insistently into your brain. A woman walked past me and gave me a wry look, “school holidays, eh?” She’d been there. She wore the scars. A day later the same child managed to get himself lost in a shop. After minutes of frantic calling, I found him posing as a shop dummy. I think my blood pressure had gone up a huge amount. I collapsed at home exhausted. I couldn’t bring myself to write Twitter update, let alone part of my novel.


                                                             (Spot the real kid!)

But Summer Holidays aren't all bad. I mean, yes the kids do frustrate me with their constant fighting and I do miss the freedom to write at 10am with no Tom and Jerry in the background. But when I do write it's good. And it's kind of more satisfying.  I just have to be more disciplined, like I was when I worked full time. I have to write in the small windows of time when they are eating their tea or are tucked up in bed. It’s smaller time slots, but it helps to keep me focused. I also plan to write a lot when we go to Devon. Long evenings with no TV should encourage me. It’s either that or endless games of Monopoly.
I've also enjoyed weekly trips to the library as my seven year old daughter tackles her first Summer Reading Challenge. Watching her curl up on the grass with another new book is wonderful. Actually it's one of the best things ever. Another reason why our library service is so vital.  
Soon the summer will be over and my writing routine will restart and I’ll miss the time with my kids. Which I guess, goes to show, it’s all about striking that balance.

 And ensuring you make the best of whatever time you have.
Eve Ainsworth is the author of 7 Days (Scholastic) a novel about bullying from two perspectives. Crush will be out March 2016.


John Dougherty said...

This so chimes with me - though now that my children are older it's getting easier to find writing time during the summer.

And on the bright side - a child posing as a shop dummy?!? There's source material for you!

Penny Dolan said...

Can foresee a lot of shop-dummy plots - or at least the temptation of such a plot! Enjoy your summer weeks, Eve.

Sheena Wilkinson said...

haha! I can SO identify with this this month. Even though I don't have kids or summer holidays as such, I had similar OMG What can I write about this month, and it CAN'T be a month since I last wrote for ABBA panic this week. Compounded by the fact that I am doing six r seven blog posts for my new book and didn't want to use that as a subject. I did come up with something in the end though, and even got it scheduled on the 11th for the 13th -- I always panic if I leave it later than that. It involves cake. Which is almost as nice as ice-cream.