Flipping heck people, how did we get here yet again?
I know it's kind of becoming a tradition of mine that I write a blog post about this time of year. But September does things to me. I can't help but put fingertips to laptop keys and see where it takes me. Usually, predictably, it takes me to moaning. Complaining. Lamenting. God knows what I've got to complain about when there's chocolate in my fridge and a sea view out of my window. But us humans, we do like to sound off, don't we?
So I find myself yet again feeling all weird . . . a bit of a buzzy feeling in my limbs, a bit of a wobbly sensation in my heart. My kids are giving me that wide-eyed stare I get from them when my speech becomes alarmingly existential and the hubby is gearing up his compassionate nodding and tea-making capabilities.
I mean, as much as my heart thrummed in fear at the beginning of the summer, as much as I assembled my emotional armour ready for the twisted, sharp-edged fuselage of the summer holidays to hit me with full-force, the final death throes of it somehow always hit me harder.
Because I find that I coped with my kids being around all the time far better than I expected. In fact, no, I actually thrived on it. Who was that woman? I wonder, as I pick out the shards of a summer almost lost under the surface of my skin, who chuckled at the You Tube jokes, who joyfully cut the crusts off endless sandwiches? How did she not buckle in the same way her bank balance did? Or crumble like the flowers in the garden hit too often by a bouncing football?
And as much as I welcome the idea of getting back into a routine . . . school runs, washing uniforms, quiet lunchtimes, hot tea at my desk . . . I find the dark mornings stab at my psyche, the chilled air scrapes at my will power and the concept of time becomes ever-more daunting.
I think I can put a lot of this down to the fact that it felt like my summer strayed away from me. Whilst my kids thought their luck was in because I wasn't forcing them outside every day for wholesome activity and high japes, there I was at my desk, struggling to balance the weighty pull of motherly guilt and the fact that I needed to get my third novel written. No, not just needed, but wanted to get it written. Craved it, desired it . . . to the point where it was literally all I could think about until the words were done and bloody well dusted.
Any mother worth her salt (we're ALL worth our salt, by the way) will tell you about the completely unjust pull of motherly duties against the stuff we also actually want to do. And any mother with kids over the age of seven will tell you that it starts to get exciting because you can actually picture yourself doing that shit again. The baby and toddler stage is wonderful but it also comes at a cost. The cost of very rarely getting to do the stuff that makes your soul sing (apart from seeing your little angels grow, of course).
Now that my Lads can wipe their own bums and tie their own shoelaces and even go to the park on their own, there is a palpable fizz of excitement in the air for me. I can see now, that this novel-writing lark might be something more than a ticked-off item on my bucket list. That there are more books to be written and more ways in which I can justify calling myself a writer. My soul is singing and it doesn't care how loudly or out of tune.
So I spent a lot of my summer writing. I got up early most mornings (even when we were on holiday in my native north east) and I worked on the final revision of my third book, Everything Is Yours. I snatched minutes in between meal times and loads of washing . . . I sacrificed movie nights and midday naps . . . I kept telling myself that as soon as the book was done, I'd be able to get some more sunshine on the Lads' skin. I'd be able to pack picnics and climb trees and scour beaches and lick ice cream from my frenzied fingers. That plan would have worked out, too, if I'd been able to write like a robot rather than a human being.
Because writing a book is HARD. Yes, I've done it before and yes it does, as previously agreed, make my soul sing. But that doesn't mean it's not a bloody great challenge. They call it 'creative' writing, but sometimes I think writing a novel is more like a mathematical equation. And I'm not good at those. Never have been.
Because, if you want your book to appeal to the masses, to swallow people up in the compelling surge of sparkling story, then you've got to get the components right. Plot, character, arc, style, setting, substance, themes, logic, tension, catharsis - the more I read myself, the more I realise this is true. So there were times during this summer when I felt my kids had lost me to the most elaborate algebraic calculation known to man . . . whilst they fired up their fifth game of Fifa on the PS4 and their skin sadly lamented that day's distinct lack of vitamin D, I was drowning at my desk in the tangled plot-lines of Everything Is Yours.
I guess what's happening here really, is a classic case of mother's guilt. Now that the sun is beginning to be smothered by the glacial promise of autumn and winter, I'm indulging too readily in the possibility that I may not have been the perfect mother this summer. I should know by now, after thirteen whole years of motherhood (yes, Big Lad is a teenager now. No, I don't know how it happened), that guilt gets me nowhere. If anything, it actually pulls me back and that's not good for anybody.
So, if like me, you have not spent as much time with your children as social media would have you believe is required . . . if you too beat yourself with a stick invisible to anybody else but that leaves bruises all the same . . . then please, all together, let's calm the fuck down.
What are you glad to leave behind this summer? What do you wish you'd got around to? Tell me! Let me know I'm not alone.
P.S. Everything Is Yours is the third book in the #LifeIsYoursTrilogy - If you enjoy heart-warming fiction with real soul, a touch of sass and a lot of adventure then you’ll absolutely love it! And the good news is that you can pre-order Everything Is Yours on Amazon today!
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