A Day in the Life of a Writing Mum

5am. Get up with children. Stagger to sofa and plan to be really disciplined and open laptop. As soon as I’ve woken up a bit.

6am. Wake up on sofa; rub crusted drool off chin and rub crayon off walls. Note to self: mustn’t fall asleep while toddler is up and crayons are within reach.

7am. Breakfast. If I can, I’ll squeeze in twenty minutes writing before school run. Plenty of time, shouldn’t be a problem.

8.40am. Scream at children to get in car. Run back into house to retrieve forgotten bag/coat/shoes/all of the above. Will write after dropping son off at school.

9am. Back home. Will write now. Just got to check twitter.

9.40am. Oh dear. Toddler needs nappy changing – pref ten minutes ago. Clean up. Disinfect hands. Will write now.

10am.  Open laptop. Notice smell. Change toddler. No disinfectant needed this time. Will write now.

10.05am. Toddler crying. Find biscuits, hand packet to toddler. Will write now.

10.10am. Can’t possibly write till I’ve had a cup of tea. Kettle on. Will check twitter while waiting for it to boil.

11am. Re-boil kettle.

11.30am Sit down with cuppa.

11.31am. Toddler crying and rubbing eyes. Cuddle in and she goes to sleep. Eventually.

12pm. Lunch. Make lunch for self and husband. Sit down with it, toddler wakes. Make lunch for toddler.

1pm. Wash dishes from last night’s supper, today’s breakfast and lunch. Will write now.

2pm. Better just change washing over. Also toddler wants to watch Mr Tumble.

2.30pm. Sit down with laptop. Will write now.

2.35pm. Toddler climbs onto lap. That’s fine. I can balance laptop on sofa arm and toddler is snuggled in watching CBeebies. Start typing (after just checking twitter).

2.50pm. Toddler decides to help with typing.

3.10pm. Realise time. Jump up and DO NOT SWEAR (honest gov). Throw toddler in car and race to school. Note to self: must walk for school pick-up more often. Will write on return.

3.30pm. Return home. Discuss school with son. Have had more informative discussions with a brick wall. Give up and talk about Ben10 instead.

4.30pm. Finish talking about Ben10. Need to just check washing. And twitter.

5pm. Need to make tea.


5.10pm. Search through cupboards and freezers.

5.40pm. Look for pizza shop menu.

6.30pm. Tidy up; children in bath; rubbish in bin. Note to self: mustn’t get mixed up.

7pm. Sit down to write.

7.05pm. Could really do with a shower.

7.30pm. Finish shower. Sit down with drink and laptop.

8pm. Wake up. Realise have been asleep on z key. Delete 4 pages of zzzzzz. Rub crusted drool off chin.

8.15pm. This needs coffee. Put kettle on. Check twitter while waiting for kettle to boil.

8.45pm. Re-boil kettle.

8.55pm. Sit down with coffee and laptop. Toddler crying. Go to get her back to sleep.

9.30pm. Wake up with head on toddler’s bed and complete lack of muscle tone in neck.Rub crusted drool off chin.

9.40pm. Put laptop away and go to bed with cup of tea and book which I stay awake until half eleven reading.

Will write tomorrow. 

To my husband on his birthday

Today is my husband’s birthday (I’m actually writing this the night before so let’s hope scheduled posting works, eh WordPress?). I love birthdays; I always try to make the most of them and make the birthday person feel special.

That’s not always that we buy the most expensive presents, although he’s arranged some amazing presents for me over the years with love and thoughtfulness. And I’m afraid he’s going to have to wait at least another year for the house in France (besides, they’re murder to giftwrap, only Steve Martin can get a bow big enough). But this year I’ve hopefully got him presents he’ll like and I’m pretty sure the things the babies have done will make him well up.

To finish the day off, I wanted to do him my own tribute here on the blog. I’m by no means a poet and I make no grand claims about the quality of what follows; except to say it’s from my heart and with much love to you, Andrew.

On Your Birthday

You think you’re getting old, my love

You fret about grey hairs

I’m sorting out a zimmer, love

A lift for those darn stairs.

But you see, it’s just not true, my love

You’re in the prime of life

With those two gorgeous kids you love

And a most besotted wife.

Your future’s just beginning, love

I know how bright you’ll shine

And I will be with you, my love

Until the end of time.

In the Wishing Chair

This is a very quick post, which I may expand in the future. I’ve tweeted a couple of times about my new project – In the Wishing Chair.

It’s a podcast dedicated to writing for children – I say writing, I also mean illustrating, publishing and of course reading the books. It came about mostly because I enjoy podcasts and there are some really great ones for writers, but I couldn’t find any about writing for children. So, in the best spirit of “If you want a thing done do it yourself” I decided to make one.

I really didn’t want to make anyone listen to me witter on, so I tentatively approached some people about being interviewed via Skype and the result is what I intend will be a roughly fortnightly show comprising an interview with someone connected with writing for children with links about them on the tumblr blog that accompanies the podcast. There’ll be the odd one that IS just me wittering on, like the short introductory one I sent live this evening, but it’s mostly interview-based. I love the range of kind souls that have joined in so far – there should be loads of collective wisdom when the episodes start building up from all aspects of the trade. And I’m very lucky in some of the interviews I’ve got; I’ll say no more until I’ve recorded them in case they get cold feet!

Most important of all, this is a massive leap into the unknown for me. I don’t really have much confidence in myself at all and until now have had a deep dread of ‘putting myself out there’. This is kind of me saying to myself ‘knickers to that, I’ve got something to contribute and I’m going to beat myself and do it’. Feel the fear and do it anyway kind of malarkey.

The first episode is now LIVE at In The Wishing Chair and it’s really very short. I know I need to relax a bit more but I’m hoping that will come as I do a few interviews. Please bear with me and give it a try, I hope it’ll be a lot of fun!



ABBA Lit Fest!

One of my favourite blogs is the Awfully Big Blog Adventure. It’s run by the Scattered Author Society, a group of very talented children’s authors who take turns writing some fascinating posts. If you’re interested in children’s writing, as a writer, reader or parent (or general busybody) it’s definitely a site to bookmark.

So imagine my excitement when I got a message to say that ABBA were running a literary festival – online! For 2 days these lovely people are going to be posting articles and interviews every half hour. I’m especially looking forward to the videos, of which Lucy Coats is definitely doing one, and the competitions. Oh rats, I didn’t mean to tell you about those. I want to win. Ah well.

One of the reasons I’m SO excited about this is because I just have this feeling that children’s literature is taking off in a major way. The children’s writers community is taking to the possibilities of the internet in the most motivating and inspirational way, and this festival is a big part of that. And it IS a community, make no mistake. As I’m finding my contacts online focus naturally on children’s writers as I become more confident in my potential to join their ranks, and as I have more ‘Real Life’ contact with children’s writers, I can say I have rarely found a group of people that support each other so much and that get excited by each other’s successes. I think writers in general seem to be this way (with the odd exception of course…) and children’s writers especially so.

So I will be joining in with the ABBA Lit Fest with enthusiasm and I highly recommend you join me!

Edited to add: D’oh! Forgot to mention the dates. 9 & 10 July 2011! 😉


Forcing the Issue

When I started taking writing seriously and thinking “I could actually, maybe, possibly, get something published”, my mind leapt ahead to all the deep and meaningful books I could write. Books that got reviews like “Profoundly moving” and “Speaks volumes about the human condition” and “The most important book you’ll read this year”.

I wanted to write books about Issues – the real important problems facing the world. Trafficking, drugs, debt, faith, parenting (trust me, this IS a problem!), world poverty, underage pregnancy, teen alcohol addiction, war… the list could go on and on and on.

The problem is that once you start thinking about what you could write about instead of what you want to write about, it’s kind of forcing it and it doesn’t feel natural. At least, that’s what I’ve found. And what I want to write about is people.

The best feedback I’ve had on my work is when I’ve started with a character and nothing else. Not a plot, not a problem, not an issue. I don’t know if it’s my particular wiring that makes me connect better to a character and their story this way, but it does seem to be how I work, and from chats with writerly friends I’m not alone.

That’s not, of course, to say that issues have been ruled out. No serious books here thank you very much. No, it just means that I have to approach my writing in a different way. Instead of thinking, ‘How can I write about bullying?’ I would write a much better book if the character I’m engaged with happens to be being bullied. Or even being a bully themselves. Kind of, if I end up dealing with a Serious Issue, it’s a bonus and a context, rather than the reason for the book. An effect rather than a cause.

Hopefully this will also mean that if and when I do write about Serious Issues, not having to force them into my work will mean that I can treat them sensitively and with much more depth. And maybe one day, someone will actually say “Profoundly moving” about a book that I’ve written.