Spanner + Crap

The spanner in the works of my grand master plan (2-4 hours of editing a day until the end of August, fitted in around and between naps and/or achieved by foisting Offspring onto family / bystanders) is the Summer Holidays – which are fast approaching. How can I write when there’s no school during the day? How did I forget about the summer holidays? Who gets five whole weeks off?

Today and yesterday was my first taste of looking after two children at once and on my own. Cheesy Peeps! Highlights of the days include: being covered in crap at various points. Having crap (actual crap – I’m not being writerly here) in my hair. Taking a full three hours to get two children washed, fed and dressed and realising at the end of it I was neither washed, fed nor dressed myself. It will get less tricky as I do it more often, like everything does (except for driving, speaking in public, making friends, losing friends, writing books) but today I am shattered.

And need to do my 2-4 hours once Offspring are asleep.

Luckily, this quiet, painstaking, solitary type of work where the only noise is the scrape of the pencil and the clatter of my keyboard is exactly the sort of thing I want to do and just the sort of activity to soothe my frazzled nerves after my days of chaos. I also plan on devoting a tiny amount of time to preparing a speech directed at Himself – convincing him that we need to hire a wife of some kind; someone to look after us and deal with the crap (actual).

I am not good at realising I have (actual) crap in my hair, or working out how you’re supposed to take a shower when there are two small people competing for your attention, or stopping myself from unleashing a torrent of gutter-language when I realise, just as I’ve stood on a piece of Lego in my bare feet, again, that there’s crap on my bed (actual). I am not good at being able to cook / iron / drink tea with a baby under one arm AND a Small Fry demonstrating her new bubble dance.

I am good at fearsome amounts of will power and mind-over-matter type behaviour though. My self discipline is enormous. Never underestimate how much of writing well is turning up at the desk when you don’t want to. Bum in chair, every day, until the days stack up and become a novel. Joyce Carol Oates wrote in her journals that even when her ‘soul was as thin as a playing card’ and she felt she had nothing in her to put down on the page, she’d get to her desk and the act of writing sorted her out (I’m paraphrasing – too tired to go and get the book and check).

I am off to sharpen my pencils again. Wish me luck.  

6 responses to “Spanner + Crap”

  1. Emma says:

    Good luck!!!!!!! xx

  2. Identify with this completely. Now son is all grown up, there are still totally unexpected distractions. Like grown up son home for summer, and needing lots of advice. (And then, you become aware that this may be the last summer when he IS home for the summer and you don’t want to miss it!) Like retired family ringing doorbell for tea and chat. Like endless phonecalls from friends who don’t write.
    Only friend who is visual artist and lives just down the road understands how work sorts us out! We email encouragement. The best times, though, are still late at night, peaceful, no phones, a little music, and the PC and me.

  3. Sandy Calico says:

    It does get easier (the looking after two children thing, not the driving, speaking in public, making friends, losing friends, writing books things). x

  4. Thank you, ladies. I’m a late at night writer too, Catherine.

    Sandy – I’m glad to hear it. A couple of mornings this week I’ve wished I had a garden shed to go and hide in! 🙂

  5. Emily says:

    I can’t imagine how hard it must be with two. I’d forgotten that stuff about getting the child ready then not being ready yourself – doubled it must be horrendous. Your writing self-discipline is extremely admirable. I am also dreading the school holidays. I am getting beter at public speaking but I will never, ever drive and losing friends and writing books are very difficult indeed.

  6. Emily – most of the time, it’s fine. The transition from one to two has not been nearly as traumatic as the transition from none to one. You’re already used to having no privacy, money, time or sleep. But when it is bad (nappy explosion on the way to the car for school run = screaming baby + tantruming five year old) it is fairly bad… the blog post was about sitting down to write anyway, and it soothing my nerves rather than being One More Thing.

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