Today, I woke up in a good mood. I knew it was a good mood because I know what it feels like to be in a bad mood. ‘Bad Mood’ has been in my head quite a lot recently.
The overriding reason I woke in a good mood is because for the first time in a few months, I’ve been able to focus on writing, properly, wholly, and that’s because my kids started their new school on Tuesday and it went really well. Simple. I’ve been in a bad mood because I’ve been worried about them and how they would cope with what felt like a major change (they are aged seven and five), and therefore have not been able to give my writing the focus it needs. I touched on this in a post some weeks ago – Third novel hiatus. How in order to write well, you need to dive in and give yourself to the work. It needs to occupy your waking thoughts, your last thoughts, your dreams. It’s tough, particularly when you have children, and even more so when you’re about to throw them into a whole new environment where they will have to get to know the landscape and make a bunch of new friends. My kids are pretty damn cool, I must admit. They have coped amazingly well. They are full of smiles and talk when I pick them up, and my daughter is even enjoying her homework!
It’s been an interesting journey for me to understand that a lot of my anxiety about them is about my own experience as a child. Aged eight, I went from a liberal experimental state school to a convent (despite the fact I was not Christened), where the nuns slapped us with rulers and slammed our heads against the wall. My mum was a stalwart at home, as ever, while my dad was drifting around Hampstead, dressed in the colours of the sunset with a portrait of his guru in a mala around his neck, while adamantly failing to keep any of his promises. One day I walked out of school, took the train from Hampstead to Islington, and got lost trying to get home. I eventually knocked on my front door and told my mum I never wanted to go back there again. So, perhaps this has something to do with my anxiety.
Anyway, having fab kids is part of the reason I was in a good mood. The other is that I’m starting to put my feelers out to get some work. With the kids new school and longer school hours, I have more time, which means I might even be able to make a bit of money and continue to write fiction at the same time (money and fiction in the same sentence, now that’s something). I came upon an interesting project via Twitter this week called the Womentoring Project http://womentoringproject.co.uk/about-2/ , which has been set up by author Kerry Hudson to try to help hook up female writers with good mentors and editors for free. She put a question out on Twitter to see who might volunteer a few hours of their time, and the response was amazing. She has an impressive list of female published authors, along with some top female fiction editors. Having been made chair of North London Writers http://northlondonwriters.tumblr.com, a writing group that meets once a month, I feel I’ve had some good experience in critiquing fiction. I have also learnt so much from other readers’ opinion of my work. Writers need readers, and it’s hard to find experienced readers who will be honest and critique well unless you have the money to pay for it. I was lucky to do an MA and then to keep up my relationship with my tutor, Jane Rogers, who mentored me through my second novel (the Arts Council funded me for this, which was a Godsend). So the Womentoring Project feels like an important venture. I look forward to seeing who I get paired up with.
It’s Friday, yay! I’m going to have a ‘Good Mood’ weekend.