Mad head. Sore back

I made these cakes
I made these cakes

It was my daughter’s birthday this week, which coincided, as with any week, with a lot of homework, and her mother on a deadline. That last bit is not so usual, although I do spend much of my working time in a state of panic at how much I’ve got to do, and how little time I have in which to do it. I am submitting the first draft of my novel to my writer’s group in three weeks. This is exciting in some ways, as it means I can dump the thing into someone else’s hands and get on with living; but it’s also terrifying, as my writer’s group are a scrupulous bunch, who find fault in many things. Recently, while writing, I’ve had one particular member’s voice creep into my head: ‘Like, Really? No, No, No, No. I’m sorry, but that is really irritating.’ She is brilliant, but she is hard to please. I’m learning, with the help of her voice, to be my own harshest critic (I’m going to quote Zadie Smith, here: ‘… try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.’) Better to take criticism at the editing stage, rather than be crucified at publication.

Sorry, I got waylaid. Where was I?

Busy life. Daughter’s birthday. Deadline. The things I will do when the MS is out of my hands:

• Sort out kids toys, which are currently scattered in a multitude of boxes and shoved onto shelves with a load of unrelated plastic, which belongs in the bin, but which gets shoved back onto shelves to save time going downstairs to get a bin bag.

• Sort out their clothes, so that their vests are in the vests drawer, rather than the trouser drawer, their pants are in one place rather than in all drawers; their socks are in pairs. Where the hell are all their socks?

• The cats need attention.

• Hell, I need attention.

I have a bad back. It’s really painful. When I move my neck, my upper back spasms. I know this is due to a combination of sitting at a desk for long periods of time without getting up, stretching, making a cup of tea, or having a wee break, and being thrashed at Jim Kerr’s Bootcamp, having had a summer off – thanks Jim. My triceps shrunk so much after last week’s session that I couldn’t touch my face for days: couldn’t wash; blow my nose; do my teeth or hold a cup of hot milky coffee to my lips. I haven’t been sleeping very well, been worrying about my book. I haven’t read anything other than my own words for many weeks. I keep eating chocolate because I’ve given up booze.

So, how can I make my life easier/more pleasurable?

• Take a yoga class

• Read some good fiction

• Have a haircut

• Buy myself some new clothes, maybe some nice winter boots.

• Go for a long leisurely walk and think of nothing.

Where did I start this rambling?

It was my daughter’s birthday this week, she turned eight, and I made 24 cup cakes for her classmates, wrapped ten presents, and sang happy birthday songs, and this weekend we’ve got ten children coming round to create havoc in the house – three of them are staying the night. There’s lots of laundry to do, and cooking, and washing up and things need to be read and more writing to be done, and then there’s the trips to and from school, and instruments that need to be practiced, and the cats who yowl at me and try to sit on my lap the moment the kids leave the house, and the deadline. Oh, yes, the deadline, and the voice in my head.

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