Tag Archives: Time

Stolen moments

I had such a lovely writing day today.

I don’t take any of my writing time for granted: it took years for me to pluck up the courage to put pen to paper at all, and when I was teaching full time I rarely had the headspace to write anything longer than flash fiction, or sometimes a bad poem.

Getting stuff written has moved much higher up my list of priorities since I became a mum, but between entertaining a three year old and a growing smorgasbord of employment it can still be hard to find the time. I’m still working on making mornings work, and otherwise guiltily catching up during Arthur’s afternoon nap when I should really be focusing on the rest of my to-do list.

Today, though, was different.

I dropped Arthur off at forest school at 9.15. That may seem like an innocuous statement, but it was actually the first time we’d left him with anyone other than my folks, and the first time he’d been in an ‘educational setting’ for longer than the hour his gym class lasts. I wasn’t worried: the couple of sessions I’ve been to with him convinced me that it was exactly the sort of environment I wanted him to be spending his time in. Still, though, his wobbling lip and wide eyes almost weakened my resolve.

But I have a deadline to keep. And I’ve already put it back twice.

I wandered off through the little village of Stoke Gabriel, heading for a cafe by the waterfront. It was such a beautiful morning that I decided to start off outside, pitching myself up with my laptop on a bench overlooking the weir. There’s definitely a lot to be said for not being tied to my desk.

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After the first few hundred words, I decided I needed a coffee. So inside, for a flat white and a glass of water and a few more hundred words.

Then when I hit a wall again, I went for another meander. I didn’t really know where I was going, but I figured it would be difficult to get lost. I found a bench, up above the road with a view down towards the river, just at the point when the next flash of inspiration hit, so I stayed there for a while.

My last port of call was a pub, for a pint of lime and soda and a little burst of internet. Despite being connected to the world I still managed to get something written, ending my morning’s mobile session at 2,669 words.

What was especially wonderful was that I hadn’t had to rush. I had almost four hours of writing time in total, broken up by walks to kick my brain into gear again. And in that time I could let my mind wander too, and find new ideas in my daydreams.

I’m not sure how often I will have days like today – in the time I was gifted or the headspace to use it well – but I am grateful for this one I had.

And, at the end of it, I am that little bit closer to achieving my goal…

 

Writing Bubble

Reading

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My most common lament over the past two years is how little time I’ve managed to set aside for reading. It’s been such an important part of my life – I’ve written before about some of the books and authors that shaped me, and obviously in my ten years as an English teacher it was at the very core of what I did.

But since becoming a mum books have taken on a somewhat soporific quality. The pile of things I want to read has been growing bigger and bigger, but no sooner have I got a few pages in than my eyelids have begun to close. That hasn’t been universally true – I have managed to finish some books – but certainly nowhere near as many as I would have liked.

This state of affairs is particularly ridiculous given my current ambitions to be a published novelist. I may not have read many novels since Arthur’s been born, but I have written two! In some ways this is part of the problem. I don’t really like to read fiction when I’m in the midst of working on a work of my own. I think I’m worried that too much of what I’m reading might seep into my words. But I can’t be a writer without being a reader, there’s just too much I still have to learn.

So this week I decided, whilst mulling over the feedback I’ve been given and my own ideas for the next edit of my novel, that I would make time to read. And it’s been awesome!

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It’s been surprising how many moments I’ve actually been able to find to lose myself in a book. And also how long I’ve managed to read for without falling asleep when my reading time wasn’t relegated to when I was already tucked up in bed…

I’ve read two novels already since last weekend, and I’m just getting stuck into a third. The first two were thrillers I hadn’t read before – You Should Have Known and The Book of You, both fantastic and more than a little bit creepy. The third is an old favourite of mine, The Time Traveller’s Wife. All three have certain things in common with the novel I’m currently working on, and being immersed in their worlds has helped me realise things about the one I’m trying to create – an added bonus to what has generally been an immensely enjoyable week.

My reading certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by Arthur either: he’s been increasingly curious about what I’ve been up to (when he’s been awake) and has often crawled into my lap to take a closer look. I think he’s been a bit miffed by the lack of pictures, but it’s inspired him to pick up his own books too.

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He loves books anyway, and adores being read to, but there’s been something very special about both sitting quietly reading. Arthur has actually discovered a new favourite book in The Little Engine That Could. We discovered the film a couple of weeks ago – it was kind of inevitable really given his general train obsession, and we’ve both really enjoyed it. He was thrilled to find the characters also existed in the pages of a book, albeit in a slightly different story.

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It has been so brilliant to break through the barriers I’d put up for myself and sink into some really good books. I should do it more often I realise, though I think I’m pretty much ready now to get back into my own. In fact I’m really looking forward to it.

 

The Reading Residence

 

Just a matter of time

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Time is a weird thing. On one level it should be pretty straightforward: seconds and minutes and hours and days that are clearly defined, easily comparable and impossible to argue with. Except it never quite works like that.

There are days when time seems to stretch out endlessly before me. When it seems to bend to my will, allowing me to squeeze out extra drops of possibility long after the well should have run dry. Those days were especially frequent when I was teaching. I’d look at my to do list in the morning, scrunching up my nose with the conviction that this would be the day that had me beat. And yet I’d find myself in the evening, exhausted with a glass of wine in hand, marvelling at all I’d managed to achieve. And I’d get up the next morning and do it again, continuing on repeat until the end of term finally appeared. Those days still happen now that I’m a work at home mum, though they’re coloured by the knowledge that not for a long time will I have a real holiday to collapse into. I’m wary when I feel myself straining against my limits as I know I cannot afford to break.

There are other days when time seems to eat me up. When everything seems to take forever, and the simplest tasks balloon out of my control. There have been more of those since I’ve been a mum: having a baby in hand makes rushing almost impossible, and the fog of sleep deprivation has much to answer for in its ability to mess with the very fabric of the universe.

My least favourite days are when time scares me. When it looms up out of nowhere and laughs at my dreams. In many ways I think I’m still extremely sheltered and naive: I haven’t yet had to cope with loss on any grand scale, and I’m only just surfacing out of that teenage belief in invincibility to realise that my time on this planet is not in fact infinite. I look at my son, think of all the things I want to show him, to experience with him, and sometimes I am filled with a sense of dread. What if there just isn’t enough time?

I chastise myself for the hours and days and weeks I wasted when I was younger – time spent on trying to make time go faster, to get to a place where I would be happy, where I didn’t have to try so hard any more.

Because now I’m here, and I want to savour every moment. I know that I can’t really change the amount of time I have left, but I also know that if there are days when ten minutes can feel like forever then I want to strive for that rather than let them pass in a flash. Everyone says that time speeds up when you have kids, but I’m not sure I’m willing to accept that.

So I will continue on my mission to bend time to my will, to see it less as a set of shackles I must comply with and more as a challenge to be overcome. The Doctor put it well when he spoke of ‘wibbley wobbley timey wimey’: certainly nothing to be taken too seriously, not when there’s just so much to do.

Thank you to Sara at Mum Turned Mom for inspiring this post with her prompt: ‘I wish I had more time…’

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