The power of Prioritising.

This week I was delighted to be invited by the lovely Melissa Addey (@MelissaAddey) to contribute to her brilliant thepraminthehall blog. You can read my post here. I talk about the importance of prioritising your time. We all need to ‘make’ our own time; it’s not simply given to us.
rabbit Alice in WonderlandRight now, there’s a laundry basket of wet towels that really needs my attention together with any number of  ‘other things’ I should be doing, but I have one hour before I have to collect my youngest from nursery and right now is the only ‘free-time’ I’m likely to get, so I’m doing this instead. I know on my deathbed I’ll not wish I’d kept a tidy house (though my husband might disagree!) I’ll be glad I tried my best to achieve my own goals.

What about you, what will you prioritise?

In other news, last week my writing group were given the Mark Strand poem ‘Lines for Winter’ were he writes to a friend suffering with depression. The poem repeats the line ‘tell yourself’ and it got me thinking about what we tell ourselves in order to keep us thinking our glass is either half full, or not. And what happens if we stop telling ourselves the positives and slip into the negative. My response to the poem is below. It just may have sparked another bigger story idea. You never know, there might be another book in me after all! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

I Tell Myself. (Lines for a wife)

I dreamt of you again last night.  I’m not sure if it’s you then, or you now. When I’m awake you’re out of reach. But, when I’m sleeping it’s… it’s like you’re beside me. I can almost feel you.  I worry I might utter your name for David to overhear. I feel guilty. I feel guilty for even thinking about you. But surely, an affair in my mind does not equal the same betrayal? Does it? I mean I never actually wouId…

I’ve been telling myself it’s an age thing. A mid-life crisis. A cliché. Something to do with turning fifty. Because it was all so long ago and we were children – really. I’m seeing it through rose-tinted glasses… aren’t I? There’s no way back, I know, but… a part of me, no –  all of me, would love to be with you again; young and free. We were together for a long time. Years too long.  Most of it has dissolved into the ether of my memory; taped up and packaged away under ‘when I was young’ and ‘first love.’ But some of it, tiny moments of it, have solidified and I continue to feel them. It’s unsettling. And then seeing you last week – well, I just can’t shake you from my skin. It’s as though you’re in my bones. Inside my head. I see you even when you’re not there.

I’ve been telling myself that this melancholy, this greyness hanging over me is hormones. Nothing more. Just stupid crazy, old woman hormones. Because I love my husband. Twenty-five years married and we’re still happy. I think. We’ve not turned completely inward with neglect.  Sure, life is not as exciting or carefree or passionate, but that’s normal – right? We don’t live on the same heightened spectrum of emotions; we’re not teenagers anymore. But then, David and I never were teenagers together – that was us – you and me.  In fact, David was already thirty when I met him; bruised and broken-hearted still from you. We used to spend hours in my bedroom, just kissing. We had nothing else to do. We had time to waste.  I’ve never had better. I wonder if we’d still be as good. We were each other’s first in… everything. It’s no wonder I still feel something for you. We were great together.

I’ve been telling myself to go to the Doctor, but what would I say? That I met an old boyfriend and now I think the last twenty-five years have been… what? A mistake? That I feel as though I’ve been sleep-walking, living only on the perimeter of happiness – not the full blown thing, the way it was with you. I’d be given some pills, for sure. But what would that solve? No. I’ve been trying to be an optimist about this. I’ve been trying to work out what I know. After all, on the eve of fifty I should know – something, right? So why do I feel as though I know nothing at all?

I’ve been telling myself that it’s being nineteen, I miss. Not you. It was a puppy love compared to the love required to sustain twenty-five years of marriage and parenthood. I wouldn’t swap David for you. He loves me and I love him. At least, that’s what I tell myself.


Don’t forget to stop and pick the blackberries.

Now that school has started back the days seem to fly by before I can grasp each one and look it in the eye. No matter how early I rise a single day never seems to hold enough hours for me. We have just begun a renovation project: it’s our dream house, our house for life, it seems unreal that it will actually be ours. It is another huge commitment that is not writing! Instead of spending precious child-free hours at my laptop  I’m as likely to to be found looking at wooden floors or bathrooms. In the past few weeks this has left me feeling stressed.

And then this happened.


On Sunday afternoon my boy and I went blackberry picking. In a matter of weeks he will be nine. He finds me embarrassing, mostly. He is growing up and pulling away from me. And then, on Sunday all he wanted to do was to walk the LONG way home, pick blackberries in the sunshine and hold my hand. It’s enough to bring a lump to my throat, even now. We spent nearly three hours wandering and picking and eating the best ones. I read Seamus Heaney to him which pretty much fell on deaf ears, but it put me in some kind of heaven.

The afternoon reminded me of the importance of  enjoying the moment, enjoying the day doing nothing, but doing everything.  Most days I am consumed by my focus to write, to etch out a quite time and space for myself in the day when I can chip away at my goal to get my second book finished and hopefully published. Sunday reminded me of my priorities. Yes, getting published is my own personal utopia, but amongst the bigger picture of my family it is very much my own personal dream.  It can never be at the cost of my boys, because like most mothers: it is to them that my life belongs. And what use are words without a life behind them to give them meaning.

Go on – find a blackberry bush and start picking, you’ll thank me for it! x


Do male writers get distracted by housework?


This question has been irking me for a while, but to be honest, I’ve shied away from it for fear of the stink it might cause. But, hey-ho in for a penny, in for a pound! Why not put it ‘out there’ on my new blog?

So guys, I’d like to know:

Does your writing time get squeezed by laundry?

Does it get slashed by cooking and preparation of family meals?

Does it only get started late at night once everyone else in the house is fed, watered and in bed?

Do you suffer guilt if you leave the breakfast dishes by the sink?

Do you hoover before you sit at your desk?

(And I’m not talking about procrastination here. I mean the day and daily tasks that must be done in order to keep a family functioning and living in a reasonably habitable environment. )

My guess is, probably, no. The above examples are  just a few of the reasons, why there are so few women earning a living from writing compared to men. My guess, is that men think, ‘sod the washing; it can wait’. My guess, is that men use their singular-tasking brains to give them tunnel vision to the end. My guess, is that men ignore all the domestic distractions and ‘Just Do It!’ Am I right? Men out there, please let me know.

And as for us ladies, it’s time to take a lead from the men, and JFDI!