Meerkats and Girl Crushes.

So, I was horrendously nervous and just about got the words out, but I did manage to read my homework to my writing group. And guess what? No one died, no one fell on the floor laughing, no one said, “… and you’ve spent how many years doing this?” Instead, I got some valuable feedback with a large dollop of support and encouragement. This is surely the best thing about being part of a group, part of a community and makes all the fear worthwhile. And the guy below is my homework for this week. (You can read a short extract from my current book using his characteristics at the end of this post.) What characteristics would you give him? IMG_3709

I’m on a roll, and together with my new real-life writing group, I think I’ve discovered my online ‘home’. Selfish Mothers is a group of amazing women saying it how it is. I’ve only just dipped my toe in, but already I’ve got a serious girl crush on most of them! They are all so cool: I want them as my BFF’s now!  I know I’ve found the women to buttress me and guide me through my blogging endeavours and beyond. And the one thing that unites us? We are all trying our best, in different ways, to be the greatest mothers we can be, while keeping our own sh**t together too.

Now here’s that meerkat extract. I hope you enjoy.

Dearest Beth, do you remember our blinking competitions? You could beat the whole family at it. Our eyes would sting and water with the effort of keeping them open, while you would sit impermeable looking into some unseen middle distance. It was like stone had replaced your flesh. You’ve always been the serious one. You’ve never seemed to enjoy the lighter side of life. I’ve always found that strange; you were created out of so much love and joy. Those formative years were such happy ones for us as a family. Is it because I left you? Is it because you sensed the risk involved, even though, in those days it was very small? Maybe. Maybe, I should have stayed at home with you… I guess we’ll never know. As a baby you rarely cried and made very little sound. When you did begin to speak, at around three years old, you were polite and economical with your words, only speaking when spoken to and little else. Of course, I’ve worried all these years that I somehow passed on my burden of secrecy to you, but that surely was impossible – wasn’t it? But when you were younger, and even sometimes now, you’ve a way of looking at me that makes me feel as though you’re looking through me, reading the truth of me, clearly telling the colour of the lies I’ve told. You’ve always seen me with such… accusing eyes; direct as an arrow through my heart. The sharpness of you has cut me often. Why have you always stood apart from the rest of us? Alert and ready to run, instead of enjoying the safety and comfort that comes with a family herd. What sixth sense has made you so untrusting that you’ve gone through life sensing danger, when often, there was only the safety of those that loved you.                                         

When you were little you developed a knack for entering a room silently. I could be reading, making the dinner or performing some other domestic task blissfully unaware of your presence until you’d speak. It never failed to startle me. I would never know how long you’d been standing there observing, or what invisible thought process you might have witnessed… I had a terrible habit of talking to myself, of verbalizing conversations before I had them. It’s always concerned me what whispered secrets you might have heard. You never mentioned them if you did, but then you wouldn’t, would you? In my mind’s eye I can see your four-year old self, standing with your eyes half-shut singing, ‘I can still see you. Look Mummy, I can still see you even with my eyes closed!’ And I’ve always felt that you could ‘see me’ in a way that the others could not. If that’s the case, maybe this book will not hold any revelations for you, but simply be an affirmation of what you’ve already suspected.

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!

My top three for 2015

When I read a great book I immediately want to share it and what better way than on my new blog. My top three picks, so far, in 2015 ( in no particular order) are:

Appletree Yard,  by Louise Doughty. This is the second book I’ve read by this author and she writes female protagonists in a fearless and uncompromising way.

Outline, by Rachel Cusk. I first came across Rachel when I read her book on motherhood, ‘A Life’s Work’ just after I’d had my first son. In it, she wrote about motherhood with a brutal honesty that I appreciated. In ‘Outline’ she continues to observe people, relationships and ageing with a razor sharp eye.

The Story of Before, by Susan Stairs. I was tweeting like mad about this a couple of weeks ago. Its a debut book that blew me away and left me rattled for days afterwards.

This month in book club we’re reading ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by Emma Healey. I haven’t finished it yet, but if it makes it onto my list I’ll let you know.