It’s Day 120 since my maternity leave finished and I returned to my job as a journalist.
It’s Day 46 since The Anti-Princess Club hit shelves.
And it’s Day 26 since the Somerset Celebration of Literature.
Of course, there have been plenty of milestones in between – my husband’s and both my children’s birthdays, my daughter’s first day of ‘big’ school and a wedding anniversary thrown in there somewhere… but you get the picture… there’s been a lot of ‘stuff’ going on.
Throughout it all there has been plenty of discussion about how writers fit it all in. How mothers fit it all in. Where we find the time.
And I still don’t have a clear answer.
I wrote my books while I was on maternity leave from my ‘day job’ and since returning I’ve been mourning the loss of that free time for creativity. But, looking back, I never actually got any writing done during the day anyway. It was always in the middle of the night because I was too busy changing nappies while the sun was up.
I returned to work part-time so I could ‘ease back into things’ (ha!), and I return full-time next month. I think Monday to Friday will be a blessing in disguise. I’ve been cramming full-time hours into three days without the reward, and scheduling appointments on my days off because no one ever remembers that I’m not supposed to be there. I’m told by many other part-time working mums that it’s a familiar tale.
And the guilt. Oh, the guilt.
If I work late, the family is unhappy. If I leave work on time, I feel like I’m not going that extra mile like my old 16-hour-day self would have done. If I’m playing with the kids, I’m neglecting the housework. If I’m doing the housework, I’m neglecting the kids.
And round and round it goes.
Then I think of Somerset.
It was such an amazing experience.
Over three days I spoke to hundreds of students about my books, about writing, about ideas, about what makes a good story.
They were so enthusiastic.
They made me feel like a rock star.
And being surrounded by other writers. Reading their books into the wee hours in my hotel room. Talking about words. Words. Words. Words.
It reminded me why I do this. Why I, somehow, find the energy in between everything else to write more.
It’s a cliche, but I write because I must.
Without it I’d feel incomplete.
And I’d love another Somerset.
(PS I’ve started working on another book. It’s so exciting. More later 😉