The trouble with working from home…

work-from-homeAnd so it begins…

6.45am : “Okay, so the plan today is to work on my edits, otherwise this book is never going to get published. But first I need to get the boys up…”

A couple of hours later…

“Right, that’s the boys off to school, now I just need to tidy up and load the dishwasher.”

Some time later…

“The cat’s used her litter tray – I best empty that. Oh, and whilst I’m at it, I need to empty the bin too.”

Some time later…

“The guinea pig really needs cleaning out and if I don’t do it, no one will. I guess it would be best to do it whilst I’m already out here.”

Some time later…

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“The tinsel that my son has destroyed looks more like my carpet than the actual carpet. I need to hoover downstairs at least.”

Some time later…

“That’s the washing machine beeping. Better put the load in the dryer otherwise I’ll forget.”

Some time later…

“I need a cup of tea. I can make one to take upstairs with me for work.”

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Some time later…

“Great, I’m upstairs but I can’t believe the pig sty my son lives in. I could just close the door but ugh…no, I can’t. I’m going to have to tidy it.”

Some time later…

“Now my cuppa is cold. I need to make a fresh one.”

Some time later…

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“Finally! Waiting for the computer to start up but hold on…who put the clocks forward? Where the heck did the morning go?”

 

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What was your defining moment?

Happy people on nature, sun, grass and butterflies(Where a ‘defining moment’ is: A moment in time when we suddenly realise something about ourselves or our lives; a time when we make a decision to follow a certain path or divert to a different course; a ‘lightbulb’ moment; a time when things change, usually for the better; a moment when you feel inexplicably supported or guided)

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Often, our ‘defining’ moment can be something that seems relatively insignificant at the time and it is only with hindsight that we can identify the moment as such. This is certainly true of my writing-related defining moment which occurred a couple of years or so ago.

At the time I had a part-time job in the local primary school as a cleaner. My role included the much coveted job of cleaning three sets of children’s toilets and it was whilst I was indulging myself in this most pleasurable pastime that I received the text message. It was from my sister.

Hi, (it said). Hope you’re well? OMG, I’ve just met the Prime Minister and I’ve been interviewed for the tele. I’ll be on the six o’clock news tonight! xx

I kid you not. I was stood, toilet brush in hand, reading a text message from my sister telling me that she had met one of the most powerful men in the country and that she was about to be broadcast nationwide. And I had a toilet brush in my hand.

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The parallel between our differing situations was not lost on me at the time, however, I didn’t realise how much of an impact this moment would have on my life moving forwards. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that if I wanted my story to be different, I was the only person that had the power to change it. Not that there is anything wrong with cleaning toilets, but I knew in my heart that it was not what I was destined to do.

That text, over the years that followed, gave me the incentive to take control of my destiny in a much more powerful way and my decision to self-publish in January is a culmination of that text. So, whilst I laughed at the sheer inequality of it at the time, now I recognise it as a pivotal moment in my life for it was that text that taught me such a valuable lesson: I was and am the only one with the power to change my life. Simple.

So now I am taking control and I am changing my life – for better or for worse. I am pushing on with my dream.

Do you have a defining moment?

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I am not fit for human company…

traffic_signal_2Yesterday was not a good day. It started with me driving through a red light – at a junction where I am well aware that there is a red light. Thankfully there was no one else around and no major damage was done, but it was the first clue that something was definitely off.

A while later, accompanied by my parents, I went to one of the most beautiful canals in Wiltshire. At the small cafe I filled in the details on the form for car parking and we went off for our walk. Upon our return we visited the cafe once more and ordered some beverages at which time I looked at the car parking list once more. Out of habit, when I had filled in the form, I had also signed my name next to my Mum’s car when in fact that box was purely for the colour of the car. So, instead of writing ‘white’, I had signed my name. Not only that, my error had forced the person below me to do exactly the same which meant that the form no longer contained the colours of cars, just lots of signatures.

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Caen Hill Locks – view from the top

Okay, we did laugh about that but really? I am supposed to be an intelligent writer.

Finally, at the same cafe, I was accused of throwing a dirty look at a dog. Is that even possible? I admit, I did look at the dog, but purely because it was whimpering excitedly upon its owners return. The owner, however, interpreted this as a ‘dirty’ look and proceeded to moan about people being intolerant of dogs etc..etc..

Sigh.

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Caen Hill Locks – view from the bottom

By the end of the day I had decided it would be best if I no longer went out in public and am thus spending today in the company of my laptop only. Hopefully it won’t get upset at the looks that I give it.

In my defence, this week has been incredibly stressful and will continue to be so but yeah, if you see me anytime soon, I would turn the other way.

PS. Anyone else have a spider living in their car wing mirror?

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Stuck for inspiration? Try thinking about spaghetti hoops…

depositphotos_4767508-Spaghetti-Hoops-in-Tomato-SauceSpaghetti hoops.

Makes me think about a girl called Deirdre – or Dege as she preferred to be called.

We met at school when we were fifteen and became friends, purely because we were the two new girls.

Dege lived near the school, I did not so I cycled to her house every morning to change. Reminds me of the very first day when I forgot to do up my belt. I had a rather embarrassing length of tan leather belt dangling down my back and over the top of my new grey skirt.

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At lunchtimes we would go to her house – in the days when you were allowed to do that – and she would always have spaghetti hoops on toast. I ate my sandwiches. It became a kind of ritual.

After a few months our paths divided although we still sat next to each other in form class – opposite a girl called Kirsten who is to this day responsible for my one and only (non-family) nickname.

Dege became a cool kid. I did not.

Dege joined the trendies. I joined the music crew.

I used to hang out in the music rooms – in the days when you were allowed to do that. Dege hung out wherever cool kids hung out. I still have no idea where that was.

Dege listened to Prince. I did not.

I listened to Rick Astley (well, he’s cool-ish now..). Dege did not.

One day the school went into lockdown following the escape of a prisoner from Broadmoor hospital which was only a few miles away. We could only leave when our parents arrived. At fifteen it was both scary and exciting.

After a while I walked to school and stopped leaving my bike in Dege’s garage. We rarely saw each other outside of form class.

Female legs jogging on a trail

That was over twenty-five years ago and I have no idea what Dege is doing now – nor do I really want to know. We were in each other’s lives for a time when we both needed to be – and then we moved on.

All of that from a tin of spaghetti hoops.

(For the record, I made spaghetti hoops on toast for lunch today. My eldest son didn’t want any as he had not long dragged himself out of bed for breakfast and my youngest flatly refused to eat it. The birds had a feast though.)

Ah, well. It was worth it for the memories.

Wonder if Dege still remembers spaghetti hoops at lunchtime….

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In the news: Driverless cars

Car 1Google, according to a recent article in the Daily Mail (‘Driverless car “flypaper” to catch collision victims’ – DM May 21st 2016), are well on their way to developing the ‘driverless’ car. In fact, it estimates that we could see these cars on our (UK) roads as early as 2020.

My first thought was why? Why do we need driverless cars when we have enough trouble with cars that are controlled by people? Then I read on…

These cars it would seem, are potentially going to have ‘sticky’ bonnets. A glue like substance will be applied to the bonnet which in turn will be covered with an eggshell type paint. The idea is that if the car hits an object the paint will shatter allowing the object to stick to the bonnet, thus, minimising injury. I must admit, I had a giggle. Does this mean that on an average journey you can expect to return home with various accoutrements and the odd pedestrian stuck to your bonnet? And what happens to these items when you get home? What if the pedestrian was going several miles in the other direction?

Google states that the glue will allow the objects to be removed after a ‘period of time’ so does this mean that our paramedics are going to need to carry nail polish remover or some similar substance?

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digitalart via freedigitalphotos.net

After a while I got to thinking – maybe driverless cars are not such a bad idea. Imagine being able to have a cuppa and even a nap whilst you are on route. Or perhaps, a cheeky tipple. Who knows what the law will be in that regard?

As it stands I cannot imagine seeing these cars on our roads but I am sure that is purely because I do not understand the concept or the need. When the time comes I have no doubt that all will be revealed and, even if by 2020 I still don’t get it, there is a massive plus side.

At least I won’t need to pay for my son to have driving lessons.

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(This is purely my humorous take on this piece of news – no offence intended or meant)

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What would you do for your art?

I have, for the purposes of pure escapism and sunshine, recently been watching the popular Australian soap opera Neighbours. For those who don’t know or frankly don’t care, the current storyline involves an explosion at the one and only hotel which has left two of the key characters dead. In an episode a couple of days ago, the funeral service for the youngest victim (a beloved young man in his prime) took place. It was an open casket service, requiring the actor (who I know is not actually dead), to lie in the coffin. For some reason this morning, that scene replayed in my mind and I started thinking, would I actually lie in a coffin even if I was being paid to?

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No thanks! (Victor Habbick via freedigitalphotos.net)

The answer was no. I couldn’t possibly think of any sum of money that would make me do that – the thought of lying in a coffin just freaks me out – however the actor (as many actors before) was required to do just that. This then led me to the question, what would I do for my art?

As a writer, I guess I am fairly safe. I can portray funeral scenes and open casket services without actually having to partake in them. I can create the most awful of scenarios without living through them and I can marry the most unsuitable of partners, without ever actually meeting them. But wait. Can I?

Surely we can only portray our characters with accuracy if we understand their situation? If we have walked in their shoes?

Helpful tips and advice on a yellow office note

General writing advice suggests that we should ‘write what we know’, yet my mind is far too inquisitive to be that limited. To be the best writer that I can I want to learn everything that I can. I want to explore areas that I would never have dreamt of exploring before I became a writer. This means that I must commit myself wholeheartedly to my art – whatever that may entail – and actually, making that commitment is kind of liberating (if a little scary).

Would I though, lie in a coffin?

To commit to my work, I might just have to say ‘never say never’, but, as the author, there is always a simple solution.

Don’t kill off any characters.

What about you? What would you do (or not do) for your art?

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Who’d want me as their Mum?

Yesterday I received a text message from my son, only I didn’t realise it was from my son until a full ten minutes later – largely because I was busy, my phone was over the other side of the room and I was challenging myself to see how long I could ignore it.

When I admitted defeat and retrieved my phone, this is what the message said:

Can u bring in hw (homework) i stupidly forgot on desk ict folder and maths shape meet u in reception sorry thanks

Aside from my instant desire to correct every grammar and punctuation error, three thoughts went flashing through my head:

  1. No way. I told you I was not going to bring your homework in ever again. You have forgotten it – take the consequences.
  2. Ah, the sun is shining, I’m in a good mood and he did say sorry – can I be that mean?
  3. Crikey. He sent that ten minutes ago which means I have less than five minutes to get it there before the end of break.

Now, I don’t know about anyone else but when I am working from home, I dress for comfort. Comfort (because I am still a long way off a svelte 5k runner’s physique) generally means jogging trousers, oversized t-shirt and brightly patterned socks. I figure that my husband married me for better or worse, the postman sees people wearing a lot less and if there’s a fire, all I’ll be concerned about is grabbing the cat. Having to take my son’s homework into school (ie. being seen out in public) does not usually come into the equation.

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Courtesy of nenetus via freedigitalphotos.net

In the few moments that I had to get out of the door I decided that I could make my appearance somewhat acceptable by wearing my running trainers. That way I could be mistaken for one of those ever fit parents who had just finished an energetic workout. The only problem with this theory was that my running trainers were in the washing machine (courtesy of my ‘plod’ yesterday along a muddy path). That left me with dress shoes or, what can only be described as unisex, utilitarian clodhopper boots (walking boots if you want to be technical). With no other choice I donned the boots and prayed that my son had enough common sense to wait at the school gate – that way my foray into the public world would be limited and unlikely to be witnessed. What I swiftly remembered, however, as I pulled up to the school gate was that one thing my son lacks in abundance, is common sense. Of course he was not standing at the school gate. There was nothing for it but to walk into the reception area and leave his homework there.

Holding my head high I made the journey, all the while pretending that I was proud of how I looked. After all, doesn’t every mother wear clodhopper boots, grey jogging trousers and a bright blue t-shirt that proclaims the last (and only) 5k race she has ever run? And doesn’t everyone leave their hair to dry naturally in an odd, last been tamed two months ago, style?

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via Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net

Upon returning home I took stock of my situation. Having realised a long time ago that I was never going to be a trendy Mum I began to wonder, now that my eldest son is a teenager, if I ought to be representing him in a more socially acceptable manner?

I considered this for a full five minutes (?) and then decided that despite my appearance, a Mum is generally uncool at this age regardless. What was the point, I argued, in getting out of bed earlier to actually dry my hair, just in case he happened to forget his homework again?

Needless to say that today sees me wearing the same ‘comfortable’ attire – there is, however, a slight difference. I am no longer challenging myself to leave my phone if it beeps. The second a message arrives I am onto it. After all, as I did discover yesterday, five minutes to get from here to acceptable public persona is just not quite long enough!

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