Saturday, 21 February 2015

Reclaiming Me: Time To Read, Time To Write

Yet again, it's been a while since I last blogged. Sorry about that. Two weeks ago Preschooler decided to unceremoniously ditch her nap without warning and I'm still reeling from the shock and struggling to find time to fit everything in now that I've lost two hours of peace and quiet a day!

Which kind of brings me to the subject of this post ...

I've mentioned before how I find it hard to make time for me. When I have a quiet moment there's always something I could be doing - washing up, ironing, tidying, fixing broken toys and torn books, the list is endless. If it's not housework, it's my small business which, even though I've scaled it back to make the maternal juggling act a bit easier, still could take up far more time than I have available. At the end of a full day of mumming, the temptation is to just lose myself in the temporal black hole that is social media before slinking off for an early night. (Out of interest, how long can I get away with saying 'early night'? Does it still count as early if it's fast becoming my regular bedtime?)

I sometimes remember my life before motherhood and it really is as if I'm thinking of a different person. I used to sing, I used to act, I used to knit and crochet. But my biggest hobby was reading. I love to read. I love words. And I love to write too. When I was studying, hard as the essays were, I secretly enjoyed spilling out my thoughts and organising them into a neat string of letters on the page. 

Then along came my daughter and, as she got older, it got progressively harder to keep up any of my old hobbies. Singing and acting simply don't hold good hours for parents of very small children, and as for everything else, well, I just don't have time. Unless I make it, that is.

Last year, I saw that Mother's Milk Books were holding a writing competition, and I thought I'd give it a whirl. It was hard to get back into writing but I really enjoyed the whole process, and I didn't really mind too much about the outcome. I wasn't surprised when I didn't place in the competition, after all I was only just dipping my toe into the world of creative writing. But one thing did surprise me - that Teika Bellamy, who runs Mother's Milk Books, liked my piece enough to include it in an anthology she was working on!

The Forgotten and The Fantastical is a collection of original fables and modern twists on classic fairy tales - but for grown ups. When I studied Children's Literature I was really fascinated by the history of fairy tales and their capacity for discussing very adult concerns in a 'safe' and indirect way, so I can't wait to read the finished book when it is published on 20th March. For me, the excitement of reading the stories of the fantastic authors who have contributed to the book is almost as great as knowing I'll be ranked among them!

I'm hoping this book will be a turning point in reclaiming a part of my identity that has been mostly dormant over the past three years. Having mainly read children's books and parenting books, I can't wait for an excuse to read fiction aimed at adults again. And being part of the book has given me faith that I can string a decent sentence together, so I am determined to keep writing as well as reading.


  1. I really love this post! I know what you mean about how mothering small children drastically reduces time for what seems like 'self-indulgent' things like reading. As you're no doubt fully aware though 'this will pass' and slowly, slowly, you will gather together the pockets of time and they really will amount to something. Just keep on creating, keep on, and it'll all fall into place one day... And in the meantime the odd 'congratulations' to yourself on how well and lovingly you're raising your daughter won't go astray... :-)

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment! I do sometimes wish I had one of those children who would happily play alone while I wrote, but I know that one day I will have that child and then I'll miss the times when she insisted on my undivided attention! In the meantime I'll keep snatching time to write whenever I can.