I don’t know about you but I am a total snoop. I love learning the inside details of people’s lives. All the little fears and triumphs, the bits n’ bobs that make up a person. I guess that’s why I still like facebook (I know, apparently that puts me in the “old” generation. Sigh.) and why I love reading blogs. We’re all after a bit of something real, aren’t we? And woven into those inside facts about a person’s life there is so much story. I guess, being a writer, that’s what I really love.
So today that’s what I am going to offer you – the details of one day. One very ordinary day. It’s about as far from glamorous as you can get but it’s real. The life of a writer-mama-food lover.
Are you buckled in? Here we go…
Pack babes into the car and head to the doctors. B2 has croup. Again. She barks like a seal and is generating more snot than you would imagine possible. She hates having her nose wiped, reacting like a small tortured animal each time I come close with a tissue. Drive home. Put B2 down for a nap and watch Miniscule with B1. Read books. Paint butterflies on B1’s tummy with face paint. Field toddler tantrums. Skype friends in Macau. Wish them Happy Chinese New Year. Skype Matt. Wish him home. Have lunch.
Make crabs and bunnies and octopus from playdough. Pick playdough out of carpet. Spy soft, spotty bananas in fruit bowl. Bake healthy flour / sugar / dairy free cookies. Sorry, not bake, grill. Not even embarassed they’re blackened, ’cause they taste pretty good. B1 agrees – yum. Feel chuffed.
Have a picnic on the floor with toys and cookies. Read books. Play busythings on the Mac. Play on the balcony. Wipe B2 down from filthy balcony. Remind myself to clean it when I have time and inclination. Pah ha ha! Surrender to never cleaning it and instead cleaning children when they come off it. Bemoan more toddler tantrums. Make babes dinner.
Play crocodiles. Crocodiles involves leaping from crib (boat) to mattress (island) without touching the floor (ocean) and getting snapped by crocodiles (imaginary crocodiles). Build towers with wooden blocks. Delight at B2’s new skill = clapping. Ask B1 not to sit on B2’s head. Do some drawing. Sniff the new scented pens we bought. Wipe pen off B1’s nose. Suffer more toddler tantrums. Do some shouting. Put on Desert Island Discs. Go to cloudland (magical, imaginary land found underneath a white, fluffy blankie) with the babes. Bath the babes.
Put babes to bed. Put B1 back into bed. Put B1 back into bed. Put B1 back into bed. Tidy the lounge. Think about folding laundry. Watch some American Idol instead. Make my own dinner. Pasta Gallery Duck + ginger ravioli from Concord farmer’s market with a splash of sesame oil. Delicious. Resolve to buy again. Check out some blogs. Check out facebook. Realise I am procrastinating. Feel guilty. Start working on manuscript (YES!). Receive accidental skype from brother and sister in law. Talk for too long. Laugh a lot. Give up on manuscript. Have a shower. Go to bed. Sleep.
That is my world. Uneventful but busy. Boring and tiring. Full of lovely moments and challenging ones. There was television watching. There was shouting. But there was some reading and playing and fun too. Sometimes I think I am going mad because I can so quickly go from thinking “Arrrggghhhhh!! Get me out of here!” to “Oh, this is rather nice.” Highs and lows the whole day through, a bit like surfing in a storm. Do you sometimes feel a nuts for loving and loathing your day in equal measure? Oscillating between guilt and gratitude, fun and frustration? Or is it just me?
Personally, I have to have a few sanity measures to get me through this day job of mine. Sometimes they work, sometimes they fail, but I give them a go all the same. One is to get out of the house as regularly as possible. Even if it’s just down to the letterbox or the nearest playground. Another is to try and get some adult conversation. I’m not fussy – anywhere, anyhow. But my favourite of all has to be Desert Island Discs. I am OBSESSED with Desert Island discs. B1 has been listening to Desert Island discs since she was tiny; it feels like tuning in to the wireless in ye olde days. The show has been broadcast since 1942! I talk about it often, trying to infect other people with my virulent, rampant obsession but my enthusiasm can get a little scary. In essence it’s just an interview with someone successful and / or famous, but it’s an interview woven around a selection of music the interviewee would take with them if sent to a desert island. The music deepens the revelations about their past and personal lives and the conversation is frank and reflective. At the end of the show they also get to pick a book and one “luxury” to add to their music. Perhaps it doesn’t sound it, but it is so bloody interesting! It’s like a potted version of someone’s life…with a soundtrack! (I am holding myself back now from adding more sentences that end in exclamation marks. It. is. very. difficult.)
The latest interview I listened to was with Julia Donaldson, who wrote this, ahem, rather famous book. I read it a lot. B1 loves the “wart on the end of his nose”. It’s a real and revealing glimpse into her life; as a writer and a Mum and a wife. I have to say I got a little teary in parts. It’s both sad and sweet; as all well-lived lives are. From the story about how she came to love her husband, to how she lost her son and what made her finish writing The Gruffalo when she was tempted to give up. Because it’s learning about all the behind the scenes stuff that makes a person and their work so much richer, don’t you agree?
As for me, tomorrow will be another day much like the one before. And the one before that. I will read some books. I will listen to Desert Island discs. I will try to write. Plain but true. My day. My details. The life that writers get up to when they’re not making up stories. Living a story of their own.