So… it’s been a while.
Almost a year, in fact.
That surprised me. Then again, it’s been A Year.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook, or since August on Instagram, will have noticed a drop-off of writing-related posts and a increase of cats, dogs, plants and mosaic pots. Mosaic pots are cool.
Around a year ago things started going downhill. Our son needed more and more support. Without going into the details, I’ll just say this: If you feel like the professional ‘support’ you’re getting is making things worse, you’re probably right.
We were in full crisis intervention mode for months – because it took that long for the fantastic support we were eventually hooked into to start having an impact. It was, for all of us, constant. Every minute was either dealing with episodes or trying to manage a way to avoid an episode. I would wake in the morning steeling myself for the inevitable, be on edge all day waiting for the call from the school to come (most days it did), and by the time he was in bed was so physically and emotionally drained I didn’t have anything left.
My writing scaled back to working through a list of points from my developmental edit last year and knocking together a few chapters for my writing group to emailing myself notes I’d get to eventually. I’d see opportunities come up and not take them, because I couldn’t see any way of making them work around what was going on at home.
Then I began to play ‘Soon’. You know the game – soon I’ll have time once Christmas is over, soon once my contract’s up I’ll have more time to write, soon I’ll have time once school goes back, soon I’ll be back in a routine again, soon my dodgy hand will be good and I’ll be able to spend the day writing.
Soon never came.
Just after school started one of our dogs attacked and injured one of our cats, resulting in surgery, a three-month rehab period and huge vet bills, and us surrendering our dog. It was extremely traumatic for everyone – especially our son. It was his dog and his cat.
Soon we’ll be over the worst and back in routine.
I was again Volunteer Manager at this year’s Speculate festival, which was bigger than last year, over two days, involved staying in Melbourne and was a lot of work – but more than worth it.
Soon the festival will be over and I’ll have time to write again.
While at drinks after Speculate, I got a message from Mr F – he’d fallen over playing tennis and had a ‘bung’ right ankle. No, he didn’t want me to come home. No, he was fine Sunday morning too. No rush – but it’d be great if I picked up some lunch on the way home.
‘Bung’, it seems, is code for ‘fractured and requiring weeks in a cast’. Writing groups were missed and meet-ups cancelled as everything took second priority to picking up all the work around home, plus driving everyone everywhere.
Soon he’ll be out of the cast and we’ll be back in the routine.
Mr F is four days post-cast and still hobbling around, the youngster is finally starting to settle down and the episodes are the exception rather than the norm, and the remaining pets have settled into their new routine. Nero is an inside dog now. She’s loving it. Finn’s been curling up on our son’s bed at night, and he’s loving that. Heidi’s rehab’s going well and she’s out of her cage during the day, but letting us know what she thinks about being caged overnight at 11pm, 3am and 4.30am. We’re not loving that.
This blog post is the first thing I’ve written this year. The past 12 months have been chaotic, and my writing has suffered. It got to the point where forcing myself to write was creating pressure in other areas, which then added to the stress and the lack of headspace to put words together. Instead, I concentrated on doing other things – panelled and painted the laundry, which had been destroyed by the dogs when they were puppies; spent as much time in the garden as my dodgy wrist would allow; started a new hobby with the youngster, which we’re both enjoying (did I mention mosaics are cool?) and have many crafternoons planned. Mr F and I snuck up to Queensland for a few days on the premise of celebrating our 20th anniversary, but it was more because we needed a break from home. Through Insta I’ve rediscovered my love of photography, which was a huge hobby Before Child. I was commissioned to write a couple or articles last year, and picked up some freelance work. Good things did happen, but my writing wasn't one of them.
Despite feeling like a writer fraud at times, staying in touch with the writing community has been key. My writing group buddy Melissa Ferguson launched her amazing spec fic book 'The Shining Wall' last month, and other friends have won awards and also released works, or are about to. And I freely admit to be living my writing life vicariously through each and every one of them.
My Christmas present to myself was a mug that says, ‘Go away, I’m writing’. I promised I wouldn’t use it unless I was writing. It’s sitting on the coffee machine, and filling with dust. But I will use it. Soon.