News In Brief

I’ve not had a lot of time to spend here recently, and I think that may be the case from this point on, although I will still be popping in weekly at least. I am writing and developing projects for other, larger writing as part of my postgraduate studies, and elsewhere too.

The poetry continues but I am now focussing on prose fiction and writing longer pieces of non-fiction. I can feel at least one book taking shape in my mind, and there is the seed for another. The main ingredient required for these apart from energy, research, ideas, talent and skill, is TIME.

Time is my most precious commodity at the moment. Life is opening up in all sorts of new, satisfying ways, with new friendships being forged and with keeping up my son’s social engagements and interests. I am having to prioritise more than ever and be disciplined about how I use my time. The hours slip away like quicksilver.

In the Swim

I have been finding it tougher than ever to combine study and being a mother. The MA is absorbing and I am learning plenty but struggling to find the time to do it justice.

Sam is settled into school and enjoying it immensely but is also exhausted, needing his mum’s attention, as a four-year-old should. As well as my own paperwork I now have a file for school forms and am way behind with Sam’s school ‘admin’ and need to buy material for and make him a King costume for his nativity play.

Mothers everywhere are doing the same juggle in varying formations the world over. As we ride one financial crisis after another, not knowing whether we will sink or swim, only being sure of being sold out on a daily basis, literally, by our current ‘Call Me Dave’ poor excuse for a government, I can only feel lucky to be where I am and be grateful that I can continue to study for now…

This time last year I was diagnosed with post-viral fatigue, also known as M.E or chronic fatigue syndrome. I’ve never felt so poorly in my life, or concerned about if and when I would recover. I seem to be ok  – if I get tired I am more likely to stop or have an early night. I have more or less given up gardening this year, cut back on the booze and caffeine and tried to live a more steady life and all of those things have helped.

In the last few weeks I’ve started going swimming again and it’s been fantastic to do some proper physical exercise. I swam twenty lengths this afternoon and came up with the structure of a new, long poem I am currently working on, and a few lines of verse too. Swimming as poetry methodology-who knew?

And Happy Birthday to William Blake.

The Five Year Plan….nearly Four Years in.

My son ran into school this morning without a goodbye or a look behind him, despite complaints when he woke up that he didn’t want to go, and he would rather be at preschool. I think he’s settling in…

I, on the other hand, have been trying to work out how I am going to fit the huge workload that comes with the MA I have just begun into my day. How best to discipline myself so I can get my reading/writing done? How to fit this around school pick ups and housework? I’m still not sure yet…

I have lots of ideas for writing, all of which are, of course, completely over-ambitious, challenging and will take huge amounts of research. I’m a glutton for punishment, a lucky glutton.

At the beginning of 2008 I started a Five Year Plan.  At the time I was wondering how I was going to cope as a single parent, and how I would ever be able to afford somewhere of our own to live, instead of relying on the generosity of my Dad. I think it helped me to feel like I was taking control of what, at the time, felt like a desperate situation.

I am now nearly finishing Year Four, and have ticked off ‘passing my driving test’ and ‘gaining a degree’ as well as smaller but just as important targets.

Next year, with luck, I will have completed my MA and the landscape will be diferent again. I will be starting a new Five Year Plan and I have been thinking about what might be on it.

I am thinking BIG (just don’t call me Stalin)

School’s Out! (til next week…)

All of a sudden I have my degree result, am buying books for my MA, trying to get childcare in place so I can attend the course induction, and most importantly, settling my son into school.

After a great start he changed his mind, and decided he didn’t fancy going any more: “Send the uniform back Mum, I don’t want to wear it. I want to stay here with you.”

So I have had to play a chess game of feigned nonchalance and checkmate moves to cajole, guide and persuade my poor boy to school each day. There have been improvements over the last week- he can now put his uniform on by himself, and is starting to settle into the new routine. The walk/scoot to school is still accompanied by the mantra of “I don’t want to go to school” but today there is noticeably less repetition. He has been bouncing out the other end at 3.15 telling me it was “brilliant”, so I am not worrying too much.

My plans of ebaying and decluttering went to the wall (of course) amidst dealing with the administration concerned with the MA I am about to begin in creative writing. The reading list for one of the modules I am taking is long on heavy-duty critical theory- I can’t wait.

Last friday when I was able to log on and find out my degree result I sat shaking in front of my lap top for at least a couple of hours. I always dreamed of getting a first but had let go of it after being so poorly and finding the juggling of everything so intense and tricky to get all the work done in my final year. But I did it! I got a first class degree. As a single parent. I floated around the rest of the day, supremely happy. I feel very lucky to have had the chance to do it. It’s been tough and fantastic in equal amounts.

Now it’s back to work…