A few years ago, I stopped working in an office 9-5 structured sort of way. I had worked like a driven banshee since I left university, so I was giddy with excitement and apprehension in equal measure. After about six weeks on the mummies-coffee-morning circuit I was a wreck. For twelve years I had brought up my children, run a home and functioned physically on a daily basis without an awful lot of input from my peers.
This was a very different style of living. The mummies consulted each other on absolutely everything; what to feed them, when they should go to bed, how long to do prep, The Facebook Question. I inhaled a silly amount of caffeine and silently ate a stack of cakes as I absorbed the painful truth that most people ask for help. They also spend quite a lot of time considering options, finding out how other people do things, and then slowly come to a conclusion, gathering facts along the way.
I panicked. I've never over-thought anything in my nelly. I teamed up with another recent-released-from-daily-grind Mummy and we whirled off into an 18-month adventure setting up a vintage and handmade homewares business. We belted about rescuing treasures from old junk shops and car boot sales. We painted and restored, mended, stencilled, sanded and shabbier. We took stalls at little vintage and antique fairs and made bunting. We made lovely cushions out of old-fashioned wool blankets and embroidered surreal and amusing and soppy things on them in colours that reminded us of the seaside.
After a lot of fun but not quite as much profit, we're going to do other things. She, with a heart as big as Wales, is caring for less happy children than our own. I, with a yellow streak down my back as wide as the Thames, am trying to write. I have finished six out of ten short stories that I wanted to publish this Autumn and I am stuck.
My cupboards are alphabetised and there is nothing in my house, cellar or attic that is not labelled. Should there be a pandemic, I could feed most of this county on the food I have cooked and stashed in the freezer. My linen cupboard is more starched and anally organised than Martha Stewart's. The dog is skin and bones from daily hikes.
So I am asking for help. How do you write? When, where? How do you shut the internal monologue off and the bloody computer screen on?
Just don't make me go back to those coffee mornings or i don't think I'll be able to get out of bed.