18th May 2012

When the words come undone

Just lately, life has got in the way of my words. She has shouldered in and jabbed me with her bony elbows, so that my usual daily word count has become my weekly word count… if I’m lucky!  I would say that this is one of the few negatives of being a writer, that when ‘other stuff’ happens, it can become hard to write, and, sensitive souls that we often are, we then beat ourselves about the head with the fact that we have failed to reach our daily target.

Firstly, there was ‘the virus’, which has had me up and down like the proverbial yo-yo for the last five weeks.  Not only have I felt pants, it has also meant that I’ve had hardly any long trudgy boggy hound walks, no gym and swim time, no wandering around people watching time – all the things that keep me from going stark raving bonkers – and very little time to do anything with the kids.  Needless to say, my writing (thus my sanity) has suffered as I have felt wiped out and have often retreated to my sweaty pit by 8pm in a wave of self-pity (yack!)

Buttercup Magic launch

Then there was the launch of Buttercup Magic.  Of course, this was wonderful and exciting, but launching a book and planning a launch and fretting over it, isn’t great when you feel like something the cat dragged in, took out again, chewed and malled for a bit and then dragged in again!  Then, once the launch was over, there was the prep for Derbyshire Literary Festival… also lovely and exciting, but also really hard for this jaded and marble-depleted has-been writer  to get on top of.  Luckily, I started to pick up towards the end of last week, so was able to enjoy these events, which were really fab – top days, and the kids were funny ha-ha!  I hit the sweaty pit as soon as I got home though and slept for hours!

On Saturday, I had my first ‘me on my ownsome’ jaunt for weeks – a wander round town and some people watching in a cafe – accompanied by notebook and pen – hoorah!  I didn’t write a lot, but I kind of began to feel like a writer again.  On Sunday I had another jaunt and bought these fab shoes (Observant Tweeps may have already spotted these from my twit-pics!)  I didn’t do any writing, but what the heck, when a girl’s gotta shop, a girl’s gotta shop!

Now, I have (cover your ears) OFSTED… oh yes! Next week, we at Adult Ed are being OFSTEDED!  The good news is that I am feeling big bucketloads better and have managed to get on top of all the relevant paperwork, so that I now have two very lovely OFSTED friendly teaching folders that the OFSTEDERS can’t fail to worship and adore.  A fellow

Poison Bunny of Arsenicbundon

tweep, George Kirk,  suggested I line them with lead (for beating them about the head.) I suggested a more subtle approach… pink fur lined folders with little wee pockets for chocolate bunnies.  In the end, a compromise was sought, and we went for Poison Bunnies of Arsenicbundon with slashing talons and sabre like teeth, not to mention their ability to suck the souls of the innocent!  Oh, what joy it was to be creatively wordy on The Twit!!!  As you can see, I have now immortalised a Poison Bunny of Arsenicbundon… he may revisit my blog in the future.  Also note, me and George have copyright… Mwahahahahaha!  And, also note, Kate Madigan, that the Poison Bunny of Arsenicbundon has wee wings so if he isn’t tunnelling, he may be flying… lock your windows!!!

I have missed my words.  I have missed them not coming into my head. It’s been like looking at the vague outline of crows through a foggy morn.  They have been just visible, but out of my reach.  And, of course, I have given myself a hard time for not being able to summon them.  But my novel has waited very patiently, so, this week, I have begun again, and with a new appreciation of how much it means to me and how, when we feel incapacitated, it affects every aspect of our lives.  I have also had two lovely trudges through fields with the hound.  Who knows, I may even squeeze in a gym and swim later!

Does life get in the way of your writing sometimes or do you battle on regardless?

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About Abi Burlingham

I write children's books and paint pictures inspired by nature, animals, trees etc, mostly in acrylics. I am a crisp addict.
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29 Responses to 18th May 2012

  1. Jenny Alexander says:

    Five weeks?! I’m glad the virus has finally gone, Abi. I’ve had about three weeks with the builder back and forth doing my roof and sundry odd jobs, which has made it impossible to settle into any writing. When that happens, I can feel myself getting more and more twitchy. It’s not about word count for me, cos I don’t work that way, but rather about not being able to ground myself in the writing. I can’t wait to get stuck into something again, once I’ve tidied up the mess and done some decorating… Maybe that’s the purpose of these enforced breaks – they make us feel more fired up than ever!

  2. Yes, I know what you mean. It’s just that feeling of something missing and the absence of doing what you love isn’t it? I get really grouchy when I can’t write. A lot of this is the fact that if I’m not writing, I’m not disappearing into my world, and that’s what I miss I think.

  3. I know what you mean, Abi, but sometimes it’s good to be away from it. That way you come back fresh, excited and eager. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing, remember. And when you get back into your own world, it will be all the sweeter for having been away.

  4. Ahhh! Do you know, you’re right, Dan. And you’re right, it is very sweet – thank you for reminding me.

  5. jomcarroll says:

    Sometimes, Abi, there is just too much Life. And words need space to breathe, playtime, moments when they can escape and wander around our heads without all that Life getting in the way.

    How to manage – I suppose we all get by the best we can. Most of the time I manage without beating myself up about it. Sometimes it’s all we can do to swim with the tide – eventually we’ll be washed up, and maybe the beach will look different and there will be new stories to tell. Hang in there!

    And when I do resort to the beating-up thing, that’s the time for wine.

  6. Ha ha! So true, Jo. It is frustrating, but it is how it is isn’t it? And we do just have to go with the flow in the end. Wine definitely helps! 😀

  7. Kate Madigan says:

    Keep those poison bunnies away from me, Burlingham! Tell them there are loads of OFSTED inspectors for them to target without sinking their fangs into innocent members of the public! As for their misleadingly cute fluffy tummies, for a terrible moment I thought they were actually external intestines, all the better to digest their prey. I am *scared* now. 😀

  8. Ha ha ha ha! Yes, they do look rather colonic don’t they? You should be scared.. Mwahahahaha! 😀

  9. Kate Madigan says:

    All right, that’s it, I’m changing my name and going into hiding!

  10. Ha ha! I will have a quiet word with them and tell them you’re nice ;o)

  11. So…that could be a novel (no pun intended, no actually of course it was!) idea for a children’s book Abi…Poison Bunny of Arsenicbundon…just perhaps maybe not for the under 7’s! My kids would have loved him, but we’re strange, so don’t take too much notice!
    Glad you’ve got your mojo back, I’ve been writing when I should have been editing, so I’m being good and getting back into it…and like Dan said, it’s sweeter for being gone so long! Had a lovely day editing, back in my own world!

  12. Yes, I did wonder whether there was some mileage in The Poison Bunny – as you say, maybe not for the little ones! Glad you’ve had a good day with the editing – it’s a lovely feeling when it all comes together isn’t it? Thanks, Lisa 🙂

  13. Emma Pass says:

    I can really relate to this post! (Well, some bits… maybe not the poison bunny… did I tell you you scare me sometimes? :D) It’s so frustrating when real life gets in the way of the writing, but it makes those times when the writing shoves real life aside and you can get lost in it all the sweeter. Glad you’re feeling better now (5 weeks, ack!!), and hope OFSTED goes well.

  14. Hi Em! Thank you. Yes, it is lurvely getting back into it again! Scary? Moi??? 😀

  15. I feel your pain, Abi, after suffering with a seemingly never-ending bout of bronchitis earlier this year…and a job which got in the way of everything. When I can’t write, I feel short-changed. Then I have to remind myself that I’m chosing a career as an author not just to satisfy my compulsion to write but to give my family a good future where Mum’s around the house, all ears after the school day. So life and writing aren’t mutually exclusive after all!

  16. Marnie, you’re so right. I hadn’t thought of it like that. And yes, I remember your bronchitis episode. Thankfully, we’ve both come out the other side now… bring on the words!

  17. Wendyfreckles says:

    In the face of adversity we batlle on don’t we! I can really relate to this. Especially having a very young & needy & naughty child who needs much supervision and who would love your rogue bunny of that I’m sure! Her interruptions make writing while she’s around pointless and she’s only at nursery 15 hrs a week so leaves little writing time! But then she’s starting school in Sept… (quiet guilty Whoop and air punch!). My son being ill for the last 9 months to such a degree that it took over our lives and left no room for little else. In fact sanity was the only desired outcome let alone a book! But what can you do? S888 happens! The tone of my MS might well have been VERY ANGRY, but interestingly I wrote humour at the time! Obviously my mind’s way of coping. Not thought about that before.

    And how I hate snatched bits of wrting time – blocks and stops the flow so I’d rather not bother because it frustrates me more. That’s why I tried to change my writing pattern to evening when I’m naturally a morning/day person but that’s hard to do when you’re k-nackered!

    Phew! Life hey! They do say it’s tough. So when you do finally achieve a finished MS it’s something to be extra proud of. It’s really a wonder anything gets produced when you look at all the things that could prevent it.

    So savour those precious moments of pure indulgent writing! Make every second count and then we can feel less frustrated when we’re not able to.

  18. Ah, Wendy! These things do happen and they are soooooo frustrating aren’t they? We can’t escape to another workplace to get on with our writing and leave it all behind can we? So sorry you’ve had a difficult time. It doesn’t surprise me that you’ve coped with it using humour – you are such a bubbly person! I tend to do evening writing too, but I am lucky enough to have time in the day when the kids are at school too… that’s if I don’t get distracted!!! I hope your son’s health is improving now and hope you get more of those lovely writing moments too. Yes, they are very precious!

  19. Wendyfreckles says:

    Indeedlydoodly. But then life would be very dull without my kids I suppose! I need a clone. That’s the answer. Thanks Abi : D Yes he’s getting much stronger now thanks very much – the big worry of schooling is resolving itself as he can now attend 2/3 lessons every day now rather than me spending time trying to help him so that’s freed up a lot of my time. I am a YO-YO back & forth from nursery/school! Surprised my bubbles haven’t all popped by now!! Anyone know where to buy body bubbles from?

    And Abi get distracted during the day? No way! ; )

  20. Wendyfreckles says:

    BTW love love love those sandals. Want some.

    • And our kids inspire us and often give us story ideas, don’t they? Glad things are improving with your son. Yes, distracted, moi? *snigger*. Oh, and the sandals are from Asda believe it or not!!! Am a bit addicted to the dark grey ones at the mo!

  21. Glad the book launch went well – looks like you’ve got a whole host of new fans there!

  22. It was fab, Colin, thanks. I hope they’ve become fans and that I haven’t put them off completely 😉

  23. Nadine says:

    Oh Abi, it’s been aeons since I’ve been in this lovely space. So glad to be back. But I’m sorry that you’ve been through the wringer. 😦 Sickness sucks, but I’m glad that you’re feeling more like yourself again.

    I’m happy, too, that the book launch was a success. Look at the children crowding you! That must have been so heartwarming. And I want to hear more about the Festival.

    Hon, I know what you mean about life getting in the way of words. Sometimes I wonder if we should just let things run their course, instead of fighting it, which often feels like “pushing against the river”, a phrase I read somewhere recently. Perhaps we should use those occasions as a time to rest and reflect before garnering our strength and moving on again.

    The good thing is that you’re writing again. Don’t worry about the word count, however small it may be. Every mickle makes a muckle, or as we say in Jamaica: “One one coco full basket.” 😉

    Cheers! xxx

  24. Nadine says:

    P.S. What’s OFSTEDED? 🙂 That bunny looks terrifying, lol.

    • Aw! Thank you so much, Nadine. You have lifted my heart this morning! You are so right. There’s a buddhist thought that we need to accept things and not resist, and I truly believe this is what we should do. I think this is exactly what you’re saying, and you are so right. The bunny is kind of freaky isn’t he 😀 OFSTED is the body who inspect us in our teaching – they are SCARY!!! 😀

  25. Oh no — a five week virus?? So sorry, but glad you’re on the mend now. It sounds like we’ve had similar breaks from writing, but yours has been more stressful, and I’m so sorry! Yes, I too (as you read in my blog) have been away from the writing — sometimes life is like that, and I try hard not to worry that it will not come back. It’s been hard to just let it sit, see the piles of work, not sit down to write. But that’s when I tell myself that as things calm down, it will all come back again — just as you say. Hang in there Abi, and enjoy the hound trudges and here’s to the writing returning in spades! xox

  26. Hi Julia! Thank you. Yes, I thought the same when I read your post – my break hasn’t been quite as pleasant, as you say, and it is lovely to get back into it again. I agree, so hard to not write when it’s what we love to do. Not enough hours in the day, of course, but at least I feel as if ‘normality’ is returning! And yes, the hound walks are lovely again!

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