Photo by Amulon Photography
Disappearing. That’s what’s happened to the last few weeks, they have, quite literally disappeared, with not much to show for them.
After the see saw ride of a week while Mum was in hospital, and all the will I- won’t I about whether I should go, a phone call from my sister three Saturday’s ago decided me. I had to go, and I was on a flight to Australia that evening.
I stayed over two weeks, came back to the UK, and straight back to work, still jetlagged, so no time to blog.
No internet connection while I was there, either, only crazily expensive access via my mobile to send an email or two a day to my husband, who I missed a lot.
I’m very glad I went, I know me being there helped everyone. A big, unexpected expense, but worth it. Going was far less stressful than staying here and trying to keep working, and supporting my sister over the phone and email, and worrying about Mum and Dad would have been.
Being there wasn’t stressful. Emotional, yes, especially seeing how much memory my father has lost and how it affecting him. Challenging at times, especially the first few days. After that, it felt like a strange sort of holiday, an interlude out of time. I cooked and shopped for them. I did some patient education around managing their health conditions. I tried to get Dad to see his doctor and talk honestly about his problem. I went for little walks with them, as far as they could manage. I went with Mum to her cardiologist. I supported them in getting some home help set up. I helped my brother understand what was going on.
I also did my morning pages. I wrote some more on my Wrong Brother story, which is morphing into something very different to what I first thought it was. I read a lot. I enjoyed being back home in Sydney, my real home, not just the place I live. I heard a lot of stories about when my parents first met and their early married life before I was born.
Taking that time to be with them was a gift to me as well as them.
Then I came back to England. Went back to work. Caught up with my internet writing buddies again. A week after I got back, that time out feels almost like a dream, lost time, time that didn’t really exist, that just disappeared.
Yet it changed things.
It deepened my relationship with my parents. A true adult relationship, untainted by past hurts. My husband seems to appreciate me more. He missed me, the first time we’ve been apart for over 24 hours since we married. The Day Job seems to have missed me too. I planned to give notice in mid May, give them time to get my replacement in place before I left in Mid September. Instead, my boss is offering me part-time work, a job share. The thing I asked for first, before I decided to resign, and they told me couldn’t be done!
I felt so strongly about needing to leave. Giving myself time to explore writing full-time, really focus on that. Though the finances worried me. The fact that unless I sold straight away, and maybe even then, I knew I couldn’t afford more than six months of full-time writing before I’d need to find at least part-time work. Also, being back home and seeing how things were with my parents had got me knowing that I need have enough money to go back twice a year, if possible. And I would love to buy a little doer-upper house in a country town, to have a foot on the ground in Australia.
I’d asked for that in my Morning Pages the last full day I was there. Then I had this offer. It felt like an answer.
So, I’ve made a decision. I’ll take the part-time position, and delay giving myself what I’ve dreamed of, writing full-time. It’s a dream, and a good one, but I’m not ready for it yet. I need to develop my writing further first. I need to be more ready. I need to be in a better position financially.
I’m not giving up, by any means, just modifying my goals. Doing it more gradually, a staged withdrawal from the Day Job. I’ll only need to go two days a week. Yes, they’ll be two very long days, and I’ll still have the commute, but it’s only two days a week. That means I have five days not at the Day Job. The balance has totally shifted. If I can’t write more with five days off a week, I won’t in seven days, either. I can’t use the Day Job as an excuse once I drop my hours. And I will still be earning enough to support the household, just. No money for many luxuries, but just enough to get by on.
Maybe even enough for the one luxury I really want- that little house in a small New South Wales country town I like a lot, about four hours drive from my parents. It will need to be cheap. It will need to be rented out to help pay the mortgage. But there are a couple of possibles I want to look at when Arthur and I go back again next month on our planned holiday (tickets paid from by last year’s Qantas cancellation debacle!).
In the meantime, I have a new writing goal. There’s a new story idea that keeps nagging me, but I promised I’d finish at leat one of my older stories before I start anything new. Time to stop adding to the long string of unfinished stories I’m trailing behind me. The truth is, I’ve never truly “finished” a story. I’ve only finished first drafts, and I’ve started far more of those than I’ve seen through to The End. I’ve never edited and polished an entire story, only partials. That needs to change.
So, I decided.
I’m rewriting a previously rejected story entirely, taking on board the advice I’ve had about what needs doing with it. It was quite rightly rejected. In effect, I subbed first draft. It’s quite nice first draft, I edited as I went for language. But it’s still hardly better than cleaned up first draft. What I left out fixing was story structure. And good old Goal Motivation and Conflict. I had relationship blocks, but not convincing ones. My heroine had no reason for doing any of what she was doing. No reason to keep rejecting the hero. The start was too slow moving, the pacing too leisurely, the emotions just not deep enough.
I do believe in the story and the characters though. I know they deserve better. So, I have a goal. To rewrite and polish polish polish the first chapter, do a synopsis, and send it off for the Harlequin Romance Fast Track, by April 23.
I need to get moving on that!