Monday, 27 August 2012

On work, writing and great big tanks...

It’s all change here.

And, as usual, change means an extra helping of chaos. 
A big, heap of all-you-can-eat-buffet style chaos. 
With extra carnage.  And hold the peace and quiet.

I have gone and got myself a new job.  The logistics of continuing to work part-time in London after my maternity leave were going to be so spectacularly complicated that I would probably have received a visit from scientists from all over the world, beside themselves with excitement at the prospect of such a clear demonstration of chaos theory in operation. 

Chaos Theory:  Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for chaotic systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general.

Sounds about right.

In my case, the “initial conditions” are the state in which the Chaos household begins the day, and the “small differences” are generally caused by two small people and their entirely unpredictable and random progress through life.

Well, it’s all about to change.  For three days a week I will be back in the slightly more predictable world of the criminal justice system, while Thomas and Ben will be going to a new pre-school and nursery.  This is probably happening in the nick of time as Ben is now mobile.  He has taken Thomas’s trademark wounded-terminator, one-handed commando crawling, and adapted it for a two-handed, high-speed technique which means that he can get pretty much anywhere he wants to be without actually being able to crawl.  This is a problem because you get lulled into a false sense of security and leave him lying on his mat, smiling innocently and patting ineffectively at the floor in an “oh poor me, how I wish I could crawl” way, and you come back to find him trying to climb up the chimney.  Or even more disconcertingly, still lying on his mat, but clutching some forbidden item that you are fairly sure you left six feet away on top of the sofa.

But from Wednesday to Friday this will be Someone Else’s Problem.  He can go chew Someone Else’s stuff, poo explosively on Someone Else’s clothes and puke gently on Someone Else’s floor.  While this is going on, I will flounce around flaunting my un-milkstained suit, while ostentatiously not-smelling-faintly-of-poo.  I might even have a conversation that does not begin “OHFORGOODNESSSAKEIHAVETOLDYOUTHATAMILLIONTIMES” or “BECAUSEITJUSTISPLEASEPLEASEPLEASESTOPASKINGWHY”.

I hadn’t actually intended going back to the law in a formal capacity.  I had been considering doing some freelancing instead as I have been trying to develop a writing career and I have just started getting some paid commissions.  But when all is said and done, I am a lawyer and not returning to the law was just too big a step to take right now, even with all the current problems in the legal aid system.  And given that Thomas and Ben seem hell-bent on sabotaging any attempt to sit down and actually write anything, I might actually find a bit more time to at least think about writing when I am back at work.  There will be a couple of hours of travelling every day.  This might not sound like much fun to most people, but right now the idea of sitting in traffic, just thinking, in a silent, muuuummmy-free car is rather appealing. 

There will also be the heady excitement of that great invention, the lunchbreak.  A whole hour of time to eat and read and write and think, with an absolute guarantee of not being interrupted by that ominous squelching noise that indicates that nap-time is over and poo-time has begun.

I fully intend to be anti-social.  When I was working full-time I used to fritter away my lunchbreaks in the court canteen, actually talking to people.  Not any longer.  I intend to find the quietest corner of the dullest café in south-west England and install myself there with a laptop and a “do not under any circumstances talk to me” expression.  If anyone tries it, I might pretend that I don’t speak English.

I might, just possibly, get novel number two finished.  As some people reading this will know, I have finished novel number one and will be taking it to the Festival of Writing in York in a couple of weeks.  For those that don’t know, this is me coming out.

Yes, I have written a novel.  Yes, I am seriously trying to get it published.  Yes, I am quite possibly insane/delusional/*delete as appropriate.

But I am feeling a teeny-tiny little bit less delusional as of two days ago after I opened my laptop and found an email from the organisers of the York Festival, informing me that an extract from my novel, Telemachus, has been shortlisted for the live competition final on the first night of the festival.

I read the email.  I shrieked and jumped about and waved my arms.

I then read a further group email from the festival organisers in such a state of near-hysteria that I interpreted “If you haven’t heard from us by now, you are not short-listed” as “You’re not short-listed” and went into a frenzy of wailing and gnashing of teeth. 

Before re-reading both emails properly and re-commencing victory laps of the living room.

I am trying my hardest not to get overexcited.  I am failing miserably.  Making this final was one of those things that you imagine in technicolour detail – the cheers of the crowd, the agents fighting each other off, rugby-style as they throw themselves at your feet, pleading for a copy of your full manuscript.  Which did, by all accounts, happen to a previous winner.  Well, perhaps not the rugby tackling, but the other stuff, certainly.  You imagine it, but you don’t honestly think there is any chance of it actually happening.

I am not sure I can actually be any more excited. 

I might actually explode.

So in spite of Thomas and Ben’s best efforts, I have actually made it to the final of a writing competition.

I keep getting the urge to brandish my manuscript at them while shouting “Ha!  In your face, small destroyers of writing time!”
Now I just need to deal with the threat of plagiarism from HWSNBN who has read one of my writing books and declared his intention of stealing the name of my main character and writing a book on tanks. The problem is that the proposed plot of "The Adventures of Ben Telemachus and his Big Tank" is pretty much a perfect classic hero's journey and, should HWSNBN ever actually write it, he will probably be instantly signed up by a major publishing house who entirely fail to realise that it isn't actually a post-modern, ironic consideration of the hero's quest but, in fact, just a book about tanks.


  1. WOW! that is SOOO exciting! GOOD LUCK at York.

    I did bin my legal career if it's any encouragement, although it sounds like you're doing better at getting on in the writing stakes than I am :-)

  2. Thank you! My main problem now is that I have to read my piece aloud at the festival and I'm not used to sticking to a script - in court I always change my mind at the last minute about what I am going to say, so I have given up using notes!

    1. :-) still at least there won't be anyone arguing against you