Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ends. Candle. Burning.

After resigning from a misery-making job before Christmas, I was left wondering just what in the hell kind of work would suit me and if we'd be able to do much more than pay for food and shelter and keep the old car running.

Three months later I find that The Fledgling Novel has not been touched since January. This might not be a bad thing. At least, that's what I'm telling myself. I managed to crap out 27,000 words in January and got some valuable feedback from two trusted sources that both offered very similar and very useful advice.

The amendments and refocus are still simmering away in the back of my mind but I'm working part-time now.

It may seem as though I have the luxury to pay a few bills and write The Foolhardy Novel but it's actually three part-time jobs. Two involve writing (and payment) and one involves childcare. I'm discovering that I enjoy all three equally, with skills and observations gained in one easily transferable to another. Tantrums and tiredness are constants in all three.

Job Number One is on a sorta trial basis until 30th June. Extension beyond that is reliant on a new round of government budget planning and whether they like my work. I've signed a contract of confidentiality so like the dentist who brushes his teeth on the old Oral B adverts, I can't show my face (or reveal my employer) on television (this blog).

Some of the writing involved is mundane but most of it is uber-current, frequently thrilling and needs a bit of investigation and consideration. My alarm starts pinging and it leaves me wondering where the past seven hours have gone. Not for long though as the second job starts - after school care for a seven year old, A; who has added a surprisingly happy spring into Sapphire's steps.

And mine. We no longer fling our bog rolls and cereal boxes straight into the recycling; they're saved for the days we have A and are usually cut up, drawn on, painted and liberally covered with sticky tape. Scrap paper is always sitting in a ready pile, along with permanent markers, pencils, magazines, string and wool. When snacks are consumed and they need a break from sedentary activities, both the eleven year old and the seven year old grab their scooters. I click Milly the dog's lead onto her collar and we all head out to the nearest school: a heavenly slab of scooter-friendly asphalt and concrete.

The third job is home-based and childless but the subjects that have been mine to write about have increased in scope and interest this year. Who wouldn't want to find out why an engineer has become a children's clown who spends more on make up than his wife? Or an Iceland-based sheep farmer who is doing ground breaking chemical research in Australia?

Around this we coordinate Sapphire's home work, music lessons, running, general housework, GoneChocco reviews, socialising, litter ninja duties and running the tennis practice session and game days. The 'effin Novel is transferred to a data stick and taken from job to job in the unrealistic hope that there might be a snatch of time to have a review. When I last looked, the USB had a stray tic-tac stuck to it as it lay nestled and forgotten at the bottom of my backpack amongst the pens, plastic bags and umbrella cover.

I'm spending more time on the 59 tram, the phone and with a notebook in my hand. Sapphire woke up the other morning and said, "Oh today is when A comes over, isn't it? They're my favourite days. I can have fun and be myself and not worry about anything."

Eight hours and two jobs later, Sapphire and A are at the outdoor table, papers, paints and pens covering most of the surface. Skipper the rabbit sniffs and hops around them, seemingly interested at the cardboard 'cubby house' they've made for his enjoyment. He cheekily hops over and takes a sip out of my glass of water as Milly nudges my thigh to remind me that she's still my number one animal and needs her ears scratched.

A's head is bowed over her paper in concentration. "This is soooo awesome!" she exclaims to herself.

Yes, it is.


The Elephant's Child said...

Wow. So busy I felt tired just reading about it. Fingers crossed that time/money become available for that novel though - there are many people out here in the blogosphere who are waiting anxiously.

River said...

You do so many things Kath. I sit on my bum a lot.....

Pandora Behr said...

See, didn't I tell you the work thing would sort out (wish mine would) You sound so much happier having this "portfolio career". Despite being tired, you sound content - and this is a good thing.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks for your faith, E Child. Maybe I should get a tape recorder thingy and dictate stuff while I'm on the tram or out watching the girls on their scooters?

River, my arse isn't a stranger to sitting or eating either.....

You did, Pandora. And I like the sound of a 'Portfolio Career'. Sounds better than Part-time Ponce!

Ann O'Dyne said...

I hope you derive great pleasure from enabling the parent of A to be doing whatever it is they do.
and thanks for the post - a great read. I had bunnies once. I loved them and they lived very very well.
They ate the christmas tree one year.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

I know how you feel on the novel front - for me it's finding the time as the job I keep moaning about takes up too much time and drains my enthusiasm.

And of course procrastination reigns supreme.




Elisabeth said...

It all sounds so wonderful, Kath. So much better than the way it was for you before in that soul destroying job, and that blessed novel of yours will get written one day, soon, I'm sure.

Kath Lockett said...

Ann, Skipper doesn't come inside because Love Chunks is allergic to him, but he has eaten his share of cardboard and newspaper.

Procrastination is a pretty big factor in my situation too, PlasMan - when there's time after the light's been switched off in the kitchen I'm too tired to look at the computer screen for the eleventieth time that day and would rather slump on the sofa and watch a comedy on the box.

Thanks Elisabeth. "Blessed" was always the word that my mum used when she was utterly furious with us and just about ready to threaten us with the wooden spoon. "You BLESSED child!"

Hannah said...

I kinda feel like raising my arms in a victory "V" and shouting hurrah! because even though the novel might be on hiatus, it's so, so wonderful to read that you're doing work that isn't crushing all vestiges of joy from you. I'm really glad for you, Kath, and I'm sure the novel will be all the better for these months of having it percolate quitely in your mind :)

Kath Lockett said...

Ta Hannah - I like the idea of explaining it like that; to be 'percolating' in the back of my mind. Here's hoping that I *will* find time to decant it onto the page this year too :)

Jackie K said...

This sounds like a great way to live and work - congratulations!

Baino said...

So what are you saying? You've actually taken your own advice and found the 'work/life' balance? I hope so. I'm dabbling with online writing jobs. Bit hard since I don't have any current work. The last copywriting I did was in 1995 so a lot of water under the bridge. We shall see. Persevere withe novel, there's no rush. As long as there are readers, there will be books.

Deep Kick Girl said...

Um, that's certainly a juggle there, Kath. Keeping your life interesting that's for sure. My word of the moment is "frazzled" and I'd imagine that's how you must be feeling a lot of the time.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Jackie. It is; I think I've finally found the way that I want (and need to work) - several pieces that make a whole.

Just need to stop my brain from buzzing when I go to bed though....

Sort of, Baino. Work/life balance but of the kind where I actually earn some money rather than the WLB of poverty but loads of time :)

'Frazzled' can be applied at times I agree, Deep Kick Girl, but mostly it's that happy-busy that I haven't experienced in a long time.

Ramon said...


I just googled Reeses Vs. Peanut Butter M&Ms and got you! I agree wholeheartedly...and I thought it was funny!

I propose a candy exchange...a sort of candy pen pal sort of thing.

My gal and I love our treats. Perhaps I should send you a dozen Chocolate M&Ms? What do you have?



Vanessa said...

You sound busy but happy Kath, good on you. And you have written one book already so need to tell you the work/dedication involved. Having a wife helps though! As you know, my homme has his manuscript into the publisher. He hand wrote notes on the bus and invested in a voice recognition program for his computer so he could read back his scribble to form font on the page. He would come home from work at 6.30pm, eat, and then head to the studio until 11pm to write. He also escaped to his office in the city every Sat and Sun from 7am - 5pm all but one weekend this year! Single parenting wasn't fun but I knew he was doing the hard yards and there was an end in sight. On top of his fulltime job which requires a fair amount of travel, he also oversees 60 odd correspondence students completing OHS units at Uni in his spare time.
We just spent the best family weekend doing jobs around the house this weekend - bliss.

eleanor bloom said...

Ooh, that mystery job sounds interesting - I now have all sorts of things (like the word verif: psityo) going about my head (one including three of those letters) and am wondering if the comment in your post above (which I LOVE!) re Abbott being flagellated by the hefty torso of Bolt is a partial result of your learnings.