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.