Reluctant Blogging is the New Blogging

I’ve said it before. I know. But this time. This. Time. There will be blogging, as sure as there is half-price Cathedral City cheese.

I will make amends for all my excuses-excuses online absenteeism, beginning RIGHT HERE, with a pledge (yet another) to make monthly – and sometimes bi-monthly – contributions to the community in the screen.

The rhetoric is embarrassingly familiar to me now: a writer needs an online platform, i.e. a blog, vlog, podcast, website, instagramming, tumbling whatsit, in order to publicise their work to the world, in order to raise awareness of their writing, in order to sell more books, in order to make more money, in order to keep their children stocked with fidget spinners for the rest of their damn lives.

Otherwise…said writer’s career will wither and die like so many bad sitcom scripts and THEY WILL BE NOTHING.

I get it. I have good intent. Alas, however, I also have barriers:

1, children

2, children

3, shyness

Okay, so shyness is stretching a point. I’m actually not a shy person, but I’m definitely an introvert, so the concept of flashing my wares to a vast(ish) public makes the edges of my soul curl and crinkle. But I love writing, so I am duty-bound to make the grade.

It occurs to me that people use blogs for either information or entertainment. Unless you want lists of dos and don’ts on topics such as ‘Fast-Track Procrastination Techniques’, ‘Bubble Guppies Versus Paw Patrol: How to Manipulate Your Child with TV Programmes’ or ‘Writing the 2 Minute Plot Synopsis (…Because 2 Minutes is All You Damn Get)’, then I’ll aim for entertainment. Fun with words – and a few pictures.

A lot has happened since my previous pledge to blog (which perhaps explains the lack thereafter): my youngest shed his sweet baby disguise, to reveal his true identity as Toddler Destroyer Extraordinaire; I married and moved house; some very bad things happened in the political world; while various pop-stars of my youth popped their clogs. I, and this is the significant bit, also had several writing successes, which you probably wouldn’t know about, because I kind of *forgot* to brag about them online. So here’s the gist:

Firstly, my novel, Last Night I Dreamt of You, has been picked up by Goldmann (part of the Random House empire) and will be published in Germany and hopefully other territories thereafter. It is my first adult novel – a romantic mystery thriller set in Cornwall, my ode to Daphne du Maurier – and I’m intrigued and excited to see how it all unfolds. I will promise with all my heart to post updates on here. In the meantime, brush up on your GCSE German…

Secondly, I am delighted to have been taken on as one of the writer/editors creating content for the V&A Museum’s new website. As an Art History graduate, painter, and wannabe interior designer, it’s nothing short of a dream job. Plus, the V&A has long been one of my favourite London haunts, so I sometimes feel a little star-struck by the whole experience, should it be possible to be ‘star-struck’ by a large building (and all of it’s magnificent contents)!

My V&A work can be seen here:

Wedding Dress

And here:

Art Deco

Okay, so I’ve bobbed my head above the parapet and now hopefully you know a little more of where I’m at. I’d like to linger some longer, but a large piece of Duplo has just been flushed down the toilet. I guess I’ll see you in a month…

(…or five?)

To Three or Not To Three?

When I announced I was pregnant with my third child, people were suspicious. Really? A third? Are you quite sane? Then came the assumptions. Either it was an accident, ho ho, or we must have been after a particular gender. I already have one of each and I meticulously plan everything, so hey, believe it or not, I willingly walked into a life of nappy-brained chaos.

Many of my mum friends talked about a sense of completion. Whether through exhaustion, career aspirations, finances, or simply feeling satisfied, they knew. Time to draw a line under the baby years. No more sleep deprivation, wee in the face, or soggy rice-cake mushed into the carpet. One friend said she felt liberated the day she went on Ebay and sold her Bugaboo for parts. Another bragged about redecorating a living room that had once been the club of all things bright, plastic, noisy and light-up.

Click to read my column in the Guardian-Series

I heard them:

‘You know, I actually have time for myself again. I’m planning to take up colouring. By the way, it’s my fortieth soon. Anyone fancy a late-night bender? Like the old days? Honestly, my pair get up and sort themselves out for breakfast, so if I need a lie-in, I can have it.’

Yes, I heard them.

But it didn’t make a difference.

I didn’t share – or even know – that ‘done’ feeling.   I wasn’t ready to give up the annoying toys and all-night feeding marathons. The idea of harvesting a Bugaboo didn’t feel me with joy. It made me feel sad. I wanted another baby, another child, another person in my family. Regardless of whether I had the spare energy or the means, I absolutely had the love.

After such a mixed reaction, however, it struck me that having three children is no longer a common choice. In the good old days, you were only a ‘large’ family if your dad had to drive you to school in a mini-van. Now, it seems three is the benchmark for crazy, oversized rabbles of children that no one wants to invite to play-dates.

It’s no secret that the world is designed for families of four: hotel rooms, tables in restaurants, hatchback cars, and, oh my, lest I forget, affordable three-bedroom semis, they all offer nuclear-sized comfort. Throw another small bottom into the mix and it either gets illegal, cramped or expensive.

Financial comfort, particularly in our current housing market, along with reasonably priced holidays and an intense dislike of screeching, are all good reasons to stick to two. Yet, when that maternal instinct starts to tug, as anyone who’s felt it knows, the power is all-consuming.

Fast-forward a year, and I have my wish, my third, my little prince.  Some of the aforementioned struggles have indeed become part of our every day fabric (affordable larger house anyone?), but others have never materialised. I honestly don’t notice the day-to-day stress any more than I used to. What I do notice, however, is the increased happiness. My family feels complete.





Why elephants make the best mothers…

A year ago today, I began editing the final draft of Born Free Elephant Rescue.  One of the things I love about writing is that it brings you to knowledge you’d never otherwise get to. I only had the obvious insight into elephants, before working on the book: that they were big, grey, trunky, tusky and famed for having a good memory.  By the time I finished, I’d  fallen in love with these incredible, complex animals.

One of the things that really struck me, was the elephant instinct for parenting.  Adult females gestate their babies for 22 months – the longest of any mammal.  As a veteran mother of three human babies, I’d say that’s pretty hardcore!  And after such a lengthy pregnancy, it’s no wonder elephants make remarkably gentle and tender mothers.  Nina’s story, one of the elephants featured in Elephant Rescue, is absolute testament to this.  She had an amazing and moving journey, from being orphaned by poachers,  enduring 25 years in captivity, to being given a new lease of life in the wilderness by Born Free.  She then did a great job of raising a calf of her own – something no one ever thought would happen.

I will always feel a special connection to Nina’s story.  While editing the book, I was going through my own trial of motherhood, looking after my very premature baby in Special Care.  Arguably, authors are at their best when writing about subjects that really matter to them.  All I can say is that a little piece of my mothering soul is definitely wrapped up in this book.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Born Free: Elephant Rescue is now available for pre-order: