Home life: visitors, visiting, and school!
Well, New Zealand has apparently ‘crushed the curve.’ That big old ‘zero new cases’ milestone has happened for us, and we’re looking ahead toward a step down to level one. Another milestone was schools going back mid-month. Along with the excitement of children returning to school (aka, no more home teaching!!!!!!), there was the collywobbles of my girls being out of my care too. We tested out the social thing, first with the electrician coming back to finish off the last bits on our house on the very first day of Level 2. I got to hug my mum in the morning when she came to shift sheep (my children went bonkers having Nana around, even just for a few minutes!), and Dad when he came to help with electrics. I’m now the proud owner of a pantry light (this is momentous!), outside lights front and back, and garage lighting that works!
We also had family visitors out for a Saturday firewood-gathering adventure given we’ve had some proper cold days with the first real frosts. With our four, my husband’s sister and family (another four), and my husband’s Dad over, we pushed toward the maximum ten limit for the first time. The following week we ventured into town as a family for more visiting and birthday celebrating. Fair warning: for those who haven’t ‘done the social’ yet, prepare to be exhausted. I thoroughly recommend small doses of people to begin, especially if you’re an introvert like me.
Along with the shift to Level 2, adults are congregating for pickups again, strangely at the school gate, hand sanitiser and awkward conversation included. My first attempt at proper adult conversation felt like talking with my mouth full, words jumbling and competing for use, and to top it off, I forgot to wear my hearing aids and this only highlighted how my hearing has changed over the last couple of months. Eek! Long story short, if I could press delete on that conversation, I would.
We’re all a bit excited to see each other though. Social distancing on the drive at school hasn’t been the most accurate, but it’s hard with kids. Thankfully we’re a small school and pretty much know every other parent there.
Back to school, for me, means back to looking after my niece and nephew twice a week, though this will only be for a couple of weeks with the ‘big boy’ turning five! It’ll be just me and miss 2.5 from then on. It also means Board of Trustees meetings and getting back into the governing of the school. We were a chatty bunch on our first meeting back, sharing our experiences of lockdown, and particularly what we’ve all taken from the experience. My real sense is that for my household, we needed that enforced slowdown. Whilst it has been an uncertain time, we’ve had a government that has reinforced and explained the need to do what we’re doing clearly, briefing us each day on the telly, and setting out next steps with time to prepare. I can’t thank Jacinda and Ashley (Prime Minister, and Director General of Health) enough for being firm but kind, and reinforcing the fact that we’re a team of five million: all in this together, and we’re jolly lucky to be a tiny group of islands at the bottom of the world.
Writing life: hot, cold, and in between...
I’m proud to say I’ve written a lot this month. I’ve had a good go at The Weight of Expectation (though there’s still 95% of the marathon left to run), and whacked out a great new flash fiction to share free on Free Flash Fiction Fridays. I hit my time goal on 30/31 days (woohoo), really challenged myself with an attempt at a new genre – Western – and looked closely at my social media data to see where I can make changes and improvements to give viewers a better experience with me.
Joseph’s Gold is my June Free Flash Fiction Friday release, the Western(ish) tale of hardship and gold. You can read more about my writing process for this story in my behind-the-scenes blog, and keep an eye out for the story coming up free, which it will from time to time over the rest of the year.
I’ve made a slightly annoying discovery, though, with the ambitious goals I set for myself this year: I won’t be able to keep it all up next year if I hope to get The Weight of Expectation out anytime soon! Between weekly blogging, new flash fiction monthly, short stories every two months, and the demands of family, school, and other opportunities, my novel-writing time tends to be the sacrifice. Something’s got to give, but I’m not sure just what yet.
Whilst I’ve been refining my planning and journaling systems (I’m looking forward to my bright and beautiful new journal for next year), and have discovered a bunch of great ideas for keeping track of where I’m at. It’s a bit of a shame I haven’t managed to keep it all going as much in the last weeks of the month, but of course, the kids are back at school, I’ve got my little people keeping me busy, and social commitments are back underway. I’d better get my bum into gear and work it all out as this month has been productive and busy in a great way.
So what will this writer's life look like now?
And so, we’re back into ‘close to normal’ life and the time I had my husband and girls home was far more productive than I thought it’d be. The work/life balance felt nourishing, and while I thought I’d be driven spare by having so much going on at the same time as my writing time, it actually was good. How I’ll return to that balance is as yet unclear. As for deciding which of my projects gets culled next year, or, how I’ll modify my current workload to balance novel writing more effectively is another mystery. If you’ve got any ideas, please let me know in the comments. In the meantime, I’ll keep searching for a solution!
I think my revelations for this month is that I’ve just got to go with it. Times have been hard, unsettled, scary, sad, fun, distracting, productive, frustrating, and everything else in the spectrum. Not meeting the mark or hitting my goals is an utter frustration, but why waste my energy and bring myself down grumbling over it? I’ve just got to acknowledge it, balance it with what’s happening in my non-writing life, and breathe it through. Like the rest of the world, I need to find my new normal. Let’s hope I find it sooner, not later!
Until next month,
Happy reading and writing!
Hi, I'm Emily,