Tag Archives: pondering

midlife crisis

Northumbrian sunrise

I’m probably overstating things with the title of this post, but I’m approaching a big birthday and it’s bringing with it some big thoughts. Forty *gulp* – it feels significant, and sensible. Irresolutely grownup.

And I’m just not sure I’m ready for that.

I remember my dad turning forty when I was a child. In celebration, I bought him a plastic walking stick filled with smarties. I thought it was hilarious: “Haha, Daddy, you’re so old!” Looking back, I’m not sure what he thought of it and I’m also not sure how I’d feel if one of my sons gave me the same present now. Well, I’d eat the smarties, obviously but does forty count as old? Surely not, but neither does it count as young enough for that joke to be entirely devoid of bite (except where the smarties are concerned hehe – stop eye-rolling, I’m allowed to make terrible jokes at my age).

I’ve noticed recently how forty is spoken of as if it’s crossing some sort of frontier – like a cut off point for desirability and dynamism in our youth-obsessed culture. Of course that’s not actually the case: older people can be every bit as attractive and even if our energy levels are lower than they were in the full flush of youth, our wisdom more than makes up for that. Nevertheless, forty is a point when you quite possibly have more of your life behind you than in front of you and I’m definitely finding it’s making me pause and reflect.

Have I achieved enough? Am I good enough at what I do? Have I followed enough of my dreams? And if the answer to any of those is no, is there enough time left to change that?

I’ve spoken to quite a few people about this recently. Most understand. Some say, ‘Oh forty was nothing, wait till you get to fifty!” with others’ it’s, “thirty was so much worse!” Personally, I barely noticed turning thirty: my eldest son was five months old and I spent my birthday weekend in a ‘luxury eco lodge’ (oh yes) in Yorkshire with some of my best friends. It was all healthy outdoor walks, home cooked meals and woodburning stoves, and between us we had a baby, a toddler and a pregnancy. It may be my least raucous birthday ever. We were all fully settled down and engaged with the homemaking and family-building stage of life.

And that stage of life defined my thirties, really. I had my first child at twenty-nine and my third (and last) at thirty-five. My youngest started school a couple of months ago meaning my thirties almost perfectly encapsulated the pre-school years of parenting. Perhaps that’s why this birthday feels particularly significant. I’m bidding farewell to my thirties, a decade of babies and toddlers, of constant change and challenge, of passionate new maternal love and friendships forged amidst the fires of sleep deprivation and vomit and birth stories and ‘oh-my-god-I-haven’t-a-clue-what-I’m-doing-oh-phew-neither-do-you-let’s-just-figure-this-out-together-ness’.

Of course, I had other focuses during the last decade too, but children were at the heart of it. When they’re little it feels natural for that to be the case – they need you so entirely. And now… now things are starting to feel different. My kids will always be my focus but now they’re all at school there’s more room for other things to enter the frame. And that’s great but it’s also making me feel so nostalgic for all those moments of passion and purpose and awe. For the wonder of creating new life and the craziness of living through those early years of it. Could another decade of my life ever be that intense? Would I want it to be?

And now it’s hello forties decade of…what? Career building? House renovation? (it’s all sounding a bit too grown up) dream following? Of knuckling down and get on with achieving everything I ever wanted to because time is slipping through my fingers and I’m not getting it back?

All of those? Or none of those? Or perhaps it’s just time for some consolidation – for realising what I’ve got and what I’ve created and nurtured and spending time working on the bits that need attention and enjoying the good stuff that comes my way.

I’m lucky, I know that. Lucky to have what I have and even more, who I have in my life. I think it’s enough. More than enough.

Forty isn’t time for a midlife crisis at all is it? It’s time for a midlife celebration!

And as anyone who’s spent any time with me recently will know, I’m having plenty of those! :)


I haven’t joined in any linkies for ages but this is the last ever week of ‘The Prompt’ which is one of my favourite linkies of all – I used to join in with it loads back when I blogged more regularly. Sara’s weekly prompts have been a huge inspiration to me (in fact, the first picture book text I ever wrote came from one of them) so it felt right to join in this last one. The prompt this week was ‘ENOUGH’. Thanks Sara!

looking back, looking forward

autumn-walkSo, half term approaches!

I’m not sure how I feel about that really, it’s been a funny old six weeks since the kids went back to school. It’s been busy, really busy – one of those times when all the different aspects of my life need attention – and I’ve been floundering a bit trying to keep on top of everything. A feeling of mild bafflement and a low level sense of ‘WTAF is going on?’ have been my stalwart companions.

I was saying to a friend on the school run this morning that I’m only just starting to feel like I’ve got a handle on what our new daily routine is and knowing which books need signing, which homework requires parental comments and who and what needs to be where, when and why. Of course, only seconds after making this announcement I realised my son had left his P.E kit at home… then, when I went back to fetch it, I realised he must in fact have left it at school last week (all damp and muddy and festering… ) because it isn’t anywhere here. So I guess we haven’t *quite* reached a stage where we’re sailing perfectly along. I’m still prone to getting caught off guard by a gust of wind and having the boom crack me round the back of the head.

But progress has definitely been made. I mean, I made it to the school harvest festival on time (despite a dash home for a forgotten swimming kit, and a disgusting dog poo emergency), I’ve finally met my son’s teacher (middle school is so much more ‘hands off’ than first school!), I’ve written copious comments in various reading journals and even spent a very happy couple of hours yesterday helping my eldest create some 3D art for some ‘enrichment homework’ that we thought was optional but turned out not to be quite as optional as we thought!

On this basis I’m sure that after half term we’ll have all our rigging in order* and just sail seraphically along until Christmas. Because I’ve got this school thing nailed now. Oh yes. No more capsizing for me.

So I now have three more days (mornings) to try and do all the things that I can’t do while the boys are around. Then it’s a week off from the school run (yay!) during which we’re off to Harry Potter Studios! But shhhhh don’t tell the boys – it’s a surprise!

My plan is to tidy the entire house (clearing out all the junk that’s been building up for years), complete another module of my illustration course, research agents and send my picture books off to another batch, submit some work (that I haven’t written yet) to a competition that’s caught my eye, return to my novel and write another ten thousand words, write some more limericks and… oh, ok, probably none of that.

I have three mornings. I’m going to have coffee with some friends. I’m going to do some hoovering. I’m going to draw some pictures. It’s enough, I think.

I’ll leave you with a drawing I did last week as part of my course, the next module of which is on illustrating poems. One thing I really struggle with is speed – I’m an over-thinking slow coach – so I decided to have a go at illustrating a poem without any planning at all, just to dive in. This is one of my favourite poems. It’s by Elizabeth Jennings. I (re)read it then drew a picture. This is what appeared on the paper:a-child-in-the-night-poem-illustration

Writing Bubble


*I don’t know why I’m sticking with the sailing metaphor… I don’t even know why I’m using it at all, I know NOTHING about boats!


On similarity, difference and acceptance. Oh, and love.

Last week was a tough one for the world. Things felt heavy and miserable and violent – fuelled by fear and hate. Here in the UK, the EU referendum campaign was (and still is) stirring up huge waves of negative emotion and vitriol and hateful, divisive rhetoric and this rose to a head in the horrific murder of MP Jo Cox last Thursday – an act that left the country reeling.


I spent Friday in a state of shock. Close to tears a fair bit of the time. Jo Cox was one of the good ones, not just a good MP but – from everything I’ve read – one of the all round good people of this world. And she was taken in such a brutal way… really there’s nothing I can say that hasn’t been said by others… it’s just so horrifically wrong.

Over the weekend, like many others, I read and shared the quote from her first speech in the House of Commons:

“While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

I’ve thought about that a lot over the past few days – about what we have in common. Beyond being human, what is it exactly? Because the words and actions of some people make me think we don’t have anything in common at all. I just can’t get my head round the racism and homophobia that have inspired recent acts of violence. Who gives a flying f**k about where people are born, what colour their skin is or which gender of people they love? Why would anyone choose to take against another person based on something like that? If there are people like that in the world, how can humanity have anything in common?

But then, I tell myself, those are just the actions of a tiny minority of people. Most people aren’t like that. Most of us share a common humanity that doesn’t let such feelings fester. Don’t we? So why do we let our differences pull us apart? Why has the EU referendum played out this way? Why can’t we all just respect each other? Is difference really so bad?

I think not, but being drawn to people like us seems to be hard-wired into the human psyche. Being friends with people we have lots in common with is great – it feels so easy and natural. You know that feeling when you just ‘click’ with someone and it’s fantastic? That’s based on similarity, I think, not difference. But you don’t have to agree on everything – that would be impossible. So difference is fine really. We can cope with it between friends… we should be able to cope with it where ever it appears.

And yet, in polite society we have the whole ‘don’t talk about politics and religion’ thing going on – as though if we’re divided on those issues we better keep it to ourselves or friendships will surely crumble. Is this really true though? I mean, I’m a left wing atheist – pretty staunchly so – but I have friends of different faiths and political persuasions. I know in these socially connected times that’s perhaps not saying much though so… ok… one of my close friends (we met at antenatal classes and dragged supported each other through the early days of motherhood so no one can break that bond!) is a church-going Christian. She also happens to be one of the most wonderful, down to earth, kind, funny, thoughtful people I’ve ever met. Who cares if we disagree on whether there’s a God? I mean WHO CARES?!

Another of my very close friends (another NCT class compadre) voted Conservative at the last general election. No biggie perhaps you might think, but I was one of those people who felt bereft at the last election results – just, gutted and, to be blunt, incredulous that anyone could possibly think that a Conservative government was what this country needed. To be even more blunt I was, on election results day, furious that anyone could have voted Tory – seething, poke your eyes out with a sharp stick, furious. But this friend, this lovely friend of mine is just plain awesome. Kind, loyal, empathetic, smart… the sort of friend who turns up with biscuits when she knows you had a bad day and is always full of wise advice and a comforting shoulder.

With both of these  friends, I respect the beliefs they have and the choices they make. I disagree wholeheartedly that there is a God and that a Conservative government is a good thing but that doesn’t mean I can’t love my wonderful friends with just as much wholehearted conviction. I do.

Having said that, we don’t talk religion or politics much – we skirt around the issue – so I’m not truly testing that ‘don’t talk about that!’ thing with these friends I guess. HOWEVER, I do have a friend with whom I disagree politically (on some things at least) and we DO talk about it. A few months ago we actually had a kind of falling out over it. Don’t talk about politics with friends you disagree politically with – you’ll fall out! Well, yeah, perhaps, perhaps not, but if you do, is ‘falling out’ really such a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing?

Actually what happened with this lovely friend of mine was that we sorted it out. And in sorting it out we had a big old proper heart-to-heart and honestly, the friendship is better for it. Message from the universe there – talking about and working through differences can be a good thing, a great thing, even – if you let it be. It’s not necessarily easy though. For someone like me who likes agreement and hates conflict, I’d rather keep quiet most of the time. One thing I learned from the Kids Strike is that it’s scary when you actually stand up for what you believe in and wear the badge. People can disagree. People can be offended. People, out there in the big wide world, can even be nasty.

But I reckon if you talk about the stuff you disagree on, and if you can listen to people rather than just wanting to poke them in the eye, there can be real acceptance there – not just ‘I like you because you think the same way I do’ (which, I will admit, is a position I am very fond of in friendship) or even ‘I like you despite the fact you think differently’ but just plain old ‘I like you’. Whatever. Acceptance.

So what am I saying in this rambling post? I’m not sure… but it feels like something has gone wrong with the exploration and acceptance of difference in society at the moment. We need to be able to talk about things without all the negativity taking over. Enough of the horrible polarising hatred. Sure, disagree with people, even have a little fall out if you really must. But for God’s sake make up afterwards. We mustn’t let the disagreements be all that we are. Because we’re capable of more than that and we’re so much better than that, and what unites us… what unites us is love – the capacity to love and be loved and to use that force for the good.

So, I guess this part is for you, my conservative-voting, religiously-minded friends – you go on being you, I’ll go on being me. Maybe we can even talk about those big issues sometimes without the bottom falling out of the world. Let’s listen to that instinct that tells us we are similar regardless of our differences. Let’s just… be.

“We have more in common with each other than the things which divide us.”

Jo Cox, I reckon you might be right.



I drew this picture on Friday and bunged it on social media and it got shared more than any other picture I’ve ever drawn. Ok, that’s not saying that much but even so… love innit?

Writing Bubble


where I stop procrastinating and make some decisions

in a fieldI’ve been delaying writing this post for weeks – delaying writing it because in order to do so, I needed to make some decisions about my blog and, despite endless pondering, I couldn’t quite bring myself to do that.

How do I find more time to write? Where do I find more time to do my illustration course? How much of the energy that I pour into blogging could be better used elsewhere? What do I want from blogging anyway? How do I handle social media? How can I be a more present parent? Is this pondering really getting me anywhere at all? Where did I hide my stash of popcorn? All these questions and more have been whirring round in my head for weeks and I need to come to some conclusions!

As I type these words I STILL haven’t finalised my decisions but one thing I have decided is that enough is enough – the longer I delay, the longer the limbo continues. So I’m going to write some thoughts down here and now, and as I do, they will become decisions that I have to honour. I’m going to back myself into a corner, here. Let’s hope it works.

So *clears throat, cracks knuckles, does a few warm up squats*

*decides a walk around the neighbourhood would be a really good idea right about now*

*realises, NO that’s just another procrastination tactic*

*makes a cup of tea, honestly, honestly it helps me think. Honestly*

Right, I’m ready.

Decision one – I want to make the next three months with my youngest son, count.

My three-year-old starts nursery five mornings a week from September and from that point everything changes. I mean, FIVE MORNINGS A WEEK WITH NO KIDS! Imagine that! Ok, some of them will be taken up with work but still… it’s a biggie. And I was all, ‘Oh, I’ll have more time in September, maybe I should just keep truckin’ (and not make any changes) till then’, but then I got a text from a friend this morning (the very lovely Alice from The Filling Glass) and something she wrote reminded me that, sod the changes coming in September, this time is precious. This time right now. So why truck right on through it like some… truck? So I’ve put the brakes on. I need to make decisions that leave me the time, space and energy for him (not to mention the other two!) and that means less blogging and social media. It means:

Decision two – I’m only blogging once a week from now on. 

Well, one blog post plus my What I’m writing linky post (which is largely just copy and paste with a few links to last week’s posts). I’ve been doing this for the last few weeks actually, but having not ‘properly decided’ to do it I’ve kept feeling like I should be blogging more. That’s the thing with blogging actually – I always feel like I should be doing more. There are always more blog posts to write – my head is perpetually thronging with ideas them. Enough of that. One post a week with no obligation or expectation to do more, is fine. Mind you, it’s not just writing blog posts that’s time-consuming, it’s sharing and commenting and linking up. Which leads me to:

Decision three – I’m only going to link up to #WhatImWriting. 

Yes, just one linky – my own. But, but, I love linkies! My fingers are already trembling with alarm! What about The Prompt, my source of inspiration? Or Prose for Thought, where I share creative work? Or From the Mouths of Babes, Or The Truth About, Or Read With Me? Argh! I’ll miss them all! My readership will plummet! it will all end in doom, I tell you. DOOOOOM!

Oh, FFS. I can always reassess things come September if I want and right now, linkies take up too much time. I often lose three or four evenings a week to commenting. And let’s not talk about the time my youngest spends playing on his own while I’m jumping around from post to post. I mean, he’s an awesome little dude with imagination that makes such a situation possible but I take advantage of that far too much. I also take advantage of his love of Curious George and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Enough of that too. Just one linky. Hopefully I can keep commenting down to just one or two evenings and have more time for reading actual books. Ooh, that makes me think of something else:

Decision four – I’m setting myself a book reading target. One book a fortnight for the rest of the year.

A few years ago I would have said, ‘One a book a fortnight? Ha! Easy!’ Even last year I managed more than that, and comfortably, but this year apart from Runaway Girl, The Pursuit of Happiness and The Forgotten and the Fantastical 2, I’ve barely read a thing. I’ve fallen off the reading horse and it makes me sad. Writers should read – it stirs the imagination. I need to make reading a priority. And that’s not the only creative endeavour I need to prioritise:

Decision five – I’m going to draw every day.

I don’t care what it is – I need to just draw. Even if it’s a five minute crap scribble it’s better than nothing. I drew every day for months at the start of the year and it helped my confidence and artistic abilities no end. I need to do that again.

Decision six – regarding social media… *pauses with fingers hovering above the keys*… half an hour a day in the evening. Max. Mostly for blogging and Facebook groups (i.e not just faffing about)

I deleted the FB and Twitter apps from my phone weeks ago. Life is better because of it. You know what though? Having previously not paid it much attention,  I now check Instagram all the flippin’ time because it is the only social media app left! So I think I might put that in a folder somewhere so I can’t reflexively check it in an addicted way.

With all these decisions though, I’m still not sure I’m going to free up enough time to write and draw so, here’s a radical idea:

Decision seven – I do not expect or intend to do any creative writing at all for the rest of June.

What? Am I mad? Don’t I want to write? Yes, of course! but I’ve been feeling so snowed under recently that I haven’t found time and then I’ve stressed about that. Let this be the month to focus on drawing. It’s just a month and experience suggests to me that if I focus on one creative outlet the other might well follow. I’m not saying I’m not allowed to write – if the words flow, they flow – I’m just saying I don’t expect to write a single thing and that’s fine.

Right, so where does that leave me? Oh yes, there’s one big decision I made before writing this post and it’s about time I shared it:

Decision eight – I’m not going to go to BritMums live

This is sad because I was looking forward to it! I’ve got my (free) ‘editor delegate’ pass and everything and I have been looking at hotels and planning meet ups with friends. *sob*

But it’s the right decision. Being a big-time blogger just isn’t the direction I really want to go in. I’ve sensed that for a while. I reached a point a few months back when things were going well with my blog and I kept being approached by PR’s and I started seriously considering monetising it. Then the viral post happened and the #THISislearning campaign and spreading myself all over social media… and then the week off it all and I realised something. Blogging is not where my heart is. Not really.

It has some of my heart for sure – it’s how I’ve found (and created) my writing community. It’s where I continue to find (and, I hope, spread) support and friendship. It’s the place I’ve discovered motivation to write, and the confidence to share my work. Those are the parts of being a blogger I want to keep, But those parts don’t need me to spread myself so thinly. And those parts don’t need me to go three hundred miles to spend time in a room full of (albeit lovely) people I’ve never met before, learning all about how to grow my audience. Even the thought of having to tackle Pinterest and Instagram in a full on blogger way makes me want to scream and cover my ears. That’s not going to get me where I want to go (though I continue to be impressed by those of you who do).

Get me – I made some decisions! Eight whole ones! There are still a few other things I’m considering but I think these will do for now.

Let’s see what the next few months bring. :)

Writing Bubble

My week without social media or blogging

riverI’ve just logged back onto social media and my blog after an entire week off. It’s been a good week. Here are some profound insights thoughts that occurred to me as the week went by:

Sharing aspects of your life is addictive.

Sharing the way bloggers or avid social media users do has a compulsive aspect to it, I think. At the start of my week off, I found it really odd not to share things I’d read, or photos of what I’d seen or done, or thoughts I’d had, or funny things the kids had said, or insights into my life or… just, you know, ALL the stuff so many of us share so often. I sometimes wonder whether our generation feels that something has only really happened if it’s been shared online – that an experience isn’t really valid unless we plaster various versions of it over our social media feeds and get ‘likes’. I’ve certainly found that in many of life’s lovely moments I’ve felt that urge to capture and share. This week was like having an itch I couldn’t really scratch. There were a couple of times I sent my husband and friends texts just because “This happened!” (whatever ‘this’ was) and the urge to share was too strong, but as the days went by I started to get used to it. The itch got less itchy. Now I feel a bit weird about sharing again. Writing this feels a bit odd, actually.

Despite how often I usually check my phone for ‘likes’… I don’t really need the affirmation.

I thought I would miss the affirmation aspect of social media – the likes, comments and RT’s, the little hearts and thumbs up – don’t they make me feel better? Isn’t it good to feel that approval? Wouldn’t I miss all those little pats on the back?

Er… no. Turns out, when I wasn’t putting anything out there that people might ‘like’ or otherwise, I didn’t need it at all. In fact it was a relief because I wasn’t looking for affirmation and didn’t need to keep checking my phone for it. Not that when I normally post a photo or whatever I’m consciously thinking ‘affirm my life please, people!’ but I guess that’s basically what it amounts to isn’t it? So, take away the ‘look what I’m doing!’ element of social media and I felt free. Much more secure in myself. And that’s because…

Real life is wonderfully affirming regardless of the lack of a ‘thumbs up’ button.

The best, warmest, cuddliest affirmation comes from the people in your life who you are genuinely connected to. That’s a no-brainer, really. It certainly doesn’t preclude online friends but, leave social media for long enough and I’m betting that those people with whom you have a genuine connection will find ways of communicating with you in the real world anyway. I was really touched by the number of texts I got from people asking how my social-media-free week was going. Of course, texts did then kind of fill the gap a bit – I sent and received an awful (wonderful) lot of texts last week, but meh, I never claimed this was a total ‘no typing’ week.

Having just totted it up, I’ve also realised I had more proper, face-to-face social engagements last week that there were days in the week. And some of them were with more than one friend! Little Miss Introvert here had a rip-roaringly sociable time of it. Heavens.

Social media is a barrier between me and real life.

Ok it’s not an impermeable barrier and in fact it’s also a bridge. A sort of bridgey-barrier (look , I’ve had a week off blogging, I’ve forgotten how to express myself here clearly!) It allows me to connect to people but it also means, in the moment, I’m less present. This week both my husband and eldest son have said it’s wonderful that I’m not on social media; that I’m not always distracted by my phone. And I’m not surprised they expressed that, because I’ve felt more engaged and just, well, THERE with people. It’s been lovely.

I’m a better parent when I’m offline.

Given the time I spend on my phone normally… ouch. But it’s true. See above – I have more time for my kids. I am more present.

When I’m not blogging, I have more time (full stop).

Without having to think about blogging this week I had time for other things. I finished the book I was reading (The Pursuit Of Happiness And Why It’s Making Us Anxious – review to follow – interesting stuff!). I did some of my illustration course and started work on the first assignment. This made me very happy. I also had time to spend with my husband in the evenings – we had conversations! We even watched a Rom Com together – neither of us particularly like Rom Coms but we couldn’t find a suitable Sci Fi. Anyway it starred Ryan Reynolds (have loved him since Deadpool) and Isla Fisher (have loved her since Home and Away 20 years ago!) so it wasn’t a bad way to pass an evening.

Oh, and I cleaned the car. I. CLEANED. THE. CAR! Yep, no more melted Chewits in the glove compartment. Get in.

Phone calls are lovely

Do you remember those hours spent chatting on the phone with friends in years gone by? These days, apart from to a few family members, I don’t spend much time on the phone at all so when the phone rang earlier in the week and one of my friend’s names appeared on the screen, it felt quite unusual. He was phoning me with a question –normally he would have FB messaged me but since I was off social media, he called instead. And it was lovely to talk to him. Actually hearing people’s voices is so different to seeing their words on your screen. I could hear his wife (one of my close friends) in the background and they were kind of teasing each other and saying things to me and I it felt like a snippet of real life. There they were, my friends, just being themselves in a house not too far away – it was oddly reassuring and affirming. And if that sounds a bit soppy it’s because…

Without distraction, I’ve felt life more intensely.

I’ve very much been feeling ‘all the feels’ this week. Admittedly, this is what I’m like anyway – I’ve said before that I sometimes feel like my heart isn’t so much on my sleeve as hanging around my neck on some kind of loose chain that bounces around and catches on things as I go through life. It also has wings and has a tendency to try to fly off – it’s all a bit dicey. Well, this week it’s been that feeling times ten. And its been almost entirely positive too. I keep thinking how amazing people are. All that socialising and those lovely texts helped. It’s been a week of warm fuzzy feelings. Maybe if you put the warm fuzzys out there they get a chance to grow (fuzzier?!)?

There will always be a lot going on in my head

I have a noisy mind – a stream of constant chatter. I’m always thinking something or working something out or getting a new idea. And into this fits social media with its endless stream of other people’s lives and thoughts and ideas that send my thoughts off in seven (thousand) directions at once. I thought that without social media it would be quieter – I thought that without that input my own chatter might die down. Not a bit of it, I could just hear myself more clearly. So I’ve had to accept this is how I am. What it does make me think though, is that given how much there is going on in my head – do I really the social media input? Do I need more stimulation? Answer: big fat no. Which brings me on to…

I feel happier without social media.

I was intending to log back into the hive mind – or ‘dive back into the swamp’ as a friend (lovingly, I’m sure… ) put it – this morning but I couldn’t really bring myself to. I went onto Instagram and hurriedly shut it down. Skimmed though Facebook scattering likes then quickly thought ‘enough now’. I didn’t get as far as Twitter till after six and even then I only responded to one tweet. It’s just too full-on. Despite the constant chatter in my head, it is definitely more peaceful without social media. The nasty demon of comparison hasn’t been able to needle me and I feel better for it. I’ve just been reading a book all about happiness and the damaging effects of social media on it and this makes total sense to me now. It’s been a happy week. Why would I want to risk all that and return to my newsfeeds and timelines? Why? Well…

It has its lovely side… and I’ve missed that

A friend from my ‘What I’m Writing’ group said to me that it was noticeable that I wasn’t around because she’s used to me flitting around the group being supportive and tweeting people’s posts and writing nice comments (Thanks T!). She also said that she and others were stepping up to fill the gap though. And I thought, ‘that’s my gang – all there for each other!’. There is something wonderful about our What I’m Writing group and beyond them the other lovely people in the blogosphere too. Yes, I missed you!

And that means:

Social media and blogging play a role in my happiness.

This part is crucial. I just said I’m a better parent when I’m offline – that’s a pretty damning indictment really isn’t it? If it makes me a worse parent then I should ditch it, run away from it, leave it in the dust… surely?

Well, no (here comes the justification bit… ). The thing is, over the past few years blogging has become a part of who I am. I love the connections I’ve made (my online friends mean loads to me), and the whole experience has been vital to my writing ‘journey’ (inverted commas because I can’t take the word ‘journey’ seriously I but I also can’t think of a better word). I don’t want to just cut and run. Social media is part and parcel of blogging. Twitter also brings me #ShapeChallenge and other creative kicks up the bum which I know are good for me. Facebook can be a great place to keep in touch with real life friends, and both can be a source of intellectual stimulation.

All of that is important to me, and I want to keep it in my life. Giving it up would make me a worse parent for a whole different set of reasons.


Something has to change.

That much is crystal clear to me now. I haven’t yet worked out quite what all the changes will be but, for starters, I’m not reinstalling Facebook or Twitter on my phone (Instagram is basically unusable otherwise so I’ll put that back). I’m going to have to work out a better balance for blogging too. I need to blog less. I want more time for creativity and friendship and being a decent parent. There’s no going back now.

And there’s one final thing I’ve learned:

No matter how much extra time I have in my life, I still won’t do the ironing.

I just won’t.

Writing Bubble


And then the fun began...

do I want to make money from my blog?

Right now I’m going through a phase that I suspect is familiar to all bloggers – one where I’m questioning my blog’s purpose and direction. Specifically, at the moment I’m wondering about monetising it. I didn’t start blogging with an aim to make money at all, ‘Writing Bubble’ was just an outlet for my thoughts, and a way to connect with other people. And I’m very happy with the how it has developed in that way. But recently, I’ve been wondering if it’s time to make a change.


Over the last two-and-a-half years my blog has slowly got more readers and interactions and whether it’s recently crossed some sort of threshold on the Domain Authority scale (she says, like she knows what Domain Authority is… ) or just got on a list by chance somehow, I’m now frequently getting approached by PR’s. I keep being asked how much I charge for sponsored content and if I would like to collaborate on this, that or the other. It’s all fairly basic stuff – I imagine the emails are sent out en masse to thousands of bloggers, but still, it’s made me stop and think.

Do I want this? Do I want to earn money from my blog?

In one way of course, earning money from blogging would be fab. I know some people have hugely successful, glittering careers based on their blogs while many others have created a steady stream of decent income by committing themselves to their own little corner of the internet. If I put my mind and energies to it, I’m sure I could make this blog (moderately) successful in that way. And wouldn’t that be lovely? Money made from writing, here at home. And in MY space on the internet too – not writing for another publication but for my own. Tempting.


But do I really want it? Enough to prioritise it? Because honestly, if I went down that road I think more time-sacrifices would have to be made. I’ve already found that fitting in my illustration course, with all the drawing practice that entails, is squeezing time from other activities like reading and writing and collapsing like a potato in front of the telly. Plus there are unavoidable time-draws like work and running a house to consider. And then there are the things that REALLY matter – my life as a mother, a wife and a friend. How much more can I juggle?

On top of this there’s the question of what content I’d be happy to put in this blog and how that would square with how much I was hoping to earn from it. To make a reasonable amount would I end up blogging about nail varnish or furniture polish or other things I don’t give two hoots about? Or could I target myself at enough interesting brands to mean I need only to blog about stuff that is of genuine interest to me and, of course, my readers? At the moment I can write whatever I like but in collaborations, compromises would need to be made… wouldn’t they?

So I’m kind of spinning my wheels on the issue at the moment. Toying with notions. Undecided.

If you have any thoughts or advice to offer on this issue I’d love to hear from you!

Writing Bubble
And then the fun began...

what I’m writing – week twenty-one

typewriter butterflies badgeWelcome to week twenty-one of ‘What I’m Writing’. Twenty-one! We’re all grown-up! We had another great week over at Muddled Manuscript last Tuesday with a great batch of posts. Thanks to everyone who joined in.

If you’re new here you might be wondering what #WhatImWriting is all about. You can find all the details here but the short version is my co-host Chrissie and I are both writers who love blogging about our writing processes and reading about those of others. Our linky is for all you fellow writers, poets, bloggers etc. out there to share posts about what you’re writing (and all your hopes and fears, triumphs and tears) with a group of people who understand what you’re going through.

We take turns to write a monthly roundup of posts. My December Round-up should give you a flavour of what we’ve all been up to recently if you want to catch up!

We’ve also just set up a private group on Facebook that all linkers are welcome to join. It’s somewhere we can share work and have a chat about all things writerly (and whatever else we fancy really). As it’s a ‘secret group’ it’s hidden until I send an invititation but I have sent them to all linkers – or at least I’ve meant to! We’ve had a few issues with people’s invitations going AWOL though (think they’re being eaten by the big mail cruncher in the sky) so if you’d like to join and haven’t received one just leave me a comment – thanks!

We welcome linkers old and new and if you’d like to join in there are just a few suggestions (‘rules’ feels too strong a word) for taking part:

  • Link up any post (old or new) that is to do with writing/blogging etc. 
  • Please either use our badge on the post (copy and paste the HTML code below) or link to whichever one of our blogs is hosting that week. We will share your post on Twitter in return.
  • Read and comment on as many other posts in the linky as you can. What I’m Writing has developed a lovely, supportive community and we’d love you to join in :)
  • If you’d like to tweet your post feel free to use the hashtag #WhatImWriting. If you tweet us a link to your post @writingbubble or @rantybeast then we will RT.

Over to you – please link up below! I look forward to reading your posts (I’ll be linking up too of course)!

Writing Bubble


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