Time, there’s just not enough of it

Well, it seems a long time since I wrote a post that wasn’t a book review. I’m even finding it a bit hard to keep up that end of things. Not from lack of reading. Or from lack of writing. But time is really not working for me at the minute.

My workload at school seems to have exploded. There barely seems to be a spare minute. I decided to work as a supply teacher for exactly this reason but now I am working three days in the same school, I find I am having to do more than I would like. So any spare minutes are spent editing or writing. The blog, unfortunately, is way down the list.

To make matters worse, the school was inspected last week. It is horrible to see the stress this causes teachers. Pressure pushes down from the management team and everyone suffers. It annoys me that most things are now directed towards what is needed for these inspections, not what is best for the pupils. Of course, I understand that these two things are supposed to be the same thing but I really don’t think they are.

Well, it’s over now until the next time, but the tiredness and stress still linger. It makes it hard to concentrate on anything else. Thoughts and ideas are starting to creep back in though and today, I have been writing already and once I have done my school work, then I will do more.

The Best Laid Plans…

At the beginning of the summer I posted that I was going to have a busy and productive month or so, writing and job hunting. I guess I should have known better than to make my plans public as the fates felt compelled to conspire. Just about 24 hours later, my husband announced that he had a lot of holiday to take and he thought it would be good to take it now while I was off. I knew immediately that I would not get much done.

So instead of long peaceful hours at the computer, we had trips to see family in Newcastle, trips to see friends in Aberdeenshire, brewery trips and jaunts off to see bands (Brendan Benson in Manchester was particularly good.) We went to the cinema and the pub a lot. We caught up with some of the films that I’d recorded on the freeview box. And I barely read or wrote anything.

Not that it wasn’t good, you understand. Often my husband works long hours and weekends so it was good to have him all to myself. I don’t want to sound like I didn’t enjoy myself. But I am used to having the summer to myself and being able to get on with whatever I want to do.

Still, he is back at work now and I have sorted the structure for Choose Yr Future and I can see what I still need to do and what needs to be removed. It is funny how storylines sometimes take on a life of their own. Now I need to do some serious pruning. I’m looking forward to getting my head down and getting out the red pen.

A sense of nostalgia

We’re in the process of a massive, house size, sort out at the minute. We have now lived at our current address for six years and suddenly the house seems as cluttered as the one we left behind despite being twice the size. There are two reasons for this – my inability to stop buying books and my husband’s inability to throw anything away. We cannot afford to move again and there is nowhere to put new shelves so something had to give.

So I’ve given myself of sorting out all the cassette tapes that we still have with aim of putting any that might still be listenable to onto CD via a USB cassette player and throwing away all the others. A stupidly large task but at least with the advantage of listening to some things that I hadn’t heard for ages or even before. (I’m already more than halfway through putting all the vinyl onto the I-Pod and am currently listening to Babble by That Petrol Emotion, well worth a listen if you like noisy indie tunes from the late eighties and last listened in about 1992.)

It was when I discovered a tape from my university days with The Would Be’s on it that I started to feel nostalgic. I used to love this tape. Of course, in time honoured fashion, this was completely warped and unlistenable. And the tape didn’t say whether it was an LP, a series of singles or anything useful. I felt a little depressed given how much listening time I had given this tape albeit twenty odd years ago and my first thought was I’ll never be able to replace this. I doubt you would happen to find it just looking through the shelves at HMV. It’s not as if they were even very famous at the time.

Of course, this just shows how old fashioned I am. Of course, I could just go to I-Tunes and search for them and there it would be. It’s probably on Amazon as well. So that’s good, isn’t it? Progress you know. I could be listening to it again, right this second if I so desired.

But I’m not. And I can’t really explain why but I find the whole ease of finding it a little bit depressing. I want it to be difficult. Everything is so easy, a mere click of the mouse away. Why wait for anything? It was only a few weeks ago that A Field in England was released on all formats simultaneously. A far cry from the months you used to have to wait for a film to come out on video if you missed it at the cinema.

I can’t help feeling that it takes away some of the meaning. Part of liking indie bands and alternative music was that sometimes it was difficult to find but part of your dedication as a fan was looking really hard. Instant gratification seems to build a really short attention span. After all, if you spend weeks looking for something chances are you are going to give it some attention once you have it. But if it appears in a second, how long before your off for your next fix of new and exciting.

Of course, I know that I could just download all the vinyl and cassettes I have from I-Tunes or some such and save myself the mammoth task of converting it all to the I-Pod. It would be quick and it would be easy. But this way I have to listen to it all and while it may take me longer, I am sure it will be infinitely more fun.

Plans for Summer

It feels like this summer has been a long time coming. Now it’s here, I feel the usual panic at spending my time wisely. It is tempting to just lounge about and recover from the last term but before you know it, the weeks have been wasted and it is time to  go back to school.

This year, I have a lot of plans. First of all, I’d like to get Choose Yr Future into some sort of first draft. At least, it all needs to be written, even if I am still playing with the structure. (The structure is giving me particular trouble and I have already changed my mind twice about this.) Then will come editing and beta readers but I envisage that will be nearer the end of the year.

An even bigger task is to try and move away from teaching. Even supply teaching takes up too much free time, especially if you get a long term contract which happened to me in the last term. And even if the planning is less, it is still exhausting. And stressful, let’s not forget that. So, a change is required. 

It’s hard to know what else I could do. I’m sure I have transferable skills but the main problem isn’t knowing what they are but what I might want to transfer them to. Of course, there are opportunities to work online and I am investigating those. 

First up though, a much needed few days away. A chance to clear my head. Hopefully I will come back full of energy (which is sadly lacking at the moment) and with a fresh sense of focus. 


A Year Already

I can’t really believe it. A year since I first wrote my first blog. I can’t decide whether that seems like an awful long time ago or if it has flown by. Is it possible for both of those statements to be true?

In terms of my writing and this blog in particular, it seems like a long time ago. When I look at my early posts, they aren’t terrible by any stretch but I wasn’t sure of my own voice. I wasn’t really aware of my audience.

In terms of my fiction writing, I have published Shattered Reflections, had some good reviews and feel like I can call myself a writer now. It is strange, how it feels now to be writing Choose Yr Future. It’s no longer a secret thing. People ask me how it’s coming along. Not only that, it’s no longer just for me. Potential publication. Less hypothetical than before. It makes it more serious, I suppose but that is a good thing. It’s less like a hobby, more like real work.

Of course, time has flown by at it’s usual speed – too quickly. Too often, I am writing at the end of a long day. I don’t necessarily believe that you have to hit a quota everyday. I do try to write everyday but sometimes that comes down to ensuring I have a note of all the possible ideas that have come to me rather than lovingly crafted sentences. But there is not a moment when I am not thinking or planning and as long as I make a note, I know that I will get it written eventually.

So I can’t help but wonder what the next year will bring. It is certainly exciting. With the six weeks holidays coming up, I should get the first draft of Choose Yr Future finished. (Also on the cards, a career change. Teaching is eating up too much of my time. At least part of the summer needs to be spend trying to find something new.) And then it will be editing, beta readers all the way through to a final draft. I can’t wait.

It’s been a dry month

June has not been a fun month. And I feel as though I have got nothing done. Of course, this is nowhere near the truth. I have done an awful lot. Those exam papers didn’t mark themselves. What I mean is, I’ve done very little writing and even less promotion.

I have managed to write one more chapter of Choose Yr Future. But it was in between marking or when I was tired and if truth be told, it probably isn’t very good. I also have a lot of notes written down hastily when an idea would strike (why is that never when you are sat at your computer trying to write?) which hopefully will still make sense when I get round to fleshing them out.

I have done very little online. The most obvious victim of this was my blog. It had been very much neglected, poor thing. Sometimes I wish I was in more of a routine with blogging, y’know writing a blog every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, or whatever. But the nature of my day job makes that sort of routine very difficult to keep to.

However, I have now got some more time – hence the three blogs in a week catch up – and soon I will be on school holidays with whole weeks worth of free time to use up on promotion and writing. Hopefully, I will have a first draft by the end of it.


The Real World Keeps Getting in the Way

It has been a month of getting very little done. After a very productive April, I have had a really annoying May. The real world keeps intruding into the world of writing which is just rude, if you ask me.

First of all, I was in Newcastle, helping my mam after a knee operation. This meant ten days without the Internet and without really getting any writing done. This last was due to the fact that I like to write on my own and I never really was. So I maybe achieved an hour at night when I was tired, most of which was rubbish which I immediately changed. Although I did manage to finish reading The Female Malady by Elaine Showalter which is part of my research for Choose Yr Future so that was productive. (It isn’t all just about words on the page, I have to remind myself.)

Then, back at school, we got the call from Ofsted which meant that all spare time was spent preparing for that. An Ofsted inspection is incredibly stressful even if you aren’t seen – which I wasn’t this time – and I spent the weekend after in a haze of tiredness and so again got very little done.

Last week was half term, a time when I usually catch up a little and rest a little. Foolishly, I agreed to do some one to one tutoring over the holidays as extra cash is always welcome.  However, it soon became clear that I would get nothing else but lesson planning done and I regretted my decision. I’ll just have to hope that all the notes I’ve made when I have an idea will still make sense when I eventually get around to writing them in full.

Unfortunately, it will probably be the summer before that happens. From next weekend I will be marking exam papers for the next three weeks and that is incredibly time consuming. Its hard balancing the need to make money with having the time to write and sometimes it feels like the scales are tipped the wrong way constantly. At least I can see a time on the horizon when I can write and when I can catch up with myself a little.

Time is on my side…

Time management is not an easy skill to acquire. Everyone feels they need more time. My husband, no matter how much he does at work, always laments the one thing he didn’t get done. There are never enough hours for him.

i used to be terrible at managing my time but organising a teaching schedule everyday is a lesson in the value of prioritising. It’s a lesson you learn quickly if you don’t want to drown in a sea of lesson plans. The other lesson you learn pretty quickly is that you never get to the end of the to do list. The to do list is a process rather than a thing. It grows and changes but it never goes away. There are only so many hours in the day and only so many that should be devoted to work. Everything gets done eventually. Nothing is ever as urgent as it seems. No job is worth having no spare time for. Live to work or work to live has always seemed a fairly obvious choice.

It’s a little different with writing. I’d much rather write than do promotion. Making time for promotion is difficult because I almost never want to do it but I always want to write. I’d rather write than plan lessons or even worse, deal with some ridiculous piece of bureaucratic nonsense that teachers seem to spend far too much time having to do.

The real world will insist on interrupting and at the minute it is the world of working supply. This means that I don’t always know what I’m doing from one day to the next but it also means that I have no planning. Knowing that there are only certain times in the day when you can write is very focusing. It means I definitely have to do it and I have to do it now. I don’t spend three hours playing Sims because I think I have all day. I’m used to having to write when I can find the time. I still try to make sure I do it every day, even if that means writing on the train. That way, I feel I have achieved something, even if it is very small compared to wasting time days because I think I have all the time in the world.