Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Old habits resurrected

I am not a morning person. Please do not call me and be perky first thing in the morning. I will only hate you. It makes it hard having young children who by definition are perky in the morning. Some mornings I am overwhelmed simply by the exuberance of their morning greetings. Me, I take a while to rise to the surface and once there I like to float for a while and regain my bearings (work out what day it is, where I am and what needs to be done). Children drag you to the surface kicking and screaming (me not them) and immediate focus and clarity are expected if not demanded. Blithe Boy finds it very hard to understand why I don’t immediately respond to his imploring “Play with me Mummy, play Lego, read to me, play with me, open your eyes, Mummy, Mummy, MUMMY.” Deep sigh. Plaintively. “Someone play with me.” It is surprising how often I do give in although I tend to read more than play Lego first thing in the morning. I do have a rule though that I don’t adjudicate any fights before coffee.

In my twenties I was very much an evening person. Nighttimes were the time for getting work done free of the interruptions of the day. There is nothing like quiet darkness surrounding a pool of light for inspiring thought and effort. Then I had children and my time was no longer my own. I told people that I used to be a night owl and now I wasn’t anything other than tired all the time.

The only good thing about this current unusual conjunction of school holidays and absent partner is that I’ve rediscovered the evening hours. Most nights the time between about nine and midnight is my own and I’ve easily slipped back into old habits. I’ve almost finished typing the manuscript and I’ve decided that I need to get the Jaeckels to Ipswich, if not to their first sight of Marburg before finishing this first book. It makes sense in the flow of the story and also in relation to length. As this is a novel aimed at young readers, I’m aiming at about 40,000 words although there is no hard and fast rule about book length. I just want it to be more than a flimsy story but not too much of a mouthful – a real book that just happens to be aimed at nine to twelve year olds.

It’s kind of nice too to discover that my old self still exists although I gave myself a fright last night realising that it’s fourteen years since I started grad school in Minnesota (though only eight since I officially completed my degree). No wonder I’m no longer a night owl. My advancing years are affecting me.

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