How to look like you've got your business together at drop off


Recently Roscoe's dad told me that our boy had reached the top of the reward chart at nursery! I was shocked, not (just) because he's a little tyke who thinks he has an exemption from the rule of sharing, but because I had never heard of this chart. I was a little embarrassed, had I missed another letter? It turns out, for once, I had not. I didn't know about the chart because none of the staff had told me about it. It didn't take me long to work out why. I didn't look like a parent who would care about charts. I sloped in in the morning with sleep in my eyes and an outfit that screamed 'I woke up like this' and I guess it doesn't inspire the lovely nursery workers to keep me updated on all the classroom intracacies. It wasn't just the staff, the other parents seemed to give me a wide berth too. Don't give me that 'don't see colour' crap. My son is the only black kid in class, so I know they know who I am. It's sad really, we all know we shouldn't judge a book by its cover but the reality is when we only have the cover to go by, what else are we to use? No one is going to look at me and think, she's probably a lovely, vibrant lady with a touch of depression and a strong aversion to morning activities, let me start a convo. They're going to chat to the mum with the fabulous lippy. I needed to make a change. For my boy's sake I needed to get engaged because whilst I will never be the type of woman who makes things for the bake sales, I can look like the type of woman who might bother to show up to one.

BE SORT OF ON TIME
One major barrier to my ability to converse with staff and other parents was the whole turning up half a minute before the end of breakfast and hustling Roscoe in shouting, 'Can he still get toast?!' Naturally lateness is associated with lack of organisation and (in my opinion very wrongly) lack of organisation is associated with lack of caring. I now make an effort to show up early on a Monday, I feel like it sets the tone for the week and the tone is, I got this.

SEEM EVER SO SLIGHTLY HARASSED
Polite but brisk is the best way to describe it. No time for mindless chatter, please just pass on the key information. This might seem counter productive but it works, it's why we all have a couple of frenemies on our phone list - people are drawn to important people who have stuff going on with their lives. I remember one morning when Roscoe was a little unsettled and his key worker took him and said, 'Mummy has to go to work now.' I laughed and told her that I planned to go back to bed and she looked at me with sadness in eyes. I was actually, extremely excited about having the opportunity for a little siesta but I now understand not everyone views inactivity with the same joy I do. 

SPORTSWEAR
The thing about getting dressed is that it takes vital minutes away from snoozing. My original system was to grab the first thing that came to hand which resulted in my school run style not being very on trend. Then I discovered sportswear. Primark have a particularly jazzy range. When you wear sportswear people naturally assume you're going to do sport! People who do sport are healthy and active and motivated! Also if you're going to do sport it makes total sense that you haven't done your hair and have no make up on. 

SUNGLASSES
Is she tired? Is she hungover? Has she been weeping? No one knows because she is shielded behind a barrier of fierceness. It's probably rude to leave glasses on indoors but it's also rude to allow others to experience your haggard face. 

Since making these changes I have graduated from 'Roscoe's mummy' to my given name and Roscoe has a play date this week and it's been a wonderful experience to know that life isn't always about getting your shit together just looking like you have.

OMG I wrote a book: The Execution


What does a blogger do when they're not blogging - sleep, eat, binge watch Celebs Go Dating (have you seen it? It's wonderfully horrifying) and I have been doing all those things and more but also, I finished my book! As I mentioned I was selected for mentoring by Penguin Random House as part of their  amazing Write Now scheme. I was matched with Francesca Best, senior commissioning editor at Transworld Publishers and she pulled me through two hundred pages of fiction and this summer, you'll be able to read it! 

After writing a book I learned that a lot of people (a lot) also want to write a book, it seems it is the number one (PG) secret ambition. A few people have asked me about the process and I told them the truth: Sit down and keep typing for as long as it takes to write 100,000 words. However, as I get stuck into my second novel, I thought I should give a little more thought to how I do things and to share some of the journey because another truth about writing a novel - it's frickin' lonely. So, lets start with the basics, how I got the completed book from my head to my hands.

PREPARATION 

1) Tell people you're making time to write. You don't actually have to make time, if you've ever seen an episode of The Great British Bake Off - you have time. However, saying this out loud means that people will periodically ask you how the writing is going and if you don't actually write anything this becomes awkward.

2) Write a chapter. Following this you're allowed to ask for feedback. Many people will say your book is garbage, ignore them and plough on. 

3) Entertain dreams about how you will be published and what it will feel like. This is very unlikely to be how you will be published and it is certainly not what it will feel like, this is irrelevant. What is relevant is that dreams are amazing creativity fuel.

EXECUTION

1) Think of a title. This will not be the title. This title is very likely a steaming pile of crap but a thing isn't really a thing until it has a name. Give your book an identity. Make it real.

2) Find a very successful writer who (for whatever reason) you cannot stand. When you don't feel like you can do anymore have their words close. Dive in and remind yourself that there's room for all of us.

3) Use alcohol for the first draft, caffiene for the second and sugar for the edits. If these vices aren't your bag, you're just gonna have to run with self discipline - good luck with that. 

DELIVERY

Well, this part is new to me. My book is scheduled for release in July and I'll be learning as I go, I'd love you to join me. 


The Reinvention of Martha Ross (Not the working title) is available for pre-order.
Are you writing a book? Tell me how you did it.