So I never had any stupid ideas about what I’d be able to achieve while on maternity leave (I’ve read tales of women expecting to learn Spanish, take art classes, travel the world and still be back in time for the night feed…) but I have been trying to keep up with my creative writing. Apart from a couple of months off, I’ve been to my writing group regularly and have been compiling a few bits and pieces for competition entries.
Breastfeeding is simultaneously good and bad for this. Good because you’ve got loads of time to sit and think and let your mind run riot. Bad because you don’t always have a spare hand or pen or piece of paper to write your ideas down, or if you do, it’s a bit hotchpotch and you have to try and decipher the writing at a later date. I could dictate on my phone but the voice recognition is terrible and I’m not comfortable with this. I’m a words on the page kind of person.
When I set up the writing group I was concerned about how my writing can often be quite pedestrian – something I blamed on writing the same sorts of things over and over for work. I wanted to get down some of the more outlandish things that spring to mind and to that end, have got some paper by the side of the bed as I often come up with what I think are good ideas at 2am and have forgotten them when I wake up in the morning. “Damn, another potential bestseller plot scuppered!” I say. “If only I can remember the idea – it was excellent.”
This theory has now been put firmly to bed.
Notes from this week’s great ideas?
First there was a children’s book featuring a floret of broccoli called Jean (see what I did there) (possibly been done before) which would be really good at encouraging children to eat their vegetables. There are two problems with this (alright, three if you count the name). The first is that I never ate my veg when I was a child and therefore am the last person to lecture others, something I will conveniently forget to tell E when serving her food. The second problem is that if Jean is lovable (which I hope he will be) then presumably children won’t want to eat him?
So that went out the window. I’d also need to be able to draw in order to illustrate Jean properly so it was always going to be a hard sell. So what else did I come up with in the dead of the night this week?
Yes, you guessed it, it was a story featuring a dialogue between several vintage wig stands as they went under the hammer for auction. They were discussing who might buy them and were secretly hoping for celebrities (one whispered the name “Elton” in hushed reverential tones.)
All this is a long winded way of saying that, whatever you might think at 2am, anything you come up with is going to be gibberish. This rule holds for any other thoughts – about work, potential Christmas presents, ingenious household inventions, anything – as well as creative writing plotlines.
S is far too sensible to do this. His thoughts in the middle of the night are firmly fixed on hoping E drinks up and goes back to sleep asap. Although he does admit to liking being up at that time, when she’s warm and cosy in his arms, trumping as she drinks.
I doubt I will be able to keep my mind from wandering in the dark, but at least I won’t make the mistake of writing my thoughts down again. The night has nonsense on its side.