Archive for the ‘Work-life balance’ Category


Like sorting Lego into colours, listing your worries makes you feel like you’re making progress. In both cases this is an illusion.

I’m supposed to be revising my manuscript. I’m supposed to be making the characters appear at the right times and the jokes be funny and the poignant parts be more plentiful and the scenes that don’t carry the plot forward be gone. But I can’t because I have too much panicking to do.

When I get like this, my first instinct is to panic at other people. Those in prime position to cop the panic are H and my Mum. I’ve panicked quite hard at them over the past few days and they’ve, in one voice, said ‘make a list of all the problems’ and ‘take the list to your counseller and stop banging on to us’. Obviously they said this in a nicer way.

What they probably really meant was ‘make a list and publish it on the internet, so there is a permanent record of your lunacy’, so that’s what I’ll be doing this morning.


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Curious George is a movie that can penetrate even the most noise-cancelling of headphones. Writing a novel in the same room as a four-year-old watching Curious George is not in my top 10 productivity tips.

It’s been a long time between posts here on Life With Gusto because I’ve been devoting my writing hours and, frankly, all my jokes, to this novel I’ve been working on. That seems to have paid off because a very nice fiction publisher at HarperCollins has acquired it, and its younger sibling which is currently only a gleam in its mother’s eye, for publication.

This is a dream come true, as I say in the press release they sent out today*, only slightly marred by the fact that I now have to do a huge amount of work. Now don’t get me wrong, I love hard work. Mad for it. It’s just that up until now I haven’t had to juggle a whole lot of it with those attention-sapping, disrespects of deadlines and creative process known as my children. But everyone else manages it and so will I, and I’ll complain about it extensively here on the blog.

The news of this book deal has been received with great excitement by almost all my family and friends, with the notable and vocal exception of Garnet. To be fair though, he’s been really sick the past couple of weeks with influenza, which is currently tearing through our community. (more…)

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FullSizeRender 3Last week, for the first time, Garnet asked me what my job is. It’s a wonderful moment when your child starts to show an interest in you, as a person.  I told him I am a writer and an editor. He then asked what an editor is. I told him an editor helps other writers make their writing better.

But I’m confused, because although I think that’s what I said, what he seems to have heard is, ‘I am a Lego Detective. I can find any piece of Lego, anywhere in our house or car. I only need three seconds to do this.

‘I am also the repository of knowledge of the whereabouts of everything else we own. I keep track, at all times, of where the extra lid to your new water bottle is, which I last saw when you took it out of the room I was in five days ago. I am a tracking system for the black button that fell off your old raincoat and which you now treasure. (more…)

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IMG_3819Isn’t that a cheery and not at all daunting start to the year? I’ve made it to my new office. I’m sharing a space with a photographer and a winemaker. What could possibly go wrong? This amazing photograph (by Toby Dixon) hangs just outside my cubicle, and I’m going to think of him as my boss. He doesn’t look like the sort of person you’d want to disappoint. I’m pretty sure he would not approve if I spent today tarting up my very stark, white cubicle. Even virtually. Pretty sure it wouldn’t wash if I spent a few hours idea hunting on Pinterest and Instagram. He expects a certain typing speed from me and if I slow down I will have some explaining to do.

This morning was officially the second day I was to leave the house and come here to work on the blog and other self-directed (aka not-yet-existent) writing projects, but I didn’t make it yesterday. I had some very important life admin to attend to yesterday, namely getting my hair and my face sorted out. And Garnet needed a new scooter helmet. He wanted one that was orange and had an elephant on it, but the best I could manage was yellow with monkeys. He took it well, the little trooper. I figure if I am going to abandon him to a babysitter all day, the least I can do is offer adequate head protection. Not that he will have it on when he randomly smashes his head open, because that isn’t how it works. I know all about random head smashing, you see, for I am now the mother of a scarred child.

The week before Christmas we flew to Perth, waking up at 4 am to get our flight. By the time we made it to the apartment we had rented in Fremantle, it was 12 hours later and May Blossom rather desperately needed the toilet. So H dashed inside with her, leaving me in the cool air-conditioned car with a sleeping Garnet. About thirty seconds later H was banging on the window of the flat, trying to raise my attention. There was a look of terror on his face. And there was blood. (more…)

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May Blossom at work in her office.

A month or so ago we let May Blossom watch Singin’ In the Rain. We were on the hunt for a movie that wouldn’t frighten her, and that seemed to fit the bill. What I didn’t know at the time was that I would then spend hours every day afterwards explaining the finer plot points to her: why Kathy hits Lena in the face with a cream pie. Why Don Lockwood is trying to escape from his marauding fans. What fans are. Why it’s funny that Lena has an ugly speaking voice. Why the policeman makes Don stop singing in the rain and go home. Why Kathy’s job is to jump out of a cake and dance. It’s endless. She particularly likes the big song and dance numbers, though she is pretty disapproving of much of what goes on in the tribute to slapstick, ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’. ‘That’s not very safe’, she says every time Cosmo dances on top of a piano or runs up a wall. That makes me laugh more than the slapstick itself, which is good because not much has been making me laugh lately. (more…)

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This is not strictly relevant to the following post except that it sums up better than any other photo I have how today has made me feel.

H and I went to the movies with just each other today and it was amazing and there was no toddler and we ate a giant bag of Maltesers and sat in the dark quietly for two hours mesmerised by a film that was in French of all things and even though on the way there we worried a bit about that because it meant we would have to keep our eyes open the whole time and not have any microsleeps it was fine and the film was amazing and the people in it were adults and they were funny and clever and handsome and the music was brilliant and the scenery was too because it was filmed in Paris (more…)

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My little family is about to take a little break. Not from each other, but from the city and work, from battling for parking and crowded living in a flat, from barricading our kid into the ungated backyard using a line of bins to stop her escaping onto the road while we hang out the laundry. H has resigned from his job and he will start a business of his own in one month. So for a month we are going to be all three together, mostly away from home. Thinking about this makes me feel excited and relieved and calm  at the same time. (more…)

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