It’s getting to the end of August, the A Level results have happened, and the GCSEs are on Thursday, and my thoughts, inevitably, are turning to new term’s resolutions. I know it’s not just exclusive to teachers, this feeling of a new start, but it’s definitely the time of year to make some decisions about how to proceed. I’ve been in a kind of creative stasis over the past few weeks, mainly due to the summer holidays, I think, which tend to put me out of the necessary school routine when they hit. Although this has led to some lovely adventures with family and friends, (and some dramas – three hours in A&E with The Husband, who got bitten, we think, by an adder), actually, I’m at the point now where I need the routine back! And it’s not just in terms of job and writing, it’s across a lot of areas of my life.
So today and yesterday I’ve been trying to put that into practise. The night before last was not a good night at home, due to a toddler who suffers excessively from the gravitational pull of the earth out of her bed, a poorly five year old, a husband who thinks 2am is a perfectly reasonable time to come to bed and a small cat who was so excited that she’d caught something feathery that she decided to share this (very live) thing with us at 5.30 am. And I’m not even fussy when the animals bring stuff in! All that on a bottle of Prosecco and I’m definitely in need of motivation.
Thankfully, a strong cup of coffee, a couple of chapters of Fiona Neill’s The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy (which I’m sure I’ve read before, but I’m enjoying this time around as well), and a few laughs with friends online and in person and I was ready to give things their annual overhaul.
For a lot of teachers, me included, the summer holiday is, after the initial energy crash, time to get around to all of the things you’ve neglected to do all year domestically, plan for next year and generally spend some time catching up with people and things you love. I’ve had thirteen summers now where this has happened, not including those I spent in school as a student, and it’s the best time to get stuff accomplished. So these are my goals for the coming year:
Last academic year presented a whole set of new challenges for me, both personally and professionally, in terms of a timetable that was intended to be helpful to me but ended up being quite the reverse (my fault, not the school’s, I hasten to add, who were very accommodating), and the increased pressure on core subjects by outside forces, mainly Gove et. al. This year, I resolve to be more organised, mark stuff promptly and take it up a notch in terms of my teaching. My timetable is better and I feel ready to get more of a handle on the job that is constantly evolving. I hope this feeling lasts beyond September 2nd!!
Get back on the Slimming World bus. I fell off about six weeks ago after losing just over a stone, which I’m pretty certain has gone back on in the meantime! I’m what I like to call ‘Rubenesque’ rather than Beryl Cook, but the curves could do with some containment. My late mother in law once said I ‘carried it well’; I’d like to carry less of it! Slimming World might not suit everyone, but, for me it does work, so back to the group on 26th August, I think!
Take more exercise. I’m falling into the trap of walking less now my youngest wants to walk more, and that is Not A Good Thing. And, since the holidays started, the Husband has been walking the dog, so that hasn’t helped!
This has stalled a bit for the past few weeks, and I’ve got a second book to finish. I know why; I’m currently in the exciting position of having Far From the Tree looked at by my agent (and yes, I’m still ridiculously excited about being able to say that!), and, as a result, everything else is rather difficult to concentrate on until I hear back from her with the edits. That, of course, is a rubbish excuse, but it’s a true one! Also, when the routine of my life starts to relax, the writing inevitably suffers, too – I think I need the madness of term time to focus me, and, paradoxically, the more time I have, the less I achieve! So, come September, things will pick up again.
In terms of goals, I need to crack on with Sweeter then Cider, and I’d like to have the first draft nailed by Christmas. It’s crying out to be finished, and there are all kinds of little plot ideas fluttering just above my head that I need to catch in my virtual butterfly net and examine. This book will also call for a little more research, so I’m gearing up for that, too!
Keep things tidy so I don’t go into crisis management every week! This is going to be the toughest challenge of all, I think.
So that’s it, all written down and out there. Wish me luck! I hope it’s not all out of the window again by October…