New term, new books!
I recently posted about that ‘back to school’ feeling, and tonight I took another step towards getting back into the rigours of the new school year, albeit a little early. I’m one of those women who generally looks OK in clothes, regardless of a stone (or three’s) weight gain, because you can get away with a lot when you’re tall (I’m 5’9). However, there does come a point when you can only suck your tummy in so far, and lugging around the extra poundage gets tiring, and I’m at that point now. Actually, I was at that point in January, and I did start doing something about it; I joined Slimming World, which I did before I got married and is the least diet like weight loss programme I’ve ever seen, and I started losing weight. But then I fell off the bus and it all went back on!
I know exactly why. In January I had a focus; I was polishing my submission to literary agents, as well as doing the final edits on Far From the Tree, I was working hard at school, home life was calm and good. I was in control. Psychologically, all of the balls were in the air, the plates were spinning etc etc.
For five months I managed to maintain it; OK, so there were stress points, and I did fall out of the bus on a few occasions, but, for the most part, I hung in there, stuck to the Slimming World plan and lost just over a stone. Sometimes the logistics didn’t work; the group I was attending was on one of my days off, in the morning, but that meant I had to take my two year old with me to it, and so I couldn’t stay for the whole session. It was also in the next village, which meant driving, and I sometimes felt a bit ‘lost’ as it was a big group, and very villagey. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I did struggle with it a bit! However, the new group is within walking distance, in the evening so I don’t have to bring the children, and seems to fit me and my life a bit better.
At around the time I fell off the bus, other stuff was also happening in my life. I was starting to get edgy about the school summer holiday. For some, six weeks off in the summer must sound blissful, and it is, for the most part, but I struggle to maintain routines when I’ve not got set things to do (probably one of the reasons teaching suits me!), and so does my husband, so the summer holiday always puts me on edge. I didn’t know how I was going to stick to the SW plan with all of us at home full time for six weeks; I didn’t know how I was going to fit in writing for the same reasons, let alone catching up on school work. So I fell off, totally.
Eight weeks on, and the summer holiday has been great; yes, there were wobbles, as two out-of-routine teachers always have, but not major ones, as have happened in past years. We’ve done some lovely stuff as a family, and I’ve drunk entirely too much wine and eaten entirely too many bad things. Foodwise, I’ve been a bit (well, a lot!) self-indulgent, and I can feel the extra pounds, so it’s time to get sorted once and for all.
The thing is, I know why I fell off. A lot of writers might say ‘I can’t write; my house is untidy, my cat died, I’ve not had any sleep, I haven’t got any coffee, I’m too busy, the kids need me, I’ve got too much work to do…’ etc etc. For me, it seems, the opposite is true; writing keeps everything else on track, and when I stop, it all goes to pot. That’s not always, at least consciously, been the case. I’ve always written, but not in a regular, routine way. During the course of writing and editing Far From the Tree, I worked on it every day, and then I was working on submissions every day. I treated it like an extension of my job, like a professional commitment, which it is. When I took a little break for the summer holidays, (coincidentally when my agent started to look at FFTT as a manuscript and I stopped ‘tweaking’,), everything else went on the slide. The lack of writing routine affected my eating and quite a lot else. That’s to be expected, I suppose, and something that I will need to get used to now that I’ve taken the next step in the process. It’s something that I will need to learn to manage, because it’s hugely exciting knowing FFTT is being looked at by an industry professional, and it’s hopefully going to happen again with book 2. I just can’t allow everything else to slide because of it! Of course I should have been writing book 2, but the combination of everyone at home and the anticipation over the edits for FFTT made focusing on it very difficult (oh, excuses, excuses!)
But I know this now. I’ve worked it out. I know that my eating is hugely affected by everything else in my life, especially now, it seems, my writing output. I get it. I see the link. So it’s time to crack on with Sweeter Than Cider and get back on the Slimming World bus. And keep on top of things domestically, which is my other commitment for the coming academic year. And you know what? This time, I really think I can do it! I’ve written a novel, for goodness’ sake; losing three stone and keeping the house tidy can’t be that hard…