I am good at my job; normally within the limited scope I am permitted, I am good at prioritising.
I have come from a highly charged and pressurised career where I had to deliver accurate and timely financial data onto live systems for immediate dispersal around the world all before 8am in the morning. I have run my own property management company from home where the discipline of dividing home life and work was paramount to success. So why now do I find it so difficult to prioritise my writing?
I describe myself in my CV as methodical, organised and accurate, which on the whole I would stand by. Sexy Sporty Dad might dispute some of these, as he can never find anything on my desk. I, on the other hand, know exactly which pile to look in to find things, if people would just not move anything around. I can actually lay my hands immediately on all our passports, medical cards, car insurance with MOT Certificates. A few weeks ago we were challenged about the extent of our property boundary; I was sadly able to pull out the copy of the deeds to prove the point in question.
An untidy desk is not a mark of an untidy mind.
I confess, although I would never consider myself OCD at anything, I do compartmentalise my time. I allot time slots for certain jobs, inevitably running over and throwing my time frames awry. My working hours at the school are easier to adhere to; although it is not in my nature to walk away leaving things unfinished and impossible to leave a crying child. I have fallen into my own routine and mornings are my special time; no-one in the house is up and probably few people in the town are stirring. Alone with the early morning Dawn Chorus emanating gently from the surrounding trees, I have gained one, self centred hour every morning for writing.
It doesn’t matter too much what I write but I must write. E-mails and facebook status updates do not count as writing. So, yesterday morning, I clambered reluctantly from my large, warm and peaceful bed to stumble downstairs to a cold, miserable morning and lonely desk to spend an hour and a half on Rugby.
I could justify permitting myself to do this; I was due to finish work at noon and would spend the whole afternoon catching up with myself and my writing, what a pleasure to look forward to. I left work late at 1.15 and came home to a stack of more rugby orientated emails which needed immediate attention. All afternoon I spent scrummaging through fixtures, throwing challenges to the opposition and trying to appease our teams. Even during the evening whilst I was at a meeting, at guess where, the Rugby Club, Sexy Sporty Dad forwarded a message confirming No 1 Son’s team has a game this weekend.
My novel, it sounds good doesn’t it? My novel, Memories, lies still unopened with the third draft only partly complete. NANOWRIMO – write a novel in a month (November) is looming hesitantly on the horizon. I have no short stories to send off to the copious magazines I buy for research or the competitions I dream of entering if not winning. To cap it all, at the moment, even Middle Son’s under 15’s team still have no game this weekend. So what was it all for?
Is it just that I can’t say no; does it go deeper into the psyche than a simple word.
My history is littered with extra-curricular clubs and societies; early on it was the socialisation and charitable need that drew my attention. Latterly, school based committees and now the rugby club are not as much for my benefit as that of my boys.
One Sunday morning a few years ago, I looked round at the family dynamics to realise I had lost my three boys and my husband for good. Three rugby players and a rugby coach left me deserted every weekend, with nothing in common. I had a choice: let them go or join them. Playing rugby was not an option, even watching it as a mother, was a heart rendering pastime I found too difficult. What was left? The one thing I was good at: volunteering! Every organisation can find room for a volunteer and so did the rugby club, the more I did the more I became involved.
Now a few years down the road, only No 1 Son is really playing the game. I am unable to break the spider’s web of commitment I have invested into his club. Not while he is still dependent on our support, both financial and parental, can I cut the threads. He himself is carving a name for himself at the club. While out injured last season we pushed him to take up refereeing which he is developing as another strand to his rugby career. A rising star, full of determination to succeed and already being congratulated on his ability and fairness, he has local RFU referees watching and mentoring him.
Of course there are benefits to being involved, free RFU stress balls and with the world cup coming to this country in four years time I am hopeful that my involvement with the club will help me gain a ticket to watch No 1 Son as he plans to play for England at that time. Although I am not sure I will have overcome my horror at the game or the carnage left behind. I suspect, No 1 Son will not want his mother screaming at the opposition “get off my son”, instead he will have some gorgeous model hanging round the hospitality suite on my ticket, to soothe his battered and bruised brow.
So just maybe I now know where my priorities lie. My needs, in my mind, come below that of my children!
The meeting last night did however introduce me to a press officer who gave me tips on match reporting and how to develop a human interest story. It also left me with a tiny germination of a seed for a story this weekend.
My personal preference is writing and clearly the boys’ priority is fun sports; “never the twain shall meet” or maybe they just did.