Thursday 19 July 2012


Its been hard to keep this space alive recently. I have ideas tumbling over each other to be written, but somehow, something always gets in the way.
The computer battery runs out.
The fuse in the plug which connects the computer to the solar power is broken, and keeps breaking every time I replace it.
A child I thought would be at Kindergarten is ill and my writing time disappears.
It is late at night and although everyone is finally asleep, I am so exhausted with the day, I have no energy to write.
I wake early to write before everyone else is up and, suddenly everyone else is up!
I could write in the toilet....but there's always someone who needs to go.....

There is no separate space in our house where I can write. Our bedroom is even in the sitting room!
There is too much else to do.
And so on.

I could go on.
But it's fast turning into a boring list of complaints and that doesn't achieve anything.

It is intensely frustrating. Sometimes I feel like giving up on the whole thing. Maybe my life style...heating huge vats of water over the fire every time I do laundry or want a bath, living in one space with kids and a partner,  just isn't compatable with writing. You see it's not just the's the articles all lining up in draft, its the half written books languishing in notebooks around my bed.

I love writing.
It's one of the most satisfying things I can do.
But it always comes last.
The bottom of the pile.
I always feel guilty when I ask for some child care so that I can write. Like its an indulgence, something that's worthless, to be apologised for, quickly squeezed into guilty time at the end of the day, or round making a gourmet lunch.
I always put my partner's work first. I put my children's needs first.

No wonder I'm not getting round to it.

It's time to make some decisions.

We've just come back from a festival and two days before we went, I devoted one entire day to washing. No kidding. The kids were at school, it was my writing morning, and I was lighting fires outside, heating vats of water, scrubbing, rinsing, dodging rain, bringing laundry in and out from the washing line, lighting another fire inside so I could actually dry the damn laundry....a whole day.

Is this how I want to spend my time?
Well, actually yes and  no,

When my kids are at home, and I have a small laundry load, I like to light the fire with them and sit around it scrubbing, chatting, getting them to help fold and mangle the clothes. That feels good and empowering that we can do it ourselves.
But hours and hours devoted to a task which is eroding time when I can write? No!
Time struggling in the rain lighting a fire to heat water because if I light it inside we'll all melt? No!

When I lived in a yurt for six months with four children and Leo still in (washable) nappies I came to a sudden realisation about the lack of women poets, artists, writers in history. I was finding it hard  to find time to send a text message. And it wasn't just was almost impossible to sit down at the end of a day hauling water, firewood, outside baths, cooking on camp stoves, keeping rats at bay and the school run.....and compose articles and short stories calmly by candle light.

So do I have to choose between a low impact lifestyle and writing? Well, driving to a friends house to write isn't exactly doing my carbon emissions any good is it?

Maybe I'm using it as an excuse to not write and avoid the fear of rejection. Possible.  If I can justify my time by producing swathes of clean, hand-laundered clothes and lovingly prepared food and neatly chopped firewood then I don't need to write. I can let myself off the hook.


So I need to start taking it seriously and find a balance.

  • Do some hand laundry, IF I WANT TO, and explore options for setting up a shared washing machine nearby. Ask for help. Visit the laundrette.
  • Don't feel the need to fill in spare time by making endless healthy snacks, raw sweeties, dips and breads for the family.
  • Get the solar system functioning, so I have enough power to do internet stuff for more than half an hour!
  • Get myself some indoor writing space that I don't have to drive to, and that isn't our kitchen/sitting room/bedroom. It could be a hand built cob house with stained glass windows, it could just be a little caravan.
  • be firm about getting some time and space to write...and when I get the time...just write.
Sounds easy eh?

Sharing all this makes it far more likely I'll get on with it....I do  love writing in this space and I don't want to give it up. I do want to publish books..and I just need to get on with it. (more about this another time)

I think we can achieve pretty much anything if we really want to, and decide that we can.  The practical obstacles, although they often seem insurmountable, are often the easier ones to overcome.

What are the obstacles in your lives lovely people?
How do you overcome them?


  1. Hi Henrietta,
    I don't know if this can fit in with your life but what I find immensely helpful is getting out of the house and taking my laptop to a cafe. I have a couple of days where I am in clinic half the day and I get so much more done if I go into town for the full day rather than faffing around at home. Then I just sit in a cafe or the library for few hours and write without all the usual distractions of being at home.
    So often if you don't block out some time and stick to it it never happens!
    Life is so full though, especially if you have kids. I don't know how you manage all the things you do, it's very impressive!

    1. You know, I have done the cafe thing, it is easier to concentrate there, it's just trying not to get distracted by picking up groceries while I'm in town!Thanks for the tip !

  2. Wow, your life sounds very full. I admire the way you are living. I hope you find a way to write, I would miss your blog if you stopped being able to post.

  3. I hear you... sometimes it's hard to find the balance. Living on a narrowboat and home educating, I rarely find the time I would like to write. I feel so frustrated at times (like you) by all the notebooks scattered round but no time to fully focus. I too would like a dedicated writing room and more time to indulge... it's wonderful to be so committed to a way of life, but it's also important to retain a piece of yourself - just for you.

    For us, we have decided to take a break from boat living and live somewhere with a bit more space, I have also reached out and asked for a little more help with schooling... finding the time to do something I so love is an important part of our chosen lifestyle so maybe you should reach out too. Using the laundrette, even alternate weeks, is nothing to feel bad about... perhaps you could put the washing on and write while it does its thing. I find the laundrette a very calming place!

    I hope you find a way to balance things better. I think what you are doing is truly wonderful, but I also think that you have a need and that is not to be ignored :-) x

    1. Yes so true, it's really important to reach out....easier said than done sometimes...we're all so used to 'coping' aren't we?
      I'm glad you're taking the steps you need to make life ok for you. It's such a hard balance isn't it, our needs to create something away from motherhood and the way of life we have chosen? Thanks.xx

  4. How this post resonates for me! (Even though I own a washer and tumble dryer. :-))

  5. This is the hardest thing to do. How much of it is not making time for the things we love most because we don't feel we deserve to spend time doing the things we love most? How much of it is just that there are only a few short hours in a day and they simply aren't enough? Time is the most valuable resource of all and it can be hard to remember that and make it count - so many distractions so many things that seem to need to be done. I cast my vote for the little cob building with the stained glass windows!! Though, of course, building that will eat into writing time . . . but give you something worth writing about. Seriously, time and space are one and you can't have one without the other. You really do need a separate space where you can write out of the wind and rain - even if it is just a tent with a table in it and a window and everyone knows not to disturb you when you are in there, or else! Just don't stop writing!

  6. Oh laurel thanks. Yes I really do need that space, we're going to see a little hut on wheels tomorrow, made locally, poor Hugh has done enough building.

  7. For me, it's painting. I love to draw and paint, I've done it as far back as I can remember. I'm an artist, it's how I operate in this world. I studied in high school, and college. Nowadays I still paint and sew and sketch and journal in small keepsake versions. But I want to REALLY do it. Like, consider it as worthy or more than my 9-5. The excuses are ridiculous! "Acrylic Paint is plastic, toxic stuff for the planet" or "Painting doesn't really help anyone" ( I do social work) yadyadayada. I think the most terrible thing I can do for this world, for my daughter, for my soul, is NOT paint. So here I am, at work, sneaking peaks at your blog, dreaming of my little painting studio and the little treasures I make...I hope that you write and publish, and I hope that I paint and show. Good luck, distant soul sister. Thank you for sharing the real.

  8. I am thinking about buying a narrowboat and living aboad with my son and possibly home educating him.I am currently on a career break and i have to go back to work in 2 son is 2 and a half job involves a car going round various schools all over notts to teach music in schools.I can teach privately too.i am thinking of putting a piano on board the narrow boat if i can find a small enough one.!!I am wondering if all this is poss.I used to live on an ex lifeboat when i was a student yrs ago but obviously, u have to think "child" now.I have to go back to work in 2 yrs for a min of 6mths but i am wondering if i can get benefits after that to home ed my son and pack in work? Also trying to consider the practicalities.My other kids went to a steiner school but my son is such a sensitive soul, i think normal school wud ruin him.I find these comments really helpful esp washing clothes.I am trying to also ge an electric bike on board and fit some solar wud be great to be self sufficient and i realise that sometimes you just have to do it but nothing wrong with getting some realistic advice from people that already do it.thanks for inspiring me.kat


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