THE SISTERS' SONG coming in January 2018 from Allen and Unwin. Sign up to be the first to know. x Louise

Tonight, the school holidays draw to a close. No more long days in our bathers. No more serene afternoons with a book. No more evening walks and swims under a reddening sky.

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It’s back to the daily grind of uniforms and books, and lunches and bags, and music lessons and sport … 

I know that many, if not most, parents look forward to their kids going back to school. I don’t. I wish I did and I’m envious of those parents who do—they’re happy and their kids are happy. Meanwhile, I’m gritting my teeth and not just because our lazy days are ending. I’m also anxious about handing my kids over to the care of someone whose values and mine don’t always coincide. I’ve met some beautiful, caring teachers, but I’ve also met the opposite. One day, I might feel comfortable writing about the things that have happened and what I really think about schools and teachers—I have a long and complex history with them—but I don’t right now. For the moment, I’ll keep gritting my teeth and longing for the day when all of my kids have left school and I don’t have to do deal with the stress of it anymore. 

The mood of the house has changed as everything ramps up again, but it’s not all bad: from tomorrow morning the house will again be quiet and I’ll have my days for writing. I have an article that I must write, and I’m hoping to write more often for this blog. Then there’s the novel …

Towards the end of last year, I started journalling. I followed Maureen Helen‘s advice of writing three pages, every day, first thing, before checking my emails or reading the news. I also read about it on Julia Cameron‘s blog. She calls it ‘Morning Pages’, which I think is a lovely term.

By the end of last year, my Morning Pages had become a habit, and my brain had cued in to the rhythm. When my alarm bleated at five am, I pressed the ‘Snooze’ button—I think I’m entitled to an extra ten minutes at that hour—and rolled over. The alarm, though, had alerted my brain, and while I lay in a semi-conscious state waiting for the second alarm, my brain was already at work. By the time the alarm bleated again, I had the first paragraph already in my head. I’m beginning to get along really well with my subconscious brain—it’s become my bestest writing buddy.

Over the holidays, however, I gave up all routines, including my Morning Pages. I’ve journalled some days, but not even most days, and I’m out of rhythm. The time away has been enjoyable and necessary, but it will be nice to return to this routine, at least. From tomorrow, it’s back to business. (Dear Subconscious, Please take note of that. x)

I’ve also read a fair bit this holidays, not as much as I’d hoped, but I have a few books ready to review. I haven’t forgotten that this is my ‘Year of the Classic’, and I’ve begun with ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood. I’ve heard Ms Atwood speak, but this is the first of her books that I’ve read. I’m nearly finished and I’m loving it—I shouldn’t have waited so long to read Margaret Atwood, and I’m cursing myself.

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As I do when I’m enjoying someone’s writing style, I’ve scribbled or stuck notes on most of the pages.

It’s not just that the story is captivating—I’m feeling sorry for all of the characters in this tale, and I mean all of them, the men as well as the women—but that I’ve learned so much from her writing style, too. Last week I had to edit a couple of scenes from my novel and I suspect they’re now imbued with a Peggy Atwood flavour.

On a completely different note, this holidays I’ve also written about my depression. I’ve alluded to it indirectly in other posts on this blog, but I’ve never devoted a post to that topic alone. I will soon, as it is a significant part of my life. Over the summer, because I could spend time outside in the sun and walk daily, and because I could keep my days stress-free (I was away from schools and teachers!), I was free of depression for the first time in nearly four years. I think talking and writing about my childhood last year helped a lot, too, and maybe some of the very old and very deep scars are finally beginning to fade …

That’s probably enough for now. As these holidays dissolve and become a wistful memory, I wish everyone well for 2015. May we all find brilliant ideas in our subconscious, great reads on our shelves, and caring teachers for our children.

Louise x

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'The Sisters' Song' is coming in January 2018.


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