Wednesday, 30 May 2012

So why is Mum always best?

About eight months ago I resigned from my work to take over the lion share of looking after Thing 1 and Thing 2. There were a number of reasons; but the main one was that my wife was able to earn about three times as much as me in less time.

You can see from my early blog entries that there were both fun and stressful times. The cycle of tedium interspersed with regular bouts of intense emotions certainly takes a significant adjustment. I became closer to the Things and understood more about their behaviour, even if I couldn’t always improve it.

In doing this role I have undoubtedly lost status; especially amongst my male peers. When meeting a bloke for the first time they will usually perform a comic double-take when they hear I am a ‘stay at home dad’. The looks I got when dropping off my car to be fixed with Thing 2 in tow said it all. The fact that I use the opportunity to further my writing career is often mystifying to them as writing is not a proper job either.

The hardest times for me are when the Things want their mum. Both Things had nasty viruses recently and were up in the night with temperatures and nightmares. Thing 2 even managed to vomit in our bed.

While I was sitting up with her at 2am watching old episodes of Batman (that are really driving me mad now) with her cuddled across my lap - a mini-furnace carefully positioned within aiming distance of a sick bowl - I felt a sense of pride in what I was doing.

Then as she was sick again she started crying and calling for Mum. I was letting Mum sleep as she had a long drive that day for a big meeting, but Thing 2 was inconsolable for about 15 minutes. She finally fell asleep on my lap with big, racking sobs mixed with murmured pleas for Mum that slowly faded into gentle snoring.

When the Things were born my wife transformed into a natural mum, always seeming to know what the Things needed or wanted. However, I was informed by a few people that I was not a natural dad. I obviously had some catching up to do but will I ever even draw level during those times when the Things need that extra level of support?

I can’t see it happening in the near future and it takes the gloss off all the time, effort and stretched patience that goes into looking after children. When you’re with the Things everyday it’s hard to see the little advances you make, but there’s no escaping the rejection you get at 3am when a Dad cuddle is just not enough.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Working from home: Is a desk a luxury or a necessity?

For the past six months I have been working from the dining room table or the top of the laundry basket. That is when I am not looking after Thing 1 and Thing 2. But at last we are in our new house with space for both of us to work from home.

Working from the dining table is perfectly acceptable apart from the time it takes to remove all traces of food stickiness and general Thing-related gunge before settling down to work. This is not a huge hardship; more that I can’t leave any work stuff on the table when the Things return from nursery/school as it will get scribbled on, cut or generally blasted with pink pen.

This to me is the main problem with not having a place set aside to work. When I had a desk I knew where important paperwork or gadgets were because I kept them in the desk drawers. I spent whole time we were renting looking for lost items that used to reside safely in those drawers.

My wife didn’t get any luxuries either; despite being a director of a pharmaceutical company. She spent the six months working from a small table wedged in the corner of our bedroom. She had to sit with one elbow on the radiator and wasn’t able to have a cup of tea on the desk while the printer was running.

It was cramped and uncomfortable but we did it and it shows that all many of us need to work from home is a laptop, broadband and phone – plus somewhere to file or store the essential paperwork or gadgets.

Now I have a big expanse of desk. It feels super-sized now I am used to just having somewhere to park my laptop. I know it will quickly get covered in stuff because a clean desk is a tidy mind and I like my mind to be unshaven and oblivious to boundaries.

Much as I am looking forward to using my desk I now think that a desk is an enjoyable luxury rather than a necessity. If people can turn a profit working from home on a dining table there could soon be a huge increase in the number of home workers.

What do you think? Is a desk a luxury or a necessity?

To celebrate being re-united with my desk I have cut the price of my laugh out loud novel Working from home: Mixing business with pleasure to £1.98. Buy it quick while I am still feeling euphoric!

Friday, 4 May 2012

How to annoy people on public transport

Most people think that working from home means taking their work home with them but the best thing for a writer is to see someone enjoying your work. As writers are not usually welcomed into peoples’ houses the best place to see this is in public places.

I’ve seen people enjoying books in public by some of my writer friends on Twitter. I saw a very trendy lady smirking while reading a book by Julie Cohen (@Julie_Cohen ) and another lady frowning at an exciting bit in a Katie Fforde (@KatieFforde) book.

The problem with selling a Kindle book is that you can’t see what book people are reading. However, I have taken heart by this wonderful review for Working from home on Amazon.

“I read this book in one sitting on a flight to the US. I laughed out loud on many occasions, much to the amusement of the bloke next to me (who took the details to download his copy!!)”

The reviewer finishes off by saying

“This book would make a great movie, and I can't wait to see it!”

These feeds into two of my four main goals for Working from home:

  1. To get into the Kindle top 10
  2. To make people laugh out loud
  3. To sell the film rights and preferably write the script myself
  4. To earn enough to justify writing my next novel in ‘work’ time rather than free time

It also gives me a warm glow as I know how annoying it is when someone keeps laughing at their book on public transport. So, the next time you see someone laughing at a Kindle/iPad/laptop/smartphone ask them if they are reading Working from home. If they are not, tell them that they should!

Buy Working from home today and put a smile on your face. Four out of five reviewers said they laughed out loud and the other one said it had “lots of laughs”.