Welcome to Barren Island Books, an interview show in no way related to a popular music-based radio programme. Every Thursday, I will be exiling my latest guest to a remote island with only five books for company, selected from the categories I give them. It’s up to them to make sure they choose wisely, because they’re going to be stuck with these books for a long, long time.
Since I would never make my guests do anything I wouldn't do myself (and because I couldn't quite resist talking about my own favourite books), I'm going to start by interviewing myself. You know, before the real authors get here. So without further ado, I'd like to introduce the first person to be banished: me!
I used to complain that I didn't have enough free time. Then I became a parent, and learned what 'no free time' really means.
In my current state – thinking up new ways to entertain an increasingly curious and active baby during the day, getting up repeatedly to comfort said baby at night, and snatching a few minutes in between to eat and (if I'm lucky) shower – my previous lifestyle seems like a vast ocean of time dotted with a few small islands of obligation. Sure, I had to go to work and occasionally get a few things done around the house, but other than that I was free. Free to spend an entire weekend writing. Free to think of new ideas in the comfort of a long, luxurious bath. Free to stay at my computer until the wee hours, safe in the knowledge of an unbroken night's sleep ahead.
Yet despite all this spare time sloshing around, I bemoaned the fact that I never had enough of it to write in. And looking back on it now, it's all too clear why. Instead of using the precious gift of time wisely, I squandered it: on watching TV, on reading books I'd read before, on generally faffing about. (It's amazing how much time it's possible to spend on the art of faff.) Now I squeeze occasional blog posts into the half-hour periods when Baby Smith sleeps and wonder what I was grumbling about for all those child-free years.
Yet before you start planning an intervention to rescue the poor mite from my resentful clutches, I hasten to add that I'm not sorry my life has altered so dramatically. Though my writing has had to take a back seat, I'm happy with that. I have a new focus, and I wouldn't change him for anything. No, I simply want to give a friendly warning to those would-be writers among you who are yet to take the plunge into parenthood or any other life-altering commitment: use your time wisely while you still have it. As we all know, with great power comes great responsibility, and time is the greatest power of all.
When in doubt, blog more
What do you do if you're lacking in time and have consequently missed three blog posts in a row? Why, commit to another post per week, of course!
Yep, that's right, I'm starting a new Thursday post in addition to the regular (or, in recent weeks, not-so-regular) Sunday one. But this isn't as daft as it sounds, because most of the work will be done by other people. Yay!
In my guise as talk show host, I will be inviting fellow authors onto my blog to discuss their favourite books. The series is called Barren Island Books, and is in no way related to a popular music-based radio programme. Look out for it in the weeks ahead.