After last week's guest post had to be postponed due to leaves on the line/rain stopping play/other unexpected circumstance of your choice, I'm now ready to kick off my series of birthday blog swaps. I asked a few of my fellow fantasy authors to write whatever they chose on the theme of my website title (Reflections of Reality), and here's one of them. Please extend a very warm welcome to Andrea Baker, my inaugural guest speaker. Take it away, Andrea …
Before I start my ramblings I would just like to say that I am delighted (and more than a little nervous) to be writing this post. Thank you AFE for inviting me, I hope that you enjoy it.
Those of you that know my work will know that I write paranormal romance that is based within the constraints of our own world, with one or two extra features built in. Over the last few months, my life has been transplanted, but not into a world of my own creation - at least, not this time.
Now please bear with me - that isn’t quite as weird as it sounds …
To explain, I need to give you a little background information about me – I am a wife, mother, author and also, to pay the bills, a Programme Manager. Now I’ve always worked full time, even returning to work soon after our daughter was born. Although, to be quite honest, I would have liked (even at times yearned) to reduce my hours, there was never the opportunity available to me in any of my roles, therefore it has just never happened. The frenetic life of the working mother has always been my lot, and squeezing in writing has always been a challenge, as it has fallen way down on the priority list.
Like many people I’ve often dreamt the “if we won the lottery” dream, and my husband and I have had our plans in place for many years. Always at the forefront of my dream was being able to have the time to spend with our daughter, to be there to drop her off and pick her up every day, and during the school holidays, instead of starting work at unearthly hours while her Dad takes her to school, and relying on my parents to collect her for us two days a week so that I can still fit all my hours, and more, in. The dream was simple, achieve that and write when she was at school, having the time to do what I wanted to do, instead of whatever task or chore was next on the list and I had time to fit in. It isn’t too much to ask. Is it?
At the beginning of August, however, I had to undergo major surgery. I will spare you the gory details, but suffice to say that complications and resulting stubborn infections have meant that, at the end of September, I still have been unable to return to work.
These past several weeks have been bizarre. Suddenly I seem to have all the time I could want. My dream, without the monetary riches, has come true. Now, don’t get me wrong, the first few weeks after the surgery I was very poorly, and couldn’t do much but sleep, wince, and exist. Anything beyond that would wipe me out. Thinking? Well that was out of the question, it was as though my brain cavity had been filled with treacle.
These last two weeks, however, have been better. The doctor changed my medication, you see, and suddenly I can do things again. I still have a partially unhealed wound, which limits what I can do, but I can now drive. So school runs both ways every day are suddenly available to me, and the intervening hours are mine to do with as I please.
So why, when the dream is mine for such a short time, is the reality so alien to me? My mind, which is normally so active at work (admittedly not always with the subject matter) will not formulate a single idea that I can get down on paper. By the time I get back from the school run, do the few household chores I can manage, and apply for any suitable jobs (my current contract is due to expire soon), the morning has gone, and I could quite easily fall asleep. I’m so tired by the time I’ve collected my daughter, ensured homework is done, and sorted tea, that I’m not sure we’ve got any great benefit from this time together.
I’ve had not a single idea or character conversation in my head for the last two months – yet in my “normal” life, I rarely go a single day. Half of the chores I normally fit in I cannot do, yet time is disappearing faster than ever. I know some of that is natural healing, and recovering from surgery is going to take time, but the lack of creativity has me puzzled. It seems that, without the normal hustle and bustle of my life, my creative brain has fallen asleep. I cannot seem to function normally without it.
Perhaps the “lottery dream” will always be that – the chances of winning it are so slim anyway, but I am referring to the lifestyle we dream of. Has rushing around, never quite feeling that anything has been done properly, become my norm to such an extent that I can’t function without it?
Unless anyone has a spare lottery win that they wish to donate, I’m never likely to find out. And I suppose that being off sick, on antibiotics, with wounds still healing, is hardly the same as having the money to spend your time as you wish.
If there is a moral to this rambling, then it would be that the age-old saying “the grass is not always greener”, for me, at the moment, is spot on.
But it hasn’t changed my dream – despite this experience, I’d still love the opportunity to do it properly. I remain convinced that it would be perfect. Reality is, of course, what we deem it to be, which is why fantasy authors can weave such magical worlds.
My own reality will return to “normal” next week. I wonder how long it will take my creativity to return ...
Andrea Baker is the author of the Worlds Apart Series. Book One, Leah, is due to be published by Taylor Street Books in late Autumn 2012. Follow her through her website (www.AndreaBakerAuthor.com) or the novel’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/WorldsApartLeah).
I will be making an appearance on Andrea's blog when it launches, so keep an eye out for me there!