Thank you to Sophie Childs (sophiechilds.com) for being a Guest Blogger!
I got an email this morning. Nothing unusual in that. I get emails all the time, as I’m sure you do too. This one read:
Are you still interested in guest blogging on my site? No pressure, just let me know…
Argh! Cue slapping of forehead and Homer-esque doh! moment .
Of course I was still interested. I love doing guest blog posts, reaching out to a new audience, learning more about the blogger’s site and interests and getting to know lots of cool people. When I first visited Julie’s site, I knew that she was the kind of person I wanted to write for.
But like so much of the writing I do for myself, the email that I’d marked unread when I first spoke to Julie about guest posting as a reminder that I needed to write her a blog post was still, well, just another email reminder lurking in my inbox, crying out to me to open, read to refresh my memory about what I said I’d do and then get the job done.
You see, I’m an author and a freelance writer. My dream job and something I know that many people would love to be able to say about themselves. It’s taken me many years to reach this point – I only started writing for a living in my late thirties – and I love how varied and rewarding the work is. As a freelance writer, I cover topics as diverse as marketing, Minecraft, and even erectile dysfunction! I’ve learned so much from writing for other people that I’m now a walking encyclopaedia stuffed full of random facts.
However, I’m not just a freelance writer. I’m also a mother of five. The oldest recently turned 13, which is far too scary to think about. In my head, I’m too young to be a mother of a teenager, grey hair notwithstanding. My youngest is five and still hasn’t grown out of the phase where he comes and gives me random kisses and cuddles to punctuate the day. To be fair, my teen son also still gives me hugs just because, and I love that he doesn’t think that he’s too old to do that. I hope it never changes.
Not only do I have five children, they’re all home educated. We’d always planned on home educating, but for various reasons, my oldest went to school for five months when he was five. As a consequence of that experience, we learned that none of our children are really suited to a formal schooling environment and my family is thriving without the pressure of school.
Much as I hate making excuses, being a firm believer that if you want to do something, you’ll always find the time, there are moments when I wonder how on earth I can ever manage to juggle the demands of a young family with the challenges of building a writing career. Freelance writing is wonderful, but my long term goal is to solely write books that I want to write, not ones my clients pay me to put out there. I don’t take on fiction clients these days because I decided that I wanted to save my fictional creativity for my own material.
It’s a great ambition, and totally achievable, but the problem is that I don’t have that much time for my own material. Bills need paying and freelance writing has proven to be highly lucrative. Faced with a client offering me a guaranteed amount, versus the uncertainty of publishing my own work, I’ll take the money and promise myself that I’ll work on my own projects come the weekend.
It’s a tough balancing act at times.
Still, being a Virgo – and former admin assistant and office manager – I’m nothing if not organised and I have my routine worked out so that the household runs as smooth as clockwork. Well, most of the time. Mornings are devoted to taking the children through their academic work, with afternoons dedicated to deadlines and writing. I’ve found that Sundays are my most productive day, so if I have a lot of work to get through, I’ll shut myself away and churn out the words. This tends to have the result that I need to take Monday off to recover, so my weekends are slightly out of whack with the rest of the world. It’s a system that works well and means that everyone gets the attention they need, both my children and my clients, even if it means that I work long hours every day.
But the best thing about being a writer? If it’s a glorious day like today, I can decide to switch off the computer, enjoy the sunshine and get back to work in the evening. I can make an executive decision to play outside with the children for an hour or two, because as long as my clients get their work by the deadline, they really don’t care whether I’ve written during business hours or tucked up in bed with my laptop.
So if you’ll excuse me, I see two of my daughters going into the garden. I think I’ll head out and join them for a bit and then sit with my laptop under a tree, soaking up the beautiful views of the Welsh valleys before I get back to work.
Sophie Childs is a home educating mother of five and the author of We Just Clicked keywords=we+just+clicked , recently released by So Vain Books. She cites writing as both her job and her hobby, since she would be writing even if nobody paid her to throw words at a page. You can find out more details about her work and sign up to her mailing list at www.sophiechilds.com