March News

There have been complaints. Complaints of the "she only changes her letter every two months" variety. So I thought I'd write a long excuse as to why I'm the world's most useless blogger, only let's call it 'an explanation' instead. You know that question everyone always asks writers? The one about what we do all day? In my experience most writers spend their days doing a lot of nothing -- interspersed with trying in vain to organize vast teetering piles of books and papers, totally forgetting the thing we swore blind we'd be doing this afternoon, along with wasting endless hours on the internet. If you add, say, half an hour of writing to that gruelling schedule, plus getting your child to school and back, some dog-patting, searching the mail for cheques, answering frivolous e-mails, paying bills, napping, and snacking, the day passes in a flurry of relentless activity.

Now, if you remove various elements from the schedule, there would be plenty of time to blog. For instance, divorce the husband and have the child taken into care. Hire a personal assistant to keep control of the papers that breed on the desk. Shoot the dogs (look, this is theoretical -- I'm not going to shoot the dogs, I love the dogs, but they are huge time-wasters - all that looking sad and pretending they're hungry or bored or lonely or want to go out and chase squirrels? And they're not good at accepting explanations about deadlines, they just look more and more mournful). Get used to living in utter chaos and disorder and never cooking or doing the laundry - oops, I've already taken that measure. Anyway, you get the point.

best in show

On top of all those aforementioned vital time eaters, there are also school visits, book tours, and correspondence to factor in. And if I haven't mentioned it in the past, much as I love a good book tour, it's impossible to arrive home from one without being a.) exhausted, b.) ill, c.) guilty from having abandoned the family for so long and d.) weeks behind in everything. By the time I've unpacked, it's usually time for another one, which doesn't go to show how often I go on book tours, only how infrequently I manage to unpack.

Then there are the Just Say No time-eaters, particularly bad for me because I've always had trouble with 'no', and am usually so flattered that people want me to do things, that it takes a supreme effort of will to refuse. That's how I end up writing book reviews, or the very scariest things of all, saying yes to The Charity Short Story. Before you accuse me of not being a charitable person, what I'm not is a great short-story writer. I've so far managed about four for various good causes, and the most recent, for an Australian fundraising book for breast cancer called (wait for it) Thanks For The Mammaries. That one really had me stumped, the brief being 3-6,000 words of an amusing or entertaining nature about the author's relationship with his/her breasts. Well, hers, I guess. I thought of entering the witness protection programme to get out of doing that one, but managed in the end to come up with a rather charming breast-related story based on that old non-breast related fairy tale, The Fisherman and his Wife.

Now it's nearly 1AM, and tomorrow will involve getting in touch with my web-master to insert the new letter in my site, and by that time I'll be exhausted from having stayed up too late, and the dogs will want walking...

Look, I'll try to better next time. Promise.

P.s. Have been reading restlessly this month, but the book I really loved is by William Maxwell and is called So Long, See You Tomorrow. Might take a bit of searching, especially in the UK, but it's worth it. And for you YA fans, Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd.