I’m really, really busy at the moment. Have I already done a blog on how busy I am? I can’t remember. I can’t remember much these days. I probably have because I seem to be repeating myself constantly. Late motherhood and recession-anxiety have conspired and turned my life into nothing more than dozens of small, acts repeated over and over again.
There are important things that need to be done; big things like writing a whole book, then smaller, but equally important things like getting some exercise so that I don’t keel over and have a heart attack before the next book is finished, and getting my teeth cleaned before I go on the next American book tour so that I don’t get turned away at JFK airport for having yellowed, European knashers.
Yet I can’t seem to get to any of these important tasks completed because my life has become clogged up with the “two minute” jobs.
“It’ll take you two minutes,” my husband says about almost everything and he’s right. Ordering in the oil online, cashing in that birthday amazon voucher for the Kindle I so desperately wanted two months ago and yet haven’t bought yet, leaving my glasses in to the opticians for new lenses, hanging up the washing, emptying the dishwasher, booking that hotel for my mum, firing off an email to my agent, firing off an email to my editor, firing off an email to my sister, feeding the baby, wiping the baby down, feeding the dog, brushing the dog, making a hair appointment – all these things only take two minutes. Put them all together in one ghastly relay and they are my entire life.
I have started to have days where I have got no discernable work done at all. Whole days are being swallowed up with these two minute jobs.
“I HAVEN’T GOT TWO MINUTES!” I roared at my husband the other night when he suggested I – I can’t remember – looked up something online or ordered that Kindle.
I was beside myself with rage and frustration having been trying to fill in an online funding form for the best part of the evening. I kept going back and wiping the whole thing and having to start again. A two-minute job that was threatening to never finish, like one of those hideous dreams when you are locked in Brown Thomas overnight and told you can have whatever you want, but you can’t choose (Just me? surely not!) or keep running but find yourself on the same spot forever!
I took a break and switched my computer back on at 8pm, after the dinner had been eaten, and the plates put in the dishwasher, and the kids put to bed and it was “couples” time.
My husband took a deep breath as the laptop went “ping”. If he’d have said whatever he was thinking out-loud there would have been crockery broken and we haven’t got the time (or the money) to repair broken crockery these days.
What he was thinking was; “Jesus – give it up woman!”
What I was thinking was; “This is ALL your fault!”
Even though, of course, it wasn’t. But that’s what marriage comes down to sometimes. Having somebody else to blame for your own failings.
I know this overwhelming too-much-to-do meltdown is my fault. And if I didn’t have so much to do I might be able to sit down and figure out exactly why.
I suppose it’s a combination of things. Lack of organisation and no routine would be a start. I have always been one of those people who has to do a thing the moment it pops into my head. Which is why I’ll put the pan on because I fancy sausages, then while it’s warming up get started on writing a column and forget about it until my husband points out that the kitchen is on fire. I have no set routine to my working day so that, if I want to work from the moment I wake up to the moment I go back to bed, I can. My work as a writer, novelist, columnist has no beginning middle and end. Each column, each book melds into the other; my work, as they say is never done.
Yes, I am a busy working mother and I could be more organised but the underlying truth is that I drive myself too hard for perfection. I take too much on. I cannot accept my limitations. I can’t relax. I thought, after my brother died, that I would take life more slowly – relish it more. Instead I feel as if I am running out of time and want to cram everything in. I know I am driving my husband and indeed myself mad with this compulsive achieving. Maybe just knowing it is the first step.