– You need a job to pay for heating, carpets and food you want to consume;
– You’re allowed to go out in the evening without asking your mum for permission;
– You enjoy wildlife documentaries.
And all of a sudden, all the free time you used to wish away when you were a child has disappeared. The hours get used up by commuting and cooking and trying to pluck some sense into our eyebrows before you’ve even had a chance to think about what you might like to do with your life.
In the interests of having a little time each week to call my own, and that was protected from the lure of mopping the floor or attempting to match my freshly washed socks together, I started writing this blog.
It began because I missed writing (I was a newspaper reporter back in the day) and because I thought perhaps there were some laughs to be gained from making observations about extremely mundane things. I’ll leave you to decide if that’s true.
And many blog posts later, I’m still here, sat in my lounge of a Sunday evening with a Percy Pig egg-timer ticking away next to me, telling me I’ve got an hour to get this written before the butternut squash I’m attempting to roast for dinner will be done. I am either a model of multitasking or an idiot who really should have started writing earlier, depending on your view.
And every now and then it’s nice to meet other people who like to do the same thing. If nothing else it helps one feel a little less mad for spending part of the weekend writing words about handbag contents or people leaving the lights on. So this weekend I did a bit of ‘networking’ – a word that used to leave me cold until I realised it just means chatting – to find other people who know about this writing and blogging game, and to learn how to do it better.
On Friday I took part in a Q&A with Stylist magazine’s columnist Lucy Mangan after entering a competition to be one of ten people invited along. Besides being excited to be in the company of a publication and writer I admire, I was also just delighted to have actually won something. The last thing I won was a set of multi-coloured ring binders from WH Smith when I was 13. To this day that remains one of the proudest moments of my life.
And then on Saturday I ventured out to that Internet powerhouse Mumsnet for its second annual Blogfest – a whole day dedicated to celebrating women’s voices and to learning how to use them to best effect.
And I loved both occasions because, aside from teaching me lots of things, they also gave me a chance to face my fears; of speaking to strangers without any of them telling me to bugger off, of daring to call myself a writer, and of asking some famous and talented people for advice on how to do more of it. My palms were both cold and moist throughout.
But I left each event feeling what those of us who use phrases that went out of fashion five years ago would call pumped – both full of ideas and of pride at having done some learning when I could just have stayed home eating Pringles. (And at having the perfect excuse to go home and eat a whole tube to celebrate).
I will definitely be doing more of this; it’s amazing what you can fit in if you really want to. I can handle wearing mismatching socks for another week.
Right, now let’s make that dinner.