Okay so I am finding this challenge more challenging than I expected. I did my initial calculations on wordcount and figured I could easily write a thousand words a day and post them. I didn’t take into account needing to ensure each scene makes sense by itself, or the time required to tidy up spelling and punctuation. Nevermind how long it takes me to choose an image, upload it, add tags and categories and format the blog post!
This is only my second day without the children and my time seems to have been eaten up by buying birthday gifts for my little one’s 4th birthday (which is actually not until the end of January!), finding a Baptism card (it’s all Christening cards here, I found one in the fifth shop I tried) and updating my website so it ties in with my new business cards for the Art in the Heart Gallery (read about it here).
What’s keeping me going (apart from stubbornness, an unwillingness to humiliate myself in front of an audience and a desire to learn more about Claire) is a blog post I read from the lovely Kristen Lamb about taking yourself seriously as a writer. The blog was fabulously called Lies that Can Poison Your Dreams–Don’t Eat the Butt in 2013 It included a great quotation from Stephen King:
Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us get up and go to work. ~Stephen King
If I want to be a Writer and sell my novels I need to get on and write. So here is Day 4’s installment of my postaday novel. I’ll be scheduling Days 5, 6 and 7 today too (hopefully, although I have to go get the kids in under three hours) due to family commitments in Italy. I’ll be back in person next week!
“Claire, it’s Ruth.” Claire held back a sigh and walked into the kitchen to put the coffee machine on. A phone call from her sister was never over quickly.
“Ruth, darling. How are you?” As she waited for her sister to start spilling forth her latest disaster, Claire mulled over how much to reveal about her new assignment. Her family would have to be told something, of course. Not that they ever came to visit, or called her home phone, or sent her letters. Still, it seemed only right to tell them she was moving out for twelve months. Tuning back in to the phonecall, Claire realised she had missed some key information and tried to catch up with what her sister was talking about.
“So the doctor said it was probably lack of sleep. You know Sky is a bad sleeper and her nightmares have been worse since she started Year Two.”
Claire worked out that someone was poorly, but was unsure whether it was her sister or her niece. Probably Sky. Silly, spoiled, overly-dramatic child. As if having her father run off with her ballet teacher gives her an open-ended excuse to be a brat forever. Surely they outgrow that nonsense once they start school?
Claire thought about her own schooling. Her parents had paid for the best, obviously, although Claire often wondered whether that was to ensure their three children didn’t hamper their lifestyle, rather than to give their off-spring a good start in life. The school had encouraged independence and character but had no time for tears and tantrums. Claire had learned quickly to work hard and stay out of trouble. More than could be said for Ruth. It had been a constant mortification to her parents that, while their first and third children both achieved academic success, Ruth only acquired notoriety.
Ruth’s next sentence cut through Claire’s reminiscing like a knife through brie.
“The tests are week after next. That’s why I’m calling. Is there any chance you could come and look after Sky? It’s half-term and most of her friends are going skiing. Of course we can’t afford that…”
Claire inhaled deeply and forced herself not to rise to the bait. Ruth was always poor and begrudged Claire her success. Claire accepted that looking after a child on your own probably hampered your career options, but look at J.K. Rowling, it hadn’t held her back. She was convinced Ruth could help herself if only she’d try harder. Claire’s irritation at the badly-veiled hint nearly overshadowed the first part of the sentence, but not quite.
“Have Sky? How long for? When?” Claire could hear panic in her voice and forced herself to breathe in through her nose. Once she was sure she was back in control of her emotions she said in a slow voice, “I start a new work assignment on 1st March, and I’ll … be on the road a lot. You know. Meeting clients.”
“Wining and dining on someone else’s credit card.” Ruth’s voice cut in.
“There’s more to it than that,” Claire responded quickly. Then, before Ruth could start the age-old argument, Claire inhaled through her nose again and consciously lowered her voice. “Tell me the day you need me to have Sky, I’ll check my diary.”
“Well, it’s two days, actually.” Ruth sounded embarrassed.
As well she might. I don’t want to look after her brat for two hours, never mind two days.
Claire had, thus far, avoided spending too much time with her niece, or with her two nephews Jack and Alex. Her brother and his wife lived in Geneva, so that was understandable. Ruth lived near their mother in Cambridgeshire, so her lack of involvement caused considerable friction. Kids just aren’t my thing.
Thinking about minding a six-year-old for two days made bile rise in Claire’s throat. She gulped down her coffee and wondered if she could use the new assignment as an excuse. There was something in Ruth’s voice, though, that made her pause.
“Can’t mum take her? I thought Mum and Dad were the perfect grandparents?” It seemed odd to Claire that two people who had no time for their own children could go dotty over someone else’s, even if they were their grandkids. Maybe they were going soft in their old age.
“Er, Mum’s coming with me, to the hospital.”
Ruth’s words slithered into Claire’s brain, freezing where they made contact. “Just what tests are you having exactly?”
“Weren’t you listening? I said you never listen to me, you and Robert, you’re both the same.”
Claire almost smiled at the petulant tone in Ruth’s voice. For a moment they were twelve and fourteen again.
“Sorry,” she admitted, saying nothing more.
“The headaches, the ones causing spots in my vision. The doctor thinks it’s tiredness but they want to be sure. I’m having a CAT scan or an MRI or something, I don’t remember the details. I’m not clever like you. That’s why Mum’s coming.”
Claire took the two steps from her kitchen to her lounge and sank into the white leather sofa. “CAT scan? Ruth, are you serious?”
“Of course I am. I wouldn’t joke about something like that. So, will you take Sky? I don’t think Dad could cope with her for two days on his own. You can stay at my place or at Home, whichever is easier.”
Claire rubbed a hand across her forehead, as if scrubbing away unwanted thoughts. “Of course I’ll come. Text me the dates. I should probably come home before I start my new assignment anyway, store some things in the attic…”
She thought Ruth might ask her about the assignment, but she didn’t. After another ten minutes elaborating on her headaches and trips to the doctors she said that Sky was calling for her and hung up the phone.
Claire slumped back into the sofa, cradling her iphone in her lap. Darkness seemed to engulf the room. A gloom that had nothing to do with the rain hammering against the window pane.