Climbing and (Dreams of) Quitting: 2013 365 Challenge #66

Pavement chalks work better in the wet

Pavement chalks work better in the wet

I don’t have many words today (or at least no repeatable ones) so I’ll keep the top bit short.Actually I’ll share a couple of great blogs that I have read today, one about writing/life, one about parenting.

I follow some amazing blogs and get great inspiration from them. I received an award recently and have to nominate 11 blogs  when I come to accept it. It won’t be hard. The aspect of becoming a self-published writer that I love the most is reading loads of inspiring/funny/helpful/entertaining blogs. Not all about writing. Just blogs. Great ones. In fact I think I’ll do Claire’s post today on blogging just to keep with the theme!

Here’s my little roll call of interesting articles:

To Find Success, Learn to Embrace the Climb

This is from Kristen Lamb’s Blog. I quote her often, usually to do with writing or social media advice. However her post today (and the one before about Embracing the Meantime) have wider application than just writing. If you have any dream, any ambition, there will be the wait (the Meantime) and the climb.

Talking about her time at university, Kristen describes her awful newspaper delivery job and how she envied the ‘trust-fund’ kids who didn’t have to work a midnight-6am shift, 7-days a week in all weathers, to fund their education. She then explains how she discovered, years later, that many of those same kids didn’t finish university because, even though on paper they had everything, they hadn’t had to fight for it. They hadn’t had to live on hope.

Hope was all that kept me going, the sheer force of will that told me that, if I endured, if I hung on and didn’t quit, that life would be better. I had to climb the mountain. I wasn’t delivered by helicopter, and I was so much better for that.

British kids - not so sunny today but still in the sand pit

British kids: raining today but still in the sandpit

It made me realise that, no matter how rubbish life is, someone always has it worse. Actually, I didn’t need to learn that as I am grateful every day for what I have and I know I’m pretty lucky financially and emotionally.

Kristen’s real lesson to me was not to rush the climb. I’m frustrated now that I can’t spend more time writing, that I can’t help with household bills because I’m not selling books. Instead I should see this time as great material for future books and, above all, a period that will make any future achievements so much sweeter. (The To Find Success Learn to Embrace the Meantime post was an even more important lesson about not being impatient. “Meantime is everything and if we don’t learn to enjoy it, we miss out on the largest part of life.”)

The second post I read today that made me smile was a parenting one. Now, before I post this I must add that the lady who writes the blog, Amber, is the funniest, best parent I know on the internet (I obviously don’t know her personally). The disclaimer at the top of her post is spot on: this is her on a really bad day. Don’t judge.

Parenting. I Quit.

When I’m at the bottom of the pit of despair (otherwise known as circling the drain) I daydream about quitting. I envision myself walking out the front door, down the front steps and onto the street. From there I hitchhike and somehow wind up backpacking across Spain. There are wildflowers and country villas and all kinds of lovely things. Complete freedom. Alone.

Oh yes please. 🙂

She also says:

People have long compared parenting to having a job. You hear quotes all the time like “the hardest job you’ll ever love” and stuff like that.

Well you know what? Parenting isn’t just hard.

This job sucks. I quit.

Ahhh, there’s the rub. You can’t quit. Ever.

I loved this post because it’s exactly the feeling that traps me some days. I’ve had god-awful jobs before, ones I wanted to leave, ones I couldn’t leave because rent/bills/mortgage needed to be paid. But ultimately there was a choice, even if it was a limited one. I could write resignation letters, I could dream up the big exit. With parenting there’s no out. 364 days out of 365 you don’t want out. But some days you would love to just say “I Quit”. And you can’t. Ever. But what you can do is read great blog posts like this that make you realise you are not alone and that this day, too, will pass.


Claire woke from her snooze to find the lounge empty. The sun had dipped below the horizon and the sky shone pink and orange, like a child’s painting. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and prayed she hadn’t been snoring or sleeping with her mouth open.

I wouldn’t trust those kids not to put a spider in my mouth or something.

She shuddered and swigged some water from the bottle by her feet. A hollowness in her tummy informed her that it was dinnertime.

Bugger that. Nothing would entice me into the dining room if that’s where all the kids have gone. I’d rather drive back to Manchester for a McDonalds.

She could feel something digging into her hip and discovered her iPad was still stuffed down the side of the sofa. Pulling it out Claire groaned as she realised she hadn’t posted her daily blog update.

Better write something, even if no one is reading it.

She swiped the screen and loaded up her blog page. There was a flashing star in the corner and Claire clicked it, not knowing what it meant.

“Pingback? What the hell is that?” Her voice echoed in the empty lounge.

“It means someone’s mentioned your blog on theirs and linked with a URL.”

Claire dropped her iPad at the sound of the unexpected voice. Craning her neck she realised someone was curled up behind her reading a book. She could just make out a shock of purple hair in the gathering gloom.

“Jesus, you scared the hell out of me. Shouldn’t you be eating dinner with the others or something?”

“I’ve been sick so they’re letting me off dinner. Sorry, I didn’t mean to make you jump.”

“That’s okay. Thanks for the info.” Claire tried to work out if it would be rude to end their conversation there. The youth – she wasn’t completely certain if it was a boy or a girl – flashed her a smile then dropped their head back down to the book.

Claire returned to her blog to see who had pinged her or whatever the accepted verb was.

The Travelling Doctor. Who is that?

A twisting sensation in her gut that had nothing to do with hunger told her exactly who it was but she clicked on the link anyway to be sure.

The Travelling Doctor has a confession to make. My recent posts from Christie Hospital Manchester were, shall we say, slightly fictitious. I made an error of judgement shortly before I left Adelaide. A tragic, irreversible mistake that cost a small boy his life. I was cleared of wrongdoing but in my mind I was guilty. And I did the worst possible thing.

I ran away.

I left my beautiful wife and children and ran off with my tail tucked under to lick my wounds like a crook dingo. My return to sanity came at the hands of a crazy chick called Claire. She’s also running, although she never told me what from. Or who. She’s conquering her fears too, thanks to a wicked work assignment that has her visiting each of the Pommy YHA hostels inside a year. She also has to get up to high-adrenalin hijinks to build up her following.

Well I watched this plucky Sheila, who is afraid of heights, abseil a 50ft waterfall. She swore like a fisherman but, still, it doesn’t get braver than that. Except maybe swinging through trees at Go Ape by herself.

Anyway, please spread the word faithful followers. If it wasn’t for Claire and her trusty Skoda I’d still be running. Without her friendship and support I wouldn’t have gone back to my wife and asked for forgiveness. The least I can do is tell people about her long journey, Two-Hundred Steps Home.

Claire stopped reading and put her hands against her burning cheeks, glad the kid behind her was out of view. She browsed through the rest of Josh’s site. There were only a few posts written as if from Christie Hospital and they were pretty vague. Before that there were posts from all over Australia and other parts of the world. He’d worked in India and Europe, New Zealand and South Africa, where he apparently met his wife in a hospital.

Blimey. What an amazing life. How has he crammed it all in? I’ve barely left the UK and then only for beach holidays or business trips where the most I saw was the inside of a taxi.

Claire clicked back over to her site and thought she’d made a mistake. Her visitor chart had a spike like Cleopatra’s Needle and her followers had increased by two dozen. Wow. It must still be the middle of the night in Australia. What gives?

She clicked back to Josh’s blog and looked to see how many followers he had.

Nine-hundred-and-twenty-seven? What? How do you get nearly a thousand followers?

As Claire watched, her visitor stats climbed and she gained a handful of new followers.

Crap. Now I’m going to have to start writing something interesting.


6 thoughts on “Climbing and (Dreams of) Quitting: 2013 365 Challenge #66

  1. After 25 years at a demanding, yet interesting career, involving extensive travel, I finally retired. I worked part time for 6 months, and now for the last 10 days have been a stay at home Mom and care-giver to my elderly, disabled, stubborn parent.
    Enjoying a chance to catch up on my reading, with coffee by my side, I found your volumes 1 and 2 of 200 steps home.
    Just wanted to let you know I’m vicariously travelling with your characters, and am “feeling” the storyline. Good choice of cover art, makes me feel virtuous to see hiking boots, when I’m really inside where its warm, pretending to hike with your Claire.
    Also looking for any odd insights on parenting.

    • Thank you for your kind words here and on Smashwords (my first reviews – I was very excited!). I’m glad you’re enjoying Claire’s adventures from the comfort of your armchair. It’s as close as I get to travelling at the moment with two little ones, though hopefully when they’re bigger we’ll be able to take them out to see the world. You sound like you have your hands full. If you need comfort as a care giver, I really enjoy the blog and can recommend it!

  2. Thanks for the tip, I’ll check ou scarymommy. Interesting blog today, now I get why our 8 year old is stickers an scribbles every which way, while I’m straight rows an color precisely in lines. Hope that means she’ll be creative rather than just a hot mess.
    I also mentioned your books on a group page I follow on Facebook call “Book Gossip” so maybe someone will check you out on smashwords. We also share our likes on a website called “good reads”

    • Thank you so much for the share on Facebook! I am on Goodreads although for some reason it recognises only Volume 1 as mine but not Volume 2. Not sure why. I’m still trying to get to grips with it as I only joined a few months ago and haven’t had much chance to look at it. Looks like a great site though and I’m hoping to be able to write a few reviews and get some great book recommendations from there!

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