Tag Archives: time

Time hurdles

2013 Nevada NIAA HS Track & Field / Reed Sparks Rotary Invitational / South Tahoe - Brandon Cramer - 300m Hurdles WinnerPhil: My life is full of “time hurdles”.

Let me explain. I look at my calendar when I’m busy and think “It’s OK. After such-and-such date/event, things will settle down”.

Each date or event is a “time hurdle”. Once I jump over it, things will be different. Hopefully better.

Time hurdles are fixed points on the calendar. Sometimes I can’t see beyond them. Not literally you understand, I’ll still book other things in and in my rational mind, I know that there will be days after the hurdle, it’s just that everything after that date has an air of unreality about it. I know they exist, but in a slightly etherial way as though I know, but don’t believe.

There are especially big-time hurdles.  Holidays, hospital appointments, big/serious work meetings, new jobs, weddings etc. I imagine those to look like the massive walls found in some showjumping events. Beyond these, the view is distinctly misty.

Most of the time though, the hurdles are smaller. I’ve just taken part in a show that required quite a bit of preparation. Now it’s over, the next hurdle is some filming work I need to get things ready for.

After this, I believe the rest of the month should be plain sailing.

But will it? As the hurdle gets closer, I find it easier to concentrate. My focus becomes laser-like. I imagine a horse feels the same heading towards a jump. I actually achieve more.

The plain sailing bit is where you need to keep a foot on the accelerator (yes I know I’m mixing metaphors, get over it) and get stuff done while the next hurdle is in the distance. I look forward to this coasting phase but know there are probably things I should be delivering. Things the approaching hurdle has permitted me to ignore for a while.

Does anyone else look at the calendar and feel like this?

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Welcome to 2019

Image result for give up caffeine

 

Candice: I’m writing this blog post on New Year’s Eve, listening as the radio station tells me that NZ and Oz are off celebrating their new years already.  Always find that concept a little strange, though I have travelled to both of those countries, it’s still weird that they are on different time frames.

So 2019 is a new start for me.  I’m looking for a new job and it’s giving me the chance to sit down and rethink what I want out of work; the balance of money versus enjoyment being a big consideration.  I’m currently writing a list of what I really want and what my actual aim is to help with the application process.

I actually think that is a really good way to start a New Years Resolution list, so rather than writing the things that you never actually do – like join a gym and go regularly, lose weight etc, if you actually write your end goal and the pros and cons for it, it might make you work harder for it.

eg Lose two stone.  Hard to aim for, too big a number, just hanging over you waiting for you to fail.

Real aim – Feel more comfortable being me.  Does that actually mean the weight, or does it mean a different job, spending more time with friends?  Do you actually eat because you are bored at work, bored at home, unhappy at work, not getting enough fresh air, stuck in rut with cooking?  There are lots of reasons why those two stones won’t shift. Book a few nights out with the girls, arrange for the kids to have a sleepover with the grandparents once a month, walk to work/around the block after work and suddenly you might find you’ve lost a stone.

My big one for this year is to drink less caffeine.  Many years ago I cut down to one to two caffeinated drinks a day.  I did notice a difference in my ability to get up in the morning and also weight maintenance.   Since being a parent I’ve taken to having a cuppa first thing in the morning, and it just carries on from there. I end up having four or five teas across the day, even though if I am home, there are decaf tea bags available too.  Part of it is boredom, I use it as an excuse to get up from the desk and have a break.  But I do think it’s making me feel more tired, and impacting on my sleep (and the rubber ring round my waist). My real aim is not to be so tired and enjoy my job, and less tea drinking will come.

I have lots of other things I would like to do, most of them book related, but they are rolling year to year.  Again, need to knuckle down and work out what the real reason I’m not that bothered about marketing for my own books.  That’s a question for another blog.

Happy New Year all!

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Give and take

Chinese New YearPhil: Our session at Stratford Literary Festival is going to include something about “the challenges of writing together”. While we might not be married, despite what the early publicity might suggest, I have a feeling that it probably has some similarities.

On Tuesday, Candice mentioned that “Phil will be asking me what we are doing about marketing the first book or writing the second” and she’s right. However, Phil knows that his writing other half is a busy lady. A high pressure job and child, not to mention the temptation to stay in the newly completed fancy-pants shower all day, steal time from her literary pursuits.

He understands this completely while recognising that at this stage, Book 1 is all about the publicity. He might joke that marketing is all colouring in and playing with glitter, it does actually require quite a bit of skill and only one of us is a black-belt in the subject.

So it’s time to be understanding and go away to do something useful instead. After all, there is a second book to write and so I’d better go away and re-read what we’ve done, then add to it.

Of course, I’m not sitting around idly all day no matter what it looks like. January saw me slogging my way through a number of projects, all of which had to be delivered at the same time. February felt a lot more like the turn of the year than January 1st, but I still have one big event this weekend, maybe I should take up the Chinese calendar rather than the western one! Hopefully, from Monday, things will look a bit clearer. Mind you, I’ve said that before.

Like all relationships, there is give and take. We both bring different skills to the partnership. We also encourage each other and that’s going to be a big part of our talk.

Writing on your own must be a slog sometimes. It would be all too easy to stick the book in a drawer and forget about it for a few days. Those days turn into a month and the month a year.

If I want to enjoy cake with the Nolan, this can’t happen or I’ll get “the look” from the other side of the table. She knows that if we don’t meet up for a while, or there is no blog post on a Tuesday, I’ll be nagging. We cajole each other and thus the project makes progress. Maybe not as quickly as it might but there is progress and that’s the difference between writing a book and wanting to write one.

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Some times it’s all a bit much!


Candice:  Its been busier than usual in the Nolan house hold over the last few weeks, what with birthdays and new bathrooms.  Even our lovely weekend away the other week was enjoyable but brought extra stress too.

People often ask me how I fit it all in and, to be honest; on Saturday both me and the Husband (that’s not Phil) did wonder how we were going to manage.  It was his big birthday party and the day was planned down to the detail, list and everything, to make sure it was already for the party.  Neither of us slept well the night before thinking about what we had to do.  From 9am it was:

  • hairdresser visit for me
  • pick up helium balloons for him
  • take daughter to music class
  • MOT his car
  • have food
  • tidy up house and prepare spare room for guests
  • go to venue and start decorating room plus entertain two year old
  • meet grand parents
  • have dinner
  • get ready
  • feed and put daughter to bed
  • meet baby sitter
  • discover cat has brought mouse in, try to catch, give up
  • get to venue

and finally, drink wine while circulating the room, cut cakes, sing happy birthday, cut more cakes, encourage people to eat cake, speak to lots of people for a short period, dance, share out birthday cake, dance and then it was Midnight.

Then it was clear room, get home, try to catch mouse, give up, go to bed!

I need a day off.

And that I have tomorrow, but tomorrow’s day off is all about tidying up the house, fun!

And then somewhere in there Phil will be asking me what we are doing about marketing the first book or writing the second.  At the moment its all pie in the sky, which I find frustrating, but I will find time the same way I find time to go to the gym.  But it will probably have to wait until I have three days off at the start of March and I can really get my head into it (and I won’t be recovering from organising a party).

My advice, don’t beat yourself if you can’t do it just now, but make sure you plan in some time to write, else  you won’t be happy.

 

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Oh for the time to be so prolific

novellist

Phil: Being in need of something to read on a train journey recently, my original choice having turned out to be desperately dull, I dropped into a charity shop and picked up “Poirot’s Early Cases” to keep my little grey cells amused.

Inside the front cover is a shocking list of Agatha Christie’s other novels. It fills a page.

A quick check of Wikipedia reveals she wrote 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections and 6 romances. 86 books in around 60 years.

Oh to have the time to be so productive.

As Candice has mentioned, we’re both really busy with work at the moment and this has seriously dented any plans at getting our second book knocked into shape. I’d love to get back to it but at the moment it’s not paying any bills and so must sit on the back burner for a while.

I wonder if being free to write all day is such a good thing though?

Famously, for Christie, it wasn’t. She suffered from overwork churning out her massively popular novels. Her fans wanted more and she did her best to keep them happy.

Perhaps it takes a little “real” work to keep the writing ideas flowing?

Our books are set in a world that I hope is recognisable to our readers. If we could spend all day lounging around writing, would we churn out the literary equivalent of those albums produced by bands about being rich and famous once they are able to divorce themselves from the reality that first inspired their music?

Mind you, I wouldn’t mind the chance to find out.

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By sheer force of will

Henley LunchCandice: People (women mainly, to be honest) often ask me ‘how do you fit it all in?’

By that they mean: working full time, training for a half marathon, writing a blog and a book, etc etc.

My answer is ‘Its a balancing act’. Well, that’s the diplomatic answer to be honest its mainly by sheer force of will!

I’m running my post baby half marathon on Sunday. I was supposed to be running it last October, it was all part of my post Erin recovery plan: have baby, train for half marathon, get back to work. However, after a slow start due to a C Section and then my early return to work, I was starting to get in to the training.

Then I fell over. Short slip up, I thought, but oh no, they found I’d fractured a bone in my leg and all running went out the window. So I picked myself up, literally, and started again in January.

This time though its been another battle: cold weather, sports massages for dodgy quad muscles, chiropractor sessions for misalignment, flu and then this last weekend a bought of stomach bug which meant my last big run went out the window. Add to that the usual issues of new job, more travelling and balancing the child care then even just fitting in all the runs has been hard work. A lot of people would have given up and called it quits.

Then Phil and I decide to ramp it up and write another book.

Now this, more than the running at the moment, is light relief from the day to day, but just trying to fit that in is hard work. Once baby has gone to bed and you have tided up, all you want to do is collapse on the sofa. But then you have all these ideas buzzing around your head which you need to get down on paper.

Phil and I enjoyed a catch up over tea and cakes yesterday in the picturesque town of Henley in Arden, local to both of us. Ideas where discussed, plans drawn up and freckles gained in the lovely sunshine. But in the back of the mind there is always more to do to keep the house ticking over.

So why do I do it?

I could just ditch the book, the running or both and just get on with being a working mom.

Well, sometimes I wish it was that easy. But I can’t. If I don’t exercise I feel stodgy and loose my motivation in other areas (I had to do a turn round the block after the chocolate tiffin and apple strudel we shared) and the book is just something that excites me. Without those things I’d wouldn’t feel like I real existed.

The down side, always chasing my tail and feeling a bit frazzled.

Well at least, to quote Daisy Waugh’s book ‘I don’t know why she does it’, I’m not up to midnight baking cakes for class too as that would just be a step too far.

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Do infinite holidays mean no days off?

The Case

Phil: Richard Branson has allowed the people who work directly for him to take as much holiday as they like. People have suggested that this is fantastic but I think it’s a clever ploy by the beardy one.

According to the BBC, the rules are:

“The assumption being that they are only going to do it when they feel 100% comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business – or, for that matter, their careers!”

Now the world of work splits into two types of people. Those who would take days off at the drop of a hat, and people like me.

The former are the ones booking Christmas off the day after the festive period. No matter that she let her colleagues cover the tinsel days last year, Ruthie is taking next year as well. Days off at the drop of a hat? No problem, someone else can worry about keeping the work going.

Me, I have NEVER felt 100% comfortable I’m up to date. Even if I did, I lay odds that someone else on the project will be finding reasons why we all need to work harder. Give me the Branson rules and I’d never take holiday.

As you read this, I should be heading for an airport. Through last two months have been a nightmare of trying to get ahead with work and you know what? If it all fell through, a bit of me would be relieved.

What’s this got to do with writing?

Well, you know how we’ve not written our second book yet. This isn’t due to lack of will, or even ideas. There’s lot’s of those going around the Nolanparker minds. It’s just so much easier when you don’t have a proper job. I wonder if Richard needs a couple more employees?

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