The weekend

At work this morning they asked me, ‘What did you do on the weekend?’ and, after the moment it took me to remember back to the time before I turned into the street and then the gate and parked downstairs, I said, ‘I wrote ten thousand words.’

It’s a small exaggeration. I didn’t write ten, I wrote eight and a half, and that half of them this morning and that is why I was almost late, but for all in tents and porpoises, I wrote ten.

‘You see, it’s like this,’ I said to the mister yesterday at about two and I was facing a pretty heavy afternoon because the hours had diminished faster than the word count had grown. ‘I really want to push the story along, so I told myself that I should get from twenty thousand to thirty, and I’m at that point. Either I start doing the things I’ve told myself I’m going to do, or…’

‘Or you’ve made a decision that you don’t.’

I can’t remember another time that he has ever finished my sentence for me. He had, by then, hung out the washing and bludgeoned the lads into vacuuming and dropped one off at a friend’s and now he was off to the gym and then the supermarket. While I kept chipping away at my words.

There was nothing different in what I had done. Set a target, a deadline to reach it by and told everyone I intended to sit at my desk and work. But this time, I saw it differently. I felt it differently. This time, there was no reason it couldn’t be done. I have found a plot that keeps me enthralled, characters who fascinate and characters who terrify. I have found a voice that speaks in just the right tone. And there is nothing else that needs to be done.

But there was something even more, even deeper than all those things.

I was not scared of unearthing my words.

I was not frightened of what they would say to me, what they might say about me. And I was not scared that I would look at them today and think, ‘stupid, unbending, inflexible words’, because I knew, as I let them fly from my fingers, that one day I will look at these words, reshaped and repositioned but from this beginning, and I will think, ‘That’s what I wanted to say, and it’s how I wanted to say it.’

I knew that these were more than words, banged out, thrown down, to try and convince myself I could write.

Eldest came and stood by my side last night before he went to bed. ‘How’s it going Mum? Are you finished? Did you get all your words done?’ He looked down at my sticky note, the gatepost tally of my twenty minute blocks and the columns of figures, thousands, five hundreds, two fifties.

‘Not quite.’

He put his arm around my shoulders. ‘It’s okay. You type really fast.’

‘The problem is I can’t think as fast as I can type.’

‘Oh, but you’ve done your first draft, right?’

‘No. This is my first draft.’

‘Oh.’ He wrote a persuasive essay earlier this week, outline, first draft, final copy. He does not need to know about the many years, the several false starts that have passed before I could even get to this first draft. It is good to believe that life is as simple as outline, first draft, final copy, mark. His hand patted my shoulder. ‘Still. I think twenty eight thousand is a lot. It’s more than twenty, isn’t it?’

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘It definitely is.’

While I was tapping away, the mister went to the supermarket balding and came back bald. He went to Spinney’s to shop, and there’s a hairdresser upstairs. They charged him eighty dirhams. Eighty dirhams to come home bald. Youngest has taken it in his stride, but eldest lad was still horrified this morning.

‘What will they say when they see their boss is bald?’

‘I did it once,’ I told him. ‘I shaved my head. It was fun. Maybe I’ll do it again.’

‘No,’ he said and shook his head. ‘We need at least one adult with hair.’

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27 Responses to The weekend

  1. Deborah says:

    This post makes me very happy. Because I have been worrying. Not full-on OMG what on earth is wrong and omg omg what can I do because it’s awful worrying, but just a quiet nagging concern that things, just vague hand waving things, weren’t so good. I’m so glad that your writing place came back this weekend.

  2. Pen says:

    Brave in the face of potentially scary words. Should be an award for that. I guess publication is the award, maybe.

  3. tigtog says:

    This bites me, but in a good way. I’ve had a concept for a novel percolating away for about ten years, I’ve even written some fragments, but I’ve never (so far!) dedicated myself to just writing the thousands of necessary words so that I can distill them down to do the concept justice. You’re an inspiration.

  4. Stomper Girl says:

    Are *all* the 10yo’s in the world writing Persuasive Essays at the moment? Freaky.

    Good job on the 10,000ish words, that sounds very positive indeed.

    I couldn’t work out which was the worst : that the Mister was now bald or that he’d paid 80 dirhams to become so.

  5. suse says:

    A ripper weekend then.

  6. Ali says:

    Well, I’m very impressed with all the words. I hope that they keep flowing.
    I shaved my head in December and the husband does it a few times a year so he did it at the same time. While the kids were horrified with how short he went (they never really like it), the 15yo went so far as to ban me from being seen with him in public. It’s just long enough now to pass for a really short cut (maybe because I redid it in Jan) and he will go out in public with me again. Poor baby.

  7. mimbles says:

    I raise my hat to you, that’s a wonderful lot of words :-)

  8. kate says:

    Years ago, in my own fug of not writing but not giving up on writing (not a novel, essays and a minor thesis) and not really reading properly either, my supervisor said “You can just give up, if the moment has passed you can just go and do something else” and I thought “No I can’t, I wont be me if I’m not reading and writing”. So I finished, slowly, and eventually it got easier. Reading doesn’t take all of my concentration and writing (when I devote any time to actually doing it) flows the way it used to. I was shocked over and over again by how long it took to get back there, and I’m so happy that you’re getting there too.

    • franzy says:

      OMG Kate, I’m a student and that seems like an awful thing to hear from a supervisor. I’m sure it’s all in context and everything, but still – you’ve spurred me to stop taking a break and KEEP WRITING, lest I hear those fateful words…

      • tracy says:

        I dunno. Sometimes it’s a relief to have someone tell you this about things, isn’t it? Even if it only makes you realise you have a choice, that you are making a choice. Life is always better when you think you are making a choice than when you think are doing something because you haven’t any other options.

        • kate says:

          It was both initially horrifying and then a relief.

          You’re probably not at risk of such a blunt statement from your supervisor franzy – I’d had a particularly full year of life and death creating the fug.

  9. franzy says:


    Some day – that shall be me.

    Some day.

    • tracy says:

      Maybe when your little one is not quite so little…tis very hard to do very much of a very much at all when a little is in the picture.

  10. elsewhere says:

    Maybe the Mister finishing your sentence is all part of the New Bald Mister. You know what they say when a woman changes her hair.

  11. Kath Lockett says:

    I’m not usually a fist pumper, but reading this found me smiling. Widely and doing a fairly passionate ‘Yeah!’ fist pump for you.

    Weird coincidence but I did 27,000 words in January when LC and Sapph went camping for a week. Haven’t done a word since but hope that once things settle (will they ever?) in Geneva I’ll have a weekend such as yours. Fingers crossed.

    Love Chunks is also ‘number one’ shaved head and just calls it ‘low maintenance hair.’ He does it himself with clippers and I get called in to tidy up the bits around the back of his neck. I can’t say it’s the highlight of our relationship but I’m pretty sure that he’ll be plucking out my chin hairs at the nursing home one day…

  12. Cyndi says:

    Did you know your first book is selling for over $50 at the US Amazon site? I’m not sure what that means, but I thought you should know.

    • tracy says:

      I think it just means they don’t really have any copies, and they’d have to get them shipped from Australia. Fifty bucks? I reckon even the mister wouldn’t pay that.

  13. Melody says:

    The Mister was definitely ripped off. He should’ve stopped by here and I would have done that for free with MrL’s clippers.

    Yay for you writing on the weekend. I’ll drink to that.

  14. blackbird says:

    I think you’re brilliant.

    As for the mister and his hair – at least you didn’t do it. I’ve shaved K’s head nearly bald by accident. On Easter Sunday no less.

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