Friday, 24 April 2009

H is for Home

...which is where I am again after a fabulous month in Australia - and also, more importantly, where I work. It's an odd thing, this 'working from home' lark and therefore, I thought, worthy of a (rather late) post in my A-Z.

It often comes up in conversation: 'Oh, I work from home.' Perhaps pertaining to a delivery... 'No problem, I'll be at home...' or maybe a tradesman wanting access... 'That's OK, I'll be at home working.' No one believes that you actually do any WORK from home. Several times I've had the response, 'Ah, you're a housewife then.' Now, nothing against housewifery - I was a full-time mum and house-looker-afterer for many years (and hell, no one else does the ironing around here) - but many think (mostly men, I must add) that working from home is a fancy way of saying you're either unemployed or a mother going out of her mind with finger-painting-induced boredom. To be honest, sometimes I wouldn't mind a bit of finger-painting. This whole working from home thing isn't as easy as it sounds. It's really tough, truth be known.

I get quite envious when I hear friends talking about the 'water cooler gossip'. The most exciting thing that happens to me when I leave my desk for a cuppa is deciding if the weather's fine enough to hang out the washing. As for gossip, I find myself getting all exited if the postman rings the bell for me to sign for a parcel. We often exchange a juicy word or two about the weather. Of course, I do saunter down to the market or the local shop to pick up something nice for dinner and may well meet a neighbour or friend for a brief chat. But - and this was something I never fully anticipated pre-full-time writing - it's a bloody LONELY business. At Home. Alone. Working.

Imagine. The kids have gone off to school, the kitchen's cleared, the beds are made, the washing's flapping in the fresh breeze, and...then there's the sofa (or the bed!) and eight hours of daytime TV beckoning. Or marathon shopping trips to be made. Or oodles of books to catch up on. Or friends to visit (those that also work from home, of course). All these things have to be fought against. Don't they? It's funny, so many people ask me 'Do you write every day? Really? What, like a proper job you mean?' Maybe it's just me, but I get the impression they're wondering why the hell, because I can, don't I have a jolly good lie in, or hit the shops, or stay in my PJs eating cake all day.

Two things drive me: 1) I really really love writing books. 2) Bills need paying.

But, just because I have this whole discipline thing cracked, just because I don't need pills to stop me watching Jeremy Kyle (actually, I have been watching his show for research purposes, but that's another story) doesn't mean that every day is easy. If I'm stuck on a certain scene then often blitzing the garden with the shears helps get things flowing again. Or meeting up with a friend or an hour in the gym is just what's needed to get through the final stage of a long bout of editing.

I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to work from home. I have a nice study (if it was tidier I'd put up a photo!) and a pleasant rooftop view. I'm doing what I love and, even if there are plumbers banging away beneath me as I type, even though I know that any minute now someone will phone up 'just for a chat' because I'm not really busy, am I? ...even though I don't have a boss looming over me so I have to quickly nuke the Facebook window on my computer, I wouldn't have it any other way. A writer's place is in the home. Besides, I like being alone.

Finally, on a completely different note, I'm doing a talk at Coalville Library on May 7th. The last one planned got cancelled because the library alarm was going off and they couldn't stop it! I'll be talking between 3 and 4pm about my life as a writer, my novels, and reading a couple of chapters. After that, you can fire questions at me as long as they're not too tricky. And I'll sign your books. So please come along if you're around Leicestershire. The more the merrier. I love meeting readers.

Sam x