Midweek Musings: Writing and Dancing

the-last-tango-press-night-lifebylotte Hello hello, sorry I haven't done a midweek catch up for a couple of weeks (and this one is a day late). Sometimes I get all cringey at myself and think, god Charlotte, midweek musings, what are you on about, who the F cares? But then I remember that, er, I care, and it's nice to have these little diary entries to look back on. Especially since I have the memory of an aged goldfish.

So, yes, it's been a busy old week or so. Oli opened with his show, The Last Tango. In case you haven't heard about it, or seen the posters on the tube, it's another dance show from the very lovely Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone, and Oli sings all the songs for it. On stage. He had to learn 17 songs for this show, which made for an interesting (read: stressful) two weeks when he was in rehearsal... But it's opened now, and is going well, and he's had some fab reviews which always makes me all proud and glowy inside. I went along to the press do last week with my sister and it was full of folk from Strictly, who are all universally lovely, it seems. There were also a few slebs there, but I'm pretty shocking at having a clue who people are (I swear I could be stood next to Angelina Jolie in Boots* and have no idea who she was), so my sister had to fill me in. Unlike at the press night for Oli's last show, she didn't get drunk and offend Brendan Cole (long story). No gossip, everyone was very well behaved. And everyone I spoke to told me how proud I must be of Oli, and how fabulous his singing is, which is always cheering.

On the subject of dancing, someone else in our family has decided to try it (I say someone else, Oli can't dance for toffee, and neither can I). We noticed this week that little Daph has now started bopping her body about when she hears music - it is SO. BLOODY. CUTE. She can even keep time pretty well - it's sooo sweet and funny. Especially as she doesn't really smile while doing it, which makes it seem like some kind of strange involuntary reaction - CAN HEAR MUSIC, MUST MOVE BODY kind of thing. Babies are amazing.

In other news, I started my six-month Writing a Novel course at the Faber Academy last week and am enjoying it immensely. Aside from anything else, it's so lovely having something to get a bit dressed up for (this sounds wrong, afear ye not, I'm not turning up in stilettos and a ball gown - I just mean putting on something other than stained jeans and a t shirt) and it's fab to be using my brain again and talking to creative types. We're in groups of 15, and my group is a really eclectic mix of screenwriters, actors, lawyers, journalists, film producers and even an architect. The best thing about this course so far is that every exercise is focused on the novel you are meant to be writing, so everything is relevant - there's no pointless academia or tests or anything like that. I've been making quite good progress with my novel, and I'm up to 12,000 words now. I'm setting myself a target of 10,000 words a week, which is pretty ambitious, but I'm at home five nights a week alone while Oli is working on this show, so I figure I ought to be able to get 2000 words done each time. Obviously this is creating the very model of a shitty first draft, but that's OK. I want to get my first draft finished by Christmas, so I can edit it next term. Fingers crossed!

*an unlikely scenario, granted

Midweek Musings: Hedgehogs, Childcare and (not) Working 9 to 5

hedgehog-lifebylotte Did I mention before that we have hedgehogs in our new garden? Every evening they scuttle past the French windows on their way to two doors down, where our neighbour leaves food out for them. They're really fast as they zip back and forwards! Yesterday Oli did some gardening and we unearthed one hiding under a plant - he didn't look very impressed to see us but wasn't obviously injured, so we left him there. I was worried about him though, because it said hedgehogs that were out in the daytime were probably in trouble. And this morning he had moved himself about a foot onto the lawn and was just lying there not moving, so we phoned our local Wildlife Rescue centre and they told us to bring him in. We've left him there overnight and we find out if he made it tomorrow. Fingers crossed, poor mite.

In other COMPLETELY unrelated news, today we went to view a nursery. Oli and I have been back and forward on the subject of childcare for Daph - we both work pretty random and unconventional hours. For the past few months I've been working one and a half days a week for a company - one day in the office and half a day from home, and then freelancing as and when stuff comes in. So Oli is usually able to look after Daph when I'm working in the office. Then the rest of the freelancing I do when she's napping or Oli takes her out for the day, or I do it in the evenings. Either way, it's worked quite well so far, except for when Oli's been working away and my mum's had to step in (my mum is a lifesaver!).

However, Oli starts a new job next week - he's going to be the vocalist for Vincent and Flavia's (of Strictly fame) new show The Last Tango. Thankfully it's only in the west end, not a tour (he was offered the tour of the same show last year but given that rehearsals started the day Daph was born, it wasn't really feasible. Plus I'd been a tour widow for most of my pregnancy and it's a bloody lonely life so I confess I did do a bit of weepy pregnant woman emotional blackmail). But anyway, he'll be leaving the house at around 4pm to get to work, which means I can't work do my full day in the office any longer. Most people would just get childcare and we have considered it, but it's so expensive and feels like a bit of an indulgence when we can probably make it work with a bit of juggling (luckily my office job is flexible!).

As for work... I've actually been trying to work less over the past few months - in hindsight I was crazy to start trying to work when Daph was only four months old. I think it was just my pride taking over, trying to prove that being a mother wouldn't stop me from carrying on as before. But now I look back and think why the hell didn't I just have a proper break and relax?! I remember going in to do a freelance day when I'd had about three hours' sleep - it was such a struggle to get through the day and I just felt dizzy and disorientated thanks to the bucketloads of caffeine I'd thrown down my neck. I've turned down quite a bit of freelance work in the past month or so which is terrifying (usually if you turn stuff down you don't get asked again) but at the same time quite liberating.

I really want to have a proper break and thankfully I do have something incredibly exciting planned for the next six months (more on that soon). But long-term I need to focus on what the heck I am going to do next. As I've mentioned before I didn't plan on having no job to return to after having a baby but thems the breaks. Freelancing is great for the flexibility but boy is it lonely, and I really miss being part of a team and, well, office gossip in general. So, I'm seriously considering retraining, but that's a whole other blog post...