People often ask me how I manage to come up with ideas for this blog. I usually tell them that it's a case of necessity being the mother of invention – I have to post every Friday, therefore an idea will be found. It probably doesn't help that I try to tackle a different subject every week, but if I posted more often I'm sure I would have repeated myself many times over.
Recently, I've become aware of how dependent I am on general themes in the writing world for sparking ideas for blog posts. I've made quite a shift in my working patterns and behaviour since I started my new job, with the result that I've not had as much time for writing or keeping up with the children's fiction market. It was only when I made a conscious decision to stop checking my personal email and avoid social networks during working hours that I realised how much time I had previously been stealing to do it. This has had great benefits in terms of my concentration and focus, but I'm aware that I've dropped off the radar a bit. Someone actually emailed me the other day to ask if I was alright (I am, but thanks for asking).
It's only been a month, and I hope I can tune my schedule to give me more time to keep up with things. But in the meantime, I've often felt that the party was going on without me. I would have dearly loved the chance to weigh in on the "what is commercial fiction" debate the other week, but by the time I caught up with it, the moment was gone. Bekki Hill has been leading some brilliant debates on the SCBWI Yahoo Group over the last month, but again I haven't been able to participate. I kept glancing at the 100+ unread emails in that folder, groaning, and moving on.
The worst part is not being able to read other people's blog posts. Whereas I can jump onto Facebook and off again in a couple of minutes, reading blogs requires time to process the content. I do like to comment as well, which adds more time to the experience. Other blog posts will often spur me to address a certain topic or look at a subject in a different way. Another consideration is one of courtesy. There are people who read this blog faithfully every week (thank you), most of whom have their own blog. I feel I owe it to them to visit as often as I can, but recently that hasn't been very often at all. On a more selfish level, I'm sure more people would visit this blog if I gave them reciprocal feedback.
I said a month back that I was really looking forward to an extra hour in bed every day. But what I hadn't considered was how much I had been doing in that hour. It isn't so much that I miss my long train commute, as much as missing the time it afforded me. Clearly, new working patterns take time to gel, and I need to cut myself some slack about how much it's possible to achieve in any given day. The good news is that I'm happier than I've been in months – I just haven't had time to tell you about it.