Am Writing

So, here is a thing. I am writing a book. I apologise to any of my Twitter followers because they already know this, seeing as though I have become somewhat obsessed with tweeting about it.

I have been writing it for some time now, in the region of a year, maybe more depending on what you think constitutes writing a book. To start with, the book was a carefully chosen selection of my blog posts. Then it became part book, part diary, part blog posts. It has had various different iterations.

Up until recently I was writing it on the side, when I had time, after all the other things I was doing. I was also writing it kind of secretly. It wasn’t a secret, secret, but I wasn’t exactly telling everyone I was doing it either. Everyone is writing a book aren’t they? My book probably wasn’t going to get published anyway, seeing as though it is ridiculously difficult to get published, so why tell people about it? It would just be embarrassing when it didn’t come off.

However, the book is not really just a hobby, it is something I’m actually serious about and the more I’ve got into blogging, the more I’ve come to realise that writing is a big part of who I am. I need writing to be in my life and when I sit at the computer it just sort of flows out of me. I want to be an author. There, I’ve said it. I don’t want to stop being a speech and language therapist but I do also want to be an author.

Being an author is a much trickier career choice than I originally thought. The writing might well flow out but someone, somewhere, needs to think it’s good and worthy of printing. The whole success of this career choice relies on someone else’s judgement, which, it turns out, is pretty hard to get used to. I also really felt that I couldn’t call myself an author until I had finally got published and until that point I would just be a wannabe, which feels kind of uncool.

I made submissions to literary agents. I got rejection letters and quickly began to lose whatever belief I once had. Trying to become an author requires A LOT of self-belief. An agency sent me a nice letter saying that one author submitted her work over 80 times before she became published so although my book wasn’t for them, I shouldn’t give up. Bloody Nora I thought, who has enough unwavering belief to keep submitting when they have already been rejected 70 times? Or 75 times? I had been rejected 4 or 5 times and was already getting fed up.

A few weeks ago it came to a bit of a head. Grizzly sat me down and made me talk to him. I just wasn’t feeling successful in any area of my life, that was the problem. “Which bit needs to change?” he asked me. The speech therapy bit? The parenting bit? The blogging bit? You’re working hard in all of them he reassured (and some other things about promising to appreciate me more). It’s the book, I mumbled. “Make the book happen then,” he told me. “But I’m trying and no one likes it and I keep getting rejected and waahhhh!” I had a proper moan then quickly became fed up with the sound of my own voice. “It might need re-writing and that’ll be a really big job….” I trailed off. “You’ll never have as much time as this”, he said, “Just do it. If you don’t believe in it, no one will”.

I guess I needed some tough love. I wasn’t sure I felt much better at the time but I did seem to feel differently about everything when I woke up in the morning. If I was really serious about this, I needed to do it, as in seriously do it, not just a bit of secret tinkering. I decided to come out as a wannabe author. Maybe talking to people and asking their advice would make it all feel more official and proper? Maybe publically talking about it would take me one step closer to actually fulfilling it? I started to wonder whether it is the publishing that allows you to call yourself an author or if it could possibly be the act of writing itself.

Grizzly also asked me his usual questions: ‘what is the worst that could happen?’ and ‘what do you have to lose?’ “Nothing, apart from my dignity,” I replied petulantly. “Dignity is a subjective concept anyway”, he said, “You’ve got nothing to lose”. I don’t normally like to give him the satisfaction of thinking he’s right but I’m inclined to agree with him on this one occasion.

At the end of the day, even if I never, ever, get published, I will still have written a book. I need to consider that an achievement in itself and the act of having sat there, hour after hour, week after week, pouring my thoughts onto the page, will not be negated by a lack of publishing. I will still have put my feelings into carefully chosen words and crafted those words into carefully constructed sentences. That will still have happened even if the book never makes its way to the shelves of Waterstones.

I have been lucky enough to get some constructive feedback on the most recent draft. It has helped me to realise that blog posts are easy to hide behind and a lazy way to tell a whole story. I am no longer messing about or taking short cuts. The book will not write itself. This time I am truly writing the book; not the abridged version or the easy-reader but the actual story of how we got our son. I don’t mean ‘first we did stage one, then stage two then we met him’. I mean the honest, no holds barred truth of how the placement was 24 hours from disruption in the first week.

In order to really tell that story, I need to make my mind go back to memories it has purposefully forgotten. I didn’t start blogging until 5 months after we met Little Bear so I have never written properly about the first days and weeks. I am genuinely struggling to recall some of it in detail, as is Grizzly, as I think we’ve blocked it out. Snippets of situations keep coming back to me, now that I have gone looking for them. It has been surprisingly emotional to make myself stop and reflect like this especially as us Bears usually tend to live life constantly on fast forward.

All adoptions have their challenges and rocky times but I think people usually have a bit of a honeymoon period first, with issues gradually appearing or worsening over time. I’m not quite sure how we managed to have our very worst time immediately as we met Little Bear, but we did, and it makes the progress and change we have experienced since that point all the more stark in comparison.

Another bit of feedback was that the Bear pseudonyms don’t work in book form so I’ve had to come up with human ones. I now feel like some sort of triple agent, as I try to remember who I’m talking to and whether I should refer to us by our actual names or whether it’s a blog/social media situation so should use Bear names or whether I’m in book mode and should use our human pseudonyms. It’s pretty blooming confusing and I’m bound to trip myself up somewhere.

I wanted to share what I am up to on here because I don’t know whether I will manage to give the blog the same level of attention as usual, while I focus on the book. If I don’t manage to post as often I’m sorry, but I will be back and you never know, one day you might even be able to read my book (but don’t get too excited because I’m still writing it and the chances of it getting published are teeny tiny but thankfully God loves a trier).

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Am Writing

I love my Bears

During a period of procrastination earlier in the week (I should have been decorating)I found myself reading back over all my blog posts from 2017 so far. I realised that in pretty much all of them I have been sounding more stressed and quite a bit less sunny than usual. Whilst there has been plenty going on to warrant my mood I can’t help but prefer being cheerful. With that in mind here is an unashamedly upbeat post about my gorgeous Bears and why I love them so much.

As Grizzly said recently our Bears are their own men. They are both quirky but completely at home in their skin. They are happy being themselves and it is lovely.

Little Bear likes to layer his clothes: 4 football tops one on top of the other; 2 pairs of socks; 2 Spiderman costumes for double muscles or 3 pairs of gloves like woolly Russian dolls on his little hands. He is also somewhat of a clothing comedian. He still sleeps with comfort blankets (muslin squares) and now and again thinks up a different place on his person to stockpile them. Once it was in his socks so he had to waddle about on fat ankles. Another time it was up his top. He has a lot of blankets so he looked as though he had developed a beer belly overnight. It was hilarious. I kept laughing at random that day, as the image of him as a miniature Santa figure kept popping into my head.

Little Bear’s strong opinions on clothing choices can be a little tiring at times. If someone suggests a kick-about in the garden he spends 20 minutes trying to find a full matching football strip. Sometimes Big Bear does too.

Big Bear is a little obsessed with football at the moment and starts many a conversation with “Mum, you know Naymar Junior? Well…” or “Mum, if you could have any Barcelona players on your team who would you pick?”. He starts conversations with grown men about football matches and it is never long before they start looking surprised that they are having a detailed bloke’s conversation with a 7 year old boy.

Grizzly has taken him to a couple of matches and said it is hard to believe how excited Big Bear gets and how loudly he shouts. Apparently people in the stadium turn to look because despite there being 70,000 noisy fans chanting and clapping, Big Bear’s voice still blares out! His passion and enthusiasm, not just for football, are very refreshing.

Both Bears are naturally gregarious and tend to get fully involved with things. I love to watch them enjoying life and having fun. There is nothing more uplifting than hearing them erupt into fits of giggles.

Big Bear has a proper deep belly laugh. It is as though he finds things funny with the whole of his body and he really submits to the humour. He can usually be found doubled over laughing several times a day. He is very free and generous with his laughter.

Little Bear’s laughter is a bit harder to come by but he is a lot freer with it than he used to be and when it comes it is incredibly infectious. He was watching Tom and Jerry the other day and nearly crying with laughter. The visual slapstick humour is perfect for him though who knew that a mouse whacking a cat on the head with a mallet could be so funny?! I was finding watching Little Bear much funnier than the cartoon.

Sometimes the Bears will invent a game together that makes them both laugh uproariously. Most of the time it isn’t clear what the game is or what is making them laugh so much but they seem to understand each other on a whole other level. Sometimes one of them only needs to make a sound or move a toy in a certain way and the other one is in hysterics. It’s gorgeous. Completely unfathomable but gorgeous.

Both Bears have a caring and sensitive side too. Big Bear is incredibly adept at saying things that people want to hear. He gives a good compliment. I love it when he praises Little Bear without any sort of adult nudge. He’ll say things like “well done mate, that drawing’s brilliant” or “you’re getting really good at football aren’t you?”. He is very tuned in to the need to help others feel good about themselves.

Little Bear is full of surprises. Sometimes he can be purposefully hurtful but he hardly ever does anything to upset his brother. He is generally very considerate towards him. He is also caring towards his friends and tries to comfort them if they are upset. Sometimes I worry unnecessarily about how he might be in a situation. Last weekend we took the Bears to visit Supergran. We told them she is “very poorly” and explained the need to be gentle towards her and calm (if that’s possible). Grizzly and I were a little fearful of how the visit could go but as soon as we got there Little Bear was on a mission to find her. He searched the flat and when he found her in bed he seemed to instinctively understand. He gave her the most enormous yet gentle cuddle he could. He gently inspected her arms where she is bruised from having cannulas fitted and stroked her wrinkles for good measure. He kept going away and then coming back to lay his head on her again. Supergran loved his uncharacteristic show of affection and he did make her feel happier than if he hadn’t been there. It was one of the most tender and deeply human moments I’ve ever seen: he didn’t use any words but said everything he needed to.

I’m always proud of my Bears but was especially so that day.

Thankfully both Bears are affectionate towards us because I can’t help but want to cuddle them and smother them in kisses. Although I really dislike it when Little Bear wakes me 35 minutes before my alarm each morning I secretly love it when he says “but I love you Mum, I just want a cuddle” and he crawls in next to me. I try to enjoy the 5 seconds of quiet snuggle I get before he starts jabbing me with his bony elbows and trying to engage me in conversation.

Big Bear has grown so much now that I definitely can’t pick him up and he’s getting a bit too cool to kiss me in the playground. Luckily Little Bear still likes to press his soft cheek against mine and weave his little arm around my neck. He still likes me to carry him occasionally and I don’t mind at all when he shoves whatever I’m holding out of the way so he can clamber onto my lap. I try to make the most of every cuddle because it won’t be too long before he pretends he doesn’t know me at school either.

When I crouch to tie the boys shoe laces both Bears tend to steady themselves by placing the flat of their palm squarely on the top of my head. I find it strangely endearing.

Like any mum I do moan about their mess, their inability to entertain themselves and the incessant noise and between them they do give me all sorts of things to worry about. But I know that I’m really lucky. My Bears are gorgeous inside and out and I love them just the way they are.

 

I love my Bears