Monday next week will be something of a landmark day. And for all sorts of reasons. Most importantly perhaps, it begins the university journey of one of my children: their first full week away from home. I am, of course, both proud and jealous!
Simultaneously, our youngest has started on their journey into adulthood via Sixth Form, beginning two years of study before hopefully they too follow a similar path. The immediate practical consequence? They will be leaving home earlier in the morning, returning later.
But there’s nothing unique about any of that really; it’s a scenario replicated hundreds of thousands of times across countries worldwide.
However, this shift – to a house strangely uninhabited by offspring during the majority of the working week – is daunting. There is some shock in the sudden recognition that all the while we were giving our children a structure to help them through their education, they were reciprocating by providing us with a framework within which to operate too. And in four days’ time that will largely have gone.
But hold on. Isn’t that liberating – and for everyone concerned? Absolutely. So what’s the issue?
In my case, Monday represents something of the fulfilment of a dream. I have longed for an existence where I have the time to focus on my writing; and now – given I am currently not ‘working’ in the conventional sense – I am on the verge of that dream becoming reality. Between 8 and 5, five days a week, I will be pretty much free to spend as much time as I chose on writing, on being creative. I can spend more time in publishing through my Coverstory books imprint. Great!
But this isn’t just ‘freedom’, it’s freedom with a twist; the price paid is the removal of the comfort blanket that I have wrapped myself in for the last sixteen years.
So there’s a fresh fear, a new kid on the block. What if I don’t take advantage of the time? What if I can’t find enough things to write about? What if I find myself frittering away the opportunity? What if having all that time becomes too daunting, impossible to handle? What if I choose to run away from the dream, throw myself back into the full-time world of ‘proper work’ – just to give myself back a comfort blanket of a different colour?
Who can say? Right now I have three or four candidate writing projects; a couple of preoccupations outside of writing that will absorb some of the time… I can paint a picture that certainly looks dream-like. But can I live it?
Watch this space!