I am 37.
Only, I’m not.
The realisation that, somehow, I have skipped an entire year of my life (I mean, yes, I’m tired but surely not that tired) came when a good friend, who is a month older than me, mentioned that we needed to start planning for our 40th.
At the time I thought: “Goodness, bit early! We’ve got years yet.” but then someone I went to school with mentioned on Facebook that she wasn’t too bothered about being 39 because: “I’m off to New York for my 40th next year.”
Hold on. If she is 40 next year then…am I? Initially, I was so sure that I was 37 that I even wondered whether she had been held back a year at school but since then more people have started to mention it.
Just to be doubly certain, I got the calculator out and it seemed to suggest the same thing but I’m rubbish at maths so thought I could still have made a mistake.
Then I thought about Freya. I was definitely 37 when I had her and she is now 18 months so that means…
I am no longer 37. In fact, I am nearly 40 (ok, in a year and a bit).
I’m not normally one for bothering about age. I didn’t go into melt down when I hit 25 or even 30 (although I did have a fabulous holiday in Turin to celebrate) but I think this is considered one of those special birthdays (at least if some of the things my friends are planning is anything to go by). I also came across a Tweet from Slummy Single Mummy who had created a 40 Things To Do Before I Am 40 list and had recently crossed “sending a message in a bottle” off (she even got a reply – although not quite the one she was hoping for). She then kindly sent me the link to her full list from 2013, which has some brilliant suggestions on there that I would never have thought of.
It got me thinking that maybe I should write a list – although with so little time left it would have to be a short one and it would need to be things that were achievable with a toddler in tow and which didn’t require me to fly anywhere (how long does a boat take to get to New York?).
I sat down to think about it…
And then I thought some more…
I can’t work out whether the fact that I couldn’t really think of very many things was good or bad. Did it mean I was content or lacked ambition? The thing is, aside from the general things of being the best mum I can be, being good at my job etc there is really only one thing I want to achieve.
I want to write a romance novel.
Now, a bit like mummy blogging, writing (and reading) romance is often looked down upon, despite the genre regularly topping best-seller lists. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I get that, but I am a fan and writing one has been a long-term dream.
The trouble is, writing fiction is a long way from my (part time) day job of writing news/features and I find it a challenge (although maybe that’s a good thing?).
At the start of the year, one of the words from The Prompt was “beginnings”. I always mean to take part in that link up but this one in particular had my mind whirling into action (although I never got around to writing it).
You see, I have the beginnings of so many stories in notebooks or filed on my laptop but they never actually go anywhere. I think the most I have written is about three chapters and then I stop and lose confidence in my writing ability and also where the story is going.
But recently this 40th thing kept coming back to me.
I’m a journalist. I love a deadline. In fact, I work better if there is a deadline so I decided I should look at my 40th as a deadline. I’m telling you this because then it makes it real.
To get me started I discovered a competition in Prima magazine with Mills and Boon, the world’s largest publisher of romantic fiction. Readers are invited to submit an 800 word first chapter of a romantic novel (and a 1,000 word synopsis). The winner will get a publishing contract. I’m sure I have no chance of winning BUT this was the pre-deadline deadline.
So the reason I haven’t been blogging as much is because when I haven’t been looking after Freya, working or sleeping, all my spare time has been put into writing my competition entry.
Writing the synopsis was brilliant because I now have a complete story idea, which is a first. I finally finished the first chapter last night. The only trouble is, it’s 2,100 words. It needs to be 800. In the words of Homer Simpson: “Doh!”
So now my (digital) red pen is about to get a workout. Wish me luck!
Do you have a bucket list? What’s your top to do? (Yes, I am trying to nick your ideas to add to my pitiful list, although I do have a bit of a plan forming. Maybe I could do 1 for me and 39 things for other people? Not sure how realistic that is but it’s something to think about).