Tuesday, 19 July 2016


The summer holidays are almost upon us. Six long, hopefully hot, weeks without the pressure of extra-curricular schedules and nagging about homework and uniform laundry. The kids sprawling on a blanket under a tree reading books for pleasure and contemplating the shapes of clouds. Games involving water, perfect ice cream cones, camp outs.

And now back to reality. Six weeks of trying to do what I have to do with four, slightly smaller people getting in my way. Six weeks of cajoling them away from their screens and then, when that doesn’t work, banning screens entirely. Six weeks of trying to get them to leave the house because I’m bored and them flatly refusing because they want downtime. Six weeks of them eating whatever they can forage because frankly, with so much extra tidying up to do, who can be bothered to cook?

No. For me, the summer holidays seem to start and finish with one thing - parental guilt.

It’s ridiculous really. My children are perfectly content to lounge around inside, playing, chatting, listening to music and doing things on screens. They don’t mind what they eat as long as there’s a plentiful supply of it and if I didn’t suggest a single outing all holiday then that would be completely fine by them. All this perfect summer outside rot is entirely the product of my imagination, formed partly from my own childhood, from books I’ve read and The Waltons.

So why do I feel so guilty when the real summer doesn’t match the imaginary one?

I think it’s because I see how they choose to spend their time as a waste. If I had endless free days, I wouldn’t spend them inside, building invented worlds out of cubes or watching American sitcoms on repeat. But what about when I  was 12-19? What would I have chosen then? 

That’s the trouble. I didn’t really get a choice because there were rules about what was acceptable. No-one offered me a smorgasbord of relaxation options and said - pick one. I played out because I wasn’t allowed in. There was barely any TV and I had no you tube. I was bored so I had to make my own fun. And this is what I want to impose on my own children because that’s how it ‘should’ be.

It’s not like they are wasting their lives. In term time, every available moment is filled with something worthy and two of them have activities that don’t stop even for the summer. So surely I should just chill and let them do whatever they fancy, no matter how pointless?

Well, one things’s for sure. If I try to impose my idea of summer on them, then we will all have a much more confrontational holiday than if I don’t. And from a selfish point of view, if I let them ‘chill’ all summer then I will have no problem hitting all my own deadlines. 

But what will I do with the guilt?

Imogen x  

Sunday, 10 July 2016


Apparently there are lots of signs of a misspent youth - an ability to blow perfect smoke rings, previously unexpected skills in beer mat flicking, knowing all the words to Grease.

I may or may not have skills in these areas but one thing I can do is roller skate backwards. I can do this quite well. Well enough to irritate my family anyway who are used to me being the tail-end Charlie of any mildly competitive activity that we undertake. I can spin too and do interesting figure of eight shapes with my feet.

These hidden talents are the result of a couple of long hot summers in the early 80s that I spent on roller-skates. This was the time of Fame and headbands, of Wired for Sound and Sony Walkmans. Everyone was at it and in the absence of any screen-based distractions, there were plenty of spare hours to practise. So every night after homework, I would meet up with my best friend and we'd skate until we could do it. Living in rural Lincolnshire, she was my closest friend geographically too and sometimes I would skate the two miles over to her house so we could practise on her streets rather than mine.

When we got good then there was the roller disco at the Drill Hall  in Lincoln to attend. In dim lights with loud music we would all skate round, anticlockwise, at great speed spotting handsome boys in the melee. There was even a ramp in the middle of the room where the really brave ( and sexy) boys would do tricks.

This has never left me and I am keen for my children to learn too but there is one small difficulty. Time. Skills like these aren't learned overnight. It takes patience and resilience and determination and perseverance. I love my children dearly but these are skills that seem to have been a little lost over the years. In this age of X Factor fame and instant gratification, just plugging away at something until you can do it is less fashionable.

I saw Matthew Syed speak at a conference recently. He talks about the need to keep trying, to be open to failure and to practise to achieve what you want out of life. It doesn't really matter what it is that you want, roller skating, writing a novel, running the world. They all take the same skills.

So I'll be encouraging my kids to learn to skate until they can do it well and then maybe, when they are adults with children of their own, they will be able to skate backwards too!


Wednesday, 6 July 2016


Ok. Enough Navel gazing on the subject of my literary future. I have made a decision and it really wasn't that hard once I got some perspective.

I asked myself a really simple question. I had asked myself it before but I'm not sure I've always been completely honest, tending to skirt round stuff, and peppering my answer with lots of buts and maybes. I thought I was being realistic but actually it was probably just plain pessimism. So here's the question -

What do I really want?

It's not rocket science is it? The answer isn't either.

To be sitting on a train and see someone nearby reading something that I wrote.

So then came the tricky follow up.

How will I achieve that?

By working really hard to make my books the best they can possibly be and then following the traditional publishing route to get them to the person on the train.

There you go. That wasn't that difficult, was it?

I didn't get there all by myself, mind you. My lovely meditation teacher Melanie Kirkbride had a hand in it. I thought that my head and my heart were pulling me in different directions and I couldn't decide which one knew best. Melanie pointed out that I should allow my intuition (heart) to make the decision and then use my intellect (head) to make it happen. So rather than constantly coming up with barriers as to why I shouldn't try traditional publishing, I should put all that effort into trying to make it work.

Now that I've made that decision, life is a whole lot less complicated. I have Lucinda Fox to have fun with in the self publishing world but when it comes down to my true passion, the books that I write for the love of writing, I am going to try to push them into the deep, dark cave of traditional publishing. There be dragons on that path, and scary rejection letters but I intend to gird my loins and do battle with them both.

So that's it. I promise to torture you no more on this subject and life here at my blog will get back to normal.

Quick update of where things currently stand?

Lucinda's second book will come out this month. I am editing Postcards from a Stranger like a demon and I'm doing some messing about with Facebook platforms so no doubt I'll tell you all about that soon.

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