The Tongues of Men

A novel in redraft by Gabriel Smy

How not to kill your writing blog after 2 years

Tonight was fairly typical.

In from work and straight to the table to wolf something down before taking the boys out to swimming. Most nights we do eat together, the clamour of which has to be suffered first-hand to be believed. Last night I said, "the baby's quiet" at teatime. Mary pointed out that he'd been yelling for the last half hour, only I hadn't heard him beneath the shouting of the other three.

But Monday the kids eat early. And only the toddler greets me as I come through the door – the others are grouped around a computer game. So no stories about Club Penguin or school – just an 18-month-old desperate to play football with the yellow ball that the neighbours have thrown back over the fence. We exchange a couple of passes in the kitchen, then he follows me to the table where he copies my every move. He sits in the chair next to mine, frequently almost falling off, eats my pizza crusts, sips my drink.

We've only got 15 minutes so I shout to the boys to get ready. The four year old is barred from accompanying us since he made so much fuss by the pool last time. We can get from our house fully clothed into the pool with trunks in 10 minutes. I'm grateful we haven't got girls.

Girls. The boys change slowly afterwards in the hope that they'll bump into two of their favourite female friends who come for the later lessons. They try to impress them by doing head-over-heels down a grassy slope. It seems to work.

By the time we get home it's almost bedtime. We squeeze a bit of dinosaur origami in and then I promise to read to the oldest three if they get ready on time. It is impossible for them to stand around the sink and not wind each other up. Tonight it's all about accidentally drooling toothpaste on your brother's hands.

We start a new book by torchlight: The BFG. We have to read a good few chapters to discover that the giant is in fact friendly, so that the four-year-old won't be afraid of Bonecrunchers all night. By the time we've sorted out bedding and drinks and prayed and hugged and answered the sincere questions that they always ask at this point to prolong my presence in the bedroom – I shut the door and trudge down the stairs.

I'm thinking of all the things I'd like to blog about, all the ideas I've jotted down, and the embarrassing yawn of time since I last posted that makes it harder to just publish any old post. There’s also SmyWord that desperately needs updating, as well as Verbatim. But Mary wants to talk, about arrangements for later in the week, for the weekend, Christmas presents, which is fair enough as we've not had a chance to catch up yet.

I finally sit at the computer, but then a child starts yelling, so loud it might wake the toddler. I race upstairs to prevent that happening, knowing it will only be a case of my tummy hurts or he's copying me, which it is. Only with an added bout of singing. There is nothing I can say to prevent this occurring each night. It happens again, and this time I play the "next time someone gets moved to our bedroom" card, which seems to stick.

Back to the computer, but typing is difficult. The space bar is jamming. The beautiful Apple keyboard has long lost its virginal whiteness to scrawls of biro and the imprints of filthy fingers, but it's the fruit toast that is more annoying because it gets under the keys and stops them working. I discover just how hard it is to clip a space bar back on again.

So, the space bar is back and bouncy, and the C, V, B, N, M, <, >, and both command keys are back in place too. I decide to write about why I haven't been blogging so much, about how I'm still working on the novel and it's going well, but how most evenings by the time the kids are settled and everything else that needs doing has been done and those other things talked about I am so tired that I'll sink into the sofa while Mary plays yet another episode of some formulaic show like Escape to the Country or Masterchef because there isn't enough time to watch a whole film. Although I draw the line at The Apprentice.

And this is the blog post. I managed to spew it forth without any further interruptions. Masterchef is chugging through its banal liturgy in the other room, but I wanted to share my excuse for not writing so much of late. It's a flimsy one, I'll grant you, and I'd be the first to remind myself that JG Ballard wrote prodigious amounts while bringing up his three children single-handed. Although I'll bet he had a nanny. And there was no Club Penguin in those days.

So there we go: a little taste of evening leisure chez nous. I want to pick up the blogging here again. Next week I have a writing week so I'll let you know how the novel is progressing. I know some of you actually read this so thanks. Time for bed.


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