Many thanks, you ridiculously lovely lot, for every single one of your kind words about my book deal. And if I’ve been quiet since the announcement, it’s because I’ve been busy designing and writing. I’m breaking the habit of a lifetime by working hard from the outset, instead of leaving the task until 10pm on the night before it’s due. Trust me when I say that this is deeply unfamiliar behavioural territory.
I’m running quite a bit, too (twenty miles per week), which is helping to keep my writing and knitting productivity up.
But then I visited my parents and my mum said, “You haven’t published a blog post for a while, have you Philippa?” Reader, I scurried home to draft this post. Yeah, I may be a semi-functional adult (give or take a maladjustment or two) with a responsible job, an irresponsible family, and my own compost heap, but all it takes to make me feel about eight years old again is someone using the rarely-said full version of my name in a stern voice. (The principle doesn’t seem to apply to my own children, who look me in the eye and tell me I’m just not scary when I attempt the same trick on them. *sigh*)
Supervising all this writing and designing is Robyn-the-robin. She has Opinions. It’s getting to the stage where I worry about her on days when I’m out at work.
She disappeared (again) for a couple of weeks, (as I said on Instagram). Honestly, that robin has NO IDEA how much worry she causes. Since her return, she’s been hungrier than ever. Almost every time I wander into the back garden, she flies crazy missions past my head to get my attention, or she stands on the fence and yells. My own children wouldn’t get away with such outrageous behaviour at mealtimes, but when Robyn demands food, I plod dutifully to the shed and fetch the mealworms.
Once last week, as she swooped down to snatch a mealworm from my hand, I caught the briefest glimpse of ANOTHER ROBIN further along the fence. Those of you who commented that she was doubtless off courting when she vanished, I think you might be right. Robins are fiercely territorial, so I can only assume that this other robin is her new partner. Love – or at least grudging tolerance – is in the air.
Her partner hasn’t fed from my hand, but he seemed curious about this featherless weirdo who gets bossed around by his wife. I hope they have babies. Last year, Robyn nested behind the shed, and I’d sometimes glimpse her not-yet-red-breasted fledglings once they were old enough to venture a short way along the fence. But she’d always chivvy them back towards the nest so I never hand-fed them. I hope she raises a healthy brood this year, too.
Anyway, back to the book. It’s not the writing that’s the tricky bit – after all, I have words. Plenty of words. Lots and lots and lots of words, just in case you hadn’t noticed. Thousands of words, tumbling out everywhere, cluttering up the house and getting in everyone’s way.
No, the hard part is when I’ve knitted a prototype for one of the patterns to be featured and then I look at it and think… nah. Somehow, it’s not quite right, not quite good enough, not quite perfect. Or I’m half way through the knitting and I realize that the yarn just isn’t going to do what I want it to do unless I can rearrange the laws of physics, no matter how many expletives I throw at it. And just like that, a week’s knitting needs to be redone. Just like that, a little more time dribbles away. But I refuse to put anything mediocre in this book, so I rip back and start again.
It will be worth it when the last sentence of the thing is complete, the last pattern is photographed, and the last stitch has been cast off. I may have exhausted every last shred of sanity by that point, but it’ll be worth it. This book is going to be as good as I can possibly make it.
And as long as the mealworms keep coming, Robyn will be happy.