I have a whole hour before I have to pick up Son Two from school, so I set myself a bite-sized task. It’s a small, niggling job I’ve been avoiding—to choose monikers for my husband and children to protect their privacy on The Winding Narrative.
A drink will help me slip into the zone. I need something soothing, but not soporific. A bottle of wine beckons, but I have to drive, so I promise myself a glass when I get back and pour a peppermint tea. I stand at my portable desk (currently located in the family room with an outlook over the garden), ready to type with 55 minutes to go.
I turn to my favourite blogs for inspiration. In Wanderlust and Wet Wipes, Emma calls her children the Things—Thing 1 and Thing 2. Her husband is Mr Wanderlust and sometimes she features Granny Wanderlust or a Thing Friend. Asha, in Parenting in the Wilderness, has boys Godzilla and the TeenWolf. Hard acts to follow. I search their archives to check the syntax (Is it Thing One or Thing 1?) and read several blogs. Back to task. No worries, I still have 45 minutes up my sleeve.
Brainstorm names for children. When I was pregnant, rather than calling the boys Foetus or Embryo, we gave them nicknames—Brutus and Maximus. I’m not sure where the ancient Roman flair came from, perhaps the act of procreation made us feel we were conquering the world. For consistency, I could call my husband Caesar. He likes to think he’s king of the family. Hmmm, will readers think the name is intentionally ironic? Also, my Roman history and Shakespearean knowledge are pretty rusty and I don’t recall whether Brutus, Maximus and Caesar brutally slayed one another. I need to check, I mean, you wouldn’t call your sons Cain and Abel, would you? I jump online. Turns out, Brutus conspired against Caesar. Fail. 35 minutes to go.
I call my husband for suggestions. He answers straight away, which is nothing short of a miracle. Normally, he’s in a meeting.
He says, “Hi Gorgeous, did you pay the internet bill?”
Crap! As a rule, I’m pretty organized, but this one slipped through the cracks. If I don’t deal with it now, our service will be cut off and Brutus and Maximus will brutally slay me.
“I’ll call you back.”
The reminder notice, red writing glowing, is buried under a pile of papers on my desk. I tap keys furiously to logon to my bank site. Wrong password. I type it again. Still no luck. Oh wait, our email was hacked, so I changed the password. What the @#$* is it? I call Caesar my husband to see if he remembers, but he’s in a meeting. Maybe it was … yes, I know. I type the new password and press enter just as I remember we added a number to the end of it. A message comes up, “Too many failed login attempts, please contact your local branch.” Bloody hell. 25 minutes to go.
Forget the bank, focus on the job. Switch off all social media. I’ll stick with Caesar. No, I have an uncanny knack of writing things that come true. You may scoff, but once, I wrote a story before I met someone, whose life went on to mirror my protagonist’s journey. I told him, “I wrote you before I knew you,” and he agreed. I even started a novel based on the concept, but I can’t remember what I called it. I search the Ideas folder on my computer. It was named, Insane. Make of that what you will. Oh, no, 15 minutes to go.
I seem to be putting off this decision. I once wrote an entire blog for Following Betsy Sharpe (my work in progress) about Procrastination but I ditched it because it interrupted the flow at a critical point in the story. I check my Following Betsy Sharpe Cut Outs file to see if that old thing has any redeemable sections. The first paragraph isn’t bad, but that’s it. 5 minutes to go.
Decision time. Brutus and Maximus can stand. What about my husband? I forgot to ask him when I called, and now, he’s in a meeting. I’m not going to make it.
You can do it. Come on. One name. Just one name.
The phone rings. That’s it. I’ll never make it now.
It’s my husband. “I saw your missed call and ducked out of my meeting. Is it urgent?”
“Well, I …” I explain the Caeser, Brutus issue and ask, “So what do you want to be called?”
1 minute to go.
“Barto. Just call me Barto.”
Ding! Time’s up. All this for three names in a blog.
And that is why it takes six years to write a novel.
Next time: Sunrise Court