The Writing Life

Birthday, exams and schedules, oh my! – by Kate Hardy

It’s exam season here in the UK, and my eldest is taking his GCSEs, so my normal working schedule is totally out of the window at the moment. I have a list of when I need to take him to school for exams (school is 4 miles away, and the road is busy and has no path, so I need to drive him), when I need to pick him up, and when he needs to be in school for revision sessions.

So, half the time I’m not even working in my office – I’m working on my iPad in the hotel bar next to my gym (which happens to be right next to school) and transferring the files to the Mac when I get home. The coffee’s good 🙂


Upside? It keeps me off the internet and other procrastination devices. (My editor will be pleased about that.)

Downside? I’m having to work in small chunks, so I don’t get time to think myself into my characters’ heads.

But it’s not just exams that’s making everything up in the air. It’s also birthday season, here. Eldest turned sixteen, two weeks ago. And it’s my husband’s birthday today (happy birthday, honey). So there have been barbecues, trips out to dinner, a houseful of teenage boys (one of whom is allergic to wheat and dairy, so making food they can all eat safely has meant a little bit of experimenting – see the Pink Heart Society tomorrow for details of the best chocolate birthday cake ever), cakes, cake fountains (aka indoor roman candles that you put on cakes – awesome and a half). Oh, and did I mention that littlest is now the lead guitarist of a band, so I’ve been ferrying her around for practice?

Right now, I’m not sure if I’m coming or going. So I’m going to stick to the mantra of the cake I bought for DH for tonight. (Well, OK it’s not my birthday. And I could swear that it said something about ‘keep calm and party on’, or maybe that was the box. See? Told you I’m totally disorganised, right now…)


So tell me – how do you cope when your routine gets totally thrown up in the air?


18 thoughts on “Birthday, exams and schedules, oh my! – by Kate Hardy”

  1. I fail at all routines, so I have nothing constructive to offer, except for being impressed that you can write on your iPad. When I’m on my tablet it totally changes my voice because I’m lazy enough to let it guess words for me to type next. Lalala sure, I can work with that word if I can get it on the screen in one tap!

    Happy birthdays to your family 🙂 Hope things slow down soon, aren’t summers supposed to be lazy?

    1. Amalie – really interesting that your voice changes if you use a different way of writing. If I get stuck, I end up writing longhand! (And thanks for the birthday wishes.) Summer? In the UK? I wish! (Mind you, we have been about the only place today in England that’s actually had sunshine…)

  2. WOW, Kate, your June sounds like my July birthday wise. I was in the exam crazy this time last year with practice exams but by the time The Lad sat his final Year 12 exams, he had his driver’s license and he drove himself. YAY. I look forward to the proud mother moment in a few months when his results are out. Fx

    1. Isn’t it funny how birthdays fall in groups? As for driving himself, I think it’s less stressful (for me) being able to drive him – he’ll be old enough to get a provisional licence on his next birthday, and the very idea makes me come out in hives! (He’s sensible, but… No. I’m not ready.)

  3. My head is spinning just trying to keep up with your blog! It has been many years since I had two teenagers in the house, but somehow I managed. I started writing my first book when son was 14 and daughter 16. Somehow we manage. Maybe that’s what should have gone on the top of your hubby’s cake?
    Happy birthday to him and your son. Not only are you surviving, I think you’re thriving, Kate Hardy!

    (Oh, and WTG to your daughter and her band)

    1. Mm, it’s a bit like spinning plates. (We did actually do that, one birthday – had a magician here and everything, and it was great fun!) Teenage years are interesting 🙂 And thanks for the nice wishes! (Daughter is just amazingly cool. That’s where she stops being a mini-me – and, as she’s taller than I am now, I can’t call her ‘mini-me’ any more…)

  4. Kate,
    Please tell you husband happy birthday from Alabama. I’m there instead of Georgia just to get away and get some work done for many of the same reasons as you. Life does have a way of getting in the way. But it does make us productive when we have a second.

  5. Kate, I’m right there with you. Kids have something on every weekend (fom 2 weeks ago) until the end of June. my head is spinning! Add in an 18th and three other family birthdays…… When we get to Sheffield, let’s just lie down!

  6. Kate, I hear you on the crazy schedule. My middle daughter is home from college and since she can’t drive here in Brazil (she can in the States, thank goodness), I’ve been carting her around from place to place (totally worth it, to have her home!).

    I tend to be a feast or famine type of writer: I either write a huge chunk all in one sitting, or nothing at all. It’s one thing that drives me crazy about myself–I wish I could write in a more sensible fashion. You’ll have to share your secrets for writing in small bits! I would really love to squeeze in a paragraph here a paragraph there–I could get so much more accomplished!

    Happy Birthday to your hubby, by the way. Mine has a birthday this month as well!

    1. Tina – writing in small chunks for me = writing in ‘dirty draft’. No punctuation, no proper sentences, and I’ll tidy it up later 🙂 (That’s the theory, anyway! And then I can polish it when I turn it into proper sentences.) Must be lovely to have your daughter home. And happy birthday to your DH!

  7. My crazy birthday month is Dec – hubbies, DD and mine! Oh and not forgetting the Baby Jesus and all that craziness!
    LOL – you know the upside of writing in a bar, right? Hic! Although that could be a downside too!

    1. LOL, Amy! Nah, I’m driving, so that’d be a downside 😉 Plus it’s right next to the gym, so if any of the trainers walked in I’d get a very hard stare and a ‘I hope that’s green tea in that cup…’ (Noooo, it’s a skinny latte – I really don’t like the taste of green tea, even if it’s flavoured. Fruit tea, yes. Green tea – bleugh!)

  8. Ah, Kate, hugs on the crazy! That’s teenagers for you! Happy multi-birthday month and hope the sun shines for you all! I have no solutions to writing out of routine (because that kind of suggests I have a routine to start with, huh????)

    1. Thanks, Louisa! It was actually sunny, yesterday, which was lovely. We normally tease DH that it always rains on his birthday – I have many memories of holidays at that time of year when the kids were tiny, and having to make a run for it in suddenly torrential rain with a small child in a pushchair… And LOL on lack of routine. OK. I’m officially the geek of the Meds authors. (Though I reckon Scarlet is on the geek team as well – I know she has a spreadsheet/chapter table like mine!)

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