All My Worldly Joy

By Laura Wood

A memoir of motherhood and mental health

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Short days, long months, writing and not writing

Dearest 317 supporters,

It feels like the 317th of January - how is it still January? - and I just wanted to check in, really, and say that I haven't forgotten you. Thanks for being the invisible cheering crowd that I envisage when I hit the brick wall of "I can't do this."

I did lots of bookwriting in a frenzied burst a couple of weeks ago. My friend Nikki and I went to the Isle of Wight for a writing weekend (well, I was writing; she was marking essays and nursing a cold). Three nights is the longest I've ever been away from Arthur and I was uneasy about it, but it was good: I wrote 5000 words and had a marvellous walk on a windy beach. I can't tell you how satisfying it was to really get down to it and write uninterrupted instead of nibbling round the edges - although I've clearly done more writing than I thought I had: I ran a word count of the entire manuscript in its unshaped, rambly notey form - 56,000 words! I took home a particularly good pebble from the beach to remind me that I am perfectly capable of writing when I'm allowed to do so. I must remove myself like that again fairly soon. It's how I'll finish this book.

(holding my pebble aloft in triumph)

It's just as well that I went when I did: the past couple of weeks have been incredibly intense with mental health work: disseminating the perinatal peer support principles, helping to supervise a PhD study on peer support, plans for a forthcoming pilot of a peer leadership training programme, a meeting on infant mental health care, a talk to health visitors who champion perinatal mental health, plans for a piece of work on peer support sustainability/funding and another on peer support in mother and baby units, not to mention the three events I'm presenting at in the last week of January. I daren't contemplate February or March, to be honest! And I'm still doing a couple of history bits alongside. I'm oscillating between excitement and overwhelm, and I am exhausted, and yet all this isn't a distraction from the book. It informs the book, because the book isn't just about me.

I apologise if you’ve noticed that I’ve been a bit distant or quiet lately: it’s a busy spell and my hatches are well-battened. When not working, I’m processing furiously toward this book, and burrowing deep into hobbies to maintain my sanity and general levels of functioning. I’m very into my creepy doll collection at the moment, and also a music generator app, and combining the two… Anyway, I won’t start on that because if I do I’ll never stop and you’ll all be frantically scouring the Unbound website, like: “How do I unsubscribe from this bizarre monologue?!”  

Hang tight and I hope to see you soon.

Love,

Laura x

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