PG Wodehouse dedicated his short story collection The Heart of a Goof to “my daughter Leonora, without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time.”
I’ve been there. My son, now 6, does a wicked imitation of my most overused phrase: “Hang on! I’ll be one minute.” He thinks I’m playing on the computer. (Sometimes he’s correct.) There’s a riot of language, plot and character going on in your head, and one small, cute child at the door. How to switch between them? Well, you do it by living a double life. One minute you’re getting down & dirty in a pile of Lego blocks; the next, you’re back in the world of your fiction.
The double life is, of course, the same for all workers who are also parents. I know miners and professional rugby players who are as gentle as lambs at home. And I know one ruthless New Yorker who holds court at board meetings by day and spends her evenings doing animal impressions and wiping up baby drool.
By one of those quirks of life, I did the lion’s share of the childcare when my son was a toddler. As a result, I got used to writing either late at night or early in the morning or both. The morning is supposed to be better for creative writing: you’re closer in time to the dreamworld. But pragmatism rules. If I get six hours’ sleep, that’s good enough. Caffeine does the rest.