Sunday, 31 January 2010

The best that can happen ...

I've got a short story in the next Woman's Weekly Fiction Special (due out on 5 February) - and flicking through my copy, I'm delighted to see that my 'blog friend' Teresa Ashby has got no less than THREE stories in the same issue - fantastic achievement, Teresa, not that it's anything too unusual for you!! - and Geraldine Ryan from Strictly Writing, and Lydia Jones - all bloggers whose blogs I enjoy reading - have got stories in there too. Exciting to be in such good company, and if I've missed anyone else who's in there, give me a shout!

Well, I'll tell you something about this story. The title is 'The Worst that can Happen' and it's a humorous story about a girl who always fears the worst. The idea came from something I always used to say to my daughters when they were children, and were worried about something: 'What's the worst that can happen?'. It was meant to make them realise that even if they'd lost their homework or got into trouble at school, they weren't likely to be expelled or thrown into prison for it! But they'd often reply dramatically: 'The teacher will kill me!' Fortunately of course it was never as bad as that!

Facing up to the worst possible scenario can make us feel braver sometimes ... but it can also have the reverse effect. As a parent, it presents us with horrible possibilities that have to be put out of our minds, otherwise we'd never manage the job. We'd be forever wrapping our kids in cotton wool, scared to let them out of our sight, afraid every childhood fall means a fractured skull and every sniffle is the plague. These fears are part of being a parent, of course, but we can't let ourselves focus too much on them.

And just as you get to the point where your kids are all grown up and you think: hooray, they're adult, they're settled down, married or whatever, they're safe - I can relax ... (not that you ever, entirely, stop worrying about your children - as every mum knows!) ... along come the grandkids, and all the old anxieties return! Is he OK, is he too hot, too cold, sleeping too much or not enough, is he crying because he's hungry or has a pain, or just because he feels miserable? I'm re-living all this now along with my daughter ... but, of course, the pleasure and joy of seeing little Noah growing up far outweigh any of the natural concerns of parenthood/ grandparenthood! I wouldn't change it for the world!

Here's Noah with me at Christmas, and a couple of pics from recent weeks.

Believe it or not he'll be 5 months old next week - where has that time gone? He smiles, laughs, rolls over and is almost sitting up on his own. He loves his bath and has already been taken swimming ... and best of all he loves bouncing on his feet in his new Christmas-present bouncer - so much so, that he now wants to bounce on our legs whenever we hold him on our laps: his poor mum has bruises! He's absolutely gorgeous and a credit to his lovely mum and dad - not that I'm at all biased, obviously!

Having brought up three gorgeous daughters, we never had any regrets about not having a son ... but now we've not only acquired the three nicest sons-in-law we could have asked for, but also a (literally!) bouncing baby boy. And that's why, despite the title of my story, I've called this post 'The Best that can Happen'!


  1. Oh, Olivia, Noah is absolutely gorgeous! What a beautiful boy! I just want to hold him and squidge his cheeks! You forget how small and cute they are that age. You must be so proud of him.

    I think that's why I like working at the nursery as I miss contact with the little uns. I used to love holding the babies at the GP surgery too - I don't often get chance to hold a baby any more - it's very sad!

    I drive myself to distraction sometimes worrying about my Isobel and her two cousins - It may sound odd but I view my sister's kids as my own and I know she feels the same about Isobel. I cry at the slightest thing when it comes to kids too - especially when I hear about those that have been abused and hurt - the poor children of Haiti had me howling - I just wanted to pick them up and bring tham all to my home to care for them. I still do.

    That's how we have to view our writing,isn't it, Olivia? Instead of thinking what's the worst that can happen - which usually sends me into a spiral of thinking about rejections and my inability to write and lack of writing talent! Yet if we say what's the best that can happen? Well we could get published and get paid for our work - high five, yay! The simple change in attitude makes all the difference doesn't it!

    Enjoy that little Noah! They don't stay that wau for long do they!

    Julie xx

  2. Oooh I forgot to say well done Olivia, Teresa, Lydia and Geraldine on getting your stories into the mag! You are all such an inspiration to me and I adore reading your stories - they give me hope and an excellent standard of writing to work towards myself.

    Great stuff!

    Julie xx

  3. I haven't had time to read it yet (am looking forward to curling up with it later), but I got very excited when I saw your name on the front cover - "That's my friend Sheila - I know her!" (well sort of) Lovely isn't it :-)

    I so identify with your post. And my goodness I could hardly believe Noah is 5 months already - it seems hardly any time that we were waiting for news! And he really is absolutely beautiful and so bright and you look every inch the proud nan x

  4. What a gorgeous, GORGEOUS baby! No wonder you're so proud of him.

    And congrats on the stories too :)

  5. Thank you Julie - yes, I am so proud of him and he is such a gorgeous cuddly boy! I'm sure you must love working at the nursery, and I bet you're brilliant there with the little ones! And you're right about our writing- it definitely helps to look on the bright side and be hopeful.

    Thank you Teresa - I didn't want to mention about the front cover really as I think you all deserve that honour far more than me, those of you who are such prolific short story writers. Not that I mind the honour, of course - it's very nice and I feel very humble!

    And thank you Kate - yes, where does he get his genes from?!? Must be his beautiful mum and handsome dad.

  6. Yay!!!!!! I can comment. I guess the problem was my knackered old lap top.
    Npah is still gorgeous.

  7. Sorry I was so excited that I can comment here again that I didn't read through what I had writte. It is of course Noah that is gorgeous I have no idea who Npah is.

  8. Yay!!! SO glad to have you back, Colette! And glad there was not a serious problem with the blog - I'd been wondering! Poor Noah's not quite himself today - got a rotten cold, bless him. But of course, that doesn't stop him being gorgeous! And Npah is no worse than 'Mobi', which is what comes up when I type his name in predictive text on my phone! x

  9. Hi! Thanks for the mention, Olivia. Isn't it lovely when you receive your copy of a mag and think: yay, there's lots of my writing friends in here! Congrats Teresa - it's almost like a TA special this time around!And I agree with Teresa's comment : when I saw the cover, I thought: Sheila Norton - I know her!! Julie: it's not long ago I used to get the mags and read Teresa's and Della's stuff and think I'd never get there but now sometimes I do and if that's what you're aiming for, you will too. I've seen quite a bit of non-fiction from you, recently, so well done on that.
    Noah - what can I say? Enjoy every minute - I know you will! x

  10. Yes, it's lovely to see people we recognise in the mags, isn't it Lydia! And you're right about Julie, she is cropping up all over the place especially n the writing mags!
    Thank you, yes I'm loving spending time with Noah. Sometimes doesn't seem possible I'm a grandma already. But I'm very pleased!

  11. I worked my way through the WW Fiction Special over the last few days, and really liked your story. The family playing rounders was such funny scene.

    Lovely pics of you with Noah, by the way. x

  12. Thank you Joanne! It's so nice to hear that people have read a story and enjoyed it.

    As for the pictures, Noah is the scene-stealer, I think: I'm only there to hold him up!! x

  13. I just bought the latest WWFF and read your story first, Sheila. Loved it!

  14. Thank you so much, Womag! I'm so pleased you enjoyed it. I love writing humorous stories but of course, never sure whether other people share my sense of humour!