How NOT To Do A JK Rowling…

2013-08-21 15.56.48It is common knowledge that JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in a café while her baby slept in a pram.

Well, I have a baby and a pram. I could do it too…couldn’t I?

Thanks to JKR I was inspired.  Carpe diem!  Today was the day!  The toddler was at Nana’s house for the afternoon, so it was just me, the baby, and buckets of inspiration.

Armed with a posh new notebook and plenty of ideas, I headed to Costa.

Today, I would begin my Great Novel. Here is what I wrote…


It is not a brilliant start. I have nappies, rice cakes, bum cream and wipes, but I do not have a bloody pen.  I asked the Costa boy if he had one I could borrow but he actually looked at me as if I was mad.  I strongly suspect he thinks a pen is a kind of Italian biscuit. I explained I needed to ‘write something down’ (I even mimed writing) but he just shook his head apologetically. Does no one use actual pens any more? FFS.

Fortunately, a lady at the next table took pity on me and has given me a grubby blue biro from the bottom of her bag. She said I could keep it. I told her that I would dedicate my first novel to her. In hindsight, this may be a bit of an extreme way to thank someone for the loan of a dirty pen.  I really want to give it a wipe with my antibacterial gel but she is watching me and I don’t want to appear rude.

Right here goes…

The good news is the baby is asleep, but the bad news is I am finding it really hard to start my Great Novel while Pen Woman is staring at me.  Does she think I lied about needing to write something down just to get a free pen?

Costa boy is also watching me, I suspect to see what one does with a ‘pen’ but it is all very off-putting.  I bet Rowling didn’t have this problem. I bet she had a pencil case full of pens. I am starting to panic as I know it is race against time before the baby wakes up.  I’ll just write anything while pulling my best ‘deep in thought about something really important’ face, until I am ready to begin…

Costa is very noisy. I bet Rowling didn’t write Harry Potter in a Costa.  It was probably a lovely quiet little tearoom full of little old ladies and spare pens.

Pen Woman is still staring at me.  Maybe she is waiting for me to ask her name for the novel dedication.


Fobbed  baby off with a biscuit. It seems she does not want to sleep in the pram like Rowling Junior so I will have to feed her stuff to keep her quiet while I start my novel (maybe this IS the cause of Obese Britain…wannabe mum authors trying to do a JK Rowling?)

Ok, here goes…I have half a rusk to write the opening paragraph at the very least.

Baby is looking at me covered in rusk/saliva paste.  She does not look happy.  She threw the remaining rusk on the floor so I gave her a rice cake.  She threw that on the floor so I gave her some of my Costa lemon cake. She seems happy with that.  She should be for £2.99 a slice.

Right, here the hell I go…

Or not…

The baby has finished the cake and is doing her poo face.

She  is now covered in cake, screaming and smells like shit.

I think I better go.

To be continued.


One day.

The End.  Not quite Harry Potter.  

I have since tried to write my Great Novel at home but it is pretty hard to concentrate with a toddler trying to climb on your computer and a baby who will not sleep unless she is ON me or in a MOVING pram.  Some days I can’t even urinate in peace, so I guess it was a bit ambitious to think I would be able to write a book.

In conclusion, JK Rowling is clearly one of those annoying smug types whose babies fall into a long, deep slumber anywhere and everywhere, any time, day or night (and it probably helps that she is also massively talented).

Oh well, on the bright side, I am now the proud owner of a dirty blue pen.

UPDATE. Two years later I have now written a book (not in Costa). See below!!


Check out my new book that contains no baby sleep advice whatsoever… Just lots of laughs and tips on surviving the sleepless nights from someone who has been there!

Sleep Is For The Weak: How To Survive When Your Baby Won’t Go The FzZk To Sleep at book shops or on Amazon now!!

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38 thoughts on “How NOT To Do A JK Rowling…

  1. Emily-Jane I love this! Really made me chuckle. I’m a huge JK fan and find her so inspiring but I have sleep thieves too and when I read that about her I thought not a chance in hell would I be able to write a novel while my kids nap! I can barely blog! Nice to know I’m not alone. One day EJ, one day!

    • Thanks. I know right?! Especially in a cafe.. When you are about to drink a delicious hot coffee and you have something important to do.. What kind of baby would allow that!?

      • By the way, I am really happy to find your blog and that you found mine, mine is completely unknown, so it gives me a confidence boost when someone whose writing I admire reads what I write. 🙂

        • Oh thanks! Funnily enough I was thinking the same about you reading mine! I love the piece about being alone in a room of mothers. I can totally relate to a lot of your writing.

  2. Reblogged this on Surviving a Sleep Thief and commented:

    I originally wrote this shortly after the birth of my second sleep thief. Sleep-deprived and on the verge of madness, I had convinced myself that despite the lack of sleep, time and brain power, I could definitely be the next JK Rowling. Predictably, it did not happen.

  3. I agree – publish this blog as a book – David Thorne did it with his and it was a bestseller! And I’d buy it – and give it to every pregnant woman/new mum I know…, because you are HONEST!! and so few are… oh the lies!!
    I agree with other comments – I am so amazed and impressed you are managing to blog. In awe.

    • Ah thanks so much! I would love to one day! Ha do not get me started on the lies!!!! I find writing it down prevents me from going insane with lack of sleep!

  4. I once walked eight hours around Singapore trying to get my baby to fall asleep for long enough to even order a coffee. I stalked the main coffee districts (it’s Singapore, so, all of them) and as soon as he lapsed into sleep I would make a beeline for the nearest coffee shop. He woke up screaming every time before I’d even got to the counter. It was a long day and I never did get my coffee.

    I feel your pain. JK and her smug sleeping babies.

  5. Brilliant! I have been trying to write my Great Novel while the Boy is at pre-school, but most of those three hours are taken up by driving to and from pre-school, getting a drink, getting the Girl drinks and snacks, preventing her from falling off chairs/drinking wee out of the potty I should ahve emptied and logging on to my laptop. That is usually as far as I get. Kids are impossible.

  6. I actually laughed out loud at this, you write brilliantly. Let me know if you ever get a chance to write the novel, I will buy it straight away!

    The one time I tried “a JKR” the flipping coffee grinder machine woke her before we even sat down. Then she wanted the pen more than anything in the world. So my notebook was more of a conceptual art piece than any form of legible words. While she was busy creating masterpieces though, I had a very good think about things for at least 1.5 minutes.

    Keep at it when you can, and more importantly when you want to. But drink the coffee first, yeah? X

    • Ah thank you Penny. Ha your comment did make me smile! That is where i have been going wrong. ALWAYS drink the coffee first – you never know when you might get time for another one!! Oh and the novel is bound to be available in about ten years time….

  7. Think you’re very brave to try and write with very young children. When mine were small I remember I yearned to be able to drink a cup of coffee while it was actually hot. Oh, and the blissful dream of being able to go to the toilet ON MY OWN! You’re a natural writer – direct and amusing. Hold onto your novel lying dream. One day…

  8. Hilarious, honest and brutally realistic depiction of early parenthood. My baby is almost a year old and has never slept through the night. The longest he has EVER slept was one incredible evening where he managed a four hour block. Obviously all I achieved was the washing up. My partner and I are crippled and half insane with exhaustion and lack of sleep. I pray things get better as he gets older but fear nothing will change. I too have no social life or hobbies as am too tired for such things. Sometimes I wake up wanting to cry or scream. Somehow we soldier on- out of love, out of survival. I think a second child would finish us off. I feel that this one is sucking the very life out of me. I too hate parents of good sleepers. I wonder what we have done wrong. I dream of revenge when he is a teenager and I can wake him up at 7:30am on a Saturday morning vacuuming around his head. I love him. But sometimes I hate being a mother.

    • Thanks! I know exactly how you feel. After more than two years or very little sleep (the second almost finished us off but not quite) – I have got to the point where I couldn’t care less about a social life – i am too tired! But i long for just for ONE evening of peace where i can sit in my dressing gown and eat crisps. I love being a mother but some days i really wish i could call in sick….

      • I love your blog btw. Am very impressed you even managed that! I have occasional fantasies of penning the next Harry Potter while sipping strong enough to get me thru the day but not do strong it ruins my breast milk and makes baby even livelier coffee but alas, so far it hasn’t happened! I think mothers (and lots of fathers too) are amazing! I thought working full time (as a teacher) was hard but at least you got covered if you were desperate for a duvet day! Enough complaining though. Think of this experience as fuel or material for your (eventual) first novel?! Rek you could probably get your blog published one day (as a sort of Bridgit Jones meets Adrian Mole meets desperately sleep-deprived mother of two diary) at the very least!? Good luck! You’re amazing! 🙂 xxx

        • Ha I may just do that novel- one day. Try and turn a negative into a positive!
          One reason I did this blog is to find people out there going through or have been through the same thing – waiting it out in the hope that tonight will be better. So thanks for your comments. Sometimes it just helps to know that we are not alone! X

  9. Love this! You’ve captured the feeling of trying to do anything with children so well. My passion is sewing and it mostly happens when the babes (3.5, 16mos, & 3mos) are in bed. You know, before the night wakings start!

  10. Love how well you articulate the hassle of getting ANYTHING done with a baby in tow! I’ve got an 8yo and 5yo and they go back to school tomorrow. From half past nine I shall be writing like a demon.

    Oh, and buy a fountain pen and some funky coloured ink cartridges. Even if what you write is just a shopping list, it’ll look fabulous and brighten up your day.

    • It is literally impossible Lucy! And I take it from the ages of your children it doesn’t get any easier!
      Love the sound of a funky pen but I can not have nice things- my children will find them and destroy them.

      • It starts well – I try writing something. Just as I ponder the next sentence ‘Muh-huh-hum! I’ve done a POO!’ ‘WIPE YOUR BUM THEN!’ ‘It’s a bit sloppy…’

        Once they go to school you get a few hours to yourself. You will need those hours.

  11. You’re doing it wrong: start by having an actual idea/plot. Then walk for hours and hours until the baby finally goes to sleep in the pram. Now you are allowed to go to the cafe, get the cheapest hot drink they sell and write until the baby wakes. How long you have until the baby wakes depends on how much you need the toilet and whether you need to get home in a hurry.

    You clearly can’t go home to sit down because you live in a flat and have to get the pram up stairs: this is impossible without waking the baby and a drink in the cafe is cheaper than heating the flat.

  12. Very brilliant and not unlike my own attempts… managed a couple of short children’s stories that never amounted to anything in my pre-children days but the novel remained – remains – elusive. Oh, with the exception of the title – I have an awesome title! Lol! 🙂 xxxx

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