FEATURE That pile of unwashed dishes today could lead to the website of tomorrow. How I had something to show after avoiding the housework

My Geek Streak

I made the website because I didn’t want to go the supermarket.

I also made this website was because I suddenly woke up to the fact that my ISP had promised us 50 megabytes of free web space. I also realised that my el cheapo DTP software could design websites.

Well, these were the motivating factors but there were more elevating reasons.

If you’ve read my bio, you will know that I am turning 40 this year and that my youngest child has started full-time school. So there is more time available NOT to be spent looking after kids. I could use that time cleaning the house, doing the groceries, sprucing up the garden or going to the gym.

Or I could get a job.

Now, if like me, you are a housewife who has not worked in an office for most of 10 years, the prospect of getting a job is daunting. Factor in the 40th birthday, the fact that all my networking has been done on the queue of the local supermarket and you might understand why getting a job induces just one emotion: terror.

So I decided to try to work WITHOUT getting a job. I used to be a journalist and I hope my ability to write has not been diluted by the number of spurious letters I have authored beginning with “Dear Teacher, My son couldn’t do his homework because I made him plough the fields yesterday ...” So I thought I could try my hand at writing fiction.

Well, I have been writing. Lots. There are mountains of laundry waiting for my attention and still I write. Now the day has arrived that I have enough completed work to start approaching agents and publishers. I did a lot of research on how to do this. One of the pieces of advice was to include, with your query letter and your manuscript, a bio. A sheet about yourself.

“I want ... to know anything relevant about you that will persuade a publisher to buy your book,” writes literary agent Carole Blake in her book From Pitch To Publication. “If you are seventeen or seventy-five, say so: both extremes can be selling points ... If you are a single mother with triplets, writing every night whle the children sleep, say so. It suggests tenacity and a passion for writing ...”

Well, that fired me up. I set about preparing my bio, in the process, unearthing the body of work I had been unknowingly building up through the years I have been at home with the kids. The stories I had written for my kids, the cartoons I drew when I was pregnant and the stuff I’ve written for the school newsletters and other publications. All the things I’d done over years of procrastinating over housework.

I thought of all the mothers with triplets working at whatever they do while the chidren slept - writing songs, painting or like one mother I read about, even designing websites. And I decided to make this website.

The Web has been my window to the world when I have been most frustrated with domestic life. There must be other mothers out there with the same dreams and aspirations.

I have discovered that the site looks different depending on the version of browser software you have, your hardware and the way you access the web. Broadband surfers get the site pretty much exactly the way it was designed but dial-up surfers find bits and pieces floating around the site. Small screen users also find the text too big, and large screen users find it too small! Apparently, I could fix a lot of these problems by writing the html instead of using my DTP software.

So I have begun reading up on writing html (the one I’m reading which makes html seem so easy to understand is HTML Goodies by Joe Burns). I am learning to animate images, create a guestbook (look out for it!), and add sound and video.

Uh-oh. I think I have discovered a new avenue for creative procrastination

Written in March 2002, for the launch of Mum at Work website

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