I think even then it was a dodgy question, but at the time I didn't blink. I looked the interviewer straight in the eye and said, 'I'm self-employed. I don't get to be sick.' Needless to say I got the job, which I stayed in for eighteen months until it became clear that although I frequently found myself in situations stranger than fiction I didn't have the time or energy to create any, so I left to go back to my real job.
Today, although the children frequently try to challenge this I write full time. I may not work office hours, but generally I put in more time during the week than I would do if I was a wage-slave. I have, as they worryingly keep saying on the news, underlying health issues, but I work around these. However, last week I discovered I am not proof against parent targeted viruses.
The Panda, now eighteen months, and occasionally condescending to grace a local creche with his presence, has gone into that phase that all parents dread when he is catching every cold and illness known to mankind in a self-determined programme to build his immune system. Everything he catches he bounces back from - he is the original Bounce Back Bear, but everything he catches he also generously passes on to me. And last week he gave me gastroenteritis of a form and a variety that would be classified by the censors as too terrible for viewing even in the worst of horror movies. Not, you understand, that he had it that badly, that was me. I don't think my head actually turned through 360 degrees, but I can't be sure.
So for the first time in forever I've taken a week off. A week because once I succumbed to this illness several others, who had been waiting for me weaken, leapt upon me like a lion on straggler of the pack.
But writers, like any self-employed person, can't get sick. It's not in the job description.
But I'd been working too hard and once down I was out for the count. What has really startled me is coming back to my desk today is to find that I can still make all my deadlines. It seems some skills once learned are never lost.
In the almost forgotten past when there were no mobile phones, I was a commissioning journalist and it seems that the art of defining deadlines has stayed with me. I'll let you in on my secret.
I quote long and deliver early.
I also, like most writers, work very hard. My long deadlines are often seen as short by editors.
Nothing short of total incapacity will stop me from delivering. I was still doing business emails from my bed on my iphone despite an inability to lift my head off the pillow.
So coming back to my desk today I have lots to do, but akin to the refrain of Panda's current favourite tv show I will be managing to get the job done.