It’s been a while since my last post, well a week, and that’s because I have this blinking virus I just can’t shake off.
Two moves in 8 months, two boys, a husband, two dogs, a business, a charity and two books to write and I think that I am a bit on the burnt out side.
Nothing bad, just in need for some reflection and R&R and realising that I am not super mum and from time to time I need to turn off.
That said, today, SJ de Lagarde features on TRP’s I Don’t Know How She Does It’ and I don’t!
I hope you enjoy reading how she does it, as much as I did and remember to get some time out for you this bank holiday weekend.
Hello! I’m a mum of two kids aged 6 and 2 trying to juggle a full-time corporate office job and pursuing my passion as a writer. I’m half Dutch half German, born in France and have been living in London over 10 years. I guess this European mix comes in handy during football euro cup season as it increases my chances to support a winning team four fold…although come to think of it, I don’t really care much about football (sorry fans!). Apart from that I have a penchant for psychology and all things mental.
Job / business details
By day I sit around in meetings, try to take notes, come up with sensible corporate speak, write strategic business plans and wonder why I go to Pret A Manger everyday to order the same cheese and tomato croissant. By night I try to write a sequel to my first novel ‘Solacium’, a young adult psychological novel about my childhood friend who got diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and murdered someone. As a kid I was an introverted bookworm with a pale complexion and you would find me hiding behind a pile of books rather than playing with other kids. All that reading paved the way for me wanting to write my own one day. It took 20 years for the story to come to me but then it did and ‘Solacium’ was born, one word at the time.
How do you start you day?
By being woken up by either my nosey little black cat, my ‘ I’m a morning person’ husband or one of my over-excited kids. I’ve forgotten what a lie-in is to be honest, don’t think I had one in 6 years. I generally fall out of bed grumbling and I crawl to the coffee machine for an espresso shot just so I can open my eyes.
What is a typical day in the office – does it exist?
I have two jobs. A 9am to 6pm corporate office job and then I start my second shift from 8pm to until I fall asleep. I generally spend the second shift, after the children have gone to bed, replying to reader emails and social media posts and finding alternative ways to promote my book ‘Solacium’. And if I’m feeling particularly inspired I’d try to pen a few words for its sequel. More often than not I fall asleep on my laptop and wake up with the marks of the keyboard imprinted on my cheek.
What plans do you have for your business in 2017?
I’d love to raise more awareness around mental health. When I first visited my childhood friend in the mental institution he’s locked up in he whispered, head hung low, ‘I ruined everything, my life is worthless’ and his confession instantly drove tears to my eyes. The condition had robbed my friend of his future, his friends and family. I promised him there and then that I would write his story down and make his struggle known as a cautionary tale to raise awareness around the fragility of our mental health. While it’s too late to reverse the terrible crime he committed, perhaps we can help someone else get the professional counsel they need. And that way somehow this could lead to his atonement.
Do you think Brexit affecting your business?
Yiiikes. Brexit might have an impact on me being able to remain in this country as I came here on a Dutch passport but I hope that since I’ve been here for over 10 years it shouldn’t be too hard to be allowed to stay. There’s always the 85 pages to fill out to become a permanent resident… 85 eye-watering pages though… I hope they’re going to sort out a shorter online version soon!
What do you find the most challenging thing about being a working parent?
The guilt! I always worry that I don’t spend enough time with my children. It’s hard to be passionate not just about the day job but also have an all consuming desire to write and read. Luckily I’m blessed with a husband who supports me a 100% and who spends just as much time with the children as me and has bailed me out so many times I lost count.
How could the Government make things easier?
The government could support working parents by offering more funding towards childcare services. I’m lucky that both my children benefited from nursery care but I can see that fundings keep getting cut and as a consequence nursery spaces are being limited. This is not helping parents go back to work.
What is the most challenging aspect of running your business and would you ever go back to being an employee?
I would love to be a full-time author, but at the moment it really wouldn’t pay the bills so I’m not giving up the day job anytime soon. Some days when I allow myself to day dream big, I imagine striking gold and getting a backer to make a ‘Solacium’ movie. Like JK Rowling and EL James. Fame and fortune! My imaginary Oscars thank you speeches generally get interrupted by one of my kids screaming at me about wanting to watch Peppa Pig or needing a nappy change. The glamour. So at the moment I’m just trying to pen a sequel to ‘Solacium’, cross my fingers and hope for the best.
You are juggling a lot of balls, how do you do it?
Discipline and hard work, there’s no secret. I try not to sacrifice everything but I had to make some painful decisions not to see my friends as regularly as in the past to make time for my children and my projects. Being well organised is vital to success. I have a big nerdy whiteboard in my kitchen where we write up all the key events happening during the week so we don’t miss out on anything. I also live with my iPhone in my hand and stopped watching TV.
If any actress could play you in the film of your life, who would it be and why?
‘Solacium’ is based on a true story and I can see this becoming a movie! I would totally cast either Jake Gyllenhall, Zac Efron or Ryan Gosling to play the role of main protagonist Jay and his tragic love interest Sophie could be played by Emilia Clarke, Emily Blunt or Emma Stone! I would obviously be in charge for castings and yes I have a crush on Ryan, Zac and Jake and oh my god I so need this movie to happen!
‘Solacium’ is a coming of age, Donnie Darko meets The Notebook type story. A true story about star-crossed teenage lovers Sophie and Jay, partying their way into adulthood until one of them goes off the rails and commits a brutal murder.
The novel tackles the taboo subject of mental illness and its impact on the people we love, further it delves deep into the mind of a schizophrenic and reflects on the loss of innocence and the power of forgiveness.
Check out ‘Solacium’ at Amazon and if you fancy talking about how you do it all, get in touch and I would love to know more.