Thursday, October 13, 2011
A Day in the Life
So you want to be a writer? In God’s name, why?
Here’s how my day went yesterday. I’m on my last draft of a book and I’m typing it onto my laptop for emailing. I could have just written it on the laptop to start with but Mr. Lappy doesn’t have a printer so I type on the old system, which does have a printer but isn’t compatible with any system created after 1995. “Working with stone knives and bearskins,” is how Mr. Spock put it in a Star Trek episode once. It’s a lot of extra work, I know, but I need the print draft because scribbling notes in the margins gets messy on a screen. And when I get bored I can play computer games, which isn’t productive but sure is fun.
So I’m typing my final draft, making changes as I go. Extensive changes, as it turned out. I’d type a couple hundred words, re-think the previous paragraphs, then go back and delete about half of what I typed. Then restructure the remaining sentences. Then go play computer Solitaire for awhile.
This is my third draft. I should be able to just type the thing into the system without all this reworking. It should be polished at this point. Why didn’t I just write it correctly the first time?
Well, it’ll all be over soon. The book should be on its way to the publisher by some time next week. Unless I rewrite the ending again. I’ll probably do a final pass on the sex scenes. You can never have too many sensory details, but you can have too many adverbs. Many games of Solitaire later, it will finally be finished and out of my hands.
After that … I’ll probably just dive into the next one and sweat buckets of blood all over again.
Why do I do this to myself? It can’t be for the money. At this point in my career, I could probably make a lot more panhandling, and my income would be tax-free to boot. I do this because, painful as it gets sometimes, it would be even more painful to stop. I need to tell stories, and I’m egotistical enough to want to share. It’s a compulsion, like banging your head against a wall.
Sounds like a fun life, doesn’t it?
Then there are the perks: you make your own hours, you can work in bed with a cup of hot tea, and you can type in your ratty pajamas or even in your undies if you feel like it (or nekkid if nobody’s looking). You don’t have to look busy when the boss stalks by or put up with coworkers stealing your lunch from the fridge. You stare at a screen and make up stuff and, if the planets correctly align, you get paid for it. Does that sound like the coolest job in the world or what? Except for the rewriting part.
I should just scrap this whole thing and write a whole other post. And you want to be a writer? Good luck.