Thursday, September 17, 2015
A Day in the Life
Ahhh, the life of a writer. Nothing but glamour and raking in money. Bet that’s what you’re thinking. Yeah, I wish. Maybe if you’re James Patterson. I hesitate to say Stephen King in the same sentence as “glamour,” though he’s still raking in the money.
I am a writer. I live in a mobile home. I’m writing this in bed, on my laptop, wearing a nightie. I’ve got a clothes rack in the corner where my underwear’s drying because I did laundry the other day. Glamorous enough for you?
I’m sure my lifestyle is the reason I haven’t hit the Patterson or King levels of income yet. What am I doing wrong? Let’s have a look.
How a writer’s life should go—You get up early, ready to rock. You only get dressed if you feel like it. You grab your coffee and something for breakfast and then you go to work. That means parking your butt in front of a keyboard for however long it takes to meet your quota of pages or words, whatever you’re aiming for. That can go anywhere from three to twelve hours. In addition to the actual writing, you’ve got edits to work on and queries to send to publishers and agents. The money’s not phenomenal, but you’ve got enough coming in to cover the bills and occasionally take a vacation. It still beats the hell out of dealing with bosses and co-workers. If you’re imaginative, driven, and anti-social, this is the job for you.
How a writer’s life usually goes—You get up and go to your day job. If you have a family, first you get the kids off to school. Then it’s eight-nine hours of doing what pays the bills. You might be able to get some writing in before you go to work, and maybe a little over your lunch break. When you get home you fix dinner, play with the kids, maybe pay attention to the spouse. While the rest of the family’s watching TV, you’re at your table in the corner, writing like mad. You’ve got a bunch of things on the market but nothing’s sold yet. No response from the dozen agents you queried last month.
That’s okay. You have faith in your latest endeavor. The plot excites your imagination and the characters have started acting in ways you never expected. All you have to do is finish it. This could be the one!
How my day goes—Up some time between 5 and 6 a.m. Some days I’m up earlier because I took a pee break around 3 a.m. and couldn’t fall back to sleep. Might as well get up. Get my cup of tea and maybe a banana. Dammit, have to write a blog today. Okay, that’s done. Write or play computer games? Maybe I’ll read a bit.
9 a.m.—time for breakfast. Eat something while parked on the couch watching the Supernatural reruns on TNT. Write during commercials. Or read. I haven’t vacuumed in at least two weeks. Do the dishes? Nah, let ‘em sit.
Oh hell, I’m running low on milk. Better make a grocery run. Gotta post the blog first. Go to the library because I don’t have home internet. Post the blog, check emails, then fiddle around for two hours. Get groceries before I go home. I should take a shower.
We’re into the afternoon now. Time for a nap. Or I could write a bit. Let’s see what’s on TV first. Flip channels for awhile. Eat lunch while watching American Pickers. If I make my characters antiques dealers, I can call this research.
Hit the library again to re-check up on emails. Sales are pathetic. Think about doing marketing. Go home and eat dinner. Mow the lawn if it needs it. See if anything’s on TV. If not, read. Go to bed until around 3 a.m., when the bladder gets me up again.
Did you see a lot of writing in there? Me either. Now we both know why I’m not very successful at this.
It’s not always as bad as I made it sound. Some days, when I’m hot on a project, I can go for four-five hours. Other days, zip. I go off on aimless road trips or get caught up in cleaning the bathroom. It’s amazing how fast you can use up a day doing nothing.
These days I have the freelance stuff, which comes with deadlines and regular pay. I’ve already devoted full days to that. Call it my day job. I’ve been on a bit of a block lately, but I still manage to squeeze out at least part of a page before I go to “work.” I’ve never been very fast or prolific.
Maybe I should just give up on novels and go into scriptwriting. Then when I turn on the TV, it’s “research.” Or I could cancel cable. No, I’d only read.
Because writing is damned hard work, no matter how much or how little time you spend at it. Creating whole worlds and putting believable people in them wears you out. You spend all day in your head. Just when you get into the groove, you have to stop and answer the phone or go to the bathroom or deal with your family or eat something. Looked at your butt in the mirror lately? Oy.
But you still get to choose your own hours, and you don’t have to leave the house or even get dressed if you don’t feel like it. I’ll take that over glamour any day of the week. Now all I need is a steady income and I’ll have the perfect life. How about it, folks? Who wants to send me a dollar?