A Writer’s Life For You

06.05.15 (Day 500 / 57)

13.42

500 days of writing the blog. Readers have always been welcomed to my world and if you’re reading this, I’m grateful for your continued interest.

I can’t speak for too many of my peers but when I describe a day in the life of this particular writer, I am also describing that of many others, at least insofar as few days are the same and no day in writing is like a typical, conventional working day. But to us it’s work and this is one of us, on one day.

Normally, I’ll get up at around eleven in the morning: I said we don’t work normal hours. The nights are usually very late, or early morning affairs for various reasons, chief among which is that I’m at my most creative, imaginative and creative when I’m relaxed and chilled out. More of that later, in this post and later today.

The first order of the day is to get to the local shops for whatever provisions I need for the rest of the day: booze, tobacco, food. With everything in, I’m secure in the knowledge that I have all I’m likely to need around me and that I won’t have to go out again.

Then coffee: a 34 fl.oz keg of strong coffee with twelve sugars and lots of Coffee Mate. The keg keeps the coffee warm for around ten hours, which is the length of my average working day. Sometimes I’ll get distracted and only commit a couple of hours to writing. Other times, I’ll be on a roll and can write for sixteen hours straight. I’ll grab some brunch, which is usually a pain au chocolate or a bacon croissant – with the bacon cooked in the microwave of course – and have that with coffee at my writing desk while I go over the notes I’ve made the previous day. The notes can be to-do lists, ideas for short stories, rough hand-written drafts of stories, or the same for the next novel. Then I’ll get to work and that’s where no two days are the same. I’d be a pretty boring and repetitive writer if I churned out the same material every day.

I’ll almost always be playing music in the background. Favourites at the moment are Bran Van 3000, Emiliana Torrini, Imogen Heap, Cradle of Filth and Sophie Auster. It’s background music but music can influence me and give me ideas. Obviously the kind of music can influence the type of writing I produce.

There’ll be interruptions throughout the day, with people wanting to see me, so I might take the odd break and descend to the bar but the working day is sometimes one which knows no bounds, so I often have to decline all but that fold-up daughter, who just folds up in a corner and doesn’t need me for anything other than company while she waits for her parents to get home. She often can’t go home before they’re back, so she comes to her adopted dad. She has her uses, chief amongst which is reading my output and giving me feedback.

I only wish others were as understanding as the little fold-up one. She can see that I’m busy when she’s here, so she just lets me get on with things. Others are persistent, insistent and pressurising. Often I can’t make plans and prefer to do things on a whim. The constant interruptions throw me off course and cause me to lose time and sometimes, patience. If I say that my presence somewhere depends on the outcome of an event, I clearly need to wait to see what the outcome of that event is before I can commit. Unfortunately, not everyone is as fond of my fold-up sidekick as me, so we can’t go together to some of the places I’m invited to and I feel a responsibility towards her over others who have others themselves where she has few. 

I’m usually working on more than one project; normally the work-in-progress novel and at least one short story for a magazine. Often I’ll fill in gaps and get the creative process started by writing a blog post, which is pretty evident here. Like my literary hero, Paul Auster, I’m happy if at the end of a working day I’ve produced one page of finished copy. Two pages is a bonus and three, rare. What ends up as one or two pages might be a chapter of the book or a short story. Before reaching the finished stage, either would be far longer and will have been edited down. I might go through three or four draft versions of something before I’m happy with it, so one page at the end of a day may have involved writing four times the end result. A typical page is about 500 words, so on some days, I’ll write perhaps 2000 words: a fairly typical output for a writer.

Constant top-ups of coffee, lunch, dinner, 40-50 cigarettes, alcohol and other substances fuel the day and as well as the actual writing, the work includes self-promotion, book promotion, social networking and research. Research can be via books or the internet, as I look into myriad subjects to be come learned enough in them to be able to write about them with a degree of authority. At the moment, I’m researching epoch events: scenarios which could be mass extinction scenarios. Of course, writing is mainly fiction in my case but there needs to be a basis in fact. Arguments have to be authoritative. An author needs to understand their material.

When not working, leisure activities can contribute to the writing process: I have many clippings from newspapers and magazines which have given me the basis for material. Similarly, I may watch a movie or a TV programme which gives me an idea. I always have a note pad by my side and the notes I make are filed with the media clippings for future reference. These are what I will go through at the start of a day, look through them again and decide if they have merit. I’ll start with the bare bones of a story and put flesh on those bones to produce the finished product.

At around 3am, I’ll crash out, ready to start all over again the next day.

So writing really can be a full time job if it’s one’s chosen path and it’s the path I’ve chosen. There are few if any rewards at the start but we have to just keep plugging at it, writing as much as possible and getting ourselves out there and eventually to market if we’re to be successful. And for me, it’s all I’m realistically able to do. And I’m doing it in the hope that one day my kids will be proud.

Welcome to my world.

Incidentally, I may have mentioned that I need to sell books. To that end I’m doing as much promotion of The Paradoxicon as I can. It now has its own Facebook page and can be bought on Amazon via the Facebook page or my website. Both need visitors, likes and shares, so go here:

www.facebook.com/theparadoxicon

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2 thoughts on “A Writer’s Life For You

  1. I will promise from now to try and stop worrying about you. I will not text to see how you all the time as you say this pressures you and I don’t want to do that. All I will say is that anytime you feel like doing like you said you would and come down here and chill you are welcome at ‘Meg’s Place’ as you call it.

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