Monday, 4 August 2014

Guest Post: True response to 'How would you describe a typical writer's day?' by Claire Sandy

Today I'm taking part in the What Would Mary Berry Do? blog tour and am thrilled to welcome author Claire Sandy with an entertaining account to the question I'm often guilty of asking, How would you describe a typical writer's day?

The first thing you need to know about novelists is that we're all liars. 

Why do you look so surprised? After all, novels are just great big lies; it's all made up! All  one hundred and twenty thousand words of it! It never happened.

Obviously, most of the time we use our powers for good; we write books that, hopefully, amuse, move and intrigue our readers. But the other time we lie is when we're asked that perennial question: "How would you describe a typical writer's day?"

Firstly, there's no such thing. For anybody. Even when I had a 9-5 job every day was subtly different. And secondly, writers can't tell the truth about this. Because it would entail telling you all the stuff we do to avoid writing.

Yes. We struggle and yearn for years on end to get published, and the moment the signatures on the contract are dry we search for Ryan Gosling on Tumblr, or take the dog for a walk or attend to some genuinely urgent hand washing.

I often hear of writers rising at 6am, or beavering through the small hours while the house slumbers around them. D'you know why? Because their deadline is rearing up in front of them like a maddened horse and they've spent the last six months watching kittens fall over on YouTube. If we sat down and worked out how many words a day we had to write in order to deliver a manuscript on time, the daily amount would be do-able. But we don't make that calculation because we're far too busy enjoying an Escape to the Country omnibus or shopping online for leggings.

There's an old saying that goes "If you want something done, ask a busy person"; I'd amend that to "ask a novelist". We shy away from the work we're so crazy about in order to give people we barely know lifts to places we don't want to go. I will drop my character in the midst of an engrossing scene in order to go out in the rain to buy a single avocado. With a week to go before I hand in my final draft, I'm the one saying "Yes! Fab idea!" to the suggestion of a day out at an arboretum. 

So don't believe those 'day in the life' pieces. Pooh pooh those claims of sitting at a laptop for hours on end.We're all on Twitter, swapping inspirational quotes about writing.

No comments:

Post a Comment