Saturday, 13 August 2011

WRITING BY LOAFING

          Years ago – no, decades ago – a friend, learning that I was a writer, looked at me, amazed, and said, “But I thought writers  lived in big white houses on hilltops, dressed all in white, and lay on a white sofa, drinking white wine…  And now and then they’d go to a white typewriter on a glass table, and tap out a few words.”
          I laughed so hard I dropped me chips.
Ghost Dance by Susan Price
          This week a friend asked for a favour, and I explained that I'd find it hard to help because I was so busy: publishing on kindle, blogging, doing admin and trying to finish my third Sterkarm book before University starts again in September.  “Oh,” she said, “I didn’t realise you were busy.  I thought you were probably lying in the sun, with Davy passing you chocolates, and keeping your glass filled with red.”
         Something like 30 years separates these remarks, yet the idea remains – writers live a life of ease, loafing about, never besmirching their white robes – except with red wine and chocolate.
          Where does this idea come from?
           Both my friends, when asked to write essays or reports, considered they were working hard - doing research, making arguments, revising.  Yet, obviously, they don't think I've done anything like that to write the 60 books I've published. My writing isn't work.
          Possibly my books are written by Elves.  Or Blot.
          Whereas, in fact, a recent day of mine went like this:-
           Got up about 8-00, went straight into room next to bedroom, switched on computer and spent next two hours tediously scanning pages of my OOP book, Ghost Dance, converting it to editable text and correcting.  Ate breakfast at computer.
£1-71 Kindle Store
           Went downstairs about ten, switched on laptop, made coffee.
          Put in load of laundry.
         Spent next two hours updating my website with details of my newly published kindle book, Ghost Song.  Also checked emails, did admin for the Kindle Authors UK Blog (and checked to see whether Speilberg had been in touch.)
          Attended to laundry.
          Took exercise books and a pen to a quiet pub, where I wrote for three and half hours. 2,500 words that I almost certainly wouldn’t have got written at home. Lots of concentrating, thinking, crossing out, rewriting, making notes to self.
          Home about 5pm, attended to laundry, did washing up, switched on laptop and carried on working – websites, emails, admin, editing - until after 9pm.
           This is pretty typical - a 13 hour day - though the mix of writing, emails, admin and so forth varies.
          I’m lucky, I know.  I don’t have to wait for buses in the rain or snow, or walk through riots.  I can go and work in a pub if I like.
          I don't think I work harder than anybody else. I don't think the work I do is more valuable than that of others - in fact, I know that neither is the case.
          But, y'know - I do work.  I'd just like people to recognise that. I work hard, I work long - and I don't even own a white sofa.

         And, after that long gripe - here's Blot.


12 comments:

madwippitt said...

Sounds like you have been confused with Barbara Cartland. Have you been wearing pink feather boas recently and calling everyone "daaaahling"?
And did you know your font size has increased or is merely this a method of expressing in a loud print sort of way the strength of your feelings?
One other thing - I'm not sure this page is working properly either as when I tried to pick up one of the scrummy choccies my fingers just slid off it ... or is this another crool food tease?

Gigi said...

Aha! So that's what I've been doing wrong...perhaps I should go down to the pub for a couple of hours :-)

Joan Lennon said...

And that doesn't even include all the story-thinking, -fretting, -dreaming, -nightmaring, -brain-storming, -brain-addling time ... Our hourly rate has now moved into the realms of quantum!

Miriam Halahmy said...

But I thought the elves DID write your books - oh, ok, ok, wrong again!

Lovely post although the chocolates were massively distracting.

Linda Strachan said...

Yup, couldn't pick up those chocolates either! Obviously something is badly wrong here!

OK so where is MY white sofa? nobody told me about that either, or those elves everyone else seems to have....

mumble mumble mumble, back off to chew on some words.

Love Blot!

Katherine Langrish said...

Yes, if only the book words just floated into one's head, whispered at dictation speed by the muse, while one lay on one's white couch in a sort of lovely trance for a couple of hours every morning - and then you got the rest of the day off.

Huh! Also, yeah,right. As if.

Juliet said...

I've just finished reading Ghost Drum on holiday, and I loved it. I'm so pleased to see that there are two more!

Susan Price said...

Thank you all for commenting! Sorry I haven't replied until now - Blogger has been refusing to let me in!
Those chocolates were pick-up-able when I posted them! I shall have to go and kick the elves again.
And Juliet - you really know how to make an author's day! As soon as I can get my brother and cover-artist to make the tweaks he promised, I shall epublish the third Ghost World book, Ghost Dance. Any day now...

elsiewho said...

I'm very excited to read Ghost Song! I will have to pick up a copy tonight!

Grin... that image of the author is so pervasive, I've even heard it repeated by aspiring authors who half-believe publication will lead them to a life of leisure. I wonder why it's such a strong myth?

Susan Price said...

Elsiewho - I can't imagine why people think writers are rich and idle! I've been writing for 40 years and I've never had a sniff at riches!
I'm very pleased to make your better acquaintaince! Went over to your blog, and so agree with what you said about creating alien 'warrior' races or 'merchant' races. Nonsense, isn't it. Most 'Vikings', for instance, were stay-at-home farmers. Would have left a comment, but site kept timing out. Another day!

diebooth said...

Well, I think you work harder and do more important work than a lot of people, but then maybe I am biased! I really sympathise with these frustrations. People can't seem to get their heads around the fact that just because you enjoy your work (for the most part) it doesn't mean it's any less hard work than another job. And the hours ~are~ longer - you can never clock off when you're a writer, because you're always thinking about stories.

Blot is awesome as always - made me laugh out loud again!

elsiewho said...

Very pleased to make your better acquaintance as well!

Thank you so much for stopping by the blog and I'm so sorry that the site kept timing out for you. Fist shake at Wordpress!

Even though I can certainly see how it's easier to just think of an entire race or species having a monoculture, it's really something I don't want to do! It's not easy, though.

Oh, now I totally want to read about Viking farmers <3!