There comes a point in every author's journey (at least, I think there does. I mean, I might be large, but I'm not every author, although I must admit, on a bad day I do look like several authors have been rolled into one person, clothes included. And hair.) when they sit down in front of a bleakly empty page and think
"what the hell am I doing this for?"
and then they go away and have a long think, because if there's one thing authors love, it's procrastination with a good excuse.
Because, for all the surveys that show that 110% of the population wants to be an author, and all those people who stop you to tell you they've started to write their novel, it's a tough job. And I speak as someone who spends up to eight hours a day standing behind a till in the local Co Op. Which is easy, compared to writing a book, even when the till breaks down and someone who has clearly already drunk more than is advisable is trying to buy a litre bottle of very cheap whisky with someone else's ID...
Writing a book takes ages. I know some people can write a book in six weeks, but it takes me six to nine months. And even then there's the beta reading and the two or three rounds of editing and the proof reading. In that time you have to give up any meaningful hobbies, the house gets filthy (yes, all right, mine's filthy all the time but......ummm...no, no excuses. I'm just a slut) and slowly all your friends stop speaking to you. Because you only talk about plot holes and characters who don't exist, and events which never happened and never will happen because they are all in your head.
The pay is nothing to write home about. I've got nine books published and my total royalties last year didn't even cover my rent. So doing it for the money is a no-no, unless you are massively successful or very lucky, or have someone to help pay the bills. Seriously, if you're a single person and you have to pay the whole house-load of bills, plus run a car and buy food, don't even think about using writing to make money. It might pay for a nice holiday, for one person. If you like camping and Camber Sands .(Actually I've never been to Camber Sands. It might be lovely. Or it might be a description, like those road signs that say 'Adverse Camber'. Maybe they are just really slopey sands.)
You have a great idea for a novel. You start said novel, get 20,000 words in and realise that great idea wasn't so great after all, it was more of a 'thought', and it certainly wasn't enough of an idea to sustain 90,000 words, and the 20,000 you've already written are pants anyway and why don't you just put the TV on and watch EastEnders instead? And have a bun, because you've already got Writer's Bottom, your buttocks are creeping off the sides of your chair and heading for the floor, and you never wanted to write that stinky book anyway.
But somehow...just somehow...when you've decided that writing is just a way of wasting time whilst looking as though you are busy.... those ideas just keep creeping up in the back of your mind. And, before you know it, there's a cast of characters knocking on the back of your brain and demanding to be let out, and this really amazing idea that you want to see if you can work out, and that place you went to last weekend would make a great setting for a story, and people are asking when your next book is coming out and...
Off you go again.
Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng - Celeste Ng’s second novel Little Fires Everywhere is out today in the UK and I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour to celebrate its publication. ...
1 week ago