For this post I decided to deviate from my norm and go with a more tongue-in-cheek example of a typical day in the life of an aspiring author. Although, I'm using examples from my own life (albeit they aren't entirely literal examples as I'm not really writing about ninja robots, my daughter doesn't cause me to become that exasperated, I like my job more than I let on, and I don't swear like a sailor). Still, I feel some of these little writerly quirks of mine may be relatable to some of you and I invite you to comment with typical days of your own (or blog about it if you want).
6:30 a.m.--Your rat bastard alarm clock goes off rousing you from your dreams of "the next big thing". Sparkly vampires are out; ninja robots are the next big draw. Annoyed, you hit the snooze button in the hopes of learning more about these butt-kicking androids so that you may commence work on the series that will launch your career. Hey, it worked for Stephenie Meyer, why can't it for you too?
6:40 a.m.--That damn alarm clock goes off again. Thank God for snooze buttons. Bring on the robot ninjas, you think as you fall back asleep to the smell of fresh ink drying on your epic publishing contract.
6:50 a.m.--Ten to seven! With only thirty minutes now to get yourself out the door, you curse that traitor of an alarm clock for allowing you to oversleep while promising yourself that you'll go to bed earlier and take a break from the WIP you've been working on since it magically popped into your head while driving (causing you to narrowly avoid hitting a lamp post).
7:10 a.m.--You hurriedly stumble around the house, nearly tripping over a stack of notes and research materials you've been referencing to ensure your work is historically accurate. Promising yourself that you'll buy a folder to organize your notes more thoroughly, you make your way to your daughter's room to ready her for preschool. While getting her dressed, you contemplate a major revision in the plot you put together for your ninja robot saga which you think is sorely needed and inadvertently put her shirt on backwards. Assuring her it's good to go against the grain every once in a while, you go back to mentally envisioning your new plot twist and how to make it gel with the rest of your novel and whether you should put your old WIP on the back burner.
7:30 a.m.--Finally, you're on your way to your day job with barely enough time to spare. Had you had the luxury of being a full-time writer, you'd already be at work right now. Promising yourself that this time next year things will be different and you'll have that all-important book deal inked, you begrudgingly pull into the parking lot to start a new day.
8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.--Between taking calls from clients, dealing with office drama (a/k/a awesome writing material), and meeting deadlines, you find your desk papered with post-it notes depicting strokes of genius in dialogue, quotes, writing resources, agents' names and addresses, ideas for future projects and the last shreds of your dignity. With as much typing/handwriting that you've done today, you can't help but think that this whole writing thing better pan out before you're diagnosed with carpal tunnel and are forced to strike keys with a straw in your mouth.
12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.--Lunch. The one solace available to you during the day. Thankfully, you've brought your laptop and can retreat into your writing. Too bad your coworkers don't feel the same way. Instead of making headway, you find yourself bombarded with questions: "What's your story about?" "Why robot ninjas?" "How did you come up with that idea?" "When can we buy your book?" "When you sell it, are you going to quit your job and buy a mansion?" Answering politely, but secretly thinking to yourself, shoot me now, you finish lunch with your word count two words higher from before lunch began.
1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.--Rewarding yourself for being ahead of schedule, you take a "mental health" break from work and surf the web. After checking out the blogs of other writers and excerpts from their work, you get a pit in your stomach. When comparing your work to theirs you realize that you have a much longer way to go than you think. Your mood switches from one of utter confidence to one of utter despair and then to one nothing short of pure annoyance as your coworker comes into your office to chitchat about the cute thing her cat did last night.
5:30 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.--You're home; time for writing...After your make dinner, do a load of laundry, give your kid a bath, feed your flatulent dog, spend quality time with your family, shower, iron your work clothes, clean up after dinner, take a call from your mother, explain to your husband why you won't hit it big by next week, fold and put away the laundry, get some exercise in to get rid of that roll you mysteriously acquired over the last month, and feed every living animal in the house including Gary, the snail, who you believe croaked about two weeks ago but don't have the heart to tell our daughter.
9:01 p.m.: With the kid in bed and the husband passed out, it's go time. Let's get it on!
9:10 p.m.--You hear your daughter's bedroom door squeak open. Here we go again, you think to yourself . Your daughter's footsteps draw nearer as she saunters into the living room and states that she can't go to bed without a glass of water. Putting your laptop down, you oblige hoping that the water will somehow keep her confined in her room, but knowing that you're not that lucky.
9:25 p.m.--Just as you're in the throes of a ninja robot/werewolf android battle scene that hit you on your way home, you hear the familiar squeak and prepare yourself for the next set of demands from the munchkin. As it turns out, she spilled her water all over herself...and her sheets. Starring longingly at your screen, you force yourself up from your laptop with visions of werewolf android disembowelment dancing through your head.
9:34 p.m.--The sheets have been changed and your mini me is now tucked away in a dry bed. While changing her sheets an epiphany struck you: Werewolf androids are so 2010. Your new antagonist will be of a zombie variety. Thump, thump, thump. Here she comes again. Since she ended up wearing most of the first glass of water you got for her, another one is requested. Rummaging through your cabinet, you find a sippy cup and consider it a foolproof plan. Back to the zombies.
9:47 p.m.--"What now?" you bellow to yourself. "Mommy, look what I can do," your daughter proclaims a la Stuart from MADtv. You begin to wonder if Adam Mansbach was secretly spying on you for his inspiration when he wrote his brilliant bedtime story Go The F*ck To Sleep.
9:48 p.m.-10:30 p.m.--All is quiet on the Western front. Now that you finally have time to yourself, you return to your harrowing battle scene that--in your humble opinion--makes those in the Matrix look like nothing more than slap fights. About a half-hour into it, you're noticing that you're making good pace and begin referring to yourself as the Carl Lewis of typing. Of course, just as you start to get cocky, you find yourself smashing into a brick wall. For the next twelve minutes, you find yourself starring into space contemplating whether or not certain words you just typed are even real words. Really, what the hell kind of word is obligingly?
10:31 p.m.--After a quick Google search and dictionary entry, you find out that obligingly is in fact a word and you're not losing it after all.
10:32 p.m.-1:00 a.m.--With roughly 1,015 words into your breakthrough novel, you break the cardinal rule of first drafts by rereading and editing the holy hell out of it. After you've hacked/slashed/and mentally burned paragraphs, sentences, conjunctions and adjectives--including "obligingly"--you have now ended up with 274 "good" words for the night and one killer migraine.
1:01 a.m.--Looking at the clock for the first time in three hours, you realize that you now have just over five hours of available sleep time left before you have to get up for work in the morning. Reluctantly, you shut down the laptop, pull yourself up from the couch (where a permanent indentation of your keister remains) and go to bed. You're going to pay for this in the morning. But hey, at least your alarm clock has a snooze button.
My next post will feature a return to the norm: The please don'ts of writing sex scenes. I hope to see you there.
*For those of you interested, I've been thinking about doing author/aspiring author interviews and posting one per month (unless I find the interest to be higher than that) on my blog. If you're interested, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.