The juggling life of a writer

Lovely Oregon. Setting for Dead Letter Day and its yet to be named sequel.

Lovely Oregon. Setting for Dead Letter Day and its yet to be named sequel.

I was discussing with a fellow author a few days ago the difficulties of finding quality writing time in our busy day to day lives, and I am sure this is something most others working on novels can relate to.

Unless you are one of the lucky few, whose books have sold so successfully you can afford to write full time, you will probably have a day job eating up a huge chunk of your week. I had one of these when I was writing Dead Letter Day, but was fortunate that it was nine to five-thirty and fairly stress free. Now I have been promoted and have a much bigger workload and a lot of responsibility sitting on my shoulders. Add to this a boss who uses words such as “disaster”, “catastrophe” and “nightmare” on a daily basis and most evenings when I leave work I want nothing more than to unwind with a hot soapy bath and a bottle of wine.

At the moment the day job pays the bills and quite rightly they expect full commitment while I am there. I am not lying when I say I have seriously contemplated jacking it in and getting a job in the local supermarket, so my “me” time can be spent full focusing on my second book and not worrying that I have forgotten to do something crucially important in the world of contracting. It’s still not ideal though, so I will continue to juggle work and writing and hope that one day the second one will pay well enough to allow me the luxury of going part time.

In addition to work, you have to find time for family and friends. Some writers I know have the commitments of a young family to contend with and I applaud them for being able to get any writing done at all. I have no kids – unless you count the two furry monsters that live with me and demand frequent feeding, litter changing and attention – but I still want to find time for my family and friends. They have all been so supportive of my writing career, I can’t neglect them.

Housework has gone out of the window since my book was published. While my desk at work is chaotic and the inside of my car looks like “Steptoe’s Yard”, my house (well actually, it’s more a shoebox) has always been my little bubble of serenity. Everything has to be clean, tidy and smell good. Not so much anymore. The carpets are barely visible under a layer of Lola fluff, my bins are overflowing, there are socks outside of the linen bin and a pile of washing up is gathering by the sink. It’s driving me insane, but a little voice chirps away in my head, telling me to ignore it. The book is more important.

Finally there is marketing. I already have a book out and I need to do everything possible to keep it in the public eye.  The marketing side is great and I really enjoy promoting the book, but it is very time consuming, as I am sure other authors will agree. There are myriad websites offering book promotion opportunities and it is very easy to lose an entire weekend plugging away blogging, reviewing and updating. And it pays. I have noticed that if I am very active online reminding people about the book, my sales improve. Whenever I take some “me” time and focus on writing the sequel, my rankings suffer. Add to this contacting press, bookstores, libraries and book clubs and marketing can easily become a full time job.

Now I don’t want anyone reading this blog to think I am complaining. I have been handed a wonderful opportunity and with the publication of Dead Letter Day, my ultimate dream came true. I feel very lucky to have the above dilemmas and I wouldn’t change any of it for one second. I am a writer and the need to write and the frustration at not always being able to write is just making me vent a little while I try to put some order into my life, so I can get everything done.

This weekend I am going to do my anal Virgo thing and have boxes. There is a little box for the marketing, which involves this blog and a couple of posts on Facebook, another box for the housework, which I will be doing as soon as I have finished the marketing bits. My house needs to be clean or my brain will go into meltdown. Then the rest of the afternoon, this evening and most of tomorrow I have kept free to write. Likewise, I will be doing the same over the bank holiday weekend. I have even turned down an invitation to go to the pub next Sunday afternoon. See how seriously I am taking this? I know the letterettes are desperate for the sequel and I want to deliver one that won’t disappoint.

I am not an author who can manage five minutes writing whenever I can snatch the time. I need to lose myself in the plot of my book and the lives of my characters in order to bring them to life. So this afternoon I am off to Juniper, Oregon.

See you later, folks.