Here is what people think it’s like to be a writer:
You wake up in your bohemian bedroom at midday, well-rested after a wild night dancing at a launch party thrown by one of your writer friends. You were plied with champagne and free books and you looked outlandishly amazing in a designer gown sent to you by a famous couturier.
You breakfast on fresh fruit and mint tea and then spend an hour doing yoga and meditation. Perhaps you’ll pop into your local bookshop to sign some copies of your bestselling novel, and the sales assistant will be so excited to meet you that she will cry or simply pass out on the floor. (If this happens you will probably drive her to hospital in your sleek sports car, because that’s the sort of girl you are.)
In the afternoon you will sit on your spacious balcony, overlooking the sea, and you will write thousands of words. The inspiration will come to you like the waves crashing on to the shore below you – regular, powerful; immense. You will feel the creative juices flowing like golden nectar, and you will be so immersed in your work that you will forget to eat. That’s fine anyway, you need to be able to fit into your gown for tonight’s launch party.
At the party you are photographed for the local media and people come up and tell you that your novels have changed their life. You will glow with fulfilment and joy, and will dance until three a.m. when your chauffeur comes to whisk you home.
Here is what it is actually like to be a writer:
I wake up at 7am in a cold sweat because my novel is a complete mess and I seem to have completely forgotten what to do when this happens. I feel like a mouldy old banana skin after days holed up in front of my computer. I wonder what normal people have been up to and decide they’ve all probably been dancing at glamorous parties.
I eat a lot of carbs so that I can face the day ahead. I go to my local bookshop and note that they still aren’t stocking my book. I pretend that’s fine. The sales assistant thinks I am a tool and wishes I’d leave her alone.
In the afternoon I’ll put on twenty sweaters, and my dressing gown, and maybe a hat, and I’ll plug in the electric fan heater. I’ll shut the door and hope that I will be a bit warmer shortly. (An hour later: I am not warm.) I wait for the creative juices to start flowing but nothing happens. I go and eat some more carbs; that normally helps. I write a thousand words of absolute tosh and get on to twitter where all my writer friends seem to be writing about twelve thousand words per minute. I log off twitter and eat some more carbs.
I go to a launch party. It is my first in months and I am worried because I have forgotten how to have conversations with other human beings. I get there and realise that my dress has a hole in it and whenever people talk to me I get so excited that I start jabbering like an alien. People walk away in fear. I watch other authors do the same. Everyone is avoiding the authors. I don’t blame them. We all look mad.
I try to catch a nightbus home but realise I have no coins in my wallet. I text my boyfriend who is asleep. I get a cab and feel a bit guilty about the money. I eat some carbs and pass out.
It’s a glamorous job! But in spite of all the above – all of which most writers will recognise, I’d imagine – I wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world. The feeling of holding my own lovely book in my hand is indescribable and the privilege of being able to entertain people, to make them laugh out loud, or stay up until 2am reading my books, is like nothing on earth.
I’d better go and plug in the heater. It’s time to shut myself in my room to write. Wish me luck! And I hope you enjoy my book . .
Stay tuned because I will be posting my review of Lucy’s latest book, A PASSIONATE LOVE AFFAIR WITH A TOTAL STRANGER on Wednesday.