by Rebecca Drake
Answer: “Ooh, how exciting!”
Question: What comment invariably follows the reluctant admission that I’m a full-time writer?
So, here’s a little snapshot into the exciting life of one full-time writer:
You forcibly remove all distractions (i.e. small and large people otherwise known as family members) from the house. Lock doors and pray that no one comes back to retrieve something. Retire to desk and plant bum in chair.
Stare at the computer screen and try to remember that this is what you love to do.
Ten minutes pass so slowly that you’re convinced something is wrong with the clock. You’d better check. Fifteen minutes and one call to the computer store later you discover that this is, in fact, the correct time.
Stare at the screen some more. Think about your protagonist and how you want them to sound brilliant and witty and full of life. You write two sentences of dialogue. It’s flat, dull prose and you picture a reader throwing the book down in disgust because the heroine is an idiot. You wonder why you ever thought you could write. You delete the sentences and then you have second thoughts and retrieve them. Next to them you write in caps, FIX THIS! and corral it with brackets.
There, you’ve accomplished something. Surely it’s time for a break. But you promised yourself that you weren’t going to do that, you’re going to *&@3$ well stay in this chair and write.
Only you’ve just noticed that a plant’s withering in a corner of your office. You can practically hear it gasping for breath. You’d better water it right now.
Okay, focus. Stare at the page. You realize you have only five hours left until you’ll have to unlock the door and let the small, noisy and demanding persons back inside. You set to work with a vengeance.
Deeply absorbed in killing off a character you’ve loosely based on the most obnoxious boss you’ve ever had, you’re interrupted by the buzzing of the phone. It will be one of three callers: The school, a relative, or a friend. None of these calls will be urgent, but they don’t hesitate to interrupt you because everyone knows that writing is far too exciting to qualify as a real job.
You will gnash your teeth about this, thus wasting five precious minutes, before taking out your anger on that character. In the end it will help—it will take seven pages for that character to die and you’re so impressed by this scene that you’ll wonder why the Pulitzer people aren’t beating a path to your door.
Once every few weeks you treat yourself to a trip to the local coffee shop where you always see the same group of “artists” in residence on the comfiest chairs discussing the magnum opus that each of them have in process. They’re still there when you leave an hour later. You understand why they’re there and not, say, at home actually working. It’s just too exciting.