Mondays, I write. In my day job, I’m a freelance copywriter, and since landing a two-book deal with Simon & Schuster, I’m trying to keep one day a week free to pretend I’m a famous author. That involves taking the kids to school, doing some laundry or whatever other chore Mrs Jones allocates and then writing until 6.30.
Tuesday-Friday I do do the day job. And if I have the energy, I try and fit in one or two short writing sessions of maybe 2 hours in the evening.
And then on Sundays, I do a good half day at my desk.
Except it never quite works out that way.
Last week for example, I had to work at the day job on Monday because I was taking off a day and a half at the back end of the week. I had my very first book signing, you see. It was an amazing experience, I travelled up to Liverpool on Thursday afternoon, answered questions in Waterstones with the adorable Jane Costello and Iona Grey, and then (slightly hung over) travelled back to London on Friday morning. I’d planned on writing on Friday afternoon, but the edits had come in for the U.S. translation (Zucchini, Eggplant, ‘What’s a Womble?’) of The Two of Us. So instead of progressing Book 2, I found myself once again editing Book 1.
And I didn’t get any work done in the week because I was practising my reading for Liverpool. But I’d make up for lost time on Sunday, right?
What’s that, Mrs Jones? … We’re visiting your folks this weekend? … You never told me? Oh, did you? … Sorry.
Luckily, the in-laws and their daughter are very accommodating and understanding, so I took my laptop up to Coventry and snuck in a few hours after all. Not as many as I’d hoped because I had to spend a couple of those hours finishing off the U.S. edit (serial commas, small caps, ‘Does “Hank Marvin” mean Starvin’?). But I wrote a scene that – I think – worked out quite well.
Monday was a bank holiday, we drove back from Coventry to London, my youngest vomited in the back seat, and then I had to fix the eldest’s bicycle. Life, they call it.
It’s all wonderful stuff – book signings, foreign editions, blog tours – and I do have to stop now and then to remind myself to enjoy it. But it’s also quite stressful. I have been given a tremendous opportunity, and whist all the stuff around Book 1 is great fun, I can’t neglect Book 2. I have a deadline and – as they tend to – it’s getting closer.
It’s the official launch party for The Two of Us on Wednesday, so there will be no ‘work’ done that night. And the paperback goes on sale the following day, forget about getting anything productive done on Thursday. To make up for lost time, I slept in the spare room last night and set the alarm for Horribly Early a.m. so I could fit in a couple of hours writing before the ‘day job’. I was slap bang in the middle of an anxiety dream when the bastard went off, and it felt as if someone had pulled my brains out via the nose and stuffed my skull with wood filler. For the first 40 minutes I just stared at the computer, eating a banana and sipping my coffee. But then I got my fingers working and picked up the scene I left on Sunday. It was slow going. And just when I thought I was beginning to make progress, I realised I’d written myself into something of a narrative cul-de-sac. I felt like I’d trapped my characters in an argument that I hadn’t intended – and I didn’t know how I was going to resolve the situation and get the scene back on track. If I’d had another hour, maybe, I could have found a way out. But it was 8.00 and I needed to jump in the shower, kiss the cats, feed the wife, and tickle the kids behind the ears before running out of the door. Chaos.
I left the house feeling more than a little grumpy. I was exhausted, and all for what – 700 words that I was probably going to have to delete. But then, as my train (crowded, obviously) pulled into the platform, it came to me. I knew the line that would fix my scene. And the funny thing is, I doubt I’d have come up with it if I’d stayed sitting in front of the computer. I’d have come up with something, but not this particular line, which – if I’m allowed – I feel pretty happy with. For now, at least. I’ll drop it in tonight, after we’ve put the girl’s to bed.
All I need to do now is find time to write a blog post…
Many thanks to Andy and Simon and Schuster!