A Writer’s Life

Sometimes I will hear people say ‘I’d love to be a writer, it’s such an easy life.’

They’ve been fooled by all those accounts of Hemingway and Fitzgerald lounging in bed till midday , writing a book in the afternoon, then going out and getting riproariously drunk in the evening.

They say ‘just a few hours work, what could be easier?’

Well, there’s the research, you say. Hours and hours of it, if you’re writing something outside your field. Even if you are writing something you know lots about already, you still have to study people, sit and watch them.

Ok, watching and reading. Easy enough.

Then there’s the actual writing. It’s actually physically painful – RSI, sore hands, headaches. Not to mention a head constantly full of new ideas thronging through your mind, twists and turns and new plot ideas, and ideas discarded. I’ve been writing all this week and my hand is in a lot of pain, and my head aches.

You can’t run inspiration 9 to 5. I’ve done it, and you’ve done it I’m sure – got up at 3am because there is something you just have to write then and there.

And the rewrites. Over and over and over and over again. Honing and perfecting and polishing and its never quite right. (The very first time I saw a piece of my work in print, my first thought was ‘I wish I could re-write that.’ I always think it)

Even holidays are just time to gather more material.

Anne Perry once said, at an author’s talk, that she works 10 hours a day.

So no, I say to these people, a writer’s life is not an easy one. But if I could do this full time, I wouldn’t care how busy I was, I’d love every second of it.


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