When I am thinking about Being A Writer, often while reading Paris Review interviews, or blogs, or biogs, or whatever, I have a view of it as such a leisurely thing. Coffee and loads of fags. Breaks, and night time working which means lie-ins. Long chats with others who are Being Writers all about Writerly Things. In this place the days pass slowly and the afternoons are long and sunny but not too hot. We’re all wearing quite nice trousers and having good hair days. It is cushty, and not really a Proper Job.
It is not like this: alarm at 6.20 so there are 40 minutes of editing something you are sick of the sight of before school run. A second shift and a third shift. And when that’s over, lying in bed worrying that it isn’t enough, someone’s going to read it and spot something and say something bad, so it is out of bed, and creeping to the computer in case you wake someone up who will want feeding.
I get sad about it. Being A Writer involves feeling bad too much of the time. Insufficient, in-confident, embarrassed. No-one asked me to do it, so I should stop, and shut up. I have these urges to delete now and again, and that always happens when the going is tough. It is kind of shameful to write about it like this here, but I am committed to writing about what writing is like on this blog, and what it is like sometimes is Toil, Drudge and No Fun at All.
I want cocktails and holidays! I want to go to Blackpool and play Bingo! I want to get pissed. Quite a lot, actually. I want to do something other than shuffle words about, read them, and teach other people how to shuffle them, and then come home to smug emails wanting to discuss how word-shuffling can’t really be taught anyway, so that’s six hours out of my week wasted then, is it? Oh and by the way there’s a typo on page 239 of your first novel and I’m looking forward to seeing your next, and here’s a book you Should Have Read and I’m offended you haven’t linked to me and Please Help Me With My (insert literary project of your choice here).
Bingo! Cocktails! Steak! Gin!
So, alarm at 6.40 as well as working from 8pm until midnight. And feeding. I am a vending machine for milk and novels.
(woe! sayeth The Author)
I like Cat’s Eye because Elaine Risley, the artist narrator, has her children young and has to stay up all night to paint, and the sleep deprivation makes her feel sick and her husband tells her to not to stay up late, and she says, ‘well, when else would I do it?’ I can’t tell you (okay, I can) how much it fucks me off when people call writing about domesticity small and dull and female and uninteresting. I wonder how many artists and writers and inventors and computer programmers and doctors have been lost to laundry and hoovering.
Luckily, my Mr is much better than even the most fictional Mr, and brings tea, and leaves the car for me even when it is his turn to have it.