Friday, March 04, 2011

The Writing Life Part 2: reality

Recently, I posted what I expected or dreamed my life would be like writing full time.  I think the fact that it took me twelve days to post the follow-up should tell you something :)  Here's the reality:

Wake up -- I'm actually impressed this happens at a reasonable hour.  I don't set an alarm but I've learned that I pretty much get out of bed just after JP leaves the house in the morning (which can throw me off if he leaves early for a meeting).  He still doesn't believe this is the case (me actually getting out of bed) and he's been known to email me when he gets to work to see if I'm at my computer.1  He doesn't know I put my iPhone on the bedside table because I'm wise to this trick of his :)

Some mornings I'll read in bed because sometimes that's the only time I'll get to read all day and I've fallen SO VERY BEHIND.  Or because I'm reading a book I can't put down which is always an awesome experience.  Once I'm up, I drag on clothes -- whatever's handy (aka yoga pants and a t-shirt).

Let the dog in.  Give the dog his pills.  Follow dog around to ensure he swallows said pills (usually not a problem).

Check email -- I'd like to do what John Scalzi has done and put a moratorium on email until after my words are written but... I'm not that disciplined (yet - I live in hope).  Checking email first leads to wails of despair at how very far behind I am and then I try to get through some of them.  I might spend an hour on this.  At the end I've accomplished much less than I feel I should have.

Listen to cat barf.  Finish up email real quickly before going to clean up barf.  Forget about barf.

Cook breakfast -- lately I've been on an eggs kick.  So I go cook eggs and then eat them while reading the news.  Send snippets of news to JP which inevitably start email conversations that trickle back and forth through the day.

Remember cat barf -- go find it and clean it.  Ignore Dog's sad look that I wouldn't let HIM be the one to clean up cat barf because in his world that's considered a delicacy.  Let dog out.

Check to-do list -- yes, sometimes I add things to my list just so I can check them off and feel accomplished.  Here's a sampling of my current to-do list:

  • sign and mail books to editor
  • mail books from contests (figure out contests and what to mail)
  • send paperwork to mortgage company for refinance
  • clean house for appraisal (took a solid day)
  • design/order tour schwag
  • update website (yay! it's in the works!)
  • email two friends to set up dinner/lunch
  • taxes (collect and organize all data -- print out bank statements)
  • take Jake to vet for hip analysis (turns out he has a torn ACL, which means I must research repair options and schedule surgery)
  • figure out how to get people to new facebook page
  • answer interviews (STOP AVOIDING some interview questions just because I'm crazy late on them and so very very embarrassed)
  • set up goodreads contest (figure out if page was fixed).  Check in on Goodreads contest, tweet about it.
  • check in on contracts for secret project (yes, SECRET PROJECTS!!!)
  • call for estimates on home repair
And then of course the perennial stuff: go to store, drop off/pick up dry cleaning (to be fair, JP usually does this but mostly that's because he's the only one with dry cleaning), go to the gym (ahahahaha, this still makes me laugh), run errands to post office, drop by local indie to set up pre-order signing, blog, etc.  There's also the bigger stuff: revising short stories and books, writing short stories and books, etc.  And also things like reading for blurbs, reading for friends, reading for research, critting, etc.

Let the dog in.  Move coffee table out of the way so that dog can approach the couch from the other side in order to avoid the Mean Sleeping Kitty (it's either that or listen to him whine and our dog is a Champion Whiner).

Try not to stress about phone interview from newspaper.  Keep checking the clock to make sure I am Prepared and Ready for phone call when it comes.  Do interview, totally enjoy it and hang up with sense of excitement and glee.

Attempt to make some headway on the to-do list -- realize around 2pm that (a) I haven't eaten and (b) I haven't written (well, written on any of my writing projects).  Figure out food -- whatever I can scrape from the cabinet.  Realize I can't go out in public because I'd have to shower and that would take Too Much Time.

Skype with friend re: book (mine or theirs, take your pick).  Friend has AMAZINGLY perfect idea for the idea I've been toying with.  Drop everything to write up a synopsis and send it to my amazing agent.

Dog barks: UPS man here!

Turn on MacFreedom to enforce some internet-free quality time.  Get words written.  Hopefully.

Agent's emailed back!  Engage in banter with him about exciting idea.  Remember yet again how much I adore my agent (Jim McCarthy at Dystel & Goderich).  Day dream about exciting idea.

Aim to go to the gym at 4:00 before the after-work crowd.  Perhaps arrive at 5:15 along with the after work crowd.  Fight way onto elliptical and read or listen to writing podcast.  Eavesdrop while in the sauna.

Or, due to aforementioned timing, just turn on the xBox kinect and dance :)  Dance, dance, DANCE!  Realize how out of shape I am after fifth pass through Poker Face and pledge to hit the gym tomorrow.  Or, if it's a gorgeous day, I'll take a walk (can't wait for dog's knee to be fixed so he can join me again).   

Get back to writing.  Neighbors are home -- dog wants out so he can bark at them.  Let dog out to bark because he only has one week of freedom before surgery and eight weeks of being cooped up for recovery and he should have fun while he can.

Spend two hours trying to cobble HTML into a facebook landing page (it worked! Check it out here! And while you're there you could always hit the like button :)  

JP comes home.  Run towards the door with dog in excitement to see him (dog stops to pick up a toy offering making me feel empty handed).  Babble about day because I like to Talk and I haven't been able to do Enough of It today.  If it's still light out, maybe take a walk through the park.  If it's late, throw something from freezer into the microwave and sit down to eat, watch an hour or so of TV and then read before bed.  

Rinse.  Repeat.

That's pretty much what my days this week have looked like.  The week before last I travelled Thurs-Fri which involved a delayed flight, missed flight, and sprint through the airport to catch the last leg home.  I think all told I figured I'd been traveling for 21/39 hours.  BUT, I was able to get a big chunk of a short story written during all the delays and that made me Very Very Happy!

This post describes what I call a "drafting" day when I'm not overly crunched by deadlines.  My revising days always look different and my "Deadline Is Looming days" put a lot more emphasis on the writing.  Right now I'm waiting on edits from my editor and am trying to tie up a bunch of loose ends before heading out on tour so my days are a bit more scattered than they are otherwise.  Or at least, it feels that way.

I shall have more to say on this topic soon (and feel free to ask any questions in the comments!)

1 BTW, he doesn't really check in on me to make sure I'm working -- this is really a joke between JP and I more than anything else. I'm extremely lucky that, because he also writes, JP understands the ins and outs of my job and is phenomenally supportive.


Chelsea said...

I was telling a friend a few weeks ago how stressful being a ft writer was, and she looked at me like I was crazy and said she would have so much time to clean the house and gets things done if she got to stay home all day like I did. LOL. If only.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the insight Carrie! We've just got a puppy and boy has that changed things around here. Do all authors have to write their own html? I guess so *yikes*

S.G. Browne said...

That's great. Couldn't have said it better. I don't always manage to live up to my own Ten Commandments of Writing (no Facebook before word count) and I often realize it's lunchtime and I haven't written a word. But you laid out a fabulous account in the day of the life of a writer.

Carrie Ryan said...

Chelsea -- Oh, yes, I thought I'd have time to clean. AAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Kangaroobee -- With a new puppy you just add "let the dog in/out" to every other phrase :) And most authors don't do their own html, I just kind of like pecking around in it and figuring things out so I try little things.

Scott --so glad my day looks familiar, makes me feel less crazy :)

Leigh said...

Whoopie! I thought it was only me who spent their days like that. My cat has spent the day torturing a mouse. I don't know if I can intervene but it's putting me off my editing. Ugh.

Carolyn Abiad said...

Last month my son wrote "pie" on the window here next to my desk. You know - fogged it up and then had some fun while he was trying to get my attention. Lovely spring sunshine is streaming through it now and poking me in the eye. Sigh. Where's the windex?

Unknown said...

Ha! The husband sends me emails too, just to see if I actually made it out of bed before 9! :D

Tez Miller said...

Your dog likes to eat cat vomit?

ACL - if I hadn't known better, I'd swear Jake was an elite human athlete to get an injury like that! Do dogs play soccer? ;-)

Anita Saxena said...

I had ACL surgery last year. I hope it is less painful for dogs than humans. I wish him a speedy recovery, and you the best with your upcoming tour and secret project.

Outlook Exchange said...

Your list of work looks to be long! Anyway loved reading through your post!

Unknown said...

Thanks a lot mate, great help Regards.
free wordpress themes
blog Wordpress themes