Life outside of writing? It doesn’t exist.
I question whether it ever really existed. Every now and then a vague recollection will surface. I’ll scrunch up my eyebrows and try to remember what life was like… before.
Am I complaining? Oh, no way! I love my writing life, but my current day-to-day routine is far removed from my father’s favorite piece of biblical advice (the one he plays on loop whenever I visit): all things in moderation.
Really? Nuh-uh. Not me.
So what’s this life like? Let me lay it out for you, friend.
The thing that takes the most time: being a publicist. Hey, that’s not writing, you may protest. Oh, but it is. You see, I’m a book publicist. Perhaps my definition of writing is a bit more gratuitous than yours, but believe me, marketing is the part that takes the most energy and commitment in my writing process. If you don’t know that now, you’ll know soon enough (unless you’re not a writer and have no intention of becoming one ever).
As a publicist, I read clients’ books, offer-up suggestions for promotions and sometimes improvements, draft book club discussion guides, script and produce book trailers, create and maintain author websites, teach the world how to do social media, and write the occasional blog post. I also answer, what, an average of 100 emails per day? No, I’m not exaggerating. So all of that equates to, I dunno,8-10 hours per day, 7 days per week.
What else makes up my writing life? Writing, sometimes. And editing my own work.
What is not included in my writing life? Relationships with non-social media people, including my stubborn anti-Facebook hubby. Attention to my poor under-walked Golden Retriever. Housework (I’m not really too sad about that one). Reading books for pleasure–last year I read over 60 books. This year, I’ve read 10 so far! Leaving the house, that doesn’t happen anymore.
And now for two of the saddest absences: sleep and health.
My brain is always on. I love what I do. Abso-freaking-lutely! When it’s time to go to bed, the wheels keep turning. They don’t want to gear down for the night. Or what happens more frequently, is the wheels do stop for like 3-4 hours and then start-up again long before they should. Those are the days where I wake up at 2 AM, and what do I do? Start working again. Actually I love these days, because I get so much done 🙂
Health. Yeah, I used to eat organic stuff. And cook. Oh, I even exercised. Can you believe it? Now, I sit in front of the computer. Constantly. Sometimes I sit in front of the computer at Biggby coffee house, sometimes in my office, sometimes at the kitchen table–after all, variety IS the spice of life. Beyond the sedentary nature of my alternate writer lifestyle, there’s something more.
Sometimes I think writing is like being pregnant, of course I’ve never been pregnant, so it’s just a guess. But picture this. The viewpoint character of a novel is like a little baby in vitro. The baby has needs. You have to take care of the baby even before it’s born or you could risk losing it. Babies also demand fuel, and they seem to produce food cravings. The even stranger part is that different characters want to eat different things.
Take Daly English, the protagonist from my first (unpublished) novel, The Iron Pillar. That work was literary women’s fiction and will probably never see the light of day, but I digress. Ms. Daly is a little bit prissy and reserved and also awkward. An artist, learning to come out of her shell. What did she want to eat almost every time I sat down to chat with her and write down her actions in my manuscript? Vanilla bean scones. Near the end of the novel, she even learned to make scones, which made sense to me.
How about Alex de la Farsighted, our blind psychic from a working poor family with a bit of an inferiority complex and a whole lot of love for one Simmi and hostility toward one “Dad?” He craves Taco Bell, pretty much anything from Taco Bell, especially the Nachos Bel Grande and Chicken Quesadillas. I keep asking Alex to choose something more lo-cal, but he just doesn’t listen to me. He always did insist upon having his own way.
One can only wonder what the MC of my next novel will crave? Shish-kebabs? Tandoori chicken? Hamburgers?
I can’t wait to find out!