The Truth about Writing

This is what I thought the average writer did with her day:

Wake up at 7:30 (enveloped in Egyptian cotton sheets—the kind that actually match your pillowcases—and wearing a set of gorgeous, eco-friendly bamboo fiber pajamas).

Kiss Significant Other good morning (he is also gorgeous and eco-friendly, although not made of bamboo).

Check email; respond to party invitations, book signing invitations, key note speaker invitations, honorary doctorate invitations, etc.  Scoff at fan mail—enough is enough already.

Shower, slip into artsy writer outfit (linen of course, with ethnic accents acquired during your many international book tours) and head to the coffee shop. 

Write.

Decline autograph requests.

Write.

Order another iced coffee (large, of course, given the size of your last advance); decline further autograph requests.

Write, so brilliantly and intently that you don’t even realize that city’s in a middle of a thunderstorm or that its past noon until your publicist calls and asks if you’d like to her to pick you up for your reading evening. 

Invite publicist to go shopping.  You and she are best friends because you’ve made each others careers and both drive electric Mini Coopers now.

Shop.  Buy new shoes.

Arrive at Barnes and Noble amidst a sea of adoring fans, applause and important press people.

Read from your new best seller.  Wink at your gorgeous eco-friendly Significant Other, who’s slipped into the back row and is waiting to take you to the new Stephan Starr restaurant to celebrate.

Eat fancy Stephen Starr food.  Drink fancy Stephen Starr champagne, compliments of Stephen himself.

Go home, eat Stephen Starr dessert.

Slip into the bamboo pajamas but head straight for your desk because you’ve had a flash of inspiration that won’t wait till morning.

Write some more.

Go to bed, secure in the knowledge that your rejection letter days are over and that you’ll get to do this all over again tomorrow.

Well, I was wrong.

Maybe superstar writers like Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes sleep in matching sheets and eco friendly pajamas; maybe they order large iced coffees.  Maybe they get to spend their days actually writing, but two weeks into this whole self employment thing, I’m feeling rather disenchanted.

Writing, you see, is only half of what writers do.  Less than half, actually, at least in the beginning.  And there’s nothing glamorous about it.  Here is how this writer has spent her day:

Wake up at 7:30 (okay, actually it was 7:50 this morning because I had a long night of Jeopardy, Seinfeld and Big Bang Theory last night) amidst sheets that definitely do not match my pillow case, and I’m not even going to tell you what I was wearing.  Not gorgeous eco-friendly bamboo fiber pajamas, that’s for sure.

Kiss no one good morning, bamboo or otherwise.

Drag myself over to my computer.  Since going freelance fulltime, my relationship towards email has changed: some days, its great go-skipping-down-the-sidewalk-sort-of-news; other days it’s not.  Today was one of those “other” days: more hurl-yourself-off-the-roof-deck than go-skipping.

Shower.  Slip into artsy writer outfit (linen, with ethnic accents of course, acquired during one of my many trips to Camden Market).

Slip out of it artsy linen writer outfit.  I’ve lost weight since moving home from London last year, which is all well and good but it means that my strapless dresses refuse to stay in place.  Heaven forbid I should lose weight somewhere I wouldn’t mind shedding a few pounds.

Write… query letters.

Decline… credit card offers.

Write… more query letters.

Decline… more credit card offers.

Go to coffee shop.  Order a large iced chai but only because I’ve already paid for nine overpriced coffees and I get the tenth free.

Write still more query letters, so brilliantly and intently that I get really hungry and have to go home to eat lunch.

Regret going home (my landlords are in the middle of another home improvement project and the tile man is pounding away in the kitchen).

Go to library.

Lug ancient lap top to a table in the corner and write—actual writing writing—for a whopping ninety minutes. 

Get writer’s block.

Check out someone else’s best sellers—five actually—even though I didn’t think to bring a bag and now have to carry five books all the way home, in addition to my ancient lap top.

Pay late fines.

Go home.  Make my own, non Stephen Starr dinner, which might have been nice if I hadn’t been too busy playing the artiste to have actually bought groceries sometime in the last decade.

Feast upon frozen broccoli and tuna, dreaming about the day when my “fan mail” will comprise of something other than porn spam on my blog.

18 Responses to “The Truth about Writing”

  1. Ben Jarman

    Bing Bang Theory? This sounds to me like a much more entertaining interpretation of the origins of the universe.

    Reply
    • Kat Richter

      Oops… another one slipped by the Queen of Typos 🙂 It was supposed to read “Big Bang Theory” but you’re right, “Bing Bang” does sound much more fun!

      Reply
  2. Julia

    This is so brilliantly written … I had a really good laugh (and I pity you for the tuna 😉 )

    Many, many greetings from another writer, who knows what this feels like … 😉

    Reply
  3. dimamatta

    This is hilarious, I really enjoyed reading it 🙂 I cannot tell you how many times I’ve imagined how the life of an accomplished writer would be and pray that I would become one soon. Sadly, I’m stuck trying to figure out how to come up with a brilliant fiction portfolio for my MFA application… and have failed miserably so far.

    She Who Is Sitting In Mismatched Bed Sheets As She Types 🙂

    Reply
  4. j.m.

    Hilarious. I have had far too many days like this myself. Many sympathies from a fellow writer attempting to sell her first novel as well (or many “I hope you fall down and forget what you were writing about” to my competition… ;)).

    Reply
  5. uforicfood

    After reading the first version, I wanted this life for myself. After reading the second version … I still want it! Now I just have to figure out how to get paid for giving up my full-time writing job to go totally freelance. Would love some advice 🙂

    Reply
  6. writersmelon

    Hi Kat,
    I am Priyanka, cordinator and part of the editorial team of Writersmelon.
    Writersmelon is an initiative to promote & widen the audience of young and upcoming talented writers/poets/bloggers like you. Please visit our site http://www.writersmelon.com and let us know if you would be interested in contributing your work towards this. Mail us at editor@writersmelon.com .
    And yes a very enjoyable piece of writing.

    Reply
  7. swiebe

    Kat! I was having one of those throw-yourself-off-the-roof days today until I came across your blog! I too had the same fantasies about writing, and I too quit my day job in retail that was ruining my soul. Thank you for your words!!! You are inspiring not to mention hilarious!

    Reply
    • Kat Richter

      Well this has to be one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received. Thanks for stopping by! I had quite a few of those throw-myself-off-the-roof days when I was working at The Shop and blogging about it was the only way to keep my sanity 🙂

      Reply
  8. 9u4n0

    My friend just linked your blog on her facebook account, and she is right…… you are fantastic and you crack me up too!! Love it. Bookmarked and will be coming back for seconds and thirds.

    Yes I do realise this is a blog we are talking about and NOT a buffet dessert table. 😉

    Hoping the iced coffee fairy’s bestow a “surpise free iced coffee just for being so awesome” soon!

    Reply

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