Do you dream of writing books? Is it impossible for you to walk past a bookshop without skulking in to check out the bestsellers? To stand amongst the section you hope to one day appear in, breathing deeply and running your fingers over the spines of those that already made it? Perhaps pulling the odd book out to admire the cover and sniff the pages when no one’s looking?
If so, yes, you are odd…but it sounds to us like you’re a writer…and if that’s the case, then you’re going to have to learn to deal with your own unusual behaviour around books. It’s just the way it is.
Here are another eight things you’re going to have to learn to be okay with if you dream of one day being published…
1. Being alone
Unless you’re lucky enough to be on a team of writers, getting your thoughts out of that noggin’ of yours requires significant peace and quiet, and this means being on your tod. A lot. Sure there may be days when someone comes to deliver a parcel, or GLORY BE – the gas man arrives to check your meter, but you need to prepare yourself for days when you won't see anyone (apart from the characters in your mind, man!), and you need to be okay with that. I like to combat my lack of vocal chord use with regular singing breaks, and by striking up friendships with every dog owner in the area when I go for walks round the block. It helps. Puppies always help.
2. Sartorial sluggishness
I mean technically you could wake up every morning, shower, put on your face, and your business suit before taking a seat at your carefully arranged desk at bang on 9am…but you don’t really need to, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for that. You have other things to worry about, like how your protagonist will combat that fire-breathing dragon guarding the scared amulet in chapter six. Relinquish the pressure to be presentable. No one is judging you. Plus, wearing the same clothes for a week is good for the environment, and sometimes unusual clothing pairings end up being complete winners. Just remember, the baggier the better. One week enjoying this kind of comfy living and we guarantee you too will resent having to ever wear skinny jeans. There’s no way a writer invented them. No way.
3. Caffeine addictions
We all know that too much caffeine isn’t good for us, but does that stop it being delicious? Or useful? Hell no! As a writer your whole day will be based around beverage breaks – embrace that caffeine addiction. That paragraph will almost certainly be easier to write when you’ve had a cup of tea. You’ll absolutely be quicker with that triple espresso working its sorcery in your belly. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to stop crying about how difficult this whole book writing malarkey is with a cup of green tea in your hand. Caffeine makes everything better. Show me a writer who doesn’t dabble and I will be sceptical…very sceptical indeed.
4. Being a broke ass fool
Perhaps some of you have written bestsellers, or some Hollywood agent just happened to chance upon a discarded copy of your book in the dentist…in which case (we hate you) and you may well be flinging handfuls of cash in the air and laughing gleefully as we speak. Otherwise, you’re probably going to have to get relatively au fait with having fifty quid to your name. You’ll know every type of lentil there is, because they are both cheap and filling. You’ll begrudge buying a glass of wine in a bar when you could get a whole damn bottle for the same price down ASDA. A free buffet better watch out when you’re around – you’ll have napkin-wrapped every food stuff with the potential to be easily transported and shoved it into your bag in the exact same amount of time it takes to say, ‘Hey homie, are there any more sausage rolls?” It’ll be like a plague of locusts passed over, only you’re the only locust, and you always come sporting a backpack for added storage space.
5. Being nosy
When your job is to try and make sense of the world around you, you can get a little, how should I put it…thinky? (And by ‘thinky’ I mean nosy as fuck). Not only do you observe everything and anyone within seeing distance, but you don’t stop there, you’ll be pondering why their lip just trembled like that, who did they see out of the window, what are they scared of? How does that make you feel as the observer? What other information might you require to better grasp the situation? You’ll be shuffling your chair closer, memorising every detail of people’s faces, and noting down things they said to harvest at a later date. You’ve basically become the world’s nosiest neighbour, but you’re not even bothering to hide behind the lacy curtains – you’re just staring, open-mouthed, because all that lack of human contact has left you completely incapable of knowing what’s appropriate and what’s just downright odd.
6. People thinking your job is cool
When you tell people you’re a writer no one just nods and then changes the subject – they want to ask questions. Who do you write for? What do you write? Have you had things published? Do you earn any money? People have an impression of what a writer is from the films and the telly, and they will tell you all about that, while talking about the book they one day hope to write, as though you care. The bright side of this is you get to observe their behaviour as they go off on their tangent, so make the most of it, and don’t forget to take notes.
7. Not being able to switch off
When you’re writing something and you’re in the flow, it feels ruddy bloody magical, and this makes it pretty bloody hard to step away from it and completely unwind. Even while you’re having a beer, or watching a TV programme everything that enters your ears and eyes shapes your narrative. Even while you lie in slumber, hopefully dreaming of someone hunky, something can occur that makes you sit bolt upright and reach for your notebook. It’s nigh on impossible to completely switch off when your whole world has become that storyline. Other humans can be looking you right in the eye, telling you fun stuff about their day, and you’ll be off in a dream world, subconsciously skimming through the pages of your manuscript in your mind. It never stops.
8. Feelings of inadequacy
No matter where you are in your career, there will always be someone doing better than you. And as they’re the ones you hear about, they’re the ones you obsess over, and it’s hard on the heart to observe someone you admire, bossing it in the exact way you hope to one day. When you spend your time trying to make money with words, you’re going to have to deal with those teeny tiny salaries we mentioned earlier – and that can make you feel inadequate. As can…not doing the usual 9-5…not being able to enjoy the same luxuries as your friends…not taking the same ‘big life steps’ because your passion lies with writing and you kinda' feel like you need to do this first. You’ve made this decision, so stick to your guns, be as weird as you please. This is a calling – heed it with everything you have.
Come hang out with other writers at The Riff Raff on Thursday July 13th. We can’t wait to meet you, even if just to compare intel on leggings. Golden tickets available here.