That’s the only way I can describe my brain on Friday evening. Fortunately, my office has summer hours on a Friday so we finish at 4pm – which means everyone else can run off to the pub while I stay late and get a good few hours writing done. It’s actually been really useful because I have so little time to write in a week, but this week I really wasn’t in the mood. I’m still not to be honest.
And there we have the problem. I needed to write; to not feel guilty all weekend (admittedly while I was out drinking, eating and having fun) because I wouldn’t be getting any more done. It seems a good proportion of my spare time is spent feeling guilty about not working, so the last thing I need to do is actually give myself an actual reason for that! Pathetic I know, but I’ve got a deadline and I’m a lazy person; that’s the only way I’m going to get through it, if I force myself.
Was it worth staying if I didn’t feel like writing? Maybe not, but unfortunately it’s not just a hobby any more; people are paying me to do this and bills depend on getting things handed in. It’s a job, and more than that, it’s a job I want to last. I work in publishing and I know how hard it is to make a career out of writing, a full-time one even more so. It’s hard work stretched out over many years and there’s no escaping that, so that’s why I sat in the office all alone and knocked out 2000 words before the evening was allowed to start.
I needed a couple of pints just to wind down after that because it was hard to get anything on the page, but I don’t have the option of not writing for a week or two, or a month or two until inspiration strikes me again. I hadn’t thought about that fact when I started writing, who would? Writing was something I enjoyed and did when I wanted to. The career as a writer (or, if I’m feeling particularly self-mocking and pretentious, novelist) was a too-distant dream to worry about but here I am, a professional writer. I’m suddenly 28, with part of a mortgage, a full-time job and I’ve got to do 5000 words a week for 50 weeks before I get to the end of Grave Thief. And that’s the first draft. These days, I can’t look at a computer screen without my glasses (something that started when I got my writing contract) and I have headaches and muscular pain from sitting at a computer for so many hours a day. Not exactly the issues people in a lot of jobs have to deal with, but still not exactly like the playing at being a writer I did when I was at uni.
I’ve just realised that sounds like one long complaint; poor me and what I have to sacrifice for my art. ;0) That wasn’t the intention, it was just something that occurred to me and is worth pointing out to aspiring writers. Sometimes, this hurts; it leaves you physically and mentally drained even after a great session and takes away much of your social life. That’s something you’ve just got to accept; calling yourself a writer isn’t an excuse for not working hard and sometimes I need to mentally slap myself around the face and shout “grow up, shut up and get back to work. I don’t care if you’re not in the mood, fucking deal with it.” Without that, I’m not going to hit my deadline, and I’m not going to be worth the considerable effort my editor has put in.
While I’ve not got anything to prove to the world, it’s not a bad thing to respect some people enough to not want to disappoint them. My work ethic may be a feeble and fractured thing, but it ain’t dead yet.