Monday, April 25, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Writer (This One!)

Many people have a distorted and romantic image of writers... we sit around all day, staring out the window, dreaming up the latest plot twist, then burn the midnight oil in a frenzy of getting it all down on paper. Then we spend a few days working with either a kind, gentle-hearted editor who painstakingly leads us through line edits to make our prose shine like a diamond as we sip tea and nibble on scones... or else we spend weeks chained to our desks while an editor mercilessly whips us through changes in our storyline, characters, and details, thus driving us to the bottle. And I don't mean water.


Sorry to burst many a bubble, but many authors, myself included, have a very simple and quite boring life, complete with bills, laundry, dishes, and *gasp* a job! I don't mean THE job, meaning the writing. I mean a "wear a uniform and punch a clock" type of job.

Here's my typical day:

Up at 4 a.m. because I have to drive 30-minutes to work every day and I clock in at 7 a.m. and I need to have time to pack lunches, make breakfast, and look presentable before I venture out of the house. This requires copious amounts of coffee and a good attitude. Most days I just manage the coffee.

Once I arrive at work, I slip on my dark blue Walmart vest and hair net and step behind the bakery counter. I wish I could claim the next 8 hours pass in a euphoric state of creative expression as I whip out decorated cakes for special orders and to fill the showcase. Like Willy Wonka, life is a never-ending series of creating beautiful and delectable desserts.

Not even close.

Between checking in and putting up freight (in the freezer), stocking pre-made cakes, and (every cake decorator's favorite pastime) dealing with customers--some wonderful, many less so--in addition to the ever-exciting cleanup duty, there is little time for actually enjoying the creative process. It's a lot like writing.

I clock out at 4 p.m. and go to pick up my husband and return home--another 30-minute drive. Depending on the day of the week, we might have to get groceries (what can be more fun than walking around Walmart after an 8-hour shift with many other zombie-like people in the same frame of mind?), or stop to pick up bottled water (20 gallons a week for cooking and drinking... our well water is not the best tasting), or stop and pick up the mail at our rural post office. Then home to cook dinner, take care of household chores like laundry, dishes, and bills. On rare days (maybe once or twice a week) we sit down as a family after dinner to watch TV or a movie. The guys (husband and son) are more likely to veg in front of the TV for a couple of hours, but I usually get my "NCIS" fix and then head into my office to get some writing time in. If I'm lucky, I might get an hour, but I do have to get some sleep to start the cycle again the next day.

There are some variations. On Saturdays, I work an earlier shift, 4 a.m. to 10 a.m., because I either have to report to my part-time job at Noisy Water Winery (almost too much fun to be called a job!) or there are family obligations out-of-town, or--on really rare occasions--there are book-related events to attend. Sundays are my usual day off, which we start off with Mass at our local parish, then followed by family breakfast and then a day of catching up on chores, just relaxing, or *gasp* getting some writing time in.

In short, "the writing life", as it is often imagined, is far more fictional than anything I can come up with. One thing is clear, however: with so many responsibilities and duties demanding my attention, how am I able to write a mystery series as well?

Because I love it. That's all.

When two worlds collide, in a good way....


  1. You get up at 4 am? I would die.

    1. Only on weekdays... on Saturdays I'm up at 2 because I have to BE at work by 4:00!