Oof. It’s been a while hasn’t it? I’ve been a bit busy, scampering to networking events, drinking too much and fretting about whether I’ll ever be published. Plus ça change. I’ve done a day in the life post before, but that was just before querying kicked in in earnest. Now the novel’s in much better shape, everything’s gone up a notch from ‘fevered scribbling’ to ‘frantic editing’, and free time is just a distant memory. So, in an attempt to shift writer’s block, here’s a chunk of my ‘average’ week, in which I have too much to do and should be kept away from wine and technology.
Now that this road to publication is getting paved with better intentions, I made the momentous decision to print off the entire manuscript and scribble on it. Sadly, because I’m not a multi-millionaire, I can’t afford the most expensive liquid in existence: printer ink. So it is that the venerable 18-year-old laserjet is dragged out, grumbling as it’s turned on, possibly saying something about how it was better back in the good old days when all it churned out was reams of COBOL instead of urban fantasy.
After some tech wrestling it gets most of the way through, before smearing half its toner excitedly over a fight scene then claiming it’s out of paper during a decidedly-naked scene. In between this debacle, I’ve been at the day job shouting at incorrectly-punctuated PDFs. By the time it refuses to print, I start a rant Basil Fawlty would be proud of, kicking the printer and shouting about how actually it’s quite a tasteful nude bit and it’s not pervy at all because he’s 17 and for god’s sake guys. At this point I spot a startled neighbour staring from the house across the road. I realise how dodgy the whole thing looks. I slink away, clutching reams of paper, hoping I won’t be arrested for the startling number of chapters in which my unruly protagonist is in a state of undress.
Ahem. Printing and subsequent annotations were so stressful, I spend a few days treating myself to such fripperies as re-purpling my hair at a salon with a resident beagle, and eating at one of Edinburgh’s swankiest restaurants, courtesy of my husband’s last workplace getting him the best leaving present ever. This is the sort of place untouched by the likes of me, where the wine list is thicker than my novel printout. When we finally decide on an eye-wateringly expensive Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the sommelier who strongly resembled Andre Previn gives a five-minute lecture on its redeeming features. Which is a good excuse to link to my favourite Morecambe and Wise sketch. You’re welcome.
Nursing the world’s most expensive hangover, I have a wonderful, productive, helpful editing-based Skype on a Friday night, when other authors are no doubt painting the town red. Of course, all the cool kids have probably got past the stage of flailing around when a videocall comes in and realising you’re a) clutching a glass of terrible rose wine and b) wearing your best professional Adventure Time top from Asda’s teenage boy section. Oy.
The weekend is for downtime. For me, this consists of Eurovision season. In my last job, I had no end of confused looks when I chatted to a co-worker about whether he’d seen the Romanian qualifiers last night. Everyone assumes it’s about football, but we special few know it’s really about more pressing issues like why Finland submitted a Tesco Value Ramones, or why Germany’s winner decided not to bother with the whole thing. Sunday night brought the Latvian semi-finals, and with it the curious phenomenon that was ‘Ad Break Beaver’. Presumably for legal reasons, international viewers of the stream didn’t see the adverts the native viewers saw. Instead, they were greeted with a man in a beaver outfit, doing standup that was muted and occasionally dancing for our entertainment. When the final rolled around, the TV moguls were wise to Twitter hashtags, it seemed. For there was the beaver, playing charades, freestyle rapping in French and giving an English speech about how he wanted to be Latvia’s cultural ambassador to the rest of Europe.
I had been drinking. I’d also been talking to Twitter chums. It seemed like a good idea to start a petition to make Beaver’s dream a reality. Quoth my husband, ‘that’ll go viral’. It made the front page of a major Eurovision blog days later. Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it in for me.
And this, folks, is why frazzled writers shouldn’t be given alcohol and access to the internet.