A few people who don’t actually know me read these musings. One of them sent me an email asking if I would write a description of an average day in my life, since I appear to write about everything but. What do I do on an average work day? Is it different depending on whether I’m in Sydney or New York City? My reader found it hard to credit that an average day for me involves sitting around contemplating the differences between Sydney and NYC after attending a Liberty game or a science fiction reading or convention or handing out voter registration cards during a blackout.
Point taken. (Except about contemplating the differences between Sydney and New York City; barely an hour goes by when I’m not thinking about that.) Problem is that I earn my living writing and an average day involves sitting in front of a computer tapping away at the keyboard. A writer’s working day just isn’t the most rivetting thing to write about.
Today I typed, yesterday I typed, tomorrow I will type. Words were written, words were deleted. Dictionaries and thesauruses and Scott (do Americans say "poxy"?) were consulted, as were various other reference books, and things were googled. Then there was more typing. And around about five or six I gave up and had a glass of wine, unless it was an alcohol-free day (curse them!) in which case I merely contemplated the glass of wine I’d be having on the next non-alcohol-free day.
You can see why Hollywood struggles so mightily to make writers’ lives look interesting. In the olden days they could show the typewriter (infinitely more photogenic than a computer screen). There was always the money shot of paper being ripped from said typewriter, crumpled and hurled in the general direction of the wastepaper basket. Mostly writers in Hollywood movies are not writing, but battling the dread writer’s block, and going crazy, and trying to kill their wife and children (Hollywood writers are almost always boys), or if they are writing it’s to pay off loan sharks (because publishers are simply legendary for always paying at the exact minute you hand in your manuscript). Give me films about musicians any day—especially fabby ones like Ray.
There you have it: a typical working day involves lots of typing and some contemplation of how terrible Hollywood depictions of writers are. (How come they’re so uniformly awful? After all they’re written by actual writers. I don’t get it!)
Does my working day differ when I’m in Sydney rather than New York City? I don’t think so. A writing day is pretty much the same no matter where I am: type, think, consult dictionary/thesaurus/Scott, google, think, type and repeat.
New York City, 7 November 2004