A Juggler’s Life

I published this post yesterday before succumbing to a fit of chronic overthinking (it’s a habit of mine). Anyway, I looked at what I’d written and decided that it sounded less like a totally fascinating description of my complex portfolio of a life and more like an extended whinge. After all, any working mother (to name but one example) copes with this kind of thing every day. So I took it down. And then, of course, a kind person on Twitter asked why I’d done this. noting that she’d actually found it quite interesting. So I’ve put it back up again, with this foreword. Which probably means (overthinking again) that I’m simply trying to have my cake and eat it.

Contrary to popular belief, being a writer does not simply involve sitting down and spewing out loads of words. In fact, most of the time, remarkably little of this kind of thing goes on. This is one of the many things they don’t teach you on Creative Writing courses, and perhaps it’s a good thing they don’t.

However, my advice to anyone considering taking up writing seriously would be to learn how to juggle.

This is what I’m juggling at the moment.

  •  The day job. Yes, amazingly, I don’t make enough from writing to live on. In most years, I barely make enough from it to feed our cats for a week. So I do other stuff too, stuff that tends to take precedence over writing because people are paying me for it.
  • Promoting DIP FLASH. There are a number of aspects to this. For example, there is the “tweeting about it every now and then hoping that you’re doing it often enough to worm your way into your followers’ consciousness but not so often as to become that really annoying person (you know the one I mean).” There is also the “accepting every single invitation to do something writing-related in the hope that some of the people there will remember your name”, such as last week’s very enjoyable short story panel at Bristol’s Redland Library, described here by Ali Bacon. And there’s also the “writing a press release and sending it to all the local media”, which I’ve only just remembered I need to be getting on with soon.
  • Judging competitions. I’ve just finished doing my bit as part of the judging team for the Sci-Fi London 48hr Flash Challenge, which involved some tough decision-making. I’ll be really interested to see what the other judges think. I’m also one of the first pass readers for one of the big competitions that begin with B, and I am in the process of working my way through the batches I’ve been sent. It’s a really instructive exercise to read stories sent into an open competition like this, and it’s often the ones that don’t work that are the most interesting, because they force you to think hard about why they don’t work and what you can learn from that to inform your own writing.
  • Editing THE TRUTH ABOUT ARCHIE AND PYE. I’m going to write more about this in another post, but I’ve been set the task of reducing a 90000-word manuscript down to a 75000 one. I’ve always thought I’m a fairly economical writer, but this has been quite an eye-opener.
  • Writing marketing materials to support ARCHIE AND PYE. I’ll say no more about this at the moment, but there are things afoot, mark my words.
  • Writing the sequel to ARCHIE AND PYE. Oh yes. I have another novel to write by the end of October. Still, only 75000 words, eh?

So that’s what a writer’s life looks like from where I’m sitting. How’s your day going?

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