“Solitude never hurt anyone. Emily Dickinson lived alone, and she wrote some of the most beautiful poetry the world has ever known… then went crazy as a loon.”
— The Simpsons
I like my day job. (Actually in large part an evening job, and really-and-truly more of an all-over-the-place job, but you know what I mean.)
Whoops, we’re not supposed to admit that, are we? True writers want to write ALL THE TIME. To have it as the absolutely-only thing that they have to do. To be a Full-Time Writer. That’s every writer’s ultimate goal, right?
I would be quite happy to never be a full-time writer. I said something to this effect ten years ago, when my first book came out and I was an ickle thing, and honestly, truly – there are a lot of things I still agree with Younger Me on, when it comes to this issue.
There are a number of things I’m going to say about this (there shall be a post every day this week! I’m going blog-crazy!), but the first is the obvious-and-yet-often-forgotten fact that full-time writers aren’t full-time writers in the same way that full-time whatevers aren’t really full-time. There’s still laundry to do and things to be cleaned or cooked or taken care of or whatever. You still have to go to the supermarket or mind the kids or feed the cat; you still have a bunch of everyday things to do. And it’s obvious, of course, but it’s amazing the sense you get from people who talk dreamily about full-time writeriness, like it’s full-time writeriness with several staff attached. There’s still all the non-writing parts of Being A Writer, the admin/promotion/finance side of things. There’s still life. Life is still there to get in the way.
All writers are something else. All anythings are something else. They’re daughters/sons/nieces/nephews, friends/lovers/exes, mothers/fathers/aunts/uncles/cousins/godparents. They’re on a local sports team or they’re part of a choir or they’re helping out a friend with a film or they’re organising a family get-together or they’re going down to the pub for a pint or five. They’re watching boxsets of Desperate Housewives or The Wire or they’re rooting for a player at Wimbledon or a team at the World Cup.
People talk about wishing they had ‘nothing else to do but write’ as though it’d instantly relieve them of any other commitments they have. For 99.999% of people, their day job is not the one solid thing standing in the way of their writing. It is not the one thing that sucks up their time or their energy, although it can suck up an awful lot of it. But it’s not the only thing in their life. And removing it isn’t going to put their life on hold so that they can write their masterpiece completely uninterrupted.
For most people, though certainly not everyone, it’s not time that’s the problem. It’s time management.