A rock and a hardplace: The reality of being a fiction writer

typewriter carrying

I’ve been blogging about writing a lot lately, which may not interested some/many of you, but it’s where I’m at right now.

I’m coming to the end of the six-month novel writing program with the Australian Writers’ Centre, which I can’t believe has gone so quickly! And this coming Sunday at 11:59pm we have to submit one of two things: our completed manuscript or at the very least our climax and resolution.

As you know, I’m in the third/fourth draft of my current WIP, the one I finished here. During the course, though, I opted to change quite a lot of the story line, so ended up in the midst of yet another draft. Thankfully I can use a lot of my last draft, but it’s a matter of rewriting the beginning, adding new scenes and chapters and tweaking the ones I can use to fit the storyline. It’s a lot of work. A LOT of work! And I don’t think I’ll have it completed by Sunday, so it looks like I’ll be just submitting my climax and resolution that is thankfully, already complete.

Over the past week, I’ve been taking time out of my day to spend on my fiction. As I’ve mentioned before, it brings with it a whole chunk of guilt that sits right on top of my lungs making it hard to breathe.

And it’s made me think a whole lot about writing.

I love writing. I mean, I really love it. I love creating stories and characters and making them jump through hoops. It’s like being a puppeteer but so much more fun. And who wouldn’t want to spend their day having fun?

But as I’ve said before it’s not all fun, and it certainly doesn’t pay the mortgage. Or the school fees, or the dance tuition, or for the travel adventures. Which really does suck, don’t you think?

I see published and successful authors on social media posting about their writing days and a twinge of jealousy niggles at me. That’s where I want to be. Writing fiction. All. Day. Long. And making enough out of it to at least pay for the groceries, fuel and electricity each week.

My ideal day would involve getting up early, exercising, walking the dogs and kids to school, and then sitting down at my laptop in a little cocoon of creativity. Immersed in another world with people I can see and hear in my head, almost so real I could touch. My thoughts going crazy with ‘What would Hannah do in this situation? How would Emma react?” As if I know these people like they are my posse.

As much as I love my day job; the copywriting and the articles I write, if I had the choice to do one, either or both – in a heartbeat I’d choose fiction. Actually, in a micro-heartbeat.

But I’m a little too wrapped up in fantasy land. Writing is hard. Making a living from creative writing is even harder. It takes years of late nights, millions of words and countless hours of doubt and self-loathing. And then, if you are talented enough¬†and score a lucky break, maybe, you will have something published. So, I know I need to do the other stuff. But it’s times like these that I struggle. Times that I just want to get this story finished, polished, edited and sent off. Then redraft my other work in progress and begin on that other idea I jotted down in my notepad last week that’s knocking on the back door of my consciousness.

Being a writer is all consuming. If you let it, it will take over. I almost liken it to an addiction that needs feeding every day. One that grows stronger no matter what you do. If you feed it, it grows hungrier if you starve and ignore it, it becomes a famished monster salivating, begging, pleading.

And if writers have a reputation for being crazy and disconnected from this world, then I’m obviously well on my way.