Everything you wanted to know about being a writer (but were afraid to ask)
Welcome to my second-ever blog.
I thought I'd just hastily scribble down everything I know about being a writer, after a decade and eight books worth of relentless experience. This may give me nothing else to write about for my remaining time as Book Trust writer-in-residence but, hell, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it (next week).
If you are a writer you might disagree with every word of this. Maybe this is just my reality. In which case, disown me and pretend I'm using the royal 'we'. I decided on 37 points. Don't ask my why. I'm 37. Maybe that was it (writers are all self-obsessed, forgot to mention that). So, here it is, the writer stripped bare.
1. We live on toast. And cereal. And caffeine. And wine. But mainly toast.
2. By the time our book comes out, it feels like a childhood memory. But more distant.
3. Our daily word-count was approximately three thousand words higher before the arrival of Facebook and Twitter.
4. At parties someone will always say, 'So have you written anything I'd have heard of?' Or, 'How are the books going?' Both questions end in awkward silence.
5. If we were number two in the bestseller charts, the only book we would ever be thinking about is the one selling more.
6. We never know if the book we are writing is the right one until we have written it. And even then we are not sure.
7. It is harder to make friends after you become a writer than it was before. But way easier to make enemies.
8. People think you are automatically a bit weird. (Or is that just me?)
9. We need editors 'like a fat kid needs cake' - to quote that sensitive literary soul, 50 Cent.
10. The best day is when we get to see our book cover. Unless we don' t like the book cover in which case it is the worst day.
11. 'Royalty statement' is Latin for disappointment.
12. We get stomach pains every time another writer wins something. (We have continual stomach pains).
13. We all want to be Hemingway, minus the suicide part.
14. We would probably all be writing poems, if people actually bought poems.
15. We spend a lot of our time going on five hour train journeys to events where eight people turn up (and only three of them buy the book).
16. We chose not to choose life. We chose something else.
17. We are generally quite bad at dancing.
18. In most cases, the person we don't like more than any other just happens to be another writer. But then, the person we admire most is one too.
19. We may have our name on the front of a book but we always feel slightly outside the publishing industry, looking in. Like Keats at that metaphorical sweet-shop.
20. If we were a neurotic wreck before we were published - and we were - we remain one afterwards. Our brain chemistry doesn't fundamentally change.
21. If we get good reviews, we want good sales. If we get good sales, we want good reviews.
22. We are happy for five whole minutes after a book is sent off. Then we realise all the mistakes we made.
23. We start off wanting to be published. We get published. Then we want a nice review. We get a nice review. Then we want an award. We get an award. Then we want a film deal. We get a film deal. Then we want a film to be made. And so on. For ever. (We are never happy).
24. If someone reads our work midway through the writing process we need them to faint in awe or it goes in the bin.
25. We are a little bit lonely.
26. Bad reviews are always taken personally. Always.
27. Writing a novel is like a relationship. During the early stages every other possibility looks incredibly attractive. But commitment pays off.
28. We rarely write in coffee shops.
29. Writing is heaven. Re-writing is hell.
30. We are rubbish at other jobs. And DIY. And most other things too.
31. We say the wrong things at parties.
32. The definition of discomfort is the moment after your mother reads your semi-autobiographical novel.
33. There is no praise more treasured than that of an author you worship.
34. The best book we have ever written is the one we are about to write.
35. The best ideas we have are the ones that arrive accidentally.
36. There is no email in the world nicer to receive than the one from a reader who has been moved by your work.
37. We know, in our heart of hearts, that we have the very best job in the world.