Slacking off

23 April 2011

So recently I got a job, which is lovely for many reasons, not the least of which is that it’s home-based. Always a good thing. But the thing is, and please don’t hate me for this, but I haven’t had a proper job in quite a while. The glories of being a student and all. But now I am not a student, and am no longer allowed to go back to school just because I’m interested in any given subject (at the moment, it’s off-shore banking, and the usual Heather-related things: stalking, voyeurism, etc). Five hours a day (I know that’s far less than most people work) I do my wee job. And it’s not bad at all. The person I work on behalf of is lovely, and has good and interesting catchphrases (the best is, ‘Never had more, never been better.’).

But the thing that I now have to figure out is how to have a job and still get on with this novel-writing habit.

A day job is generally the best way to kick a novel-writing habit. I say that as though I’ve had all this experience in the day-job world. I haven’t. The last time I had a full-time job it was 2006. Yeah. I know. I was living in London then, had just finished my second book, and was working on the beginnings of a third. I had reasonable working hours, I didn’t have to go early or stay late – sometimes I even got to leave early! But still, I really struggled to get any writing done. For the most part, all I did was write notes and outlines and ideas. Which is great, that stuff has to be done, but when you want to be writing a novel and all that you can produce is a bunch of notebooks full of jottings and half-finished ideas, it’s a bit depressing.

I’ve read the stories about people like Toni Morrison who got up at 5am before going off to work at their hard jobs of editing at fancy publishing houses; I’ve read about the dedication and the sacrifice and the toil. But I wonder if I have it in me to do a day-job and also write a book. I suppose only time will tell. I do get up freakishly early in the mornings, quite naturally in fact. Today I was up at 6.30am, though that’s because my teeth hurt (I chew my teeth, bruxism I think it’s called).

I suppose the thing is finding that bit of time (and I think, for myself, it has to be longer than a couple of hours) and actually using it for the purpose you intended to when you set out looking for it. And that’s the tricky part as far as I’m concerned. Because, after a long day doing stuff for someone else, you want to lie down, you want to switch your brain off. At least I do.

Huh. You know what? I think I just realized I’m actually a lazy person.

In the past, I’ve paid lip-service to the idea that if you want it badly enough, you’ll bust ass in any way, shape or form necessary to get the job done. What I’ve always done is bust ass to get accepted to university. But that’s no longer an option. I think now is the time when I’ll see if I really am cut out for this writing life. If I do want it badly enough to give up time that could be spent swimming, reading, day dreaming (though, sometimes daydreaming is really crucial to writing), watching telly and drinking beer… well, if I’m willing to trade any of that stuff to hang out with Heather, that’s testament enough.

Anyhow, all this is to say I haven’t worked on Heather in a fortnight and feel guilty about it and badly about it, and instead of trying to readjust my attitude, I think it’s actually much easier to just get on with it. Back to the outlining then.