Friday, March 12, 2010

A Day in the Life

By Russel D McLean

In a unique experiment in transparency, Russel is proud prevent his diaries from one day of writing. This is an accurate record of his activities except for those parts where he goes to the toilet.

But he does mention his shower.

Trust us, its important.

We hope this will demonstrate once and for all that the life of a writer is lived, not doing exciting things, but rather spending much of his time in a state of semi-comatose, coffee-fuelled insanity and finding excuses to do anything other than write.


Intended to sleep in since day off. But feel like should be catching up on deadlines. Up. Think about shower.


Not showered. Drinking coffee and watching morning telly. Thinking about writing. But mostly getting annoyed at the eejits who email breakfast telly shows with their “opinions”. Surprised most of them can work a keyboard, but not surprised at their lack of spelling abilities.


At computer, finally. Still in dressing gown and unshowered. Ready to write. But first catch up on emails. Oooo…. Lots of articles from the book trade. Let’s read ‘em and probably get righteously angry at something.

And I do. And I write a blog entry on it. Which I promptly delete. Why?

Its bollocks, that’s why.


Another coffee. Reading other people’s blogs, now. Depressed at their natural ability and their often very funny voices.

Honestly planning to write soon. Maybe watch a DVD first. Currently in the midst of box set of Battle Star Galactica.


Post! Someone loves me! Oh, its only bills. Think in my next book I might kill a postie who doesn’t deliver exciting things.


Watching Galactica, saw someone brutally killed by a cylon warrior. Think this is what agent Al will do to me if I don’t start writing. Fire up Word and kick off the day’s writing. After replying to another couple of emails. And checking the twitter feed. Agent Al cannot get annoyed at me for this. He was the one who convinced me to go on Twitter in the first place.


Get up and start walking around, muttering to myself. This is not because I am crazy but because I am seeing how the dialogue sounds. Yes, I am the crazy writer who tries out dialogue before committing it. Especially in important scenes. It’s a good feeling, and it helps me figure out how to write down the dialogue, what to make it look like on the page so that it will have the same effect as my recitation.


Shower, finally. And lunch. Lunch is scraped together from what bacon I have left, some beans and toast. Maybe I need to pop to the shop. And think about tonight’s tea.


Thinking about tonight’s tea. Head out to get supplies. Remember to get properly dressed first. Panic that I have locked myself out when the door shuts on the snib. Keys are in the wrong pocket, thankfully.


More writing. The piece I am working on is a redraft and I am not feeling the confidence. The voice needs to sound right. Start thinking about a characters medical condition. Wind up wasting time on Google learning about internal bleeding. Its all rather interesting.

Start swearing at spell check. I know I’m spelling these words right. Realise for some reason the bloody thing is set to US spelling.

Swear even more.


Have a strange panic. Think I should be at the day job. Double and then triple check rota to assure myself that I am not. Assure myself they would have called and yelled before me.

To calm myself, I make more coffee. As strong as I can. The spoon stands upright in the cup with no outside help. I add more coffee. Breathe in the fumes. Hallucinate just a little bit with the sheer joy of that smell.


This is the third time I have tried to redraft the last third of the book. Every time, a new idea hits and I have to adjust the pieces. I am already behind schedule. Another book is writing itself in my head. I need to get a move on with this one because I do like the basic idea and some of the characters. Even that one who’s going to have half his lines cut because all he does is whinge.


Want to double check something on internal bleeding. And people keep sending me emails. Some of them look interesting. Many of them are from Jay Stringer. I decide music will help me write. Wind up singing along instead of actually writing (outside, people look up at my window and wonder who it is that’s being murdered in there).

Resist twitter feed until I see the green box that means someone’s talking about me. Oh, ego, why won’t you ignore such things?


DVD break. Wind up watching Alien3 (special edition) and eating the steak pie I bought earlier in the day. Feel guilty throughout the whole experience and know that when Al reads this diary he will hunt me down and whip me.


Back to the computer. More emails? Ignore them and write. Write like the wind! Actually getting a good groove on. Its one of those scenes I love when I get to taunt my characters with something they really want and then take it away.


A google alert distracts me. I fine an online review that says I swear too much and am horribly violent. I feel midway between angry and depressed. But it is still better than when I was accused by email of being part of a “left wing fascist-liberal conspiracy”.

Wish I was part of a conspiracy. Maybe then I’d have something to do on a Saturday night.


Have written a rant intended for this blog. Deleted it all. One word is repeated in various forms throughout the rant. Some of it makes me chuckle. I am reminded of the advice I once gave to another writer: “have a thick skin. We need it in this gig”.

Think about watching telly. Think about what Agent Al can do with a baseball bat and how I’d really like to get paid at some point. Make my decision.


I am back at the day job tomorrow. But there is time enough to keep writing. Just a few more pages. Another coffee? No, must have some sleep. But by now I am wide awake. And I can see my way to the end of the book… just need to push. Who needs sleep?



Quick bit of reading (Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker is my drug of choice). And finally, sleee….

I was thinking of taking a wordcount for the day but if we included all deleted words it would be a lot. Also, since I’m editing, the count is hard because the manuscript changes size so often. But trust me, I get quite a lot done once I’m in the zone. I reckon I’m a sprint writer. Have to keep taking breaks, but once I get going, I’m fast and focussed.

But this is pretty typical of a day off from the day job. Sometimes I do go out and meet people of course, but mostly I’m catching up on all the writing I didn’t do because I was too tired from work. Like I said before, you have to take the time you can get to write. And focus. It’s not glamorous and its plagued with distractions and doubt, but when I’m in the zone, there’s nothing else in the world I’d rather be doing.


Jarrett Rush said...

So many times I have been afraid I've locked myself out of the house only to find the keys in the "wrong" pocket.

Nice post. We all suffer those distractions. It wasn't until after midnight last night that I finally found my groove. It meant I was up much too late when I needed to be awake early today. But it was worth it for the progress I made on my WIP.

Scott D. Parker said...

You're probably not looking for tips but have you considered writing in the morning and checking e-mail only in the afternoon?

Oh, and how is Boneshaker? I've got it on hold from my library. Looks tres cool.