Monday 7 September 2009

Writers do a lot more than write

I’ve just had three weeks’ leave from my post at the University of Salford. I thought during that time I’d have some time to write. I did very little in the end – partly because my father died, partly because my daughter got married and partly because I was ill. But that wasn’t all the time – some of the time my husband and I were having a holiday at home and even without those three life events I may not have got an awful lot done. In between day trips and a weekend away for the wedding, and admittedly lounging around doing nothing because I felt so ill, I also had to deal with some urgent domestic business and work on some publicity for an upcoming book launch. I even did a short radio interview.
It’s almost easier when I’m at work. In fact I’m writing this at work – and I do it without feeling guilty. Fortunately my employers expect me to write – what a fantastic day job, but they do also give me plenty of admin, plenty of marking and plenty of meetings to attend, but in the end they’re all to do with writing so it feels good.
But I’m lucky if I can squeeze in two hours a day / 2000 words. I used to manage that even I when I worked full time in a school as a Head of Department, though admittedly then I wouldn’t have been able do the talks and school visits and all the marketing and presence creating that I now do.
Many writers, especially those who have become renowned do complain of this. They become public figures and are in demand. They have to become used to writing in hotel rooms or on the train.
Then there is writer’s research – which can be a good procrastination tool anyway. That research can also just be a matter of sitting back and observing life.
In addition, there is a very positive upside. Reading is an activity that is essential for writers. It happens also to be my default activity. I don’t have to feel guilty, then, if I’m indulging myself in a good book. It’s part of my work!
What a wonderful life-style!

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