It's a Saturday. I'm taking a few hours to finish the revisions on my third Lucy book. I carefully negotiated this time with my husband (aka the Alpha Reader), which of course was more like,
"Ohmygod, Ohmygod, Ohmygod....I gotta get these revisions finished because I need to get the copy edits and we need some ARCs and I need to finish the fourth book which is due in April and what was I thinking working on a side Young Adult novel which has not been contracted and I need to write some blog posts and won't the kids be upset that I'm not spending much time with them this weekend and I wonder how that book club I did last night went and don't I have a few more events coming up when are they anyway and I think there's some day job stuff I need to finish up and ohmygod etc etc"
I usually do most of my writing at night, when the kids are in bed, but when deadlines loom, I need to carve out extra time in my schedule. And of course my dear Alpha Reader just held up his hand and said, "Don't worry. Take a few hours today." Seriously. Best. Husband. Ever.
So off to my coffee shop I went to work--mostly guilt-free--to work on these book three edits.
But I wasn't here too long before someone I knew from the neighborhood stopped by to say hello. Seeing my 350 pages of manuscript strewn about the table, my laptop open, the remnants of my morning bun (which I really wish I hadn't succumbed too) and my mostly chugged non-fat latte, she said to me, "I wish I had time to sit around writing a book."
Although her tone was dismissive, or perhaps envious, she is a lovely woman, so I think I just smiled politely and said "Well, I think its about carving out time and--"
But she just shook her head. "I just don't have that kind of free time to just sit around and write," she repeated and walked away. The implication was clear. Writing is a leisure activity, like laying out at the pool. But if she had just had the time to do it, she'd easily knock out a best-seller.
So what I didn't say, but which I wish I had, is this: It's not really about the time. It's about the will. It's about the drive. It's about the focus. Obviously, you need time to complete a novel, but all the time in the world won't help you write if you have no will or drive.
If writing were just about "finding free time," I'd feed you the bonbons* myself.
Real writers write.** They don't just think "I've got a great idea that will become a best-seller just as soon as I take a few weekends off from my busy schedule." They carve out the time, by hook or by crook, and they sit in their chairs, with their pads of paper or at their keyboards, and they WRITE THE FRIGGING STORY!
[**As much as I wanted to end with a pithy closure, I just want to acknowledge that I completely understand that some writers have true and very real constraints upon them. Not everyone has an Alpha Reader who can help them carve out the time they need. But I don't put those writers in the bon-bon sun-tanning leisure crowd of wannabe best-selling authors. To those writers I say, Try to keep at it. A page here, a scene there, and eventually the book will be done! My first novel took me ten years to write!]
[**I don't think I've ever had a bon-bon, but now its on my list of things to try]
So the question I have is this: What kind of writer are you?
Historian. Mystery writer. Researcher. Teacher. Occasional blogger.