After watching some expectation vs. reality style videos on YouTube, I was mightily inspired to write something similar about fiction writers in general:
6am: A Pact to Wake up and Write Early
Expectation: What a beautiful day! I’m inspired to write jewel-like prose almost immediately on a stolen napkin! (I’m a creative, thank you, not a WH Smith discount back-to-school pad writer):
“…For Morning in the bowl of night
Has flung the stone that puts the stars to flight:
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan’s turret in a noose of light”
— Edward Fitzgerald (1809-83).
I get out of bed; blow the dust away from my pen and take a shower. My skin sizzles with writerly greatness.
Those dry Martinis did the work for me;
Last night at twelve I felt immense,
Today I feel like thirty cents.
My eyes are bleared, my coppers hot,
I’ll try to eat, but I cannot.
It is no time for mirth and laughter,
The cold, grey dawn of the morning after.
— George Ade (1866-1944)
I struggle to find the alarm clock in the dark due to glued eyes. Alarm clock falls off table, followed by writer falling to catch it; followed by WH Smith discount pad; followed by startled dog.
7am: Getting in the Mindset
Expectation: I’m so Murikami. I workout for hours to get myself in the zone. I then oil myself up and get down to work; not getting any grease on my chair or laptop:
“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4:00 am and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10km or swim for 1500m (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9:00 pm. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerise myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity”
—Haruki Murakami (1949—)
Reality: I get ready to do some exercising, journalling, visualising, gratitude, affirmations and all the other fashionable things that people do now at an unreasonable hour— but the breakfast mistress calls and before I can do any of those things I end up having an affair — again:
“He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it, hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart” —C.S Lewis (1898—1963).
I walk over to computer, feeling heavy and about as far away from the zone as Murakami could catch me.
Expectation: I get down to work straight away and have no problem with distractions; in fact, you’re distracting me from my work right now:
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started”— Mark Twain (1835—1910)
Reality: “Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday”—Don Marquis (1878—1937)
*sits and bastes. Sits and bastes. Turns over. Sits and bastes.
Expectation: As an unattainable goal, I never seek perfectionism. I’m content to strive for my best work and ask no more of myself than that; after all:
“Every first draft is sh*t”—Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
Reality: An open window brings in an early afternoon storm. The curtains blow inward; lightening bolts illuminate mad eyes and hair as I sink to my knees with dramatic flair and outstretch my arms to the heavens:
“I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have” — Leonardo da Vinci (1452—1519)
5pm: Trying to Be Normal with People Again
Expectation: I’ve got a well-adapted routine where I can slip out of my story world and come out into the ordinary world feeling like a grounded, connected human being:
“When I come home at 2, I read over what I’ve written that day, and then try to put it out of my mind. I shower, prepare dinner, so that when my husband comes home, I’m not totally absorbed in my work. We have a semblance of a normal life. We have a drink together and have dinner” —Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
Reality: I walk out of my study into a normal kitchen with normal family members talking about normal things. I feel totally spaced out and as a result of suspecting that these people might be imposters, tilt my head back and widen my eyes. My family now has the same suspicions. I get scared and run away, wanting to be back with my characters:
“We are all born mad. Some remain so”
(Insert call to action here*)
See you next time; until then^^,