After watching some ‘expectation vs. reality’ videos on YouTube, I was mightily inspired to write something similar about fiction writers. So without further ado…
6am: A Pact to Wake up and Write Early
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 WH Smith discount pad; followed by startled dog.
7am: Getting in the Mindset
I’m so Murikami. I workout for hours to get myself in the zone. I then oil myself up and get down to work:
“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—)
I get ready to do some exercising, journalling, visualising, gratitude, affirmations and all the other things fashionable people do 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.
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)
“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday”—Don Marquis (1878—1937)
*sits and bastes. Sits and bastes. Turns over. Sits and bastes.
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)
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
I’ve got a well-adapted routine where I can slip out of my story world and come out into the ordinary one feeling like a grounded 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)
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)