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A Day In The Life Of A Writer

People keep asking me why I haven’t written a blog post recently. I’m well prepared for this question, with a whole raft of defensive answers citing how busy I am finishing off my second book whilst trying to keep the first one afloat. I rarely mention that my intense laziness plays a part in all of this…

But it inspired me to write about my typical day, and publish it on The Displaced Nation, an expat blog I regularly write for (see? Busy, I told you so!).

So for those who can face the inanity of a look into my life – well I guess that’s most of you, as that’s what this blog is generally about :0) – here it is!

As you can well imagine, it’s an extremely glamorous life, full of high-octane car chases, explosions and pithy one-liners… in my head, anyway.

My Writing Desk

The reality:

I wake up at 6:40am. I’ve no choice, because that’s what time my wife wakes up. Much as I would love to moan at her about it, she’s doing it for me – in fact she gets up, gets breakfast and goes out to work, all in the name of supporting me while I lounge around at home, pretending to be a writer.

So, yeah, I figure it’s best not to grumble.

Even though it’s bloody freezing at 7am!

It continues to surprise me that it can be this cold in Australia. Who knew?

At random intervals throughout the day I receive instructions from the wife via text message.

‘It’s sunny out! Go for a walk.’

‘It’s raining – bring the washing in!’

‘Don’t forget to clean the bathroom today’

‘Eat something!’

It’s because she loves me, but also because she’s lived with me long enough to know that I’m an idiot. Without these helpful prompts she’d get home to find I’d Tweeted my heart out, emailed everyone I know in this hemisphere and written thousands of words of my new manuscript – but that I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast.

Then, when she takes me to the gym I end up fainting halfway through the class.

Australia is an amazing place, for such a wide variety of reasons that I could fill this blog post waffling about them; but there’s one stand-out fact that makes a real difference at this point.

The wages here are good. Very good. So good in fact, that my wife, working part time as a cleaner, can comfortably support both of us! Now, we’ve been backpackers long enough to know how to live frugally. We rent a room in a share-house for example, rather than splashing out on our own flat. But other than that, I’d say we do okay. We eat out plenty, go to parties and the cinema, and have a gym membership so ridiculously expensive I sweat more thinking about it than I do using it – but we manage it all quite comfortably, on one part-time wage.

I’ve never found another country where this is possible.

 

A Good Morning!

After wading through a mountain of emails, Tweets and Facebook messages – some of which aren’t even spam – I finally get to start on the real work. And then…

  • 10am – check my sales.
  • 10:02am – shout “WOOHOO!” unnecessarily loudly, pissing off my student friend in the next room, who doesn’t have to be up ‘till 12.
  • 10:05am – celebrate with a coffee.
  • 10:10am – back to work, until…
  • 10:30 – check sales again – just to be sure I wasn’t imagining things.
  • 10:32am – Wake up students again with another cry of ‘Woohoo!’
  • 10:35am – celebrate with another coffee…

I like my coffee like I like my women… industrial size! And witty…

As you can imagine, I also spend a lot of time on the loo.

There is a compulsion amongst self-published authors to constantly check our sales and our Amazon rankings. This is because, unlike ‘properly’ published authors, we have access to this information in real time. Watching sales tick up one by one – or watching them stubbornly refuse to do so – is a highly addictive (and utterly pointless) pass-time.

I DO NOT suffer from this.

I check less than five times a day – except on the days when I check more often. Which is quite often.

But I don’t suffer from the compulsion. At all.

I also don’t do denial.

 

Message Received

So, we’ve reached lunch. Or rather, we should have. By this time I’m usually quite deep into the world I’m writing in – which for me is my own torrid past. Having to nail it down so completely, with colours and gestures and remembering what people said, sends me into such a vivid re-living of the event I’m describing that I lose all track of time. If I don’t get that text telling me to eat, I don’t eat.

Which is one reason why I’m so skinny, despite sitting in front of my desk all day.

When I do get the text, it scares the hell out of me.

I’m usually sitting in silence. I can’t work with music on, or else I end up listening to the lyrics and, inevitably, singing along with gusto. As the student in the next room can attest, I’m one of the worst singers in the entire country. Maybe even the world.

So all is calm, and quiet, and focus – only the rhythmic clacking of keys disturbs the air. Then my phone screeches at me and I jump three feet off my chair, in a move that amazes anyone lucky enough to see it happen.

“How the hell do you jump that high while you’re sitting down?” they ask.

“You must have some potent muscles in your arse!”

“Why thank-you,” I tell them. “It’s all the practice I get, talking out of it.”

My wife gets home and takes me out to the gym. I rely on her because I can’t drive – at least, I can now. I took a test in December (my first, at age 33), and passed with flying colours. But I haven’t driven since, so I tend to rely on her – not just for money, but as a taxi service too.

Poor woman.

But anyway, we only have one car. Or more accurately, about 2/3rds of a car; it’s gotten considerably shorter since she crashed it into the back of the taxi a few months ago. But it still works, so what’s the problem?

Although I do have to put my hand under the bonnet to start it.

Damage to our carAfter the gym – assuming we’re not going straight out for dinner with friends, to pile all the calories we’ve just burnt back on at Nandos, we wend our weary way home.

 

Chores

She cooks, and I clean up afterwards – because a) she’s been cleaning all day, and b) I can’t cook for toffee. Seriously – beans on toast is the pinnacle of my culinary ability. And I usually burn at least one component of it.

While she cooks, I finish off whatever piece of writing was rudely interrupted by the end of her working day.

I only cook on special occasions…

After dinner I Tweet, and Facebook, and email – but from the comfort of our bed, where we sit with our legs up watching a movie.

And eating ice-cream, because if you’re going to go to the gym four times a week, you might as well make it worthwhile  :0)

And then it’s 10pm: well-earned sleep time for the wife. After all, she’s got to be up at 6:40 the next morning.

So I tuck her in and sneak downstairs, where I carry on Twittering, writing the odd guest post, sending out review copies of my book to bloggers, replying to emails from readers, making posts on forums and indulging in my two main vices: a glass of wine, and allowing myself to write a bit of a sci-fi novel I one day hope to publish. Ah, good times!

At around 2am I generally remember that I’ll be getting up at six as well, as it’s impossible to get back to sleep after seeing the wife off to work; it’s also usually around this time that someone living in a far more sensible time-zone strikes up an interesting conversation on Twitter…

But I try to be in bed by 4.

I don’t always make it.

Y’see? I told you! Pure, unadulterated glamour…

Alternative New Year Resolutions

Sick of people going on about New Year’s Resolutions yet? No? Well of course not, because most people stopped making them at age 12.  In spite of this I’ve decided to continue the tradition – but being me, I make a more… alternative kind of resolution. I also waited until half way through January to make them, to give myself time to recover from New Year. That way I could be sure they were true and honest, and not written out of any knee-jerk sentimental idealism. Here’s my aims for 2012:

1) Drown Fewer Bandicoots:

Drowned MarsupialJust because an animal is stupid doesn’t mean it should be allowed to die. Otherwise I’d have no friends left at all.

(Ow! Stop hitting me!)

Seriously though, we have an issue with our pond – it’s so tempting for bandicoots that they throw themselves in with great enthusiasm, completely disregarding the fact that they can’t swim. No wonder they’re endangered.

Roo was making a lovely list of sightings to report to the Dept. of Conservation, until sighting #14 was stiff, smelly and floating.

‘Dear DoC,

Please find enclosed a report on the bandicoot that was living under my verandah until about 2 o clock this morning when he decided to go for a swim. He is now living in a plastic carrier bag in my bin.  Not sure what the official number of them left in the wild is, but please deduct 1 from the total. If you’re looking to wipe out any more of the little critters just send ‘em this way.’

Your friends in Conservation,

Tony and Krista

2) Harass more Pro-Bloggers:

Because they secretly rule the world. Not the politic-y type bit of it, which is boring bullshit anyway, but the bit that matters. They’re the new black. No, not even that is cool enough – they’re the new ninjas. Everyone wants to be one. Except me, thank God! Imagine if I wrote this crap full-time. I’d have people suing me for making their brains dribble out of their ears (and staining their best shirts in the process).

Instead I will poke fun at these paragons of the digital realm, these gate-keepers of all that is good. You never know – I might get a rise out of one of them, and they’re usually far too nice to call the police. Might even sell a few books…

3) Get naked more.

Because you love it. Yeah y’ do. Here’s why:

My bare chest

Told ya so... :0p

4) Take more photos of Random Shit:

I’m not a camera carrier. I lived for a year in Thailand and only took one photo. I’ve quite literally destroyed more cameras than I’ve owned (sorry Roo, Gill, Dad….)

Anyhoo. I do see a lot of odd stuff on my travels and it’s about time I photographed some of it. Especially now I have a shock-proof, water-proof, snowboarding-over-proof camera (which I leave at home because it was expensive) and a good phone (which I leave at home because it doesn’t work in Australia). By way of an example, here’s some stuff I saw in the bargain bins whilst out shopping yesterday:

Some rather expensive trinkets:

Expensive signAnd a severed arm:

Manaquin Arm‘nuff said. And more photos means less words for me to write and you to read – basically, everybody wins.

5) I WILL dress up like a woman. Because that’s also popular.

6) I WILL NOT dress up like a gay ninja. Reason is self-explanatory. Well, that AND – they might get me…

Gay Ninja7) I WILL try to do more crazy shit. I’m not promising I’ll manage anything as crazy as this:

Outdoor Toilet

When ya gotta go...

But you know how I roll. It’s bound to be fun  :0)

So! Your Alternative New Year’s Resolutions? In the comments of you please!

Tony

Less is Less

I was reading an awesome travel blog this morning called ‘YTravel’, and they had a post which inspired me. It was all about how much harder they plan on working in 2012 which I feel is commendable, if slightly insane.

I mean, work harder? REALLY? Mum, do I have to go to school?

Yes okay, we have established that I am one of the laziest buggers ever to walk the Earth. But I felt this was a good opportunity to advertise this fact to a wider audience, so I told them about my intention in 2012, NOT to work as hard as I did in 2011.

I even resolved to work less hard on blogging, what with there only being four of you reading this and all  :0)

So there I was, as usual, taking the piss, and I used the phrase ‘less is… less’ That’s when it hit me – less, in fact, IS less.

‘Less is more’ is a phrase most writers are familiar with, as it relates to economy of word use (another area in which I am sadly lacking. Jeez, not coming off too well in this post am I?).

But ‘less is less’ relates instead to the amount of writing I’ve been producing.

I’ve blogged, I’ve travelled, I’ve renovated three houses. I’ve social media-d. I’ve also got married, learnt to drive, done a Grand Adventure around England and then emigrated to Australia. It was one hell of a busy year.

What I didn’t do, though, is write.

WHAT? Shock, horror! But I’m a writer… aren’t I?

Well I bloody well better be. My only other marketable skill is… Hm. Let’s just say it’s not marketable. Except possibly to sailors.

Me in a dressIt has been mentioned to me recently that I’d “Bloody well better get on with writing the next book!”.

This, of course, is true.

I have now decided to take this piece of advice.

For the first time in my life I have fans – yes, FANS (and not the electric kind, though I have those as well thank-you very much) – asking me about the next book. At least once a day… or week… or month… okay, but it did happen at least once – I get an email, or a facebook message from someone wanting to know when my next book is out.

Who am I to deny them? The great unwashed masses, the people… peoples… person. Or two.

So if you don’t see me around – that’s nothing to do with me writing my new book. That’s because I now live in Australia. Honestly, keep up! But I will be devoting much more time to getting the next book done, hopefully for the start of the English summer. (Since that can be anytime between May 1st and the middle of September, I’d better be more accurate: Let’s say June.)

The new book has a working title of ‘THAT’S NOT MY MONKEY…’ (because at the time, it wasn’t.) I might be letting slip the occasional progress report to keep you all in the loop – and if anyone hasn’t bought my first book, ‘THAT BEAR ATE MY PANTS!’ – well you damn well should have! Nothing like a great big pay-cheque to inspire me to write the next one! Grab it now – the link is on the left.

No, the other left.

I will of course continue to blog with no discernable focus, until we all go blind from ennui and start falling into one another. I know, you expect no less.

And just like last year I will offer NO prizes on my blog, because I’m poor. And a terrible host.

Feel free to piss and moan about my general lack of tact (amongst other things) in the comments section. I will then point and laugh.

No, really!

I love you all.

Tony