We're told that MPs work an average of 85 hours a week. Another great unprovable is that women are better multi-taskers than men. Oh, please. Whoever mooted these theories clearly has never met an author. We laugh in the face of an MP's workload and shake our heads in wry dismay at any claim that multi-tasking is a gender issue. As far as I'm concerned, the people who have to spin the most plates in this world are authors and illustrators. Our profession is what we do when everything else on the 'To Do' list has been done. A room of one's own? I'd kill for an hour to myself.
Several years ago, The Society of Authors produced a statistic that the average author earns £7000pa. That's not a liveable income, so most of us are also doing another job, either full or part-time. Many of us have families, commitments, a home to run and - dare I suggest? - other interests. Weekends become a blurred concept for a writer. That's when I do my writing. So does that mean I'm working seven days a week or indulging my interests in my spare time? It's a fine line sometimes, especially when a deadline is pressing. There's often an assumption that authors and illustrators will work weekends when schedules are being drawn. That Christmas is a great opportunity to nail a revised draft or that Bank Holidays are God's way of stopping you from going insane. Great! Another day for that rewrite. Of course, this flexibility is also the beauty of the craft. Some of us love writing in the wee small hours and wouldn't have it any other way. 9-5? Hell will freeze over first.
But, still. It's a lot to juggle, isn't it? Today I have to blog, vote, drag a suitcase to the office with me, do a morning's work, run to catch a train, do some work on the train, then... Ahhhh. Catch a plane, lie in the sun, read novels (for fun, not research!), drink cocktails, do nothing. Oh dear. I can see boredom on the horizon. A few days into my holiday, I'll probably start thinking about my next manuscript. I've already decided to pack my netbook for the break. Might I become the mad woman in large hat and sunglasses, squinting at a monitor when all around are sipping their Tequila Sunrises?
It's an affliction, you see, this itch to write. Why else would we do this to ourselves? I love being a writer almost as much as I enjoy being a martyr. Now, where did I put that polling card...
Do you squeeze writing in alongside another job? Do your children moan about monopoly of the family PC? It's not just me, is it?
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