Saturday, 6 December 2008

An 'Improper' author? - Meg Harper

Ho, ho, ho! A ‘proper’ author, hey, John? I’ve just got in from work – that’s ‘proper’ (!) work (with predictable pay) at the arts centre where I run the youth theatre and where I’ve just spent an hour, not sitting in the sink writing, dammit, (see Sally Nicholls’ post) but up to my elbows in the sink because it’s Christmas, they’re short-staffed and I couldn’t leave the bar staff fast disappearing behind a mound of washing up and a queue of stressy-looking Joe Publics. The dance director and the director of the senior youth theatre have both hand run-ins with the technician in the last couple of days, he’s not best-pleased with me either and this is only the start of the week with the end of term performances by all the theatre and dance groups. Will I still be here on Thursday morning? Or will I have been a) duffed up by the technician? b) thrown into the canal by angry parents? c) closeted in a nice, quiet padded cell – hmmm….maybe they’ll let me have some paper and a pencil in there?

This week has also included a day in college training to be a counsellor and a morning in a comprehensive school being a counsellor, quite a lot more time at the arts centre, a fair amount of time still attempting to save the life of Eric Cathey – he’s not off the hook yet, though readers of my last post will, I hope be pleased to hear that he was granted a stay of execution with only four and a half hours left to live – and all the usual cooking, washing, ironing and general to-ing and fro-ing that life with too many teenagers involves. (This week we had a fall off a moped and a 1am ‘Can you check my UCAS entry?’ stunt to add to our flagging interest in their manic existences.)

So you can see why I was gleefully announcing on Monday to my Facebook friends that I had written a chapter! And on Tuesday, I’d written two! Hallelujah! The only reason I managed that was because I ring-fenced December to write! Ho, ho, ho! (again) So what will next week hold? Well – Monday and Tuesday morning I’d booked for writing – but unfortunately, the lovely woman who was going to arrange the publication of stories that my creative writing group wrote in the summer has been ill ever since – so I’m going to make my first venture into Lulu publishing and do it myself. Hey ho – maybe another chapter the following week then….

Proper author, John? Well, if that’s fullish-time and getting invited to publisher’s parties (wot are they?) then maybe not. But if seizing any fair-sized block of time to get on with it counts, in a passionate, frantic kind of way (and then falling asleep over the keyboard because life is too interesting to go to bed when I should!) then yes, certainly! I’m not really moaning – I’d be useless at sitting at my desk everyday – I’m just having a mildly frustrated episode. At least I don’t suffer from writer’s block. I never have time for it!

I say all this to convince myself, of course. I have difficulty being a ‘proper’ wife and a ‘proper’ mother too - and I certainly haven’t got a ‘proper’ job! That’s nine to five, isn’t it?!


Lucy Coats said...

The more I read this blog, the more I realise that everyone does it differently! I salute you, Meg, and commiserate on the teenager thing. I think the last-minute crisis is a built in hormonal speciality!

As for the proper vs improper--well I quite fancy being an improper author, myself!

Meg Harper said...

Quite so, Lucy. You have teenagers too then?! At least they provide lots of material!

Improper author, hey? I once read a writer of erotica bemoaning the fact that she'd just be writing something like, 'Slowly, he teased her nipple...' and the baby would wake up demanding to be breastfed!

Nick Green said...

Actually I find having a non-writing life (incl. full time job) a huge asset to being able to write. It means my writing stays in the realm of enjoyment as opposed to chore.

By the way Meg, if you want some Lulu tips, let me know. I've used it in the past and continue to use it as a long-distance printer of early drafts in progress!

Meg Harper said...

I hope you're teasing me, Meg, and that I wasn't really as unclear as all that! Of course my point wasn't that being fullish-time and getting invited to parties makes you a 'proper' author; it was that even being fullish-time (or at least having no paid job other than writing), having more than one book published, and so on, for ages wasn't enough to make me feel I deserved to call myself a 'proper' author. Maybe I shouldn't post the day after a party...?"

This is actually from John - some glitch won't let him comment! Sorry it's so late!

Meg Harper said...

Thanks, Nick, I might well be picking your brains!!! I know what you mean about the chore business - I enjoyed writing more when it wasn't supposed to form a part of my income!!!

Meg Harper said...

Yes,sorry, totally understand that, John! Was just really airing my own challenges about feeling 'improper'!!! No offence intended. Hope it was a darn good party!