What is this fascination by readers of how an author lives? Or how the author writes? Or how the author rises in the morning and goes to sleep at night? I thought I’d be quick and say I don’t really care about those writers, but that got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be cool to know that when I sit in my computer chair late at night that Lee Child, Stephen King, Nora Roberts or JK Rowling does the same thing?
Maybe we hope that duplicating the schedule of a successful author will infuse an extra dose of success in our own. Maybe we just need to feel part of a family, the family of authors. Or we dream of being that full-time writer and wonder what it’s like. So, let me add to the database of writers, showing how I carry through my day, not that it’s a tried-and-true plan for excellence.
My day starts . . . late. As a night owl, I rise around ten in the morning, after others have been up and kicking butt for hours. My husband is a jewel, and he brings me breakfast. Either I eat in front of a recorded mystery show, or I read email and check Facebook. Okay, I admit, I’ll check the reviews on Amazon, too.
But my writing world has multiple facets. Not only am I a mystery author (two series under my belt), but I freelance for blogs and periodicals, and I manage FundsforWriters.com, a website and newsletter service for writers. I speak often. Note the wide diversity between left-brain and right-brain duties. While my brain is slower in the morning, I do the email and research work affiliated with FFW or freelance work. Why? Because those are the breadwinners.
FundsforWriters (FFW) has been my mainstay for 16 years now, chosen by Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers for 15 of those years. Affiliate work, guest blogging, editing and purchasing articles from other writers, website updates, all of those administrative type tasks eat up my daylight hours. But they can also be started and stopped as I’m interrupted since few of those tasks take more than a half hour at a time.
Working for myself allows me to work eight-hour (or more) days as I feel the need, but rarely do I work those hours straight through. A few in the AM, then a few in the afternoon, and then later in the night with breaks in between for the necessities and the joys of life – my chickens, my garden, my family, shopping, the firing range, or a random dinner out. I’m a British mystery fanatic, so some of those breaks you’ll find me in front of the television with hubby, competing with him to solve the whodunit first. As a retired federal agent, he’s usually the winner, though at times I get one-up on him.
But my breaks often find me editing on the back porch, especially in fine weather. I live on the banks of Lake Murray in central South Carolina, so few days are too bad to keep me indoors. Facing that lake, the ducks, geese and assorted wildlife, I read my chapters aloud to hubby for multiple reasons. First, he prefers I read to him than he read himself. Second, the reading aloud finds mistakes like nothing else. Third, his professional background keeps my mysteries honest and factual. Last, the time gives us a chance to share a cigar and bourbon as the sun sets. One of our favorite things to do.
It’s after that time, late at night, that I fall headlong into my chapters, inserting edits, re-fabricating scenes, and creating new episodes. Killing characters. The email has slowed. The social media is quiet. The phone doesn’t ring. Out here in the country, without streetlights, night falls hard, and that endows me with a seclusion and silence that helps me think.
Of course I travel to conferences, book clubs, and other appearances – at least two dozen a year. But during those travels, I carry my laptop, hotspot and notebook, and work goes on. Though I miss my lake and dark nights in my study.
Saturdays are my day off, but ninety percent of the time, I gravitate to the computer to check email or polish a paragraph, maybe throw together a draft for a magazine feature. There’s something about writing that’s addictive, and missing a day leaves a hole in me. My family has become accustomed to hearing “Sorry, but I have to write.” Not that they get forgotten, far from it. But like all their careers, mine is just as important, and while my hours are flexible, they must be respected.
These days I’m finishing the third book in the Edisto Island Mysteries and planning out 2016 goals. My latest release was Edisto Jinx, released October 2015, but no author should be without a work-in-progress, and I’m sorting through which series to add to the minutes I turn Edisto 3 in to my publisher. I’m lost without a book in play.
Writing is a major chunk of who I am, and those in my life understand that quite clearly. Without that daily diligence, I wouldn’t have the books I do, or the 35,000 FFW followers. The main difference between the nine-to-five worker and me is that I can’t wait to go to work, and I struggle pulling myself away leaving me often falling into bed at three AM.
Isn’t it heaven to be working a job you hope to never retire from?
C. Hope Clark is the Editor of FundsforWriters, one of the Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers and author of The Carolina Slade Mysteries and The Edisto Island Mysteries. You can learn more about her work at her website and at Funds for Writers where you can sign up to receive the excellent newsletter. Hope can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.