I’m late, I’m late…

Elaine Everest explains why she is always trying to catch up with herself. stop-watch.jpg (300×313)

I always thought that the life of a writer would be a life of glamour and ease. I’d live in a cottage overlooking a beautiful Cornish cove. Upon my antique desk would be my latest work in progress all written by hand with an expensive fountain pen presented to me by a grateful publisher. I may even have a bevy of bespectacled secretaries taking down my every word while I recline on a chaise longue being fed grapes… However, in reality, I’m pounding the keys of my laptop trying to keep up with a list of writing jobs that have to be done as soon as possible whilst sitting at my kitchen table, keeping an eye on the dog, while my upstairs office is housing my husband’s photography equipment and a seven foot high chocolate fountain – don’t ask!

Until the beginning of this year my day was spent pitching ideas and being commissioned to write articles for any publication that would take my work. The life of a freelance journalist is fast paced. There could be times when my ideas sold so well they had to be written and the copy filed within days. A more leisurely job was writing short fiction and deadlines only being dictated to by the seasons. In women’s magazine land we are always at least three months ahead of any seasonal story.

Apart from my freelance writing work I run The Write Place creative writing school and nfountain9.jpg (738×585)eed to plan and meet deadlines for lesson planning and event organisation. I was being pulled from left to right keeping up with deadlines even though some were self-imposed.

My dream has always been to be a full time novelist but as the years passed I found myself no nearer living the dream. Something had to give. Those deadlines had to go! I decided to start drawing on my private pension and this gave me the financial freedom to be able to ease off writing articles and work instead towards being a ‘proper writer’. I still write the occassional piece but now, to all intent and purpose, I’m a novelist. What gave me the push to fight for me dream was being taken on by a literary agent in January. Suddenly I had a new deadline – write a 120,000 word historical novel so my agent could send it to publishers. Great, I hear you say. Just sit at home all day and tap away until the book is finished. Wrong! Suddenly, other deadlines got in the way.

Along with Natalie Kleinman I work on the Romantic Novelist Association’s blog. We have to source content for two blog posts each week. That can mean interviewing authors, publishers and agents, editing work and loading it onto the blog. Next there is the technical stuff associated with such an important blog. We need to check that we are not being spammed, promote the blog on Twitter and Facebook and remind contributors to do their own promotion. It all takes time. I won’t even mention how many times Natalie and I have been tearing our hair out when a contributor changes their mind or forgets they are scheduled to send up a blog post. The show must go on –  twice weekly, come hell or high water.

Any problems can have a knock on effect to my self emposed deadline to write those thousands of words each week for my novel. In fact that’s why I’m writing this blog post at two in the morning – I’m still trying to catch up!


I have ‘to do’ lists buzzing in my head all the time – they just won’t go away. Each one is screaming, ‘it’s my turn next’  whilst my novel is simply yawning and saying, ‘write me when you have time…’

Do you remember the White Rabbit’s song from Alice in Wonderland? “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date…”

That song could have been written for me.

9 thoughts on “I’m late, I’m late…

  1. Fitting everything in can be hard! If only we had more than 24 hours in a day – but you know what they say. If you want something done, ask a busy person!

  2. I don’t know if this is helpful or not, but I think the problem with a novel is that it is a long-term project, and it’s easy to put another, shorter and immediate task first.

    The thing is, your goal is to write thousands of words per week for the novel. To do that you not only have to be motivated, you have to somehow trim your schedule. Well, I can’t help you with the second part, you’re on your own there. But motivation can be something as simple as setting yourself a challenge which is unrelated to word count, like deciding on three semi-random words that you must use in your next session of writing. You start off trying to find a way to work them into the story which isn’t too easy, and before you know it you have pages and you’re still trying to figure out a place to use that third one… 🙂

    Anyway, best of luck with it! I’m sure you’ll figure something out.

    • Thank you, Burneplasmafire. I have no problem with motivation as I’m a full time writer and three word exercises are for beginners – and those who believe in ‘writer’s block’. My blog post is about deadlines and the amount of work we have to face as freelance writers. Like most novelists my work is planned and researched so its just a matter of making time to write it!
      Elaine Everest

    • I find the three word challenge an interesting ‘push’, a way of tricking yourself into writing. I may very well try that. Thank you

  3. Working closely with you as I do, Elaine, I am well aware of the many deadlines you have to face. One hurdle jumped only brings you face to face with the next. In your job you will never reach the finishing line because there will always be another deadline ahead…and you will always meet it. I’m curious to know about the chocolate fountain (even though you said don’t ask). Does it help or is it as tantalisingly out of reach as that final hurdle?

  4. Belated thanks for this article. I think Burneplasmafire makes a good point whether one is a novice or full-time. Motivation is not to be confused with desire. Ultimately we all make choices, a lot unconsciously and exercises like the three word one could trick our mind into actually doing what we tell ourselves we want to do – write the novel. May we always make the right choices in 2015

    • For what it’s worth, I’ve moved on a bit from challenges and prompts. If I’m really stuck then maybe a push is a good thing, but the next thing for me is the illusion of choice.

      That is, if I have a choice of what I’m going to do (even though really I’m going to go back to stories 2 through 4 and do those too at some point) then I’m more likely to do something, anything. Admittedly that only works for me because there’s no time pressure. So if you have a deadline then juggling projects just divides up your time.

      Something which may be of practical use though, is to put a writing environment on any device that you use. For example, I have a tablet that my mum very kindly loaned to me. An on-screen keyboard isn’t the fastest for typing, but the tablet itself is portable, supports Dropbox, and allows me to resume working in moments. It can also be used in a more comfortable position.

      It likely won’t replace my laptop, which allows me to hit a more reasonable typing speed, but if it can be used to steal back minutes which would otherwise be wasted, then fair enough.

      Hoping that you have a productive year. 🙂

      • Notebook and pen for me. For years I ‘wrote’ in my head, making notes, creating dialogue etc. It was quite lonely when those characters finally made it into print

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