Elaine Everest explains why she is always trying to catch up with herself.
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 need 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.