The imagined everyday life of a writer, and the actual everyday life of a writer are often, and perhaps will always be, at odds with each other. I myself had fanciful notions of what it might be like to be a writer. My mind’s eye would conjure the image of a human (usually me, though a more literary, sophisticated version) at a perfect desk. This perfect desk housed a perfect typewriter (naturally) and was perfectly positioned in front of a window. This window opened out onto the perfect view: the lusciously green rolling hills of the countryside or the calming blue of the ocean, depending on my mood and the season within which this daydream was taking place.
Mugs of coffee would be scattered around the room, mixed with glass tumblers containing the residue of some painfully chic-sounding alcoholic beverage. The gentle sounds of a warm breeze would be the only soundtrack to each writing day, although the odd bird’s chirp could also be heard every now and then. A perfect pair of reading glasses would slide down my/the writer’s nose and a pencil would be used as a hair clip, just barely holding together a messy bun atop a head heavy with intelligent thoughts, fascinating plots and well-rounded characters.
Finally, in this wonderfully imagined writer’s life, the person sitting at the desk was actually writing. Every minute of everyday was spent creating a masterpiece that would tread that perfect line of literary, important prose accessible enough to eventually be turned into a film. And that was the main point. This person wrote everyday and, not only that, they absolutely LOVED writing everyday.
|My 'desk' and 'view' for today's writing session|
When I began to seriously attempt writing my first novel, my writing day looked somewhat different to what I’d imagined. Instead, the day would begin with me dragging myself out of bed at an hour most would deem too early for a Saturday or Sunday. However, the weekend was my only free time to work on my novel for a good, long stretch thanks to being employed full-time, so I knew I had to begin early or, most likely, not at all.
I would then stumble, bleary-eyed, to the State Library of Victoria. En route I often had the pleasure of seeing evidence of the bawdy festivities Melbourne had bared witness to the previous night. This evidence came in the form of mounds of vomit on the footpath. Not exactly the dazzling blue of the ocean or emerald-green of the countryside to inspire my day.
A vacant desk was usually easy to come by at the library, unless it was university exam time, and I so I would choose a desk not too close to anyone else and ease myself into one of the most uncomfortable chairs in existence. I would then wince at every cough, sneeze, scrape of a chair and whispered voice, tutting and furrowing my brow. How would I get any work done with such noise? But I would eventually come to terms with my lot and focus on my writing goal for the day.
When I managed to rid myself of the constrictions of full-time employment and moved to London, I did think my writing life would morph into something more akin to my imaginings, though I did add some new details.
|What a 'desk' and 'view' should probably look like for a writing session (aka the London Library)|
I imagined myself writing at the London Library where, each morning, I would find a desk in between the likes of Hilary Mantel and the ghost of Virginia Woolf while Sarah Waters would pop over to see how I was settling in. I would then take a break and have afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason. I’d then end the day with a stroll through Bloomsbury in the hopes I’d find inspiration from the authors who’d come before me. Best of all, I’d write everyday and my prose would evolve from utter drivel into works of unimagined brilliance the likes of which London had yet to see.
Let me tell you about my writing day today. I woke at around eight o’clock and checked Twitter, my emails, and The Guardian (but not the comments section, never the comments section), before rolling out of bed. I then fed McNulty and myself (some sort of cat food for him, Activia and a long black for me – tres chic) and spoke to my parents in Melbourne. I considered leaving the house to do my writing at one of two places I tend to visit (neither are the London Library and if you look up their membership fee you’ll see why) before deciding to stay home and save money since, well yes I did just come back from Italy and that’s pretty fab but I did NO WRITING THERE!
I then tidied my room, washed the dinner dishes from last night, updated my Twitter profile picture, updated my blog profile picture, updated my Twitter profile picture again, updated my blog profile picture again, downloaded my photos from Italy onto my laptop, brushed my teeth, had a shower, got dressed, did a load of washing, checked to see which bedroom McNulty had chosen to sleep in this time (not mine), checked Twitter again, checked The Guardian again, checked my emails again, bought tickets for a play starring Daniel Radcliffe for early next year and then finally, finally, I began to write this post. All the while dressed in clothes no one should be seen in, least of all the patrons of Fortnum & Mason.
The image I had of what life would look like as a writer was, of course, never going to match the reality. There is never the perfect desk with the perfect view and the perfect noise level. And your desk neighbour is never going to be a member of London’s literati. However, I was surprised to discover there was a point where reality and imagination met.
I write almost everyday. Not only that, I LOVE writing, just like that sophisticated, literary version of myself I had created in my daydreams. After three months of being in London and spending most of my time with my laptop and my words, I could admit to myself that I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing. What.A.Re.Lief.
So, while I still hope to eventually get that perfect desk with the perfect view, I will be just as happy writing with my laptop in a library, on a couch, in bed, in the park because, after all, a writer, well, writes.