But It’s Not What You Think!
It must be lovely not to have a real job? To be able to sit around at home, gazing out of windows, dreaming up new fanciful storylines. To be able to go for coffee whenever I like. To just kick back and relax, knowing I’ve made it?
I get asked these questions a lot, but I’ve never really known how to answer them. So I took the time out between window-gazing and slurping coffee to sit down and think about it.
What is the day in the life of a writer actually like?
If I am honest, the truth is that there is no typical day.
Most mornings I’m woken up by my young son jumping on my face, but occasionally by a producer from the BBC (phoning me, not jumping on my face) asking me if I’ll participate in a discussion on Radio Shropshire. I live nowhere near Shropshire but some bloke in America’s been gobbing off about self-publishing and they know I’m good for a fiery debate. I tell him that’s fine, and nip downstairs to make a quick cup of tea.
While I’m waiting, I check my emails. Forty-three have come in overnight. That’s not too bad. But none of them are spam and all of them need dealing with.
Around this time, my wife has made her way into the office. As much as many people might think being an author isn’t even a real job for one person, both of us work full-time at it. She doesn’t write, but she takes care of the business side of things.
I do the radio interview, then decide I should crack on with recording another few chapters of my next audiobook — now my voice is warmed up.
Four hours later, my voice is hoarse and I’m annoyed at how many errors I’ve spotted in my own writing. I go back downstairs and dump a list of the errors on my wife’s lap, so she can edit them and resubmit the files to the vendors. Every time anything is changed in a book’s file, it’s an hour-long operation involving dismantling files, making edits, recompiling them and submitting them to each of the bookstores individually. I leave her to it.
I check my emails again and am delighted to discover there’s only eighteen new ones. One is from my previous publisher. I open that one first, because I’ve been trying to get them to reply to my emails for the last eighteen months. The email contains a form which I have to sign and return within the next twenty-four hours, or else.
I calm my temper by going downstairs to get more tea, and find my wife tearing her hair out because she’s been doing the accounts and the figures don’t match up. We sit down and go through it, before realising that we’ve been slightly underpaid by a very well known bookstore this month. It’ll only take us three weeks and seventeen emails to work out where our missing 34p has gone.
‘While you’re here,’ she says, uttering the Words of Death, ‘can we go through the launch plan for the new book?’ Before I know it, there are spreadsheets everywhere. I dream of going to the pub and enjoying a cold beer or five tonight. As if reading my mind, she slips in: ‘Don’t forget you’ve got that podcast interview with California tonight.’ My heart sinks a little. I had forgotten. No beer for me. The interview starts at 10pm and it’ll likely be midnight before I leave my desk.
I’ve still not written a word, and the inbox is growing fuller. I tell myself I’m going to deal with enough of them to bring the inbox count down to a mere fifty. I can deal with those tomorrow (when the inbox count will be over a hundred).
Nearly five hours later, I realise I haven’t eaten and my email inbox is still hovering around the sixty mark. I get a call from a market research company asking me if now’s a good time, and they quickly discover it isn’t. I grab something from the fridge and eat it as quickly as I can. To save time, I decide it’s dinner.
I manage to squeeze the words in — somehow — but I know I’m going to need to spend just as much time tomorrow editing them and making them legible. Ten o’clock comes round far too quickly, so I fire up Skype and try to look and sound awake and jolly. The Californian host out-jollies me, though, and has me thinking of that ice cold beer I’m missing out on. By 11.30pm I’m imagining he’s a pint of beer and that every word he’s saying is just BEER BEER BEER. I think he spots that I’m flagging and brings the interview to a close.
By now it’s almost midnight, and it’s time for bed. I slip under the covers and pick up the book I’m currently reading from my bedside table. I tell myself I’ll try to get through another chapter, knowing damn well I’ll have fallen asleep with the thing on my face before I’ve managed a paragraph.
As my eyelids start to droop, I wonder who’ll be the lucky one to wake me up tomorrow: my son or BBC Radio Cumbria?
(Note from The Editor: Many thanks to Adam Croft for joining us for this special Author Feature. Adam Croft is a successful independently published author and is widely regarded as one of the biggest selling authors of the past few years. If you would like to find out a little more about Adam, you can check out his Author Page here, or pop over to his website here. If you are a podcast fan, feel free to check out his highly popular crime fiction podcast Partners in Crime here. His latest novel, The Perfect Lie, is available on Amazon now.)