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Here are some things I’ve done this week as a full-time author that people probably don’t know the job involves. I think there are two schools of thought on what I do – one involves swanning around at parties with other authors discussing Tolstoy and now and then pattering the keys. The other involves lying around on the couch all day drinking scotch, and now and then pattering the keys. In reality I do a whole lot of diverse stuff! (And now and then patter the keys.) Like this:

  1. I just agonized for ten minutes over whether a character was wearing a button-up shirt or a t-shirt across multiple chapters. I had no idea what I’d initially imagined, and an editor pointed out the inconsistency. You can’t grab a button-up shirt by the bottom and press it to your mouth to stem a bleeding lip, the way you can with a t-shirt (exposing washboard abs? Mmm.)
  2. This morning I saw the real estate agent in for an inspection (working from home win!) and she caught me in an email exchange with my publisher about death by poisons and viruses. The email on the big screen discussed ‘knocking off’ extra victims to up tension mid-plot.
  3. I received some new author photos, which I forwarded on to someone in Queensland who’s writing a magazine article about my JP collaboration.
  4. I picked up a true crime book I’d ordered. Gotta keep up the research! (Tax-claim win). I also received the debut novel of another author I’m appearing on a panel with on Friday.
  5. An audiobook company sent me some sound files of the actors auditioning to narrate my first novel. I gave my two cents on who I thought sounded better.
  6. A copyedit of two of my upcoming works came in. I had a quick squiz at one, approved the deletions and additions and then sent it back. The other, bigger one I’m kind of ignoring until I feel the motivation.
  7. I failed, again, to fill in some foreign tax forms. Why don’t I have a printer?
  8. I procrastinated. I think you must know there’s a whole bunch of it involved in this, but what I hear mostly is that us authors do it with housework. In reality there is a whole world of ways to do it that are more convincing to the self of their importance. Getting fit, for example. Long hours spent at the gym give me the righteous power of physical and mental health! I’ve gotta take care of my body and mind so I can power out those books forever, right?
  9. I saw my physio about my tight, hunchy shoulders. Desk height matters, writers.
  10. I wrote this blog post (procrastination win).
  11. I sent thank you tweets/facebook messages to kind reviewers.
  12. I added an ‘appearances’ page to this website. Although there’s only one appearance in there right now, I’ve got a whole bunch coming up that I haven’t got the deets for yet, so this can be where they live.
  13. I posted promos for my appearance in Melbourne this Friday night. (Come along! Don’t make me beg you! Details on the brand spanking new appearances page!).
  14. Bought scotch.

A Novel in a Year: Stage Four, Plodddding

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Here I am! I’m plodding happily along, putting in about a thousand words a session. I’d probably be at around this word count by this time of year anyway, but I have been held up a few times – by my own marriage, for one! – and by some editorial business. I’m at 11,000 words today on my own manuscript for the year (if you haven’t been following, I also do collaborations). I’ve been putting together detailed outlines and some mini-outlines for unmentionable projects that you’ll probably be able to guess anyway. The seductive whispers of other books have been plaguing me, as I’m only a tenth of the way in, and I could turn around without feeling so bad. I shun those voices! Be gone! You have no power here! Saucy, sexy books are a reality. Don’t give in to those sirens.

My, my, my, I certainly know what I don’t want to ever do for a living, and that’s organise weddings. Though I’m not an amazing sleeper, I’ve lost a considerable amount of sleep this month agonizing over everything that could go wrong in my wedding to the hilarious, handsome and decidedly hairy Tim Keen, fellow wordsmith extraordinaire. In the dark hours, I’ve imagined some pretty insane stuff, like ex-boyfriends/girlfriends turning up on the green and shouting that they’re still in love with me/him. The more extreme fantasies involved a relative shooting themselves in the middle of the dance floor. In daylight guessed that more likely, Tim and I were going to get something like a story frequently told about a wedding of a friend of a friend, who had a fat man with a beer walk right through the back of the ceremony wearing nothing but a pair of Speedos. While we did have our wedding in a public garden, and there were hangers-around with no idea of personal space, they tended to loiter during the photographs after the ceremony. We only had eyes for each other! Nawwwww alright I’ll stop now. Perfect, perfect day, anyway.

There are more editorial nightmares looming on the horizon, so I’m trying to trundle along on the book at a healthy pace. My crisis of confidence seems to be over – and I think that’s a mark of having thickly detailed characters who are intriguing (I hope, anyway!) in themselves/their pasts without necessarily having to rush here and there completing plot points to fill themselves out. If you’ve got a few deeply interesting people, worrying about plot is like worrying if three incredibly socially skilled strangers are going to get on with each other at dinner. They have the tools. They have the experience. They’ll make it work, even if they fumble around a bit first.

As a mark of good practice I’m attending a new boxing gym tonight, because James and my character, Harriet Blue, is a boxing enthusiast. I think it’s always good to write what you do, and do what you write – it’s a lesson I learned back in the day as a teenager, when I used to set all my books in New York. I’d never been to New York, and knew nothing about it. The books were garbage in the first sense because I was an overly emotional, melancholy teen with a bit of an over-infatuation with Anne Rice and Martin Scorsese, but in the second sense I think it didn’t help that I didn’t know what New York looked, felt and smelt like. I’ve boxed for a long time, and Harry boxes. It’s a chicken and egg thing. It’s time to get back to that, I think. Get some of the tension out so I/she can sleep.

As always, curious to know how you’re all going with your writing/submitting/editing. Keep your chins up, everyone. (No seriously it’s really bad posture looking down at your laptop. Sitting is the new smoking, for real).

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