I work in a law office and haven’t exactly announced to any colleagues or others in the industry that I am also writing a book, mainly for fear that they will think I am writing my book when I should be working drafting some type of legal document. I haven’t got to that stage (yet). It crosses my mind from time to time but unfortunately, the job is too demanding to be able to do that. My particular sector is a large community of lawyers, professionals, etc. and I have met a lot of interesting people from various backgrounds along the way which does wonders for my writer’s imagination. Although I do actually like my job (if I have to do something to be able to eat, it might as well be this), there are a lot of times I want to just scream, “leave me alone, I’m a writer stuck in a paralegal’s body”.
This morning was one of those instances. I was at a meeting with two female lawyers my age, both great girls, and they were telling me about their dissertations at university and how it took them three months to write 25,000 words which entailed sleepless nights, or, on the rare occasion of sleep, nightmares, caffeine (in any form available) overdoses and often thoughts of suicide. Having not completed a degree (I decided to work and write as opposed to study, be broke and write), I couldn’t possibly know what it felt like to think of nothing else but the piece you had to write and to let it take over your life. They commented on how lucky I was that I didn’t have to go through this.
I wanted to say, ‘actually, I do this on a regular basis and it may all be for fun/free/nothing (take your pick), so there’ but instead I sat there smiling and nodding, chewing the inside of my cheek. When I’m published, this conversation shall be revisited. OK, unlike university, I have no deadlines per se and no one is pressuring me (yet – I pray for the day that a fancy agent is pressuring me to finish a book by a certain date because they have already given me my advance). My closest experience to such deadlines and hassle for an actual legitimate reason (a signed contract) would be when I worked for six months at a women’s fashion magazine here in Greece. However, similar to uni, I do it because I have a dream and I’m working towards it. Sleepless nights? Check. Self-loathing? Check. Caffeine binges? Check. Re-writing, editing, deleting? Check, check, check. My imaginary trash can is full to the roof. Researching subjects you know nothing about? Check (when my character’s flatmate’s boyfriend works at NASA, I have to at least know what country he lives in).
Much respect to the students though; it’s tough. Although a 25,000 word milestone as opposed to an 110,000 word one does seem like a piece of cake, writing from your imagination rather than from the part of your brain which stores any kind of information, facts or general knowledge I imagine is much easier. And that my friends is the reason why I do not go back to university.
P.S. FYI and for a little insight into the mind of Kat (me), this post took me 10 minutes to write and 3 hours to re-write and edit. It’s just one of those days where every sentence looks pathetic…