What I Get Up To
Today I thought I would tell you a little about what I get up to in my day to day job.
The thing is, an author’s life can be pretty boring sometimes.
You sit at a desk all day long and type.
And that’s it.
That would make for a very boring blog post too.
Fortunately, I get to do more than that.
It’s up to you to decide whether or not it’s actually interesting.
This is my bedside cabinet.
The alarm clock goes off at 6:00 am. Sometimes I set it for 5:30 am, depending on how much I’ve got to get done and how urgent it is. You might think that half an hour doesn’t make much difference to my day, but believe me it does. The space/time continuum works differently so early in the morning. Honestly, with that extra half an hour behind me, once I get to lunchtime I feel like I’ve achieved a whole day’s work and more.
I’ve toyed with the idea of getting up even earlier to see how much more I could achieve. Imagine if I got out of bed at 4:00 am, by the time lunchtime rolled around would I have achieved a full week’s worth of work? Unfortunately, to do that I would have to go to bed at 8:00 pm, which is ridiculous. I’d be in bed hours before Thing One and Thing Two, and Mrs Preston would complain that she never gets to see me anymore.
Anyway, up at 6:00 am and the very first order of the day is to feed Lily. I know what you’re thinking. Aww, how cute that he puts Lily first.
Nope, this is purely for practical reasons. The cat wouldn’t let me get anything done until I had fed her.
This is Lily, having been fed her breakfast she is now getting on with the hard work of sleeping for the rest of the day. This is one of her favourite spots, in between the settee and a portable radiator, down in the cellar. She usually wakes up mid-afternoon and demands to be fed again.
Anyway, on with my day. Next, it’s a strong, black coffee and toast for me and downstairs to the writing cave.
Now, here comes my first confession.
I didn’t always used to start writing at this point. That was and is always the intention. But it didn’t always happen.
Well, there was this:
Let’s not forget this:
Sometimes there was this:
Sometimes there was even this:
And on really bad days? Well, (hangs head in shame) there was this:
I was like a drug addict trying to get clean.
And not doing very well.
On the bad days I was achieving little to nothing and then feeling wretched about it. Which forced me even deeper into a cycle of browsing on the internet.
But then I found Freedom, and now everything is good again.
No, silly, not the George Michael song.
Freedom is an app that blocks the internet. Now I schedule it for 6:00 am to 12:00 noon. It’s bloody brilliant! There’s absolutely nothing I can do that will allow me access to the internet, and so I am free to just get on with what I should be doing anyway.
At 7:15 am I stop writing to throw myself into the task of dragging Thing One and Thing Two out of bed. Whilst they get ready for school I run around the house in a wild panic, trying to get as many household tasks done as possible so that I can return to writing at 8:15, by which time a horde of Thing Two’s school mates who have slowly gathered in my living room are now leaving the house.
Peace and quiet again!
A second coffee, another bite to eat, and back to the writing cave.
I generally try and write until noon, but some days other things happen.
One Thursday a month I lead a creative writing workshop in my local town.
And some days I will have an event to attend or lead.
For example, a couple of weeks ago I participated in a taster event at Newman College for their creative writing course. Along with thriller writer Liam Brown and poet Brenda Read-Brown, I ran a mini creative writing workshop with three groups of year 10 students from local schools. The three writers rotated around the three groups and then we gathered together in the lecture hall and a few of the students read out their work.
One young lad in my group wrote a nasty short about cannibalism, and finished with the line:
I decided not to eat his head as it will make a nice centrepiece for the staff Christmas party.
I love events like this. They are terrifying to start with, but when they are over with I’m usually flying, and I feel like I can conquer the world.
On to the afternoons then.
By this point in the day the creative well has often run dry. I need to step back from writing creatively and look at the less creative sides of what I do.
And this is where the days of the week take on their own identity.
Monday afternoons I will be answering emails, editing, tinkering with my websites and planning the first of my after school creative writing clubs which runs on Tuesday.
Tuesday afternoon is similar, and I will try and plan my second after school club, running on Wednesday. Then, at 5:30, it’s time to enter the dragon’s lair.
Yes, it’s my primary school creative writing club, working with the completely bonkers, twisted minds of children aged between 9 – 11.
These kids love their gruesome stories, their gore and toilet humour. The literary world is in for a shock in a few year’s time, I can tell you.
By the time 7:00 o’clock has rolled around and the club has finished, well, I’m good for nothing else for the rest of the evening.
Teachers of the world, I salute you.
You are superheroes.
Wednesday afternoon I finish off preparing for the secondary school club, which starts at 3:30. This is even more of a wild ride as I have a brilliant young man with autism who writes the most incredibly blood-soaked, gruesome and wild, imaginative and completely out there stories. The other members of the club are great too, and we have some fantastic sharing sessions when it comes to reading out the work.
Both of these creative writing clubs are challenging for me, especially as I have to keep coming up with fresh session plans week after week. Believe me, they soon let me know if they’ve done something before!
But I love it.
I love engaging these kids, I love seeing them step beyond what they think they can do. It’s the best feeling in the world.
Thursday and Friday afternoon I am back at home, and I try and achieve more editing, planning and the dreaded accounts.
Then it is a case of cooking the evening meal, (oh yes, I forgot to mention that Thing One and Thing Two have arrived home by about 3:30, so I take a break to say hi and ask them about their day), and welcoming home Mrs Preston. I will get a little more work done in the evening whilst Thing One and Two are doing homework and then the entire family sits down to watch an episode of Agents of Shield, Stranger Things, or Gotham.
And that, apart from a couple more clubs I run on Saturdays, is my typical day and my typical week.
There are also the one-off events like school or book club visits to keep my life interesting.
And then there are the non-writing opportunities I’m thinking of trying.
Like applying to be a zombie at the annual Alton Towers Scarefest.
Or posing for a life drawing class.
Or what about being one of those living statues you see in city centres?
So there you go, some of what my day is like and some of what I might like it to be.
What about your day? What do you get up to?
As always, I’m putting a donate button here for you. I write and publish these blog posts for free, and I keep them up forever so that anyone can go back and read any of them whenever.
If you’d like to donate the cost of a cup of coffee (strong and black please, no sugar) I will be forever grateful.
But whatever you do, thank you for reading anyway.