15 Laws of the Literary Life
Sunday, 7 February 2016
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But for now...
If you’re not a writer, you might have a certain perception of the literary life. Take Hollywood, with its portrayal of the drink and drug addled escapades of wild writers such as Hemingway, Hunter S. Thompson and Truman Capote. Sadly, or happily, depending upon your liver, the truth is a little more mundane. Here are 15 universal ‘truths’ I’ve unearthed from a dozen years banging at keys and gazing at a flickering cursor.
1. Where before you had real-life, flesh and bone friends, 96% of your social life will now occur online.
2. Hemingway said in order to write you just need to sit at a desk and open a vein. When things are going badly, it’s important to remember this is a metaphor.
3. Most of your best ideas will surface at 4am, when you don’t have pen and paper on your bedside table, and you have a hangover.
4. Your family will be convinced a character is either based on them or actually them. Nothing you say will persuade them otherwise.
5. In the morning, yesterday’s words that you regarded sublime, will seem mediocre.
6. Everyone you meet at parties (ha, like you get to go to parties) will be either writing a novel, be about to, or know someone who is. They will want to talk about this (see #2).
7. In the morning, yesterday’s words that you regarded mediocre, will seem the worst thing anyone has ever written.
8. Nobody will notice or care if you grow a beard. Especially if you’re a man.
9. Coffee and biscuits are the other 4% of your friends (see #1).
10. Dividing money earned into hours spent will end badly (see #2 again).
11. There are some lovely and wonderful fellow writers out there. You will never meet them.
12. When you send your manuscript to your agent or editor after two years of blood, sweat and tears, a glorious, warm feeling rises within you. This lasts for ninety seconds. Move on to the next book.
13. Nobody understands what you really do. Except other writers (none of whom you will meet), and perhaps the cat.
14. That dull office job you once had, with regular income and holidays and colleagues and fixed hours and Christmas parties and sick pay and a pension and purpose, looks more appealing each year.
15. You know it’s a bad week when even your online stalker emails to criticise your latest book.
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