Today was not a good day for writing. I woke up early, as usual, to do some writing, but a myriad of things required my attention, breaking my concentration. Before I knew it, the day had begun and an unprecedented number of clients called up, interrupting me every five minutes.
None of this would matter, of course, if I hadn’t already missed yesterday’s writing. As I aim to have the fourth Pearseus book ready by Christmas, this means I have to write 1,500-2,000 words daily to have any hope of meeting my target.
Then, I made the mistake of expressing my frustration to my wife, Electra. An expression of deep care and sympathy failed completely to appear on my beloved’s face. Instead, she announced she’d be writing a blog post, to be shared with the world. As she forbade me from making any changes, I give you Electra’s post, titled:
The life of an author as lived by his wife
Hello Nicholas’s followers. Today I’ve hijacked his blog because I want to tell you what the life of an author’s partner looks like. To all the partners of authors and writers, I encourage you to comment and share your experiences; should you have any good tips about making life more fun, please let me know!
As you know, I am no writer: I work, cook, garden, walk the dog and go swimming (a lot, as Nicholas has mentioned before), but I don’t write. Therefore, I don’t have the urge to immediately write something down every 5 minutes or so. I don’t get that vague look in my face which usually indicates that someone just had an epiphany about what happens in book 15 of the series (or a stroke). And I don’t do plenty of other –cute but slightly annoying- things. So, let’s start.
- An author’s house is filled to the brim with notebooks. We have them in the living room, obviously in our bedroom and (on an occasion) in the bathroom, because you never know when inspiration will come. When friends come over, we have to explain the role of the notebook in the toilet and why it has some unfinished sentences, quite a few of which could easily have been written by a terrorist, a mad scientist or an artist on meth.
- The aforementioned notebooks come in handy at the most interesting of times. He will write down an idea at 2.00 am because he had an exciting dream. He will scribble something when eating, because he remembered a nice quote that had something to do with food. He will note down friends’ names, conversations or funny stories, the moment we come back home because otherwise, he will forget (you know he forgets a lot, right?).
- Never, ever go through his internet history, it’s scary. He has the most fascinating knowledge regarding some unheard illness, poisons or historical references. His books being what they are, these are the subjects that have a connection with his writing. Clearly, had he been writing romance, he would have a good familiarity with subjects such as divorce rates, marriage proposals and how to find a lost sibling through a detective. Now that I come to think of it, I think I like his current subjects of interest. Obviously, talking about horrible ways to die when having a wonderful dinner is not really the conversation starter or filler, but you get used to it.
- If you live with an author, you need to be silent and quiet for long stretches of time. Nicholas wakes up at 7 in the morning and needs to write about 2,000 words per day (yes, people, he has calculated how many words he needs to write in order to finish his book by Christmas, and let me tell you, it’s a tall order). If, for any unforeseen reason, he doesn’t get his daily word quota written, then at some point in the day, he must find complete and utter silence so as to sit and write. Which means that I go swimming (hey, you were wondering why I swim so much!), I walk the dog (bear in mind she is 10 years old, so long walks are not really the prescribed exercise, but what can you do), I cook, albeit very silently so as not to disturb him (try mixing up a cake batter very quietly. Not easy!) or I do some gardening (thank God we live in Greece and there is plenty of sunshine to go outside and garden).
- People living with an author are bound to miss a few phone calls. I discovered that because, sometimes, when Nicholas writes and is looking for complete quietness, he turns off the phone. Thankfully, there is email, carrier pigeons and other forms of communication, so friends and family have discovered new means of getting in touch with us. I hear that a few of them are considering learning smoke signals from tutorials taught by Native Americans on Youtube.
- You will need to repeat things 3 times. The first time, he will hear you, but not listen to what you are saying. The second time, he will actually listen but immediately forget what all was about. The third time, he will both listen and remember -hopefully. Never be fooled by a nod and a muttering that sounds like, “OK, I’ll do it”. He is probably talking to one of his characters and definitely not to you. If you discover that you organized a nice picnic and invited about 20 friends but the author-in-the-house had no idea, then count again how many times you talked about the aforementioned picnic: you must have missed one.
- He will have many friends you don’t know and that’s OK. Followers of Nicholas’s blog, he knows you and likes you and talks about you at home. I have no idea who you are, but he seems to know how your day was, what you do for a living, the name of your cat, dog, rhino and elephant (in that order), and of course, the country you live in (which, incidentally, leads to interesting conversations between us regarding where we would move, if we ever wanted to leave Greece. Up until now, the Caribbean is a strong contender, alongside Canada, New Zealand and some other places he mentioned, which I forget). As you can imagine, some of our chats are funny because names keep popping up and I nod and I have absolutely no idea who that person is. But I nod.
- Your Kindle will be filled with books to be read. There is, realistically, no possibility for him to read the 2,000 books he has on his Kindle, plus all the books he has on his Amazon wish list (I have a few as well, mind you) plus all the books that other authors keep sending for reviews, beta-reading or just for fun. In his attempt to finish this oh-so-expanding reading list, your author-in-the-house will constantly have a Kindle in hand and will read everywhere in the house. He reads when he cooks, when he shuts the shutters before going to bed, while talking on the phone with his mum (never tell her that, but he misses most of her monologues because he is obviously reading and he keeps mumbling ‘a, ha, ha’ at specific intervals so that it doesn’t seem like he is paying no attention and she is speaking to herself, which ultimately, she is) and whenever he has 5 minutes of possible boredom. Let me tell you something, even with the speed and frequency with which he reads, I seriously doubt he will ever finish his to-be-read list. But I admire him for his optimism.
- He will judge every place you visit in terms of possible writing hideaways. Is it quiet enough? Does it have wifi? Is there a desk? Do you get a peaceful view? Will the neighbours be annoying? How about the sun’s position? We went on holidays and he kept mentally measuring the room –remember he is an engineer, so he can actually do that and be pretty accurate in his mental calculations- to check whether a desk could be added so that he could write. By the way, the room was big enough, so the answer is yes.
All in all, life with an author is fascinating, but you really need to take everything with a pinch of salt (and pepper and perhaps a little bit of paprika). And find a good hobby that gets you out of the house. A lot!