‘How do you spend your day?’ People always ask this question with eager anticipation, and I know what they’re thinking.  Up at 5AM, straight to the desk, write till the family emerges at 7, poached eggs on crumpets, a brisk walk on the Heath with the dogs, back to work by 9:30, book nearly finished by the time child is home from school.

Yeah, right.

Here’s how my week has actually gone so far.  Phonecall on Friday asks if I can do twenty minutes live on Radio 3 with two others about Mark Twain.  “Well, um, I’m not exactly a Twain expert…” (Understatement of the century.) “Oh, I’m sure you’ll be fine,” coo my PR and the producer of the show in unison.  Off to London Book Fair for masterclass on Saturday, then to work. Can I read Twain’s entire oeuvre in 48 hours?  Do I need to?

Have completely forgotten my own 20th wedding anniversary on Monday. Oops. Buy husband cashmere sweater in flying visit to John Lewis for new computer (old one wheezing badly) on Sunday. Monday, both computers down while trying to transfer data. Eight AM walk on the Heath.  Ten hours reading Mark Twain.

Arrive at Broadcasting House having developed Missouri accent at 9PM Monday. Could probably have swotted up for twenty minutes and done fine.  But no, Phil Dodd is razor sharp and doesn’t pause for breath between questions.  Am matched with John Freeman (editor of Granta, eek!) and Pete Messent (very eek!), professor of American literature at Nottingham.Neither seems remotely fazed by huge philosophical questions posed at breakneck speed.  We emerge twenty minutes later, sweating and giggly, like survivors stumbling out of a trench. (Here’s the link...)

Home by 10:30PM.  On a train this morning at 9AM from Liverpool Street to somewhere near Diss in Norfolk, to launch a sale of deck chair paintings to raise money for St Elizabeth’s Hospice in Suffolk, of which I’m a patron.  Small speech, quoting extensively from Yeats’ Sailing to Byzantium (if you haven’t read it lately, do so now).  Also, do bid on a deck chair (I have my eye on David McKee’s).  It’s a great cause.  Home by six. Tomorrow it’s another early train — to Tonbridge Library. By the time I’m back from Tonbridge it’ll be Thursday.

OK, the life of a writer isn’t dull.

But where does the writing come in?


7 thoughts on “Writer? Ha.

  1. bookwitch 9 years ago

    Sweaters can wheeze? Badly, even.

  2. Meg 9 years ago

    Oops. Subject object confusion.

  3. bookwitch 9 years ago

    I get it. It was the husband. After 20 years it’s understandable.

  4. Lorna Stallard 9 years ago

    Wow. I can’t decide which one I’d want more: a deck chair with the final words of my favourite book or a rather casual Mr Benn.

  5. Fleur Sinclair 9 years ago

    Hi Meg,

    I very hastily grabbed you at the end of the talk at Tonbridge Library and introduced myself as someone who is going to be on the Arvon course in June.
    I’m always a bit tongue tied in moments like that and what I really wanted to say was ….

    I find your writing incredibly inspiring. I think I recognise how much you are engaged with the characters in your books and that makes me, as a reader, want to go on their journey with them more – not caring what that journey will be or how it will end. Maybe you would say that is the ‘throughness’ you have with them?

    I have a continual argument with myself about the plot v character v style etc.

    I have written short stories for adults that I am really proud of and a childrens novel that, as much as I love it still, I am aware of it’s flaws and with any luck will prove to be something akin to your 1st horse novel (In a being able to learn and move on way). However, the work in progress novel that I am wrangling and tearing my head/heart/hair out with is a coming of age, boy/ girl novel. Because it is an old plot.

    Writers like yourself are so essential to my being able to plough on and know that plot isn’t everything and a book doesn’t have to hop around spectacularly with time or run concurrent stories across generations or be 50000 words long to be valid or any good.

    Not only do I fall in love with your characters, but you also help me to fall in love with my characters again and believe that they deserve to have their story told – beautifully if I can – from the beginning, through a middle, to an end.

    Thank you.

    1. Meg 9 years ago

      Hi Fleur
      Thanks for writing and it was nice to meet you yesterday. Sounds like you’re on the way to writing a good book. I hope you do (Patrick and Celia will certainly give you a push in the right direction at Arvon!) Look forward to seeing you there.

  6. Tiny Fisscher 9 years ago

    Haha, funny! But as I read somewhere recently (don’t remember who said it) ‘A writer should live more than read’, I try not to feel guilty when I live quite a bit instead of sitting behind my laptop…

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