Thursday, 12 November 2009
When your job gets in the way...
I'm proud to say that my day job gets in the way of what I love doing most - novel-writing. There, I've said it to the entire world - it's a thorn in my side! How I envy people who can get up in the morning and not care about what surprises the company has in store, those who can go to sleep without worrying how he or she will ever tackle the following day's work. And how I envy people who can just get up and switch on their own computer in their own comfortable office and pick up from chapter 12.
I've been especially irked these past two weeks as it's National Novel Writing Month which you will be well aware of. Gah! When I'm sitting at my desk strewn with shorthand notes and post-its, and being constantly interrupted by Joe Public, I grow insanely jealous of the writers who have hit 1431 words by 10am. I've managed to get around 3,000 words written since November 1.
But I'd be lying if I said my journalism job was a waste of time. You see, ALL my novels and short stories are based on real life events. Not events as a whole, but small events within events: a kind of microcosm. From 'A River To Cross', set in North Korea, to 'Cake' (the Victoria Sponge murder!) they're all partly true to life. Even 'Cake' started out after I read an article about a woman losing in a Victoria Sponge contest. But I took this character to the extreme and made her become a cold-blooded murderer, and instead of just taking it on the chin, like the lady in the article did, MC Muriel (who kindly guest-blogged for us here!) seeks revenge. She won't rest on her laurels until she achieves maximum satisfaction. The factual stories I encounter every day give me fodder to use in novels. On the way back from a story, I often think how this would pan out into a novel. Maybe it's a comment someone has made, or something I've overheard? And the Dictaphone is handy too - I can talk to it while driving!
If you open the papers, there's always a story that can be worked on, from the bridge results in the local papers, to a global story like Madeleine McCann. I just don't understand when people say 'I can't get inspiration.' Of course you can - go and look out the window. Open the paper and look at a random photograph. Even leaf through Ok! magazine. It's another way of making sure your story is original and stands out among the other submissions.
So if your day job gets in the way, use it to your advantage, like I do. Make the most of what you've got until you don't need it anymore. Wink, wink.
Pic of office block in New York, taken by myself.