Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Recipe for a Happy Writer

Ingredients: 
Over-active imagination. The bigger the better.
Computer. Or, in the Early Days, a Petite/Brother electric typewriter, complete with strips of Tippex and carbon paper and only one font.  One font!
Flat surface. In my youth I used to sit afront an old cupboard – opened the doors wide and stuck an old door on top of them as a desk - this also meant it was collapsible and gave mother back the half a room it took up when fully opened. I must have been a lot better organised in those days, I’d certainly have a hard time ‘collapsing’ everything that sits on my desk right now.
Comfy chair. Essential – although an old kitchen stool did me perfectly well until I met my current husband (I don’t mean I sit on him now – he just had a more sensible one with a back and arms and stuff).
Printer. Would love a smooth and funky Laser-printer like we have at work. These home-office printers are still too flippin’ slow and if you turn your back for a minute your words are all over the floor!
Paper. Sainsbury’s cheapest. It all ends up in a shredder in a London W1 Agent’s office, anyway (that’s the spirit, right?).
Stamps and envelopes.Although not so much these days – I only approach e-mail-able Agents… *get me!*
Mountains of Memory. However I have ‘proper lost’ two books on a memory stick which did what it said on the packaging – and stuck - refused to open. Luckily(?) these two books had already done so many rounds to Agents they were in danger of being asked to move along nicely by the Query Police. Another lesson learnt. Not sure what the lesson was, though – maybe get a better memory stick?
Thick skin (or pretence of one).
Love of words (obvs).
Deep desire to be taken seriously but not take self too seriously.
Short nails. My personal ‘jumpstart’ is to clip them so short they can’t do anything BUT type – housework included. What? Oh, come on now, WHO can seriously dust and cook with short nails, hmm? That’s why women are the assumed housekeepers – come on ladies – unite! Get those nails clipped – your man will never expect another meal!
Part-time (not rocket-science-based) day job to fuel the need – and the stationery supplies and to let the imagination roam freely without any risk to Health & Safety regulations
Support network of like-minded individuals (that’s writers. Both published and aspiring – ‘cos we all need the encouragement, don’t we?) *waves*
Thick skin (have I said that? Oh. Well, then it MUST be important)
At least one floor of stairs separating the keyboard from the kitchen; and by kitchen, of course I mean Biscuit Tin. And if you really haven’t got the determination and resolve, then at least you’ve had a bit of exercise in a bid to stave off the dreaded Writer’s Arse. This leads me neatly onto the assonantal…
Writers and Artists Yearbook (aka the Bible). I don’t know how I’d function without mine. And even though every new one gets ticks and crosses and dates and stuff scribbled throughout the ‘UK Agents’ section, it will be lovely to one day flip through one nostalgically, remembering these leaner times… that’s the visualisation anyway.
Thick skin. Wait… have I already said that?

Method:
Everyone’s different but I like to just chuck it all in, season it liberally and see what happens. You can always adjust the flavour after you’ve let it simmer a while. But not EVERYONE has the same taste, so don’t be too hard on yourself that if, when you’ve offered it around, some turn their noses up. Some, of course, will ask for a bigger bite.
And some might even offer a cherry for the top!

13 comments:

Lindsay said...

Excellent recipe. Un fortunately I don't have all the ingredients yet!
Love the concept of your old desk!

Roderic Vincent said...

Debs,
I love the way you call him "current husband".

My old boss was on his third wife. He referred to them respectively as, my first wife, my wife (the one he had kids with), and my current wife. It always made me wonder how long number three's tenure would last. He married them all at the age of 27 (their age not his).

Anonymous said...

Great post, Debs. Sounds like you have all the ingredients and just need that cherry on top.


Sam x

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Great post, Debs. Reminds me how we writers need to create a structure which suits our needs, otherwise everything just 'spreads out'.
I smiled at 'current husband' too. Reminds me of my last boss, who referred to his wife as 'the current and possibly final Mrs. X'.
:)
Susiex

scribocin said...

great post! Love it!

now I know why I am a not-so-happy writer. my chair isn't very comfy, andmy day job is full time and rather rocket-science-based. But on the other hand the number of stories I hear, the parade of interesting characters I see compensate for this.

ps. what is that cherry on the top?

Karen said...

Love it!

Oh how I remember the old typewriter/carbon paper and single font situation. How did writers COPE?

I'd love one of those printers too - ours has given up the ghost this morning.

Patsy said...

So that's where I've been going wrong. My nails and day job hours are both too long.

Debs Riccio said...

Lindsay - I miss that old desk AND all the 'I love Donny/David/Starsky' carvings it picked up!
Rod and Susie - the 'current' is an attempt at keeping Him on his toes - doesn't do to get too complacent, does it?!
Thanks Sam - cherry would be great - is it too much to ask for squirty cream as well?
Scribocin - my own personal 'cherry' is the elusive Agent at the moment - but your cherry can be anything your heart desires!
Karen - I know! I remember how high my heart flew when I was given an electric typewriter at work with INTERCHANGEABLE daisy wheels - OMG - three different fonts - and ITALICS!
Patsy - get them both cut - you know it makes sense!

Brock S. Henning said...

My first visit to Strictly Writing, and what a terrific post for my first read. Your recipe satisfied my craving--well, almost. I left room for dessert, so I'll keep reading. ;)

Caroline Green said...

Yup to all of those...but can you please direct me to the thick skin shop? Have always wanted one of those....

Ellie said...

LOL. I had a Brother! It was massive and had a tiny screen but I loved it.

Roderic Vincent said...

Welcome, Brock. Nice to have you here and thanks for the positive comments about SW.

Debs Riccio said...

Thanks for the visit and the comment Brock - great to see you here and hope you call again!
Caroline - Thick Skin has to be home-made I'm afraid - just leave it exposed for long enough and it'll just crust over (eeew)!
Ellie - mine was about the only 'Brother' who ever did what I told it to!