The “Writer” Fairytale

editing 001Two weeks ago, I let myself look at Planes Shifter for the first time since I printed it out — having forced myself not to look at it for a month and to focus on Resilience instead.

This was the day I could finally let myself read it all the way through; to find out what kind of story lines I’d weaved together. I’d have about four hours Saturday evening, then all of Sunday, and then another five hours on Monday evening. By Wednesday night, I’d read the first 20,000 words or so. Not bad, but not quite where I’d hoped to be. Then a week later, I was only at around 40,000 words.

I know that’s a fairly decent speed for someone who works full time, but I also know how many hours I wasted when I was meant to be editing.

Mostly, this was because when I hit a “less-than-decent” section, I’d make a cup of tea, wash up, or just pace in the other room. It’s the first time I’ve read the book from start to finish in its current form: having fixed plot-holes on a scene-by-scene basis up to now.

Thankfully, the comments are a mixture of “so much wrong” balanced out with “that’s a brilliant line” and “hey, I just got through that whole page without noticing anything wrong!” I think of that as promising, since I can see the gems while still finding where I’ve grown as a writer and thus, which bits are, put bluntly, horseshit.

But I also noticed a little thought rolling around in my mind. A “proper writer” would be sat diligently at their desk; being inspired and immersed in the task. Essentially, my brain had decided to create a new mantra: “This will go smoother once I have my desk.”


Last weekend, my parents brought down my belated Yule present; a writing desk. Having told them what I was looking for in October, I was informed that it should be easy to make from the spare wood in the garage, and so they could make it for me. With that in mind, it kind of made sense to have it “made to measure”, which means it’s deep enough to sit my laptop with the screen tilted back, wide enough for laptop and mousemat (pictured) together, and has painted cubby holes to brighten it up.

When my parents left; I had this image in my head of staying up late with my novel binder and a hot drink, getting it all edited at my lovely new desk. I would be marking the manuscript with all my lovely highlighters, and enjoying the experience of editing at my ‘proper’ desk.

Like a proper writer.

When I couldn’t concentrate there, and found myself sprawled across my bed with my hot water bottle, duvet and pillows; I realised that I’ve created this image of what a writer should be. A picture which doesn’t actually match how I work

I don’t think I’m the only person with this ideal – there’s a single man with glasses, sat at a typewriter, looking out the window where his desk is placed for a decent view of a lake. Usually, there’s a bottle of alcohol – and in my mind at least, the image is black and white.

I don’t feel like less of a writer for sitting on my bed editing, and I love my new desk. But right now, it a desk isn’t going to keep me in the story. For the process of re-working the project I’ve spent two years creating; I need to be on Skype/Twitter with other writers, hot water bottles for comfort, and to spread all my notes out. Once I get back to re-writing; to just needing my laptop in front of me, then it’ll be grand.

Right now, I’m meeting the needs of the story – not living a fairytale of what my brain thinks a writing desk should be used for. 

How do you picture “a writer”?
Do you have any ideas of what a writer should do or how they should write?

2 responses to “The “Writer” Fairytale

  1. Every writer writes differently. It might not fit the “ideal” image (clean desk, glasses perched on nose, lovely view, effortless prose…) but writing a book is a long hard enough slog as it is without having to live up to an image of what a “writer” should be. Write in a way that you feel comfy writing!

    • I am – it wasn’t until the desk arrived that I really realised that I had this new image of how I should be working. Anyway, I like to think that even those with lovely views had moments staring at the wall for a lost idea.
      Thanks for commenting!

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