My manic pixie dream about writing and some truths I learnt

July 13, 2015
I had a lot of crazy and romantic notions about what being an author would be like. In this post, I share a few of them.

I guess I always had this romantic notion of what being a writer would be like. You know, like the manic pixie dream girl – but, the manic pixie dream author. I had this idea about what it would be like to be published. That’s what this post is about – that, and how it really is.

So there’s often a champagne-esque lifestyle associated with authors. To an extent, this is true: at YALC in 2014, I drank a little too much champagne. It was free. I was a student. But the champagne at these author events is usually free. We, as authors, are not buying it. The publishers or the awards ceremony sponsors are.

Incidentally, I almost bought a top in River Island a few months back that said ‘Oops, did I buy champagne instead of milk again?’ which I totally regret not buying.

The truth is, the last I read, professional authors are considered authors who earn over £8,000 per year. That wouldn’t even get taxed. That is not enough to maintain the champagne lifestyle.

That is also not enough for fancy getaways. But, for the lucky authors who don’t have to get by on a less-than-minimum-wage income (either by having other jobs, or by earning more than that eight grand I mentioned), it isn’t unusual for them to have little breaks where they go somewhere and just write.

And, because I’m being bitterly honest: I still have this romantic notion of going away to some nice little cottage in Ireland, or a tucked-away B&B in Paris to spend a few days on my own, writing, and maybe doing some reading. Even though I know it’s not something every author does on a regular basis, and it might sound silly, I still want to do this.

You won’t automatically move in a circle of fabulous author friends and get free books all the time. 

But this will happen, albeit in smaller stages, and maybe not to the degree you hoped at first. I’ve actually met loads of authors, but I’m only in touch with a handful of them, and most of those are via Twitter.

Not everybody loves your writing just because you’re published, either. Actually, I get more critical reviews now that I’m published than I did when I was publishing online: on Wattpad, people only read my book because they wanted to. After publication, loads of mums read my book because it was being raved about, but they didn’t really want to read it, you know? So you have to work up a tough skin to deal with the bad reviews.

Another manic pixie dream aspect to the author lifestyle: it’s totally chill and chic and relaxed. It’s not. Life goes on. I was (am, at the time of writing this post) still a student and had to get on with studies and everything else that was going on anyway – like washing up, and doing laundry – and cannot, unfortunately, spend days casually sat at a nice desk writing or visiting coffee shops and writing. I do, however, do this sometimes. Because it feels good. It’s nice.

But life won’t just go on hold to adapt to your newfound life as a writer. It. Goes. On. And you need to work bloody hard sometimes to balance everything.

Your next book won’t write itself, either. If anything, being published makes it harder, because you feel so much pressure to maintain your standard and you feel like if everyone loved your first book, if people received it so well, then how will your next one ever live up to it? I had that with my third book, because it was the first one that hadn’t gone through Wattpad first, and I had no idea how it would be received. It was terrifying.

But I had this notion that once you’ve got one book published, you’ve got it made: the worst is over, surely? So of course it must be easy-peasy in comparison to write your next book! Well, it might be for some writers, but I’ve learnt that it’s okay if that’s not the case.

And it’s also okay to not have a damn clue what you’re doing.

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