Saturday, 31 December 2011

Working Writers

                                                  How do/did YOU do it?

We all know that perennial term ‘Working Parents’ and the diverse opinions that fly around on the subject: their poor progeny, driven to delinquency or freed to foster independent life-skills.

But what about Working Writers?

They come in all varieties: full-time writers, part-time writers with part-time employment and the full-time employed who write only in ‘leisure’ time.

How do the latter group manage? Presumably their output must be severely curtailed? When one hears of writers completing 2,500 words a day (I know! You do so much more/less – delete the extraneous), it must surely be discouraging for those who work full-time and can never compete on an equal footing?

With such prolific writers (Barbara Cartland, notwithstanding) of three, four (MORE?) published novels a year, might it make those, not so time-fortunate, want to throw down their pen (OK laptop – but frankly, who is likely to throw down their laptop? They’d have to work an extra week to replace it. Let’s keep this real!).

Bad enough to have to wage-slave in any employment, that detracts from the passions of a writer (books!) but what of those working in particular professions? Those all-consuming, “it’s a vocation” type employments?

Doctor:  72 hour shifts, on-call, keeping up with medical developments...

Teacher/lecturer:  lesson prep, marking, exam assessment, Outdoor-Ed trips, CPD...

Police:  all leave cancelled, sleep-disrupting shift patterns...

Army:  deployment to war-zone, Green Goddess coverage for Fire-Service industrial action...

Inn-Keeper:  Late licence, Sky Sports Coverage Saturdays, Karaoke Nights...

Working Mothers:   OMG Eeeek!!

You get the picture... Another hour, day, week, month without putting         (m)any words to paper. No time to write the first/next blooming novel let alone blog, tweet, pester agents, publishers, anyone that might read your book (if it ever gets written) PLEEESE... (pretty)

Many published authors started off in this working category, even if they have now successfully thrown off the shackles of servitude. Or at least swapped service to others, to that “free servitude” to the one-eyed, hypnotic lap-dweller, that demands you tap its keys constantly with your creative little digits.

Help us all by revealing just how you did/do manage your time in those darkest of days? Then return to see how others do it! [comments gratefully received]


Friday, 2 December 2011

Plus Ça Change?

1st December

This was the date in 1830 that French novelist, Victor Hugo, had agreed to submit Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) to his publisher. However, he allowed himself to become distracted with other projects, extending his deadline several times. Sound familiar? The book was finally published (happily for Disney) the following year.

As Hugo wrote a number of plays in the 1830s and met his mistress, actress, Juliette Drouet, at the same time, presumably his distractions were artistically valid!

One interesting consequence of the novel was that the City of Paris undertook restoration of the neglected Cathedral of Notre Dame, which attracted thousands of tourists as a result of reading it.

Hugo also began planning a major work about social injustice as early as the 1830s. It then took seventeen years for Les Misérables to be fully realized, whilst he was living in exile in the Channel Islands. The novel was finally published in 1862 with only the first part, “Fantine” released initially. Publication went to the highest bidder and the Belgian publishers undertook a marketing campaign unusual for the time, issuing press releases six months ahead of launch. Note to publishers – instalments sold out within hours!

Allegedly the shortest correspondence on record is between Hugo and his publisher. On the novel’s release Hugo telegraphed ‘?’ to which his publisher replied, ‘!’   Keeping an eye on profit margins presumably? And Hugo must have been rightly exhausted after producing the 1,200+ page novel. And keeping a mistress.

Hugo concerned himself with artists' rights and copyright and was a founding member of the Association Littéraire et Artistique Internationale. This led to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Hail to Victor Hugo.