Jennifer E. Smith’s The Comeback Season was one of my favorite books of 2008, and I’m very pleased to have Jennifer here today for a guest blog! Aside from being an author, she is also an editor, and she wrote about the craziness of her life. Enjoy!
I’m one of the lucky ones. Not only do I have one job I love…I actually have two. Besides being a writer, I also work as an editor at a major publishing house. So I spend my days working with amazing authors, helping them through the publication process, learning from their successes and mistakes, and then at the end of the day – after all the hours of reading, the pages of notes, the line edits and copyedits and art meetings – there’s this beautiful book to show for it all. And afterwards? I have my own writing too. Being a writer is something I’ve wanted since I was ten, and now it seems almost impossible that I’m actually doing it. I hope everyone can be this lucky. I hope everyone gets to do what they love someday.
Still, most people have a pretty romantic notion of what these kinds of jobs entail. So I’m here to set the record straight. Contrary to popular opinion, editors do not spend the majority of their days poring over manuscripts, or chewing on the end of a pencil in a book-lined room while consulting a thesaurus every now and again. And the same goes for writers. I know very few who pass the time sitting in front of a notebook with a cup of tea, staring off dreamily whenever a new idea comes to mind. The truth, in both cases, is a little more hectic than that. And so I thought I’d outline for you a typical day in the life of a writer/editor:
6:38am – Wake up. Hit snooze. Manage to wake dog while I’m at it.
6:46am – Hit snooze one more time. Just a few more minutes.
6:54am – Okay, okay, I’m up. Put on coat to take dog out. Stand in freezing cold hoping he’ll choose to do his business quickly. Think of a brilliant beyond brilliant way to fix current work in progress, but it’s already disappeared by the time I’m back inside.
7:08am – Remember idea but am in the shower. Will remember later, I’m sure.
7:52am – Leave for work. Remember idea on the way, but fingers are too cold to write. Gone again by the time I make it to the elevator.
8:08am – Check email. Check voicemail. Several authors need several things. Scurry around. Make photocopies. Get paper cut. Return phone calls. Start thinking perhaps authors are kind of a pain, then remind myself that I’m one too. Revise thought immediately. Authors rule.
12:12pm – Lunch break. Jot down what’s left of the morning’s idea, but too much going on in the office to write anything coherent. Resolve to do it later.
1:45pm – Jacket meeting. Check email. Marketing meeting. Check email. Publicity meeting. Check email. Author meeting. Check email. Another paper cut. Check clock.
6:00pm – Try to spend a few minutes coaxing out the morning’s brilliant idea, but am whisked off to a book party for another author. Spend much of it in the corner, looking on jealously as they make their speech. Try not to blame them for finishing their book. It’s nottheir fault they have more time than I do. (Or have won way more awards.) Start backing out the door. Need to get home and begin writing immediately.
8:00pm – Arrive home. Say hello to dog (after all, must always be gracious to your fans). Sit at computer. Try to remember why that idea seemed so genius this morning. Type some nonsense, just to fill the page. Erase it immediately.
8:08pm – Eat dinner.
8:32pm – Return to computer. Check Facebook. Check MySpace. Check email.
8:44pm – Get snack. (Not remotely hungry, but better than sitting in front of blank page).
8:48pm – Stare at screen some more.
8:52pm – Notice manuscript in work bag. Begin editing instead of writing. Seems silly to work on my own idea when I’ve got someone else’s right there…
9:55pm – Still happily editing when something clicks. My idea! It’s brilliant again!
9:56pm – Return to computer. Write a few hundred words. Feel proud of myself. Dog looks proud too. Switch off computer again. As long as my number one fan is happy, then I’m happy too.
So there you have it. Glamorous? No. Leisurely? Definitely not. Wonderful? Absolutely.