Things I learned this week #2

A writer writes alone, but can only do so with someone guarding the door.

As far as synchronicity goes, I tend to notice more occurrences when things are going my way. There were many that led me to London where I met my wife, and many more now that I come ever closer to the all important finish line of publication. They are merely random circumstance, this I know, but never the less, I pay attention to them because as far as our brains go at processing information, patterns and narrative are the only guiding force we have. (sorry to all those who believe in angels et al)

So, the synchronicity this week was a colleague who asked me how i'd go about teaching 1984. I remembered an article in the guardian a while back, and said that I'd start there. It gave context to Orwell's life, and the circumstances of him writing 1984. And if you really want kids to understand a book -- or any art for that matter -- you have to know the context of how, why and when it was made.

Anyway, said colleague couldn't find it, and so I google-fu'ed it and in the process read it again. You can too if you like.

But my point isn't Orwell.

The 'Thing I learned this week #2' is that Behind every writer is someone making time for them.

For me, it's my wife, and for all you who are similarly wed, you'll know where this is going. For Orwell, whose wife had died tragically, it was his sister, who cooked, cleaned and looked after his adopted son. (I think he probably had a nanny too)

In the past 5 years I have struggled to find time to write. In the early days before we had our child, my biggest problem was procrastination. I was still coming out of my video-game playing days, and found it far more pleasurable to spend my spare time killing things than making them up. Really, for a writer the computer is a double edged sword. On the one hand its never been easier to get thoughts to screen, yet those very same keyboards and LCD monitors silently taunt us with the promise of all the other things we could be doing with them. I have no doubt George RR would have finished his epic by now if it wasn't for Sid Meier.

Anyway, I am loosing track of this. My main point, is that I could not have finished the last draft, let alone the first, without my wife. I try to be fair and give her as much time as she wants to go to Yoga, Ballet classes, see friends, shop and whatever else takes her fancy during the week. But it doesn't come close to how much time it takes to write and polish 120k words.

I expunge my guilt by telling myself that writing is work godamit, and that if sitting hunched in front of a screen doubting every word you write is considered 'my time' then shoot me now. The truth is, none of us have to write. We are compelled, certainly, but before we all become JKs and Kings then the only thing we really have to do with our time is keep the mortgage payments coming and food on the table. And let me tell you this, one book published aint gonna do it.

Of course, we all know this, which is why we dedicate our books to the people that put up with our fussing and feuding all the years it took to get the damn things written. But deep down, we know a dedication -- a blog post -- is not enough. And when nothing can be come close to telling the one you love how much they mean, then anything might just be enough. 

For me, it has always been paper butterflies.


Blog, tumblr, twitter. -- What started as a rant about how hard it is to get published, is now a journal of how hard publishing is.


  1. Travis, that was lovely. I'm sure your wife appreciates all the nice sentiments. I've written about the difficulties of what it is to live with a non-writer, but it's just as hard for them. Half the time they don't understand what's up with us or why we care so deeply about our writing. There definitely needs to be a balance set. I'm glad your wife has been so supportive. We, as writers, need that.


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